Rah pakad tu ek chalachal, paa jaayega madhushala – Atul Agarwal – AIR 1 in CA Final May 2018

Atul in conversation with Anurag from #mycastory

Hi, Atul, tell me something about your family background? Your motivation to join the Commerce course and specially the CA course?

I hail from Kotpulti near Jaipur. I belong to a typical Indian middle class family. My father owns a pharmacy shop and mother is a homemaker. I have been the first in the family to enter the Commerce stream, since I wasn’t very keen to join the medical profession. We three brothers are all pursuing CA.

I studied in Rajasthan Board of Secondary Education (RBSE) and scored in the 80s in Class X and Class XII. My school rank was 2 in each of the exams. I joined the CA course and scored a rank in all three levels. I scored 90 each in SFM and Accountancy. I scored the highest ever marks (83) in Audit paper. This was quite a sweet part of the journey since my score in Audit in IPCC was just  48.

After a rank in CA IPCC, why didnt you go for the Big 4? How was your articleship experience? 

I was given to understand that Big 4 articleship would be geared towards super specialisation. Hence I wasnt very keen

I had two options in Jaipur – Kalani & Co and R Sogani & Co. I chose the latter.  It was quite reasonably sized with 80+ articles. I was initially exposed to Internal Audit, Operational Audits and a bit of Stat Audit. I didn’t enjoy them much. The assignments I got in taxation were quite interesting , entailed significant research while making the submissions to the Department of Income Tax. Thats where I found my core interest.

We also used to have communication skill improvement sessions on Saturdays. I found the practice quite rewarding for my public speaking skills

What are your tips for studying?

During articleship, I used to study for 2 hours a day while travelling in the bus between home and articleship office. This was often supplemented by studies at home. I took a few tuition classes and focused a lot on the Test Series

For me ICAI Study material is sacrosanct . I used to focus on a condensed version of ICAI Study Material as that strategy has always worked. One needs to wean out the redundant parts of ICAI Study Material and reduce the voluminous matter to a more manageable one

I completed my classes much in advance of the exams, so that I could revise properly.

I tend to enjoy the practical papers as well as taxation quite a lot. In CA, the bottleneck is the memory part in subjects like ISCA and Law. Thus that can be overcome through highlighting keywords and repeated revision.

Your views on the latest controversy around the ICAI Study Material and Exam Checking?

In any manual process of paper evaluation, there will always be an element of human judgment and the process will be prone to occasional mistakes as well. But its quite reasonable on a holistic basis.

In the Study Material, there could be clerical mistakes and differences of opinion on select subject matter. But one should always go by ICAI Material as that is what is followed for Paper Evaluation

You had made a statement that CA is easier than Class XII. This had raised quite a lot of eyebrows. What essentially was your intent when you stated the same?

On a personal level, my performance in Class X and XII wasn’t as great as my CA exams where I scored a rank in all three levels. I think the evaluation system in Board Exams is not as transparent as it is in CA. Had that been the case, it would have been much better for my scores in Class X and XII. Secondly, in Class X and XII, you tend to be forced to study a wide variety of subjects such as Social Studies etc. as compared to the focused study of Commerce subjects in CA.

Maybe my statement was taken out of context.

What are you currently doing and your future plans?

I got selected in ICAI Campus at ONGC. But didn’t join. Neither was I keen to take up opportunities in the private sector. Wanted a PSU job around Delhi/Jaipur but that didn’t work out

I will appear for UPSC Prelims in June 2020. I am doing self-studies and not taking any coaching.

Simultaneously I am also taking CA Final classes for DT and International Taxation. Fortunately I have gained a good batch strength, aided also by satellite classes. Thus the payouts are equivalent of a corporate job, in fact better. And I am getting a lot of time to study for UPSC as I teach only for 3 hours a day

Message to aspirants?

In terms of ROI, CA is a wonderful course. It is tough which is justified to retain the charm of the degree. Never give up. I draw a lot of inspiration from Madhushala

अलग-अलग पथ बतलाते सब पर मैं यह बतलाता हूँ – ‘राह पकड़ तू एक चला चलपा जाएगा मधुशाला

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