Over the last few years, a large number of students have applied for various commerce courses. Among these courses, Chartered Accountancy (CA) has been widely popular, and students have paired it with bachelor degrees like BCom, BMS, and BAF. There are many reasons for this - from the appealing salaries to the respect the CA course garners. Chartered Accountants have large responsibilities. They sign off the book of accounts, file taxes, and audit financial statements for individuals and businesses. In December 2017, close to 60,000 students appeared for CPT, and the pass percentage was approximately 38%.
If you are one of the students who has attempted CPT this year in June, or are aiming to in December, here are a few things that you should know.
1. Cracking CPT does not guarantee a degree
Bachelor’s degree courses like engineering or medical have a very small drop out percentage. Cracking engineering entrance exams might be tough, but an admission in a college usually means that you will pass out with a degree. Cracking CPT does not guarantee a degree. Even after passing the CPT (CA entrance) exam, a large number of students struggle to clear both groups at the next level, IPCC level in a single attempt.
In November 2017, around 27% of the students passed in at least one of the groups after appearing for both. For the Final CA exam, this number was close to 23%. Many students need to attend a particular group multiple times to be able to pass it. This means, that even though the duration of the CA course is roughly 4.5 years, most students take much longer to complete it. This is the reason why many drop the course mid way.
If you wish to pursue the CA course, you must be prepared for taking longer than your friends studying in other fields like engineering, arts etc.
2. The CA syllabus is extremely vast
It’s true that courses like medical and law have a vast syllabus. The same applies to CA. If you have studied the CPT syllabus, you should know that it is just an overview. Think of the CA course as a complex game. With every level up, the difficulty of crossing over to the next level increases.
As for the question - Why is the syllabus so vast?
Just like lawyers, Chartered Accountants have a huge responsibility - to their clients and to the government. They are responsible for auditing and signing off a company’s book of accounts. They sign off on tax returns of large and complex organisations and are expected to not make any errors. Moreover, the Indian tax system is extremely complex. Due to this, they are required to have in depth insights into Company Acts, Accounting and Auditing Standards, Taxation laws, other laws like SEBI and FEMA, and Audit Information Systems.
The only way to even complete a vast syllabus is putting in effort on a daily basis. A dedicated number of hours every day will surely help you crack all exams in the first attempt.
3. Challenges during articleship
The CA course is not entirely theoretical. It is mandatory for all students pursuing this course to complete 2 years of articleship by working under a licensed CA or CA firm. This articleship is extremely valuable since it provides industry experience and practical knowledge. However, students face many challenges during this period.
A. Applying to a good firm and being selected: If you need quality experience and want to make the most of these two years, you need to be associated with a good firm. A good firm during articleship means that your job search gets much easier once you complete the course. In fact, there is a possibility of receiving an offer to join the same firm after receiving your CA certification. However, these firms have their own criteria for selecting articleship students like number of attempts. Their selection process is stringent.
B. Low stipend: The second challenge is the low stipend. Even reputed firms do not provide adequate money. However, you must keep in mind that your articleship is less about earning money and more about gathering immeasurable industry experience.
C. Poor feedback system: Even if you make it to a big, well reputed firm, you are in danger of getting lost in a sea of faces. Your learning process is largely impacted by how much feedback is given to you. This helps you correct your mistakes. Even in a large firm, you may not receive adequate feedback to improve your skills. Providing feedback completely depends on the amount of interest that your manager takes in your personal growth.
4. Placement system
If you have had the opportunity to complete your articleship with a reputed firm, chances are that you may be recruited by the firm itself. If this does not happen, or if you don’t want to continue working with the same firm, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) offers campus placements. However, in the last few years, the number of candidates appearing for these placements has almost doubled, while the number of jobs has stagnated. Since companies have a larger variety to choose from, they prefer candidates who have completed the course in their first attempt. Students with multiple attempts end up applying for jobs outside this system and often end up with a low stipend.
5. The learning never stops
In the medical field, you must be aware of newer drugs and latest treatment methods. In engineering, you cannot function with outdated technology. In law, you must keep track of constantly amending acts, and historic court precedents. Similarly, after you graduate as a CA, you cannot close yourself in a box and stop learning. You must keep track of new policies, laws, and regulations that are brought in by the government. Moreover, India has a dynamic economy and tax policies are under a lot of change. The GST has just been introduced and is still under an evolutionary stage. These laws will keep changing over the years and you must keep learning to stay updated.
Everything said and done, CA is one of the most respected careers across the world. Completing this course needs a lot of hard work and dedication, but this goes hand in hand with excelling in any other field, and even in sports. As a CA, you will make a difference to the larger economy and in turn touch millions of lives.
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About the Expert:
Manish Kumar graduated from IIT Bombay in 2006 with a degree in Metallurgical and Materials Science. He then pursued masters in Materials Science Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology, USA. Post his graduation, he joined Indian School Finance Company, where he was part of the core team responsible for business strategies and growth. In 2013, he co-founded SEED Schools, a venture focused on improving quality of low-cost K-12 education in India with a vision to make quality education accessible. He is currently Vice President of Product - Learning & Pedagogy at Toppr.com.