Harsh Gupta from Haryana’s Bahadurgarh has been enjoying a dream run. Ranked number two in the recently declared company secretaries (professional) examination, he secured rank 40 in the chartered accountancy (CA) final, was number four in CA IPCC (integrated professional competency course) and 14 in CS executive.
How does he do it? Now completing his CA articleship (practical training when students work on actual assignments for real employers) Gupta combines cricket and badminton, studies and entertainment for success. Snappy, entertaining television series like Suits and Sherlock (at times) provide ‘instant’ relief.
A star performer at Bal Bharti School, Bahadurgarh, he topped commerce with 95.75% in Class 12 and got an aggregate of 87% in BCom (hons) at Hans Raj, Delhi University. He started studying for the CS professional programme just after clearing CA inter in November 2013 and CS inter in June 2015. Preparation for the exams started 2.5 years after he became eligible to write the CA finals (after CA IPCC was over and articleship started). Self-study was balanced with coaching. He handled information systems control; audit and costing himself and got coaching in everything else. He revised everything taught in coaching class thoroughly on weekdays and covered all self-study subjects over the weekend.
“My main aim was to buy at least three to four months for revision when I took leave (from articleship) to prepare for and write the exam,” he says. Technology was a booster - apps such as ICAI Now and Taxmann helped him stay updated with the all the amendments to the curriculum.
Also instead of wasting time going through multiple questions on one concept, Gupta mastered each concept. “I also set a target to revise the entire course in one day’s exam leave that we got during the papers to brush up my knowledge,” he says.
Studies covered on an average about eight to 10 hours, stretching at times to even 14 or 15 hours. The biggest challenge, he says was handling topics as diverse as tax, audit, law, accounts, costing, IT and strategic management. Clearing all the stages in one go was an uphill task, but “helped me capitalise on the benefit of synergy,” he says.
Gupta was also big on confidence as his studies were going as per his plans. “I planned my work and worked my plan well and that really paid off at the end,” he says.
Exam attempts weren’t easy at all. Subjects like drafting got him “sweating.” The best strategy, however, was first attempting that part of the paper which was easy. The advice he has for others is, “Always prefer to attempt case studies and numerical questions, wherever possible, as there you can score well and that sets the pace of the examiner.”
Everyone is a topper in his family – not just in academics. “My mom is an excellent homemaker, papa is a sole proprietor in a manufacturing concern in Bahadurgarh, my elder sister is married and has been an ex-government teacher. My grandfather is a retired Central Government officer - food department. The first and biggest pie of my success is beyond doubt theirs,” he says.