Meet Adesh Singhal, SEBI Grade A 2020 topper, a Chartered Accountant by profession and an extrovert by nature. He insists that he loves to interact with people and help them with his thoughtful advice. His journey is an extraordinary one wherein he started preparing for UPSC CSE and then eventually went on to clearing SEBI Grade A exam. His journey depicts how one can learn from one’s failures and convert these into stepping stones to gain lifetime success. Let us go on to read what he says and gain some useful insights from it. Here is the success story of Adesh Singhal in his own words.
Success Story of Adesh Singhal
Introduction & Brief Background (Education & Employment)
My name is Adesh Singhal. I hail from the Bharatpur district of Rajasthan.
I am a Chartered Accountant by profession and a graduate in Commerce. I joined Wipro Corporate Finance in Nov’2017 as Finance Cohort.
I love to socialize and being fire brigade (Tarak Mehta to Jetha Lal) to my friends and juniors (even seniors too) is part of my hobby as well as passion.
Although I was not being able to qualify for Prelims of UPSC CSE 2020, I have cleared SEBI Grade A 2020 Exam in my first attempt. My journey can be a good example of how you can overcome your failure and convert one failure into lifetime success.
My SEBI Grade A Preparation Journey
This is the part about which I think most of you are interested.
Let me be very honest with you, my preparation journey is a function of rational thinking, coincidence, support from my family and my friends and of course a focused and consistent approach towards studies.
After completing my CA, I was very clear that I would be appearing for the Civil Services exam for 1 to 2 years (at that time), but due to peer pressure and being fascinated with what companies were offering on the ICAI campus, I had applied for Wipro’s Job and fortunately got selected.
This was for the first time where I did something due to some external pressure but after getting selected, I decided that for the next two years, I would remain focused on my job (Cohorts is a 2 year program and joining the Cohorts program of Wipro was my own decision) and simultaneously would start preparing for Civil Services.
After completing the Cohorts program, I had applied for sabbatical leaves from Wipro (just to cover the risk of uncertainty which the CSE exam carries with it) and again based on my performance and my passion for CSE, Wipro had approved my leave application.
It was Jan’20 when I started my full-fledged preparation for CSE.
After 1 month of preparation, one of my mentors advised me that “since CSE is highly competitive and uncertain, I should have a strong plan B in my mind as today we all are living in a fast-moving world where knowledge and technology are getting updated on a daily basis.
After 2-3 years of CSE preparation, if I would fail (not being pessimistic, just analyzing the real scenario), I should have a better job in my hand” and this is the point I started thinking about GoI regulatory exams.
After going through the websites of SEBI, RBI, IRDAI, NABARD and SSC, I decided to choose SEBI as the best available option for me after CSE. But at that point, I thought that I would appear for the SEBI exam if I would not succeed in CSE after giving at least 2 attempts with full-fledged preparation. (and I had not filed the form in the first cycle)
Now, a coincidence happened to me. My sister visited home in Jul’20 and asked me about any vacancy in the IT field. We researched and shortlisted SEBI for her. She told me that If I want, I can accompany her to the exam centre in Agra and can also appear for the exam from General Stream. I read the notification attentively and realised that the course can be covered simultaneously with my UPSC optional (Commerce and Accountancy) and on 28 Jul 2020, I finally filed the form for SEBI Grade A 2020.
However, I continued my preparation for UPSC prelims as only 2 months was left with me but due to my hard luck, I was not able to clear the prelims exam and here support from my parents and friends was something that made me realise that failure is not the ending of life and I have SEBI exam lined up in the next few months.
I started preparation for SEBI Grade A exam from the second half of Oct’2020 and by the end of Dec’2020, I was fully prepared with the complete syllabus of the SEBI Grade A exam. This confidence (at that time) was the result of focused and consistent preparation for the last 2.5 months – almost 8 hours a day; some good sources of study material and definitely avoiding all the mistakes which I had committed in CSE preparation.
My SEBI Grade A Preparation Strategy – Subject-Wise
I started by reading the notification properly (not watch simplified videos; at least read the full notification by yourself – read the syllabus mentioned in it) and appeared for a few free mock tests to analyse where I stood on the very first day of my preparation and what could by strength, weakness, opportunity and threat (SWOT). This should be done by both Commerce and Non-Commerce Background aspirants.
