Nov 2017

ICAI Slashes the Marks – Right or Wrong ?

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ICAI Slashes the Marks – Right or Wrong ?

ICAI Slashes the Marks – Right or Wrong ?

The ICAI one post goes viral on the internet on Monday 17th Oct 2016 that “ICAI Intentionally Reduces the marks of CA students”. Many websites make headlines same. The issue has been arises when ICAI provides clarification regarding that Students has taken Exemption for Nov 2016 exams by considering the marks awarded on Answer Sheet instead of Marksheet which is hosted on ICAI website. Now ICAI removes the Post from their website and also requested to other websites to remove the content same. you can find the Original post from here ICAI Confirms there may be Variance of Marks awarded in Marksheet With Certified Copies

The ICAI post has been viral and students criticize ICAI for that how ICAI can reduce the Marks. On our WhatsApp groups, Students Continuously makes discussion why ICAI doing this with us.

To start with the answer “Does ICAI Slashes the Marks” now, and the answer to your question is Yes, they do. Contrary to the popular “myth buster” that all this talk is not true, it is.

Add to that, they are legally allowed to do it. See Regulation 39(2) of the ICAI Regulations quoted below. Page on

Regulation 39(2)
“(2) The Council may, in its discretion, revise the marks obtained by all candidates or a section of candidates in any particular paper or papers or in the aggregate in such manner as may be considered necessary, for maintaining the standards of pass percentage provided in these Regulations.
Explanation —
The term “section” used in this sub-regulation refers to the category of the candidates whose answer papers are valued by an examiner and such other category of candidates as may be specified by the Council.”

Now the Question has been arising whether it is right or wrong

I will come to your question on whether is it right or wrong by ICAI to regulate the marks of an individual or not. But before that, let me give you a background of a problem related to it which would broaden your perspective about what is right or wrong. It is going to be a lengthy answer so please bear with me.

Have you ever heard of the term Hawk – Dove effect or Hawk – Dove theory or Hawk – Dove problem?

Generally, it refers to a behavior of how a person reacts to a situation. A person chooses whether to aggressively pursue a good and risk of war like a hawk or adopt a safer strategy like a dove.

Now you’ll ask how is it related to your question? Well, in examinations where there are lakhs or millions of students appearing and to verify or check the answer copies of these students, there are thousands of  examiners, a potential problem would arise where some examiners being more stringent and requiring a higher performance than other examiners who are more lenient. The more stringent ones can be called as hawks and more lenient ones can be called as doves. The hawks tending to fail most candidates because of having very high standards, whereas the doves tend to pass most candidates.

Now you would question that how does this come into play in CA exams? Well,  in such a scenario, a system where there are different examiner verifying answers to a nationwide standard question paper, may cripple and not give fair result because the examiners can either be ‘candidate-centered’ (i.e. their sympathies are primarily with the candidates, of whom they wish to pass as many as possible) or ‘quality centered’ (i.e. their primary aim is to maintain technical standards at a high level so that industry is provided with competent professionals) (This is just my general understanding and not confirmation of any act or facts related to ICAI). In this situation, it might so happen that an answer written by a student may be evaluated differently by two separate examiners, one representing hawk and one representing dove. This may result in variations in valuation and the prime body or institute (in our discussion ICAI) would not be able to achieve the uniformity in the valuation of answers which would defeat the purpose of nationwide examination and the consistency of the evaluation and fairness of such examination may be questioned.

Now to achieve such uniformity, there are Head Examiners to ensure that the evaluation is done by all the examiners on a consistency basis. In various public exams where the number of candidates runs into lakhs or millions, there are more than one Head Examiner to cover the total number of the examiner. Before the first round of evaluation begins,  all the examiner and the Head Examiner sit together and discuss the question paper, possible answers, method of calculation, how the marks are to be allotted etc. and arrive at a mutually agreed method of evaluation. Based on that, the examiners evaluate the answer sheet. Obviously, in case where there are thousands of examiners, the instructions are passed on to them in form of manuals etc. or meetings of regional or local set of examiner with their own head examiner (I am assuming this, I have no personal knowledge of this and it may differ from exam to exam)

Now, ideally the above should ensure a consistency in the evaluation of answer sheet, but this may not be completely possible as some people may still deviate from the set standard if they think otherwise. In such a scenario, the head examiner, then does a random survey of the corrected answer sheet to verify that the set standard is followed by the examiners while evaluating the answer sheet. Where there is consistency in adopting the set evaluation mechanism, no changes are made by the head examiner, or the head examiner may suggest upward or downward moderation, the quantum of moderation varying according to the degree of liberality or strictness in marking adopted by the examiner. With regard to the other answer sheet not evaluated by the head examiner, marks are then moderated as per the recommendation of the head examiner to achieve maximum possible uniformity.

Let us come back to the main aspect of your question i.e. the right of ICAI to review the marks of students. As far as the level of evaluation i.e. strict, moderate, casual etc. is concerned, I guess that is not in question as it is the right of ICAI to regulate the evaluation process just like other universities or education institution. With regard to their right to make a revision in the marks of the students, if you read the above explanation and then apply it to your query, I guess you will get the answer as to why ICAI has that clause in its regulations. We may think that they would use if for the above purpose or we may think that they are deliberately giving fewer marks to the student. Every individual has his choice to make, but it is important that it is backed by reasonable arguments and facts and not just hearsay or some random news. Therefore, I would leave it to you i.e. the reader, to decided that whether you still consider what ICAI does is right or wrong.

Take the latest example. May 2015.

The Accounts and SFM paper were said to be very tough. People who got their papers photocopied for understanding how to improve their performance and see where they lost marks saw that all students received an arbitrary additional 7-10 marks.

