Nuts and Bolts of CA Exam

Nuts & Bolts of CA Exam  No matter where you are, you must have heard about Chartered Accountancy or CA. CA is the holy grail of accounting in India. Please note that the CA exam discussed here is different from the CPA exam. Now to make you believe about what CA is all about, let’s look at some evidence of its repute –

  • Among all students who attempt CA, only 3-8% clear inter and final level.
  • This prestigious institute ICAI has a whopping number of students currently i.e. – 1,175,000.
  • Chartered Accountancy course offered by ICAI has been ranked no. 2, worldwide.
  • As per the statistics of April, 2015, the total numbers of CAs are 239,974. Out of which 124,434 CAs are employed with organizations and 115,540 are practicing CAs.
  • ICAI is an institute which has been birthing CAs since 1949 which means ICAI has 67 years of long history of producing one of the most employable professionals in the world.

These numbers didn’t come out of the blue. They were created. And if you’re one of the CA aspirants, you need to put your heart and soul into this course to be counted among them. Interested? Know everything about CA in this article. We will talk about nuts and bolts of CA in details.

Hint – This article will take some time for you to read and there’s some great information out there. Sit with a pen and paper if you feel like writing something down.

Let’s get started.

The article has been structured in the following manner;

  1. About CA program
  2. Why pursue CA?
  3. CA Exam Format
  4. CA Exam Weights/Breakdown
  5. CA Examination Fees
  6. CA Results & Passing Rates
  7. CA Study Materials
  8. Strategies to crack the code of CA

About CA program

CA is the holy grail of accounting in India. Students who have commerce background are the perfect fit for CAs. Rather most students enrol for CA when they pass out from 10+2. But there is also a direct route to do CA. You need to be a graduate and you can sit for CA. Before enrolling remember that it’s not for faint hearted. You need to put a lot of hard work into the course.

  • Roles: Accountant, Auditor, Internal Auditor, Financial Reporter, SAP FICO Consultant and Tax Consultant.
  • Exam: To pass CA exam, you need to go through 3 levels. If you appear after graduation (subject to you adhere to the eligibility criteria), you need to sit for only 2 levels.
  • CA Exam Dates: CA Final & IPCC are conducted in May & November whereas CPT is conducted in June & December, every year.
  • Nitty-gritty: There is a lot of nitty-gritty in CA course. You not only need to pass three levels of exam, you need to complete 100 hours of Information Technology Training (ITT) and also article-ship of 3 years. To enter into article-ship, students must at least clear one group of IPCC.
  • Eligibility: You can sit for CA after 10th Standard and enrol yourself for CPT. But if you want to go after graduation, you need to score 55% if you are a commerce graduate or if you are a bachelor of other streams, you need to score at least 60% in your graduation. After graduation (subject to you adhere to all the eligibility criteria), you would be able to directly sit for IPCC exam.

Why pursue CA?

CA is not a course which should be pursued by everyone. It’s for students who are willing to put everything into the course. Forget about social life, forget about fun and forget about other areas of your life. Your one thing focus should be CA, if you want to clear it. If you’re really willing to crack the code of CA, you should pursue it. But there is good news as well. Your hard work will not go in vain.

  • Once you complete CA, you will earn instant credibility. You don’t need to go to companies and stand in line. You can choose to practice yourself as a self-employed professional or you can join at a credible post in an organization.
  • Someone says so well when he says that it’s not in achieving, but in becoming that you get your worth. So when you invest your day and night in pursuance of CA, you will not only clear CA exam, you will become resilient, persistent, hardworking and immensely knowledgeable. On a scale of 10 in employability where all these skills are must, you would score more than 8 if you pursue CA with utter diligence.
  • CA, as a course is a comprehensive course. You will learn a lot about a lot of subjects which would be your ally for the rest of your career. You would not only learn about accounting, you will learn audit, taxation, financial reporting and many more. So every sweat that you drop from your brow would be beneficial for the rest of your career.

