A lot is said about having ATKTs (Allowed To Keep Term) in engineering courses as if only engineers fail. When I was in school, in Class 8 or 9, I had firmly decided that I wanted to pursue a career in commerce. To have a successful career in commerce, I thought, one must be a Chartered Accountant or have a Masters in Business Administration. Hence, I chose the former.
No one had warned me that I would have to give so many attempts to clear the examination as the institute had the absolute right to fail students randomly to maintain a pass percentage — a percentage decided based on the demand for CAs in the market. This means if a student had passed in the examination by a small margin, but were unlucky, they were most probably failed.
As this is a professional examination, there is no system of ATKTs, and if students fail in individual subjects of a particular group, they fail the entire group and have to give exams for all subjects in that group again. For example, there are two groups at each level of examination (Intermediate and Final), i.e. eight subjects equally divided into two groups. If a student attempted one group clears three of its subjects but fails in one, then has to give exams for all four papers again.
I failed at the intermediate level three times. After I failed the first time, every time I was about to prepare for the exam, I’ d have anxiety about failing again and never moving forward. Being a student who was good at studies in my school as well as college, my first failure was shocking for me and even my family. They expected a lot from me and failing wasn’t one of them.
Never was I told that failure was nothing but a setback. Failing at something was frowned upon and this made me guilty of being a disappointment to everyone. When I failed the group multiple times, I was given an ultimatum to either pass the next examination or get married as girls in this country have to either be successful or married. Nevertheless, I cleared my exams in the fourth attempt, but I still get anxious and am unable to open a book and study.
We as society should allow people who fail to decide whether to continue their current course or switch to something they like to do, without making them feel guilty or disappointed. Women shouldn’t be constrained to either pursue their studies or get married. Giving them the freedom to take a gap year and figure things out should be normalised.