Not so fond memories of a testing time

Not so fond memories of a testing time

With results fever still in the air, we ask some senior accountantswhat they remember most from their exam days ...

EXAM NIGHTMARES

Every qualified accountant has a story or two to tell about examination hall nightmares. Stories about annoying car alarms and faulty calculator batteries are ingrained in the memory, and can still bring qualified accountants out in a cold sweat. But it’s nice to know that examination time has always been difficult, even for accountants who took exams when pin-striped suits came with flares.

Martyn Jones, national audit technical partner at Deloitte and Touche, recalls sitting his finals in 1976 at a time when the ICA pass rate was at an all-time low of 19%. Just 30 seconds after turning the paper over, a fellow candidate stood bolt upright, shouted ‘Bog it!’ and strode for the door.

His exit was blocked by a line of burly invigilators, who refused to let him leave before the first half-hour. While the candidates in the hall wrestled with the tax paper, a full-scale brawl broke out as the invigilators fought with the errant candidate. Despite the distractions and the pass-rate, Martyn was successful.

Mike Warburton, tax partner at Grant Thornton, in the middle of one exam paper in 1977, recalls being approached by an invigilator who said: ‘I recognise your name from your ID tag, don’t I know your mother?’ Although Mike tried to point out that time was rather pressing and may be this wasn’t the moment to be discussing family ties, the invigilator persisted with his line of questioning for a good ten minutes. To this day he still does not know what connection this man actually had with his mother.

ROYAL MAIL

In days gone by, before e-mail and high-tech communication, accountants relied on Her Majesty’s mail to speed their exam results to them. Not for them the luxury of newspaper or telephone.

Expectant chartered accountants could tell whether they had passed their P2s or not by the thickness of the envelope to land on their door mat.

A thick envelope, bulging with forms to join the select ranks of qualifieds, meant a pass. A thin envelope, containing resit documents, signified a fail.

You can imagine the agony of Peter Wyman, head of tax at Coopers and Lybrand, when on the day of the arrival of the results, some time in 1973, he was unable to make up his mind as to the relative thickness of the letter. Inevitably he passed, but fate has a way of evening things out.

Wyman now has overall responsibility for the ICA exams in his capacity as chairman of education and training directorate.

WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR CERTIFICATE?

Some people give it pride of place, framed on the office wall, others display it above the fireplace along with the family photos. Mike Warburton, tax partner at Grant Thornton, believes the ideal place to put your hard won certificate of qualification is to mounted it on the loo wall.

“That is what it deserves,” said Mike, who believes accountants who flaunt their scrolls in a prominant position at work are “poseurs”.

So when your certificate finally arrives, give some thought as to what to do with it.

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