Meet Rushali Mohase, SEBI Grade A 2020 topper, a Company Secretary by profession and a self-made girl who went on to clear the SEBI Grade A exam in her very first attempt. She utilised the time left after office hours diligently and the weekends to her advantage, to prepare for the exam. She has set a perfect example of grit and determination, the qualities that should be inherent to an aspirant who aims to work for an institution as prestigious as the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). Here is the Success Story of Rushali Mohase in her own words.
Table of Contents
Success Story of Rushali Mohase
I. Introduction & Brief Background (Education & Employment)
Let me tell you a little about myself that would help you understand my journey so far.
My name is Rushali Mohase and I am 23 years old. I am a Commerce Post Graduate and a Company Secretary. I have been working in the CS Department of an MNC for the last two years. I have been selected as one of the SEBI Grade-A Officers (2020 batch).
While my educational background did prepare me for Paper 2, to be honest, the only “qualification” that actually matters is you fulfilling the eligibility criteria as the later stage of preparation can be done by anyone determined enough to pass.
This was my first attempt at any kind of competitive exam and so, I had absolutely no exposure to Phase I Paper I subjects, especially Quantitative Aptitude and Test of Reasoning. Adding to that, I am a super lazy person and I always try to find a way out to achieve things without having to lift a finger.
I am no outperformer and my entire preparation was done while having a 9-to-5 job. Once my work got over, I would take a quick break and start with my SEBI preparation. The reason I am telling you this is because a lot of aspirants think of leaving their jobs to pursue their studies. Please allow me to clear the air here by saying that you do not have to necessarily quit your job or other preoccupancy in order to crack the SEBI Grade-A exam – it, however, is always a personal choice.
As the exams were differed due to the blatantly unfortunate happening of COVID-19, it did give us aspirants some breathing space (ironically).
Let us move forward where I will share how I used some no-nonsense strategies to strike a balance between work and studies and crack all three phases in one go.
But before we do that, I need you guys to keep this in your mind – you are different and so would be your comfort zones, your plan and your approach. So before following any advice or YouTube video or preparatory book, it is important that you first introspect and understand what works for you because, after that, everything else will fall into its place. 🙂
II. My SEBI Grade A Preparation Strategy
» The Planning Stage
As it has been rightly said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
For doing anything in life, there usually exist two schools of thought – just go with the flow OR think first then act. Due to my own lazy reasons, I tend to go with the latter thought. This is because I happen to take up things at the eleventh hour and when you are like this, you are left with no choice but to plan for everything within a limited stretch of time. One could say that I am a boring checklist person.
So, once the notification was in, I started making a list of subjects that I had to study. Here, let me show you the nitty-gritty of it:
Step-1: Writing it all down
|Paper i||Paper 2||Paper 1||Paper 2|
|General awareness||Commerce||Essay writing||Commerce|
|English language||Accountancy||Precis writing||Accountancy|
|–||Companies Act||–||Companies Act|
Step-2: Break down the subjects into topics and sources
|Subject||Topics||Source of Information|
|General awareness||1, 2, 3||1, 2, 3|
|English language||1, 2, 3||1, 2, 3|
|Quantitative aptitude||1, 2, 3||1, 2, 3|
|Logical reasoning||1, 2, 3||1, 2, 3|
|Commerce||1, 2, 3||1, 2, 3|
|Accountancy||1, 2, 3||1, 2, 3|
|Management||1, 2, 3||1, 2, 3|
|Finance||1, 2, 3||1, 2, 3|
|Costing||1, 2, 3||1, 2, 3|
|Companies Act||1, 2, 3||1, 2, 3|
|Economics||1, 2, 3||1, 2, 3|
Step-3: Knowing your strong and weak areas
Once clear with the topics and sources I would use to prepare, I sorted the topics into 3 parts – difficult, moderate and easy for me.
Since I am all about colours, I used 3 highlighter pens of different colours to do this. The intent would be to make combinations for studying each day, depending on mental energy, mood and availability of time. Too much, eh? Trust me it is all worth it in the end.
Once I was through with my planning, it was easier to sail through the preparations. Again, this is totally my viewpoint and might differ from your theories. Always go with what you think gets the best out of you.
» My Two Cents on Preparation
1. My SEBI Grade A Phase 1 Preparation Strategy
The goal for Phase I should be to pass the level as the scores are not going to be counted at any stage later on.
- Paper I is all about quick and correct calculations. For this, please (and I cannot stress this enough) practice a lot! I relied on Oliveboard Mock Tests, YouTube and R.S. Agrawal for lessons on QA and LR. For general awareness (inclined towards business news), I would go through The Hindu and OliveBoard’s monthly capsules (at least the last six months).