The Costing paper was extremely simple. And everyone scored almost 10-15 marks below their expectations. Not an entirely stupid or unfair step. Rationalizing marks as per level of difficulty.

So they do have the discretion to revise the marks of the whole batch, they do use it but they do not misuse it.
Also, the term ‘revise’, as used in the regulation, is a term of wider amplitude than ‘reduce’. It has been used for the benefit of the students as well. It not the only reduction.

Also, this does not happen only in CA. In India, many exams that are conducted on a national scale have this clause so that the evaluation process can be made more effective and uniform.

Now here, I must make a very important declaration that, all of this above are my individual understanding and nothing above represents ICAI’s views or any of its action. I may or may not be correct, and in the case of any defect in my understanding, I would be happy to be correct by someone who has a better and more accurate insight into this.

I would like to share a Supreme Court judgment in relation to an RTI appeal made by someone to ICAI seeking information on 13 points, one of which was section 39(2)of the Chartered Accountants Regulations, 1988. The person sought information on the criteria used for such discretion, the quantum of such revision, the quantum of such revision, the authority that decides such discretion, and the number of students along with the quantum of revision affected by such revision. I would not go into details of the judgment as the link is given below to read. However, I would like to highlight that, the Supreme Court held that ICAI cannot disclose any information that is not maintained or available with them in form of ready data, but they were asked to declare the standard criteria, if any, relating to moderation, employed by it, for the purpose of making revisions to Regulation 39(2).

I hope the above helps to satisfy your query and help you make proper reasoning as to whether what ICAI is doing is right or wrong.

Again, all of above is just my understanding of the process in general and the Supreme Court judgment that I shared with you all. I personally do not know the exact process adopted by ICAI. However, on the personal front, I would like to think that what they do is best for student and better promotion of the course. If not, then yes what they do is not right.

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3 Comments on ICAI Slashes the Marks – Right or Wrong ?

  1. Tista Athghara // October 21, 2016 at 12:28 PM // Reply

    People usually assume that ICAI plays a game by manipulating the marks after the papers have been checked in order to fix a pass percentage. But I think that this really appears to be a vague statement. If you write correct answers and your paper is as per the expectations of ICAI then in no case your answer can be declared as incorrect. Moreover, ICAI won’t do any injustice because ICAI itself is looking forward for those people who really deserve to become a C.A.

  2. Obviously had to answer as ‘Anonymous’.

    Let’s face the hard reality, believe it or not, YES! is the answer to your question.

    Since the previous answer had explained how legal it is to slash marks, let me answer the question on ground reality.

    ICAI does not coerce you with the legal provision that they have, in my view they are fairly used. Yes you heard it right “fairly used”.

    For example, the major chunk of mark slashing happens only in the students marks ranging from 40-50. If it is to believed that CA is a professional course and the toughest one, ICAI expects you to be professional and tough as well in scoring marks. So, incase you score 60+ your safe to assume there will be no slashing.

    ICAI also gives grace marks, again believe it or not, it does provides you grace marks, its inbuilt in the valuation process.

    For example the last FR paper was lengthy, ICAI did evaluate the paper with some ease in giving step marks. Also in SFM paper there was a technical mistake in the question only question paper setters were aware of and ICAI did not hesitate in awarding full marks, if you had just written the question number you would have had the full mark for that question.

    I was also frustrated with all the slashing news coming around and when met my mentor who is also a paper evaluator, he says

    CA is not a tough course but it’s for tough people ,
    moreover see yourself scoring above 60+ rather than lamenting on ICAI slashing marks.

    ICAI does what it has to do, but it expects us to be extraordinary, be that person whom it does not want to touch.

    (referring final exam) Also remember you were lucky enough to get to where you are, if you think ICAI deliberately slashes marks you would not have cleared IPCC.

    ICAI has 2,42,000+ members, with all the new regulations and industry needing more knowledgeable CAs. ICAI has no option other than to toughen itself in awarding marks.

    I am not supporting ICAI in this regard but as students you should also be tough enough.

  3. Manu Ramshetty // October 21, 2016 at 12:25 PM // Reply

    NO. Many of us doesnt like if say the obvious answer..i.e. NO, ICAI won’t regulate results but true that they can.

    Even I was under under same assumption when I was a student.Even we used discuss how ICAI is regulating results based on past pass percentages.. but it is not true.. the concept of regulation of results is as always exaggerated by private tuition/coaching centres..

    There is no concept of demand and supply analysis at ICAI.. for the fact there is no mechanism at ICAI to calculate the demand for CAs India.

    There are many instances where ICAI awarded blanket marks addition to all students.

    If someone passed with 200, in many cases they were actually failed.

    Yes, we all know the people who failed their exams scored 199, can’t the ICAI award him one single mark and pass him?
    In both the cases the dint scored 200 or 199.. these marks are after blanket addition.

    I know few of my friends who are exam evaluators..who say that
    – The quality of answers in exam is poor.
    – Few students don’t even understand the questions at all.
    – Few can’t frame sentences..
    – Few answers are not legible.

    We all have to admit that CA is a tough course,
    *The questioning pattern is different, *There is no proper class room teaching

    *Syllabus is huge( just imagine if the whole CA curriculum is divided into 8 semisters and with an option to clear failed paper in next semister.. feels like heaven).

    Aggregate..( what a mess)
    Write all papers if you lost even in one.
    We have articleship. Which makes it all different ball game.

    You can enjoy the perks of being a CA only if you can cross all the odds.

    Believe in yourself. If you can learn concept and apply in your examination rightly no one can regulate the results except for yourself. All the best.

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