Subject-Wise Preparation Strategy
Phase 1 – Paper 1:- This is a section where it’s very easy to over-prepare or under prepare. A lot of people with very good phase 2 preparation can’t get through it or some people focus so much on it that they can’t prepare well for phase 2. So you really have to strike a balance. Play with your strengths and weakness in your favour.
1. Quantitative Aptitude:-
To be honest, I am good at Quantitative Aptitude but it does not mean that I had not prepared this for SEBI. This is my strength, so I decided to sharpen it a little more before the exam.
I had gone through the previous year exams of various regulatory bodies and listed down 10 topics from which almost 80% of questions were asked.
I watched 2-3 detailed explanatory videos on those topics and solved Dr R.S. Aggrawal book’s questions about those topics.
2. Logical Reasoning:-
This subject is something that seems very technical but if someone is good at understanding the logic behind the questions, LR is a cakewalk. However, LR questions take more time, if you start solving without practice.
Even after practising a few hundred questions, there are chances that few questions can kill your maximum time in the exam.
The strategy, that I followed was quite similar to the strategy that I had followed for Quantitative Aptitude’s.
I had gone through the previous year exams of various regulatory bodies and list down 10 topics from which almost 80% of questions were asked. I watched 2-3 detailed explanatory videos on those topics and solved Dr R.S. Aggrawal book’s questions of those topics.
When I realized that I am fully prepared for those topics, I appeared for topic wise Mock tests and lastly comprehensive test for Logical Reasoning. The important point here is mock test helped me to identify those topics which are taking maximum time to solve. (You should refer to the analysis of every mock test)
3. General English:-
This subject, I think is a combination of rules and luck. Rules as in you need to identify which form of the verb is correct, which helping verb is correct, the sentence is in the past, present or future from, etc. and luck means whether you are able to understand the meaning of words.
For many of us, we have sufficient time to complete the English section and it is scoring as well. So prepare for at least 15 most common topics of English and practice as much as you can. Learn all the rules that need to be followed. Again, Dr R.S. Aggrawal book can be used as a good reference source here.
4. General Awareness:-
If you are an average student and have fear of GK, believe me, I can connect with you 100%. But here SEBI offers a relaxing moment when you read the notification itself.
General Awareness is important for exams but it cannot act as a roadblock in your journey towards the SEBI office. If you think that they can ask anything, yes you are right, anything can be asked.
But if I ask you whether you can read everything, __________ I know the answer that most of you would give. But since it is a part of the syllabus, we cannot leave it completely.
So what I can suggest and what I had done was that I read any 2 Current Affairs monthly capsules of the last 3 months and the month in which exams are going to be held. (8 * 80 pages). Believe me, you will be able to cover 70% GA section with this technique.
Phase 1 & 2 – Paper 2 :-
(A). Preparation Sequence that can be followed by Commerce and Non-Commerce Students both:-
1. Management: Start with Management (although it is theory-based but if you understand the concepts by relating them to your real life, it is one of the most interesting sections).
2. Accountancy: Then introduce yourself with Accountancy as it is the basis of the full course of commerce and accountancy.
3. Company Laws: After completing Accountancy, Start reading the company laws – all relevant chapters specifically mentioned in the syllabus.
4. Costing: Now you are good to start Costing as this section is time-consuming and if you are doing it for the first time, you need to devote sufficient time for the same.
5. Economics: Post these 4 subjects, read and understand economics. Understand one thing, if you are reading economics for the first time, you may find it a little bit tougher so keep your preparation stick to whatever is required from an exam point of view and
6. Finance: Then at last start reading about Indian Financial Market from sources available to you.
(B). Sources that can be referred:-
1. Management:- This is a very straightforward section that doesn’t pose many difficulties.
First, read NCERT Class 11 and 12 Business Studies and then You can also refer to books such as S P Robbin’s organizational behaviour where you’ll find most of the topics and T N Chhabra. The key here is understanding the topics by applying them in your real life (Visualization). (Believe me, the Motivation and leadership chapter will help you in your preparation as well)
2. Accountancy:- In addition to NCERT Class 11 and 12 Accounts book, prepare the relevant topics from ICAI CA-IPCC material as well (available on the website). In case, if you are preparing yourself, you can also watch free videos available on NIOS and ICAI Study Portal. The key here is to practice – practice – practice.
