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CA Exams 2020 - A gritting tale of Twitter Hashtags and Student Concerns

Aishna Kukreja 
on 19 November 2020

LinkedIn


The November 2020 CA Exams are nothing short of a severe conflict between ICAI and CA Students.

Hashtags like

  • #ICAIExamPostponement,
  • #CAEXams,
  • #ICAIPostponeExams, 
  • #ICAI_DENIES_EQUALITY_, and
  • #ICAI_DENIES_SAFTEY  

have been trending on Twitter and other Social Media Platforms for a long time.

With barely 2 days left for D-Day, we analyze the expectations of the students that are not being met by ICAI and what implications does this have on the future exam cycles.

WHAT EXACTLY IS WORRYING THE STUDENTS?

2020 has been a difficult year for most people in the world. However, coupled with the mental health problems a pandemic generally comes with, the November 2020 CA Exams have undisputedly added to the problems of students and have deteriorated their mental health well-being. Let us now understand some of the major concerns of students:

1. The ICAI Opt-Out Facility

In order to benefit the students, ICAI had given them an option to opt-out from the November 2020 exams and had also given them an option to appear in the November 2020 Exam Cycle - II which will be held in January/February 2021. The official announcement regarding this can be read over here.

While this came as a relief to some students, others have gotten more concerned. Some of the speculations and concerns of the students are:

The eligibility criteria for the opt-out facility is extremely generic in nature and does not take into account some of the other problems faced by students. While the ICAI has elaborated on the Opt-Out Scheme, there are a few questions over which confusion still persists:

i. Firstly, the entire scheme can be availed based on a self-declaration; there is no mention of cross-examination by ICAI or demand for a medical certificate/report. Applicants are confused if they can opt-out for a reason other than COVID.

ii. Another confusion is over the eligibility criteria. There is no option for a candidate to opt-out if someone in their immediate neighborhood has tested positive for COVID.

iii. Some candidates have also reported difficulty in mobility as their centers are far away from their residence, and hence they will have to travel long distances. This also increases the risk of candidates contracting the virus and puts a strain on their pockets as the exam spans over multiple days. You can read other concerns of students over here.

CA Exams 2020 - A gritting tale of Twitter Hashtags and Student Concerns

2. The January/February 2021 Exam - November Exam Cycle II

While talking about the November 2020 Exam Cycle - II which is supposed to take place in January/February 2021, ICAI mentioned that the schedule for the same will be released in the mid of December 2020. However, students are not very pleased with this decision of ICAI. There are some of the worries by students regarding this matter:

i. The exam schedule of ICAI has been the same for numerous years now. Students often decide their entire study plan based solely on the schedule of exams. However, this year, owing to the pandemic, there have been multiple changes in the exam schedule by ICAI. Amidst this, the uncertainty of the schedule for January/February Exams has left students saddened and hopeless.

ii. Students across the country have also shown concern whether or not the January/February exams will actually take place or not. However, ICAI has verified the same and assured the students that the November 2020 Exam Cycle - II is very much in place and the schedule for same will be announced in the mid of December 2020.

Update: ICAI has announced that the November Cycle - II of CA Exams which was to be held in January or February, will commence from 21st January 2021. Read the official announcement here.

3. Change in Examination Centres 4 days prior to the Exams

On 17th November 2020, ICAI made an announcement wherein, examination centers of 30 cities across the country were changed without any prior notice to the students. This has rendered thousands of students extremely disheartened and has affected their mental health well-being. Some students have also claimed that their preparation for studies has deteriorated with announcements made by ICAI, so close to the examinations. The official announcement made by ICAI regarding this can be read over here.

4. COVID situation in Delhi NCR and restrictions thereof

On Wednesday 18th November 2020, Delhi Health Minister announced that although there are no chances of a lockdown, there may be some restrictions in busy places and hotspots. On Tuesday 17th November, CM Arvind Kejriwal also formally requested the Home Ministry for an exemption to reduce crowding at markets. Amidst this, CA Students are concerned about whether or not taking an exam in this situation is ideal or not. This has also put extreme mental pressure on them and they are unable to concentrate on preparing for the exam.

5. No Isolated Room for Symptomatic Candidates

ICAI, in its press release dated 4th November 2020 disregarded the need for isolation rooms for symptomatic candidates stating “As regards request for isolation rooms, the Hon'ble Court was informed that this is neither possible nor desirable in larger interest of other candidates, staff etc. to allow persons showing covid symptoms to enter the examination centres." The official press release can be read over here. Needless to say, students have not appreciated this statement by ICAI and have demanded the need for isolation rooms as it is quite plausible for students to show symptoms during the exam.

 

6. MHA Guidelines

The Ministry of Home Affairs guidelines clearly state that in a closed space, no more than 200 people shall be allowed at a time. Students have raised concerns that although there will be barely 30 students giving the exam at a time in the examination room, there will be almost 500 students entering and exiting from a common point. In this regard, ICAI has issued no clarification.

IMPACT ON MAY 2021 EXAMS

While the expectations of students are not being met in the present times, it is also important to note how the exam cycles planned by ICAI will play out in the future. As per ICAI, there have been three exam cycles planned, i.e. November 2020, January/February 2021, and May 2021. Considering the timelines and stuffing of three important exam cycles in a time frame of barely 6 months, it can easily be said that the institute will be under immense pressure to release the results.

Normally, the results of the November exam cycle are published in January/February, thus giving students who haven’t cleared the exam enough time to prepare and take another attempt in May. However, this year, the chances of the results of November 2020 getting released in January/February are extremely low, since the institute has planned for another exam cycle in the same month.

Once the November 2020 Cycle - II exams which are scheduled to take place in January/February are over, ICAI will have the exam sheets of cycles. Needless to say, the results will not be released any time before March/April, giving students no time to prepare for the May 2021 exams.

 

CONCLUSION

With barely 2 days left for the November 2020 exams, students around the country are not focusing on studies, as they should, but are instead forced to keep all the announcements by ICAI and states in check. In times like these, one can only hope that a renowned institute like ICAI has done thorough planning for its students. The SOPs released by ICAI, however, look extremely promising and will hopefully protect the students who will be traveling immensely for the upcoming exams.

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