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Published in Reference and Education on Jun 25, 2019
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Do the number of attempts a student takes to clear the CA exam really matter?

Well, this is a question that can never be answered outright with a straight ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. It requires a lot more research and many other factors have to be taken into consideration before arriving at a conclusion. It also depends on what aspirations a student holds and the career prospects that each one looks at. The topic of discussion is never about the pros and cons of clearing in fewer attempts than more. Clearing in the least possible number of attempts is what any student aims for. We are concerned with, if the number of attempts taken to clear the exam have a negative impact on the career or not.

Is it really a myth?

Ok, so let’s get to the point straight. If any of you have your resumes uploaded on any job portal on the website, you would have seen the requirements the companies post. There are companies which add to their list of requirements, the number of attempts the candidate should have cleared the exam in. So this means that certain jobs are handy only for the early birds. Certain MNCs and Big 4 firms are quite particular about the number of attempts. This is because they judge the student’s ability and intelligence based on the number of attempts. In addition they could also look at the number of attempts as a barometer for the passion and seriousness that a candidate has towards his / her  career .

If we look at the scenario constructively, we realize that the number of students choosing the course and thereby the number of pass outs has increased dramatically over a period of time. This also means that the number of students passing out in the first attempt has increased by quite a number. So, it is but obvious that many MNCs do look for candidates who cleared all the exams in one or two attempts. You can also find many job postings in various job portals asking for the same.

Campus placements:

If one has attended campus interviews arranged by ICAI, one would have observed that the number of attempts do matter in thee interviews. Student resumes are sorted based on the number of attempts. Also, on the form filled by students there is a field that asks for the number of attempts.

An equally important question is number of attempts in IPCC or Final – what is considered important for the first job?

There are many instances of students who took many attempts to clear IPCC and happened to clear CA final in one go. There have been very many cases where IPCC took few attempts while final felt like a very tedious job. Number of attempts in IPCC also do matter as there are quite a few job profiles that expressly mention the restriction on the number of attempts. However, the attempts in CA Final are far more important as these are most recent ones prior to your job.

The brighter side!

Once you are a CA you definitely earn all the respect and reputation for yourself even if it is after many trials and failures. Nevertheless, those clearing in less attempts are preferred in most cases. This does not necessarily mean that you give up on your dreams just because you have experienced failure. Nor does this mean that you must be dejected at the missed chances. All what matters is how you plan your time to reach the goal.

If you could just not make it through due to any reason that you have a valid excuse for, learn from the mistakes and do not just get disheartened.

However, for all of those who take more attempts in CA Final, believe me life has not closed the door on you. Ultimately, what decides whether your number of attempts matter or not is what you want to do going further. If you wish to get into Big 4 or bag a good job through campus placements, a maximum of 3 attempts can do that for you. Otherwise, things could get difficult for sure.

Again, let’s get this clear that it is not the end of the road. You only find difficulty in entering these organizations, but you can still get a decent job outside of these as well. The key to this is, your knowledge of key subjects that you have prepared for in CA Final. You should be able to demonstrate to the employer that you have got that extra edge that forces the employer to hire you over others. You need to keep yourself updated with the latest international developments and practices in order to stay in the race.

Landing your first job after CA has quite something to do with the number of attempts but later in time when you wish to switch job, all what the employer concerns himself / herself with is about the kind of an employee you are. They would look for performance in your previous job,  learnings from your last employment and the skills that you possess.

Employers are more concerned with the gaps in your resume if you cannot give them valid reasons. Though you take reasonably long to clear your CA, if you can convince the employer that you have good hands-on experience during that period, you would definitely be looked upon as an eligible candidate by many. The number of attempts might matter during the initial phase but your performance in the workplace has the last laugh. Thus, all you need to learn is to plan your career wisely.

To practice as an auditor:

The number of attempts taken do not really make any difference if you opt to start practicing as an auditor or join any Audit Firm post CA. A good network, people skills, decision-making ability, leadership skills and good communication skills help you establish a successful career as a practicing chartered accountant. So, if your long-term plan is to start practicing and you CA Final is taking you long time, you can always utilize this time to build the required network of clients and win their confidnece thereby using all this time taken to clear your exam to your advantage.

The Final word

When it comes to job after the first job, experience is the key factor. It could so happen that a student who cleared CA in 2-3 attempts might get promoted to a better position before someone who cleared in first attempts. This is because your career growth depends purely on your performance and your dedication to work decides your chances for being promoted. As you become the key asset of a company, you become the money maker too!

With time the significance of the number of attempts taken withers away. Other traits and knowledge gained through work is given more importance and it outweighs the importance given to the ‘number of attempts’ criteria. So, think smart and work hard to reach your dreams even if the roadmap changes its route.

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sriram - About the Author:

Sriram is a finance professional with over 13 years of experience. He has worked with MNCs, Investment Banks and Startups-in the past. He has extensive experience in Fund raise, M&A, Currency Markets & Capital Markets. He is a CFA, has completed CA & has graduated from ISB Hyderabad. His last employment was with Furlenco where he was heading the finance function.
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