3. Company Law:- Reading the bare law can be too boring for you. You can read CA – IPCC and CA – Final study material for Law. Please restrict yourself to the Chapters specifically mentioned in the syllabus. Questions asked in Law is quite fact-based so you need to do “rattafication”. One way to do this is “Discussion”. Suppose you read about any penalty, call your friend and tell him/her about the penalty being charged for such wrongdoings like – “Oye tujhe pata hai Auditor ye galti krega th iss section mei penalty lag jaaegi”. You can also prepare colourful notes for quick revision.
4. Costing:- Here the syllabus of costing is exactly the same as the Costing syllabus of CA – IPCC level. You can refer to IPCC – Study Material for Costing. Though Costing is formula based for many of us, I see Costing as a logic-based subject. While solving costing ques, having an attitude of businessman and considering every single money as your money, will help you to arrive at the lowest cost.
5. Economics:- NCERT books of Economics is a must-read by everyone. Here Micro Economics is more important than Macro Economics. Most of the questions being asked are from Micro Economics. In addition to NCERT, you can refer to NIOS, Economic Survey, Budget, etc. Always prefer to read from original sources while reading for the first time.
6. Indian Financial Market:- This section is very vast. However, you can refer stick yourself to RBI Website, SEBI Website – Laws and FAQs available on it.
Phase 2 – Paper 1:- Descriptive English:-
1. Understand the rules of writing Precis’, Essay and Answers of RC.
2. Start working on your typing speed. If possible, use a wired keyboard not a laptop’s keyboard
3. Use Grammarly app, MS Word Error Finder to make sure that you don’t commit similar mistakes in real exam
4. Read Support Material available on various coaching’s websites.
5. Appear for Mock tests to analyse your preparation level.
6. Don’t use English jargon and be very simple in your language.
Phase 3 – Interview:-
While preparing for Phase 1 and Phase 2, we usually underestimate the preparation of the Interview stage and it is not something which you can prepare yourself within a week or two. I drafted my strategy for Interview Preparation like:-
1. First Know about Yourself:- See no one knows about you better than you and this is the point where each one of us has different answers. So start analyzing yourself and get yourself prepare for all the questions which can be asked based on your Personal Information Form.
2. Know about the Organization:- Read about SEBI thoroughly from the websites, Read about Capital Market, etc.
3. Current Affairs related to your Core and Peripheries:- Like if your father or you yourself is attached to business or profession or organization while appearing for the interview, you should read current affairs related to it. Like, if someone’s father is running a Jewellery shop, they can ask you issues related to compulsory Hallmarking etc.
4. Read about your academic knowledge:- Like being a Chartered Accountant, they had asked me about Principles of Auditing which is not part of the syllabus.
5. In an interview, knowledge is secondary but your confidence, attitude, ethics, behaviour, ways of dealing with uncertainty is of primary importance. You should be very clear about why you want to join SEBI and remember money should not be your primary motivator.
Note:- For the interview, I was scared that I need to cover Current Affairs in 15 days time span and of course, here you need analytical study of CA not just factual study. But again, I sit aside for a while and thought that why SEBI being a financial organization would care much about my Current Affairs knowledge in the interview.
Mock tests are as important as any other paper that’s why I’ve kept it in a different section. Mocks give us an idea about exam patterns, our preparation level, and the improvements that we need to make. Give as many mocks as possible but don’t forget to analyze them. Your score does not matter much as long you’re learning from them and making improvements. Just FYI, I myself had appeared for almost 30+ Comprehensive mock tests within the last month before the exam. Things to learn from mock tests:
For Paper 1 Phase-1:- get into the habit of doing questions in time, reducing silly mistakes, and also learn which questions to attempt and which to leave.