Let’s have a look at top 5 companies which employ CA –

  • Deloitte (has base over 150 countries and employed over 200,000 professionals; the largest professional services network in the world by revenue)
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) (One of the Big 4 audit companies in the world; second largest professional services network in 2014)
  • Ernst & Young (EY) (One of the Big 4 audit firms and largest service firm in revenue in 2012)
  • KPMG (Employed over 162,000 people and one of the Big 4 audit firms in the world)
  • BDO International (Fifth largest accountancy network in the world)

CA Exam Format

There are 3 levels of exam if you need the route after standard 10. Let’s look at the exam format of each level one by one.

CPT (Common Proficiency Test)

  • CPT is an entry level examination in CA course. To pass CA, the first battle you need to clear 4 subjects divided into two sessions.
  • In the first session, you need to sit for Fundamentals of Accounting and Mercantile Laws.
  • In the second session, you will sit for General Economics and Quantitative Aptitude.
  • The knowledge level you need to have is foundational.
  • There are total 200 multiples choice questions you need to answer to be able to clear the CPT exam.
  • To pass CPT, you need to score at least 50%. That means you need to score 100 out of 200 if you want to pass the exam.
  • There is no negative marking for not attempting any question. But if you give the wrong answer to a question, you will have to pay the penalty of 0.25 marks.

IPCC (Integrated Professional Competence Course)

  • There are some eligibility criteria before you can sit for IPCC. To be able to sit for IPCC, you need to clear CPT plus 10+2 or you should complete your graduation with 55% marks in commerce stream and 60% in other streams or candidates who have passed Intermediate level examination in ICSI or ICWAI. You also need to complete 100 hours of Information Technology Training (ITT) before you are eligible to take the exam. Moreover, you should register for your IPCC exam at least 9 months before taking the examination.
  • There are two groups in IPCC. The first group has 4 subjects and the second group has 3 subjects. In the first group, you will attempt Accounting, Law Ethics & Communication, Cost Accounting & Financial Management and Taxation (two parts – 1st part: Income Tax and 2nd part: Service Tax & VAT). In the second group, you have to sit for Advanced Accounting, Auditing & Assurance and Information Technology & Strategic Management.
  • If you’re sitting for IPCC, the expectation is that you at least have working knowledge in each subject.
  • To clear IPCC, you need to score at least 40% in each subject and your aggregate in all the subjects would be 50%.


  • This is the added advantage or requirement of passing CA. Once you complete IPCC, you need to do 3 years of article-ship. The minimum requirement for being able to do article-ship is to clear at least one group of IPCC and to complete 100 hours of ITT.
  • Article-ship is a practical training and students will get paid an amount as stipend every month.

CA Final

    • There are two requirements to be eligible to sit for CA Final.
    • The first thing is you need to pass both groups of IPCC.
    • The second thing is you need to complete at least 2.5 years of article-ship before the exam.
    • There are two groups you need to clear to pass CA Final. In each group, there are 4 subjects. In first group, you need to sit for Financial Reporting, Strategic Financial Management, Advanced Auditing & Professional Ethics and Corporate Laws & Secretarial Practice. In the second group, you will attempt Advanced Management Accounting, Information Systems Control, Direct Taxes and Indirect Taxes.
    • You need to have advanced knowledge to be able to clear CA Final.
    • You need to score at least 40% in each subject and 50% in aggregate to pass the exam.
    • Once you pass the exam, you will be able enrol as a member of ICAI. You will get the membership of both ACA (Associate Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India) and FCA (Fellow Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India).
    • You will also get two certificates once you pass CA final – first certificate is the certificate of membership and second certificate is the certificate of practice.

CA Exam Weights/ Breakdown

The breakdown of CA exam at each level is different. Let’s see how the weight at each level has been distributed.

CPT (200 Marks)

CA Exam

It has two sessions as mentioned above. Each session has two sections. In the first session, the first section is Fundamentals of Accounting which is given 60% weightage and the second section is Mercantile Laws which is given 40% weightage. In the second session, first section is General Economics and second section is Quantitative Aptitude. Both have been given equal weightage (i.e. 50%).


