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January 21, 2021

Will ICAI conduct upcoming CA exams online?

by CA Shivam Jaiswal in ICAI

Will ICAI conduct upcoming CA exams online?

The current COVID-19 pandemic has made the entire world sit up and realise that medical exigencies are unpredictable and can cause a financial upheaval that is tough to handle. With the commencement of 2020-21 financial year the effects of coronavirus have affected the stability of the economy of 150 countries – jeopardising their lifestyle, economy, impacting business and assumption of common wellbeing which we had taken for granted. The lockdown has adversely have affected service sector like banks, restaurants, food vendors, and food delivery providers. India faced a huge decline in government revenues and growth of the income for at least two quarters as the coronavirus hit economic activity of the country as a whole.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) is a statutory body established by an Act of Parliament, viz. The Chartered Accountants Act, 1949 for regulating the profession of Chartered Accountancy in the country. The Institute, functions under the administrative control of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India. During the Covid-19 induced pandemic, ICAI went gone ahead with exams in physical mode in November 2020.

CA exams are conducted in May and November ever year. However, owing to the pandemic, the exams scheduled in May last year were postponed multiple times and later merged with the November exams.

But in the long-run, world’s second largest professional body of CAs, has decided to conduct online exams only.

Similar petition disposed in November 2020

  • Ahead of the November 2020 exams, some students had even filed a writ petition before the Supreme Court raising safety concerns which was disposed of by the court.
  • However, then the ICAI told the Supreme Court that it could not hold the upcoming CA exam online as suggested by some of the candidates, in view of COVID-19, as it tested the analytical capabilities of the examinees.
  • The ICAI said its 3-hour exam is of a different pattern altogether, which have descriptive answers and not tick marks.

Will ICAI conduct exams online?

However, now ICAI is seriously considering all the possible options to make all the exams of all three levels – foundation, intermediate and final stages of CA, online. ICAI’s Delhi council is exploring the means.

Lalit Bajaj, chairman of Western India Regional Council (WIRC) of ICAI said that they would adopt the best model.

Issues that ICAI would face if exams are conducted online

  • WIRC’s vice-chairman Vishal Doshi said that the nature of CA exams is quite different.
  • While the questions were asked in analytical format, the answers were not objective type but descriptive in nature.
  • Currently, ICAI has a lot of MCQ-based models for online examinations and they are exploring an alternative online model which assesses analytical skills keeping in mind all safety concerns.
  • Unlike exams conducted by other institutes, the CA exams are held nation-wide and continue for days together.
  • There are other competitive exams which are held for a day or couple of days. But CA exams are held pan-India and they go on for 25 days covering all the three stages – making it a challenging task.

Across western region covering Gujarat, Maharashtra and Goa, the November exams had witnessed 70% turnout. Meanwhile, the CA examinations for the students who had opted out from November 2020 examinations and opted for November 2020 cycle-II are scheduled from January 21 to February 7.

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