For Paper 2 of Phase-1 & 2:- analyze the silly mistakes, the types of questions, and things you should be focusing upon while studying. Another important thing to learn is making calculated guesses because everyone needs that when the competition is so fierce, so learn to make calculated guesses in the mocks only and in the exam do a cost-benefit analysis before doing this.
For Interview:- Mock interviews will help you in identifying what mistakes you usually do while communicating with others like your gestures, body language etc. Also, What not to do in an actual interview is a very important takeaway that you receive while appearing for mock interviews
How Oliveboard Helped Me?
Tips for Aspirants
Tips or advice for Aspirants
Whatever mistakes I had done in CSE preparation and what conclusions I have drawn based on my failure in CSE and success in SEBI Grade A Exam are listed down below:-
1. Don’t try to read everything. You don’t need to do P.hd. in any subject. Just Respect the syllabus and cover the whole syllabus with 100% genuine effort.
2. Don’t take any questions in the exam on your ego that I will complete this ques. See these exams are of competitive nature and time is a limiting factor. So use your time appropriately and a Mock test will be very helpful in analysing the time you consume for solving questions of particular topics.
3. Always have 2 materials – One is detailed – prepared by you and another one is of any institute’s material which is concise and concrete and covers every aspect of the syllabus.
4. Don’t try to estimate what type of questions can be asked. Be prepared for every type of question whether the theory or practical, from regular topics or irregular topics – especially in Paper 2 of both phases.
5. Don’t expand the scope of the syllabus too much. Just cover the peripheral part attached to it. Like Accounting for Partnership, GST is not there in the syllabus yet they had asked questions related to these topics, so just have a basic idea about these topics; don’t do deep dive – Remember exam is prepared from point of view of selecting candidates not to create fear in the mind of candidates that this exam cant be cracked.
6. Work on your Interview preparation from the very first day of preparation and during the interview, preparation phase start talking with unknowns as much as possible or person you are not in regular contact:- This will help you in building your confidence.
Lastly, I would like to conclude by saying:-
When one’s preparing on his own (as I did) we fall into the trap of “collecting materials”.
We tend to consider almost every material as important and try to study them all. But that should be avoided. Once you’ve shortlisted your sources stick to them but also don’t hesitate to change them if they don’t serve you well. Keep making improvements as you move ahead with preparation and get a hang of the exam. You don’t necessarily have to be an expert from day one.
It may seem too tough when you’re just starting (at least it did to me), but hang in there, it will become clearer and easier as you go forward.
Don’t get bothered too much by the score in mocks, unless it’s too low then you need to work upon your weak sections. Use mocks for speed practice and getting a hang of the exam.
Also when we are planning to get into such a prestigious organization, competing with so many brilliant people, it’s very easy to get intimidated, easy to make this something bigger than us.
But what we tend to forget is that at the end of the day it’s just another job, surely better than some, but still a job. It’s not the only way to reach your goals in life. This may seem to contradict someone looking for a “strategy” to clear this exam but it reduces the fear and you can better focus on the process.
Prepare with the mindset that you’re definitely going to make it to the final list of selected candidates. But remember that no matter how much effort you put in, only a handful of people are going to get in, so don’t make it a question of your self-worth. Be grateful for the opportunities that you have in life. Life is all about uncertain events and prepares you for every change whether positive or negative.
Thanks to Oliveboard for providing me with this opportunity to share my strategy in such a detailed manner. For aspirants, if they want to reach out to me they can drop me a message on my telegram Id @Adesh1996. I will try to resolve your dilemmas and help you in building the right attitude for Govt Exams based on my experience.
That’s pretty much it for the strategy and sources part. After reading this, you can draw a strategy that suits your SWOT. Remember One size doesn’t fit all. You can always connect with me in drafting the right strategy for your preparation.
In the end, I’d like to take a moment and thank – my parents, sister, and the rest of the family to whom I owe everything. And Anchal who always stood by my side through thick and thin, friends (Ayushman, Aditya and Sakshi) who were happier than me for me :p. and all teachers who have mentored me throughout my preparation.
These were Adesh’s words on his SEBI Grade A preparation and we thank him from the bottom of our hearts for allowing us to share these with you all. We hope that you could gain useful insights from his preparation journey and utilise these to fine-tune yours.
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