Over the past few weeks, there have been continued demands from students to postpone the November 2020 Chartered Accountancy exams. As per a recent notification, the ICAI has reiterated its decision to conduct the exams as per the earlier notified schedule, i.e., from November 21 to December 14. Earlier, it had also rolled out admit cards and a detailed standard operating procedure for conducting the exams. However, keeping the COVID-19 situation in mind, the ICAI announced an "Opt-Out Scheme" for the November examination. While this comes as a relief to those directly affected by the virus, it has left the students confused over the process and if they should be availing the scheme.
Let us look into the details of the scheme so that you can make an informed decision-
What is the Opt-Out Scheme?
The scheme provides a specific group of applicants to carry forward their candidature to the next exam cycle, i.e., the November 2020 Exam Cycle-II (to be held in Jan/Feb). The opt-out window has been open since November 7, 2020, and will continue to be so till the end of the exam.
Who are eligible to opt-out?
Those candidates can opt-out of the November 2020 exam who-
• Who are currently COVID positive or show symptoms at any time up to the conclusion of the exams
• Those candidates who are staying with their families, and if a family member is COVID positive or becomes positive at any time up to the exams
• Those candidates staying in an area declared as a containment zone by the central government/state government/local authorities at any time up to the conclusion of exams.
If the candidate has already submitted the online examination application for November 2020 exam cycle and satisfies any of the above three conditions, they can choose the scheme.
What will happen if you opt-out?
Applicants who opt out of the November 2020 exam, will have the option to-
a) Appear in November Cycle-II, i.e., Jan/Feb 2021 exam, or
b) Appear in May 2021 exam
a) If the student chooses to appear in November Cycle-II-
• The examination fees for such a student will automatically be shifted to the next examination cycle.
• The student will not be required to apply afresh or pay any fees for November 2020 exam cycle-II
• Exemption, if any, will be shifted to the next cycle (November Cycle-II)
• November 2020 won’t be counted as an attempt
b) If the student chooses to appear in May 2021 exam-
• They will have to fill fresh examination form/apply afresh at the relevant time
• Their examination fees will be adjusted, and only the differential fee, if any, will be charged
• In case a candidate has filled the form for November 2020 exams for one Group only, and in May 2021 exams cycle, opts to appear in both groups, they will have to pay the differential fees.
• If a candidate appears for some of the papers in a particular Group but decides to opt-out of the November exam, then they will have to appear for all the papers of that Group in the next exam cycle
• If the candidate appears for all papers in one Group but opts out of the other group, then the group they have appeared in shall be considered completely appeared. The student will have to write the other group in the next examination cycle.
Procedure to opt-out
To opt out, one needs to follow these steps-
• Visit https://icaiexam.icai.org/
• Click on the Login/Register tab and log in to your account using your id and password
• In the "Apply and Track Your Application" dashboard, click on "Apply Now" next to the "OptOut of Nov 2020 Exam" option
• Go through the terms and conditions carefully. In point 5, you can access the self-declaration form that needs to be submitted. Alternatively, you can also access the self-declaration over here. Once you have done the needful, click on Submit
• In the next window, choose the exam cycle you want to opt for- Jan/Feb 2021 or May 2021
• After that, click on the reason behind the opt-out
• After this upload the duly signed self-declaration and click on "Save and Preview"
• A pop-up window asking if you are sure about opting out will appear. Click on "Ok", and you will have successfully opted out of the November 2020 exam.
You can watch a video detailing the step-by-step procedure here.
While the ICAI has elaborated on the Opt-Out Scheme, there are a few questions over which confusion persists.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
While it is obvious for students to feel confused and anxious before such an important exam, they mustn’t lose sight of the larger picture. With the exams just around the corner, it would be wise not to get overwhelmed and caught up in the multitude of suggestions coming in from all corners. It is advisable to consult your family, friends, assess the health situation, and then decide.
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