Latest initiatives being undertaken by ICAI towards reforms in the CA Course and Examination System
The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) has always stood by the students and strived to address their concerns from time to time. Considering the dynamic global scenario, ICAI has taken proactive and exemplary initiatives to facilitate best resources, catering to learning needs of its students, be it regarding publications, online lectures, webcasts or mentoring sessions.
ICAI, being the largest accounting education body in the world, is compliant with the principles enlisted in the International Education Standards issued by the IAESB of International Federation of Accountants. Further, the New Scheme of Education and Training which was launched last year, is also in line with the International Education Standards. Some of the latest initiatives being undertaken by ICAI towards reforms in the CA Course and Examination System are mentioned below:
Focusing on emerging Areas
Today, the world is focusing on specialization. The new age successful professionals are the ones who are delivering qualitative services in one area rather than knowing little in every area. To this effect, Electives in the emerging areas of Risk Management, International Taxation, Financial and Capital Markets, Global Financial Reporting Standards, have been introduced in New CA course which will prepare the coming generation of CAs as experts, specializing in their chosen respective areas.
Moving towards objective Examination and Evaluation
Assessment of electives is based on case studies to sharpen application, analytical and comprehension skills. In Electives, 40% MCQ based questions have been introduced to reduce subjectivity, steering the system towards objective examination and evaluation. Further, Electives are open book exams and from November 2018 exams, students have been allowed to bring their own study material for reference during the exam, which is itself a big reform.
Revised Study Material
Updating the study material is a continuous process and this entails meticulous quality review of the syllabus and contents by subject experts. ICAI conducts this review exercise periodically and this year, syllabus is again being reviewed and rationalized. The latest editions of rationalized and revised study material will be released soon in January, 2019.
Robust Examination System
There is misconception amongst stakeholders about the results which are declared by the ICAI that hardly 3-4% of the examinees only pass such exams. In this context, it is pertinent to mention that ICAI has a robust examination system with three tier system of examination for examiners and paper setters. The system has an in-built performance monitoring mechanism preceded by requisite extensive training.
CA. Naveen N. D. Gupta, President, ICAI said “Reforms are a continuous process and ICAI is in seize of problems and is continuously working towards resolving issues of the students. The students & CA fraternity is working together for a common objective i.e. to enhance the glory and dignity of the Institute and CA profession. He added “As a team, we must work in collaboration to improve systems and practices.”
Based on regular feedback from students, several reforms have been recently implemented by the ICAI to make the process of examination and evaluation more robust, reliable and credible.
- Digital Evaluation has been introduced to improve the quality of evaluation of the answer books. With the introduction of e-evaluation, continuous monitoring can be done for each examiner who is checking the respective paper, time taken in evaluating each answer and also in complete answer book. This will help in assessing the quality checking by each examiner.
The system has an in-built mechanism to check at random intervals as to whether the person who has been entrusted with the task of evaluation, is checking the answer sheets. After successful implementation of e-evaluation system on pilot basis in last two examinations, e-evaluation has now been comprehensively extended to First Group, covering 5 subjects at Intermediate level from November, 2018 examinations. This system will substantially reduce the time in providing the certified copies to students.
- A Pilot Project of Centralized evaluation of one paper at the Final level of November, 2018 exam is also implemented. In central evaluation, Examiners will be evaluating the answer books in the presence of Head Examiner/Associate Head Examiners under their supervision and guidance. Based on the outcome, the digital and centralised evaluation will be rolled out in the remaining subjects as well.
- There are certain clauses restricting freedom of students on the usage of the copies of evaluated answer books provided to them in the scheme for supply of certified copies of evaluated answer books. In order to enable students to take guidance from their seniors, parents, and principal, it has been decided in September, 2018 that such clauses be deleted so as to enable sharing of certified copies.
- There has always been a system of step-wise marking in the answers as per the instructions and guidelines issued to the examiners while evaluating the answer sheets. The system has been further strengthened by bringing in more quality control checks. In this direction, it has been decided that in case, step-wise marks are not awarded to an answer, then the answer will be treated as “not evaluated” as per instructions and step marks would be awarded during the course of verification.
- For example, a paper wherein a question carrying 16 marks is attempted by the students. As per the instructions to the examiner, the answer to the said question in all has 4 steps with the marking of 4 marks for each step. If the examiner, while checking the answer, has not awarded marks for each step so instructed, then this type of evaluation will be treated as “not-evaluated”. The steps marks will be awarded for such answers noticed during the course of verification. This is a step towards re-evaluation in substance and the said exercise will take care of such type of anomalies.
ICAI is working on the best practices on re-evaluation of answer books and the same will require amendment in the Chartered Accountants Regulations. In this context, ICAI is in direct interaction with University Grants Commission, Ministry of Human Resource and Development and Ministry of Corporate Affairs to draft re-evaluation process of ICAI for onward approvals of the Central Government and subsequent amendments in regulations.
Besides the above reforms, ICAI has persistently been working by facilitating resources for not just knowledge creation, but knowledge delivery as well. Some of the latest initiatives undertaken by ICAI are mentioned below:
Live Virtual Classes (LVC) & Reduction of Fee by 50%
A pilot project of Live Virtual Classes (LVC) for May and November, 2019 examinations was initiated in August, 2018 for Intermediate and Final levels courses with the participation of 500 students across the country. Through this initiative, students do not have to travel long distances within the city or to other city for coaching needs. Considering the encouraging response from student’s, it has been decided to organize the classes at mass level and also to reduce the fee by 50%.
MCQ based Assessment
To strengthen conceptual clarity and sharpen the analytical skills of students and in line with the best International practices. ICAI has introduced objective assessment for selected papers at the Intermediate and final levels, wherein 30% of the questions will be MCQs based carrying 1 or 2 marks from May, 2019 Examination. The Board of Studies has already started uploading the MCQs based questions for these subjects for students to practice.
Revamping of Reading Rooms & Upgradation of ITT Labs
ICAI has recently initiated the process of revamping Reading Rooms across the country. To begin with, 2 Reading Rooms at Delhi are being revamped. Recently, President, ICAI visited these Reading Rooms and interacted with the students. Such exercise will be carried out at other reading rooms as well. Similarly, the process for upgrading the infrastructure to transform ITT labs across the nation into high tech labs has also been initiated. In line with this, 4000+ new computers are being installed in all the IT centres across India.
On the technology front, “Virtual ICAI” is being created for benefit of the students in the form of Students’ Life Cycle Portal. Using the portal, students would be able to fill all the forms digitally for all purposes and check the status online. The portal has been developed and will be launched shortly. This platform can also be used to make changes in email, phone number, address etc. of the students. Once the platform is fully operational, there will be no need for students to visit any DCO, Branch or Regional Office for any queries.
Students registered in the IPCC have been given two more attempts after May, 2019 to clear the papers under the old scheme.
ICAI is committed to improve systems and practices for the benefits of students while planning the growth of the profession maintaining the quality standards.