Attempting your CA exam?
Try till you succeed.
Many competitive examinations have a limit to the number of times you can attempt to take them. In the case of the CA exam, there is no limit to the number of attempts taken to clear it. The question therefore is, does the number of attempts taken to clear the exam matter? It depends ... it really depends on the company you’re trying to get into, how badly you want to succeed and how much time you’re willing to invest in it in case you don’t clear the exam in the first go. The important thing to also remember is whether or not multiple attempts could have an adverse effect on your career. We’ll be looking at all these aspects in this blog.
There is no ideal or magic number as such while looking to clear your CA exam. It really just depends on the standard and eligibility criteria of the organization you’re planning to apply after the exam. If you’re looking to get into any of the big 4 CA global firms such i.e. Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG or PY, their criteria for recruiting candidates may be far more complex and complicated than a lot of other firms. This is because their operations are spread out across every corner of the world and they’re more likely to hire only the crème de la crème of Chartered Accountants. So, in this case, taking more than one attempt to pass the CA exam might not work in your favour.
However, there are other organizations – almost every other company and individual needs an accountant and there is not, never has been or never will be a dearth of jobs for CAs. So, if you wish to keep at it, you will clear your CA exam in the first few attempts.
This is a very relative concern. Truth is of course, it does matter how many attempts it takes you to clear your CA exam.
There are two broad reasons: personal toll and career prospects.
On a personal level, the number of attempts clearly is important. Firstly, the time you invest in studying for the exams is of a relevant concern. The greater the number of attempts, the more time and effort you need to invest. Also, each attempt costs money - not only in terms of registration fees, etc. but also in terms of the money you might spend on coaching institutes and the like. It also takes a toll on you in terms of your confidence levels.
Regarding career prospects, there are companies and corporations that do take into account the number of attempts. You should also be aware that the number of attempts you take to clear each stage becomes more of an issue when attempting CA Final rather than the other stages like CA Intermediate and CA Foundation. However, there are companies that might consider the number of attempts taken for each stage. The good news is, companies always list their requirements on job portals while looking for new recruits. So you can always check their eligibility criteria before applying. Some companies look for candidates who have cleared their exam in no more than two attempts. If you start practicing as an auditor early in your career, then that would make up for your failure of not clearing the exam in the first or second attempt. So, yes, in one sense, the number of attempts does matter. It also depends on what you want to do after becoming a CA.
Here is a rough idea of the importance of the number of attempts regarding career prospects:
· Jobs in Corporate: Generally all attempts matter
· Jobs in CA Firms: Finals attempts matter but your other experiences might offset this
· CA Practice in own or Family Firm: Number of attempts do not matter
For those wishing to appear for the campus placements held by ICAI, you must note that the number of attempts might be considered while looking to hire a potential candidate. Even while filling up the campus recruitment form, there is a section that asks how many times you have attempted the exam.
It is almost impossible that you might not get a job at the end of the CA line. As we mentioned earlier, almost every working individual and company – big or small, requires a CA for their accounts. There will be jobs available for Chartered Accountants. That said, sometimes you have to pay a few dues to get to your final destination. You might not get into a great company right away but you will get there eventually. Hang in there and don’t lose heart.
Apart from just being good at accounting, there are a number of other factors that help if you wish to become a presentable CA who is well-connected, social and sociable with excellent leadership skills and good communication skills. Obviously clearing the CA exam is of the utmost priority. However, don’t forget to brush up on soft skills while you have the time. When you go for a job interview, you never know which aspect of your personality might become an instant hit with the interviewers.
If you’re reading this, chances are you are completely convinced that you are destined to become a Chartered Accountant or that it has been your lifelong goal to become one. Either way, don’t give up too easily on your dream but also try to be practical in your approach. While becoming a successful CA would be the light at the end of the tunnel for you after multiple attempts, keep in mind that every time you retake the exam, you’re spending more money. There are two ways in which this can be remedied – either gain a lot of practical experience in auditing as we’ve mentioned earlier or look at jobs similar to CA. Always keep something to fall back on. Don’t make CA the be all and end all of your career. For example, try doing B.Com or an MBA along with your pursuit of a CA.
At the end of the day, know that if you work hard enough, then you are definitely going to go on to become a successful CA – whether it is in one attempt or ten attempts, you will get there. However, keep in mind that it is not easy to put oneself through so much mental stress over and over again. It will start affecting your physical and mental health in the long run. There is also the question of – what if you finally become a successful CA but do not enjoy the job at all? All these things converge into one big conundrum. What we’re trying to say, don’t push yourself over the top and do whatever feels right to you. If you think you can persevere through multiple attempts, go for it and if you think you’re done after just two attempts, that’s fine too. Either way, success is waiting for you.