- Make sure that you know your strong suit and play on that – the more the merrier. There are no sectional cut-offs so feel free to choose your battles. I scored good in QA and English and not-so-splendidly in LR and GA.
- Paper 2 might get a little challenging for aspirants not having a finance background, but not impossible. As my educational qualifications and work profile matched the syllabus, I was able to score well here.
- Also in my attempt, SEBI had a very fresh approach and a couple of out-of-the-blue questions were there too, such as the address of BSE. My take would be to have a maximum of three sources. I relied on Oliveboard for Accountancy, Management and Costing.
- For economics and company law, I referred to 12th standard textbooks and bare act (MCA eBook) respectively. Since this would be your Phase II syllabus too, prepare accordingly so you only have to revise it later.
- Please attempt mock tests as much as you can and also pay attention to the results. Not only would this help you increase your speed and accuracy but also identify the areas you need to improve.
2. My SEBI Grade A Phase 2 Preparation Strategy
After Phase I results, we typically get one month to prepare for Phase 2. If you are confident with your performance with Phase I, start preparing for Phase 2 without waiting for the results. This would give you roughly 10 more days to get ready.
Remember, a certain proportion of your Phase 2 marks would be considered along with your interview marks, for your final selection, which makes it all the more important to perform well in Phase 2.
Now as mentioned earlier, the Paper 2 syllabus needs to be revised during this month.
Memorizing sections, solving sample numerical questions, writing down accounting entries, re-reading management theories and names of their fathers, etc. could be done. I committed the mistake of not taking my revision seriously and thus got relatively lesser marks than I had expected.
Coming to Paper I is divided into Essay, Precis and Comprehension. Even if you are naturally good at the language and have great command over it, practice!
- Every day, choose one topic (either something on news) or a general topic and type about it (not pen-paper approach).
- Next, google a good article or essay and try to make a Precis out of it.
- Learn to be good and accurate reading as we do not get enough time to re-read paragraphs because we did not pay attention the first time.
Once you develop some confidence in your writing skills, try to condense your thoughts in limited words (typically 200), work on your vocabulary, grammar and typing speed. Try to not freak out in the exam if you do not know how to write on the given topic. Simply try to jot down broad pointers on a rough sheet before drafting your essay/precis.
I referred to Oliveboard videos for my essay practice and VirtualWritingTutor for checking my grammar every now and then. Also try to stay in touch with candidates through social media, study groups, etc. The Paper 1 score is one of the highest, this time.
3. My SEBI Grade A Interview Preparation Strategy
Ah, the interview!
It is as important to prepare for the interview as it is for the exams. This time, your equation should be: Knowledge + Presentation + Confidence. It is very natural to get nervous for the big interview (as was I) but the Panel is usually very cordial and understanding. Just think of the interview as a conversation between some brilliant minds, including yours. 🙂
- Be prepared with questions on your educational background and present and past job profiles (you should be able to justify that).
- Read business news and current situation of economy and securities market. Go through SEBI’s website thoroughly, especially recent amendments, circulars, consultation papers, press releases, etc. Also, try to keep an idea of RBI’s recent works.
- Prepare smart answers for ice-breaking questions like – “Tell me about yourself”, “Why would you want to join”, “How would you contribute”, “How would your experience help”, etc.
- If you need time to organize your thoughts, request it.
- If you do not know the answer to a question, do not lie or say the wrong thing. You can simply express the fact that you do not know.
- You can try writing down your answers and rehearsing them at your home in front of a mirror to develop a sense of self-confidence.
Before I Wind Up
My experience with all three phases was great, definitely not easy, but great. SEBI is an esteemed organization and thus the examination level aligns with those high standards.
The first attempt is always a charm but it does not mean that a person who takes more than an attempt is any less deserving.
It is true that competition in India is painfully high and we have to face cutthroat competitions to get in. But it is also important to know that these exams are a part of life and not life itself.
Do not skip on life while preparing for exams. Be a smart student and give your all when you study but also make time for other important facets of life. I for one can absolutely say that I would not have been able to get through this without my extremely supportive family and friends.
I would like to convey to all the bright aspirants that it is okay to feel clueless at the time and sometimes feel intimidated by other candidates.
It is okay to be scared of the exams and it is okay to shiver before the interview. As Vince Lombardi has said, “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up”. Take your own sweet time to understand things and what works for you. Nothing seems easy on the first day, but if you work on yourself one day after the other, the result is beautiful. So just hang in there because you are doing great. 🙂
These were Rushali’s words on her SEBI Grade A preparation and we thank her from the bottom of our hearts for allowing us to share these with you all. We hope that you could gain useful insights from her preparation journey and utilise these to fine-tune yours.
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