Let’s look at the weightage at each group (as you know IPCC has two groups) –

Group 1 (400 Marks)

  • Accounting (25%)
  • Law Ethics & Communication (25%)
  • Cost Accounting (12.5%) + Financial Management (12.5%)
  • Taxation [Part I: Income Tax (18.75%) + Part II: Service Tax & VAT (6.25%)]

Group 2 (300 Marks)

  • Advanced Accounting (33.33%)
  • Auditing & Assurance (33.33%)
  • Information Technology (16.67%) & Strategic Management (16.67%)

CA Final

Let’s have a glance on each subject and what weightage is being given to them –

Group 1 (400 Marks)

Each subject has equal weightage (i.e. 25% each)

Group 2 (400 Marks)

Here as well, each subject is being given similar weightage (i.e. 25% each)

CA Examination Fees

It takes 5 years to complete CA if you clear the exams in one go. Let’s look at the fee structure of CA assuming that you are enrolling for CPT as well.

  • First you need to enrol for CPT and you need to pay INR 1500.
  • Once you qualify for CPT, you need to pay the tuition fees of INR 7500 which includes registration as an audit clerk (500), fee for student associations (`500), registration fee with BoS Knowledge Portal (500), tuition fee for IPCC (4000) and registration fee for 100 hours of ITT (2000).
  • After clearing IPCC, you need to pay INR 8500 for the last stage of CA studies. In total, you need to expend around INR 17,500 for the entire course.

CA Results & Passing Rates

To have an idea about what to expect from your CA examination, it’s important for you to know the past trends of results and passing rates. Here we will present you the past 5 years results and passing rates so that on the basis of these statistics you can make a concrete decision.


Passing rates for the last 5 years are below

CPT Pass


Passing rates for the last 5 years are below (both groups) –


CA Final

Passing rates for the last 5 years are below (both groups) –

CA Final pass

CA Study Materials

All the study materials are being provided by ICAI. But only study materials are not enough. You need to browse through past year question papers as well. So while studying, get them first. If you can enrol yourself under an experienced teacher who can teach CA, your chance of success will increase.

Strategies to crack the code of CA

Here are few tips which will help you crack one of the toughest exams in India. Have a look –

  • No matter what level you’re preparing for, the first thing you need to know that you need to give yourself at least 6 months of intense study before exam. There shouldn’t be any excuse that you don’t have 6 months. If you want to crack CA (any level), you need to commit from your core and then go after it.
  • Once you set aside 6 months for studying all the subjects, it’s time to plan how you would study. Remember, you need to complete the at least one walk through over all subjects and two revisions. For doing this, you need to be diligent. Within first 4 months, you need to complete the whole walk through of all the subjects (if you’re preparing for CPT, you need to give one month to each subject; if you are going for IPCC, all you have is 17 days per subject; and if you are preparing for CA Final, you have 15 days for each subject).
  • During your first walk through make sure that you have at least 3 days to spare. Meaning if you are preparing for CA Final, you need to prepare one subject in 12 days. Another 2 days you need to summarize and on the last day you should sit for a 3 hour exam so that you can get an idea about your area of improvements.
  • Once you’re done with first walk through, it’s time for first revision. Let’s say you’re preparing for CA Final. You need to do the revision within 45-48 days. That means each subject will get 5-6 days for revision. This time you need to work on the areas you need to improve.
  • Now you have, 10-12 days left for exam. During this time, you need to give the final revision and sit for mock test every day.
  • Make sure you decide 6 months of time by taking into account the exam date beforehand. You should take 7 days more for contingency. Means, if you decide to take 6 months for preparing for exam, take 187 days of preparation leaving 7 days for contingency. We advise you to keep this time in case any emergency arrives or in case you get sick during your preparation time.

This is a comprehensive guide on everything you need to know about CA. Hope you didn’t skip any part and you took good notes. Now go and crack CA. Good luck!

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