Are You an O/A-Levels Student with CA as a Prospective Career Option?
If you are reading this, you are either an A Level student with a firm decision on choosing CA and just want to be reassured, or you are an O Level student still scratching your head on what to do about your future or you are just here to learn some more.
As someone who planned on pursuing Chartered Accountancy since Grade 8, at one point I also had to sit down and do some research on how I should go about my A Levels such that it benefits me when I enter CA. Luckily for you, I have done your part of the homework and all you need to do is just read attentively and hopefully, you will have a clear roadmap by the end of this write-up.
Let us first begin with the entry requirements for CA. All you have to do is clear two A-Level subjects to take the first step into this profession. Moving on, the subjects you should pursue in A-Levels. If you have accessed ICAP’s website and explored through exemption options, you would have noticed that there are multiple exemptions that you can claim on the basis of A-Level subjects. A short summary is mentioned below (Source: ICAP Site):
AFC 01 – Functional English
You will be eligible for an exemption if you have appeared for General Paper, English of AS Level or English Language and Literature.
AFC 03 – Quantitative Methods
You will need both A-Level Math and Further Mathematics to be eligible for exemption.
AFC 04 – Introduction to Information Technology
You will be eligible for exemption on the basis of the Applied Information and Communication Technology of A-Levels.
CAF 01 – Introduction to Accounting
You will be eligible for exemption on the basis of A Level Accounting.
CAF 02 – Introduction to Economics and Finance
You will be eligible for exemption on the basis of A Level Economics.
The criteria for these exemptions is scoring a B or above in each subject and at least 2 B’s among all your subjects.
If we dig deeper into the available exemptions, AFC 03 and 04 are a long shot. Let us be honest, further Mathematics is no child’s play and it requires a tremendous amount of effort – speaking from experience – and a few mistakes can impact your chances of scoring as low as a B. However, you should opt for A Level Math so your chances of clearing AFC 03 in the first attempt are higher. Also, you will find that Math is a necessary skill for other subjects. And honestly, everyone should study Math.
When it comes to AFC 04, I am yet to see someone appear for Applied Communication and Information Technology plus the subject itself is focused on practical application of Microsoft Office and in this age of fast advancing technology, knowing Microsoft Office is prerequisite to move forward in life so it is better if you appear for the subject.
Generally, A-Level students usually do not like General Paper and most of them find a way to not study it. But hey, if you have a problem with writing essays, there is a surprise for you. You will need to clear a Writing Skills test – part of the PCSC I – to qualify CAF Level. Regardless, AFC 01 is a fairly easy subject to clear if you have a grip on your grammar so it should not be a problem. A tip, start reading newspapers and books. Being aware of the current affairs and popular books never goes out of trend.
When it comes to exemptions available for CAF Level, you need to plan ahead and try to capitalize on this opportunity. The advantages of doing so, I will come to that later. If you have firmly decided to go to CA, you should opt for A Level Accounting and Economics. Say you had sciences in O-Levels, you still can pick these two subjects so there is still a way to claim the exemptions.
You should also know that A-Level Accounting will greatly help you throughout your CAF Level as well. Some examples are as follows:
1: You will face Final Accounts including SOCI, SOFP and Cash Flows in your FAR 1
2: You will find ratios in FAR 1 relatively easy compared to someone who did not study Accounting
3: You will also be at ease with certain topics of CAF 08 for you will study Marginal, Absorption and Standard Costing again, all of which you would have covered during A-Levels
Of course, there will be additions, the difficulty level and technicalities will be higher but knowing that you have gone through certain aspects of the syllabus will put your mind at ease and that is something you will really need.
Now that we are through with the exemptions, we will now assume you opt for these subjects and are now eligible for exemptions. With the assumption that you are able to claim exemptions in CAF 01 and 02, we will now move towards how you can be at an advantage.
Say you are an ambitious individual and have joined CA with an aim for clearing papers as soon as possible and start your articles. You get done with your final A2 Level exams in June, the last time you will ever sit in CAIEs and are ready to enter CA. You start studying in July – that is correct, only a month’s break. You give your first attempt for AFC Exams in September and you clear them owing to your efforts and loads of prayers. Do not get carried away because it has just begun.
You claim exemptions for two subjects and are now left with seven. You now have two options each with their own set of benefits.
You set on a mission of clearing CAF in two attempts, you pick four subjects; CAF 3, 4, 5 and 6. Will this be easy? Oh no, it is anything but that. It will be really demanding, you will have to study regularly, make notes, attend classes and ensure you do not slack off at any time.
The price to pay if you do, the last month before exams will be stressful and you will need four cups of coffee with double shots of espresso every night. But being an ambitious student that you are, you give your all and the month of May is a blessing for you and you are left with only three subjects.
That is correct, three subjects away from starting your articles. You now have a chance to clear your entire CA Intermediate within one and a half years. Sounds really rewarding, right? Well, the higher the risk and efforts, the higher the rewards.
Your other option is you tread slowly. You go at a normal pace but steadily taking one step at a time. You pick three subjects first, then two and another two in your last CAF attempt – provided you clear with each passing attempt. You will still be at an advantage, you will have ample time to focus on each subject and your chances of clearing your papers will be high.
Take it from me, the fast track is demanding and will require constant efforts but if you channel your energy right, you can save months and start your articles sooner. Not only that but if you plan smartly, you will find yourself in a place where CA will not seem hard, contrary to popular opinion.
As far as students who had sciences in A-Levels are concerned, unfortunately, there is not much that can be done now but that does not mean you will be at a disadvantage because you have no experience with accounting or economics. The syllabus is designed in a way that you will learn everything at the grass root level. You too can clear your CAF in three attempts, picking three subjects at a time and clearing them one by one.
I hope this write-up really helped you and you have a much clearer vision on how to go about your A-Levels if you are planning to pursue CA. If you ask me about the toughness of the studies? Sure, you will have to work hard but hey, if it does not require any effort, is it even worth it?