ICAI Exam (CA Examination)

Updated on March 29, 2024
Article bySayantan Mukhopadhyay
Edited byAshish Kumar Srivastav
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

What is ICAI Exam?

The ICAI (Institute of Chartered Accountants of India) exam is conducted by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, the national regulatory body accounting body of India, to issue a certification about who is eligible to be a professional auditor in India. It is considered one of the toughest sets of professional exams to clear in India.


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CA is the holy grail of accounting in India. Please note that the CA exam discussed here is different from the CPA exam. With four stages to clear, with every level getting more challenging htn the previous ICAI exam sheet, it is a stream of work many choose but a minimal percentage of the population clear and excel.

ICAI Exam Explained

ICAI exam refers to the series of examinations conducted by the Institute of Chartered Accountant of India to certify individuals to practice as professional auditors in the country. It is considered at par in terms of difficulty with other exams such as JEE and NEET.

CA is the holy grail of accounting in India. The students who have a commerce background are ideal for CAs. Rather most students enroll for the CA exam when they pass out from 10+2. But there is also a direct route to do CA. It would be best if the applicant is a graduate to appear for the exam. Before enrolling, remember that it is not for the faint-hearted. To provide a context of what unfolds after an applicant fills out the ICAI exam registration form, below is a set of statistics as an overview:

Among all students who attempt the ICAI exam, only 3%-8% clear inter and final levels.

  • The ICAI, a prestigious institute, currently lakhs of students, i.e., 1,175,000.
  • The CA exam offered by ICAI has been ranked no. 2 worldwide.
  • As per the statistics of April 2015, the total numbers of CA are 239,974. Out of which 124,434 CA professionals are employed with organizations, and 115,540 are practicing independently.

The ICAI is an institute that has been delivering CAs since 1949, which means the ICAI exam has 67 years of a long history of producing one of the most employable professionals in the world.

Let us also have a quick overview of the intricacies of the concept by discussing the roles, exams, dates, and other details through the points below.

  • Roles: Accountant, Auditor, Internal Auditor, Financial Reporter, SAP FICO Consultant, and Tax Consultant.
  • Exam: To pass the ICAI exam, you need to pass through 3 levels. You may need to appear for only two levels if you appear after graduation (subject to the eligibility criteria).
  • ICAI Exam Dates: CA exam final and IPCC are conducted in May and November, whereas CPT is held in June and December every year.
  • The nitty-gritty: There is a lot of nitty-gritty in the CA exam. You need to pass three exam levels and complete 100 hours of Information Technology Training (ITT) and an article-ship of 3 years. To enter into an article-ship, you must at least clear one group of IPCC.
  • Eligibility: You can appear for the CA exam after the 10th standard and enroll for CPT. But if you want to opt after graduation, you need to score 55%; if you are a commerce graduate or a bachelor of other streams, you must score at least 60% in their graduation. You can directly appear for the IPCC exam after graduation (subject to adhering to all the eligibility criteria).

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Why Pursue The Exam?

Given the fact that it is one of the toughest exams to crack can be intimidating. However, the very fact that so many aspirants have cleared the exam and joined the most employable workforce in the country can act as a motivator. Let us understand the perks of registering with the ICAI exam portal through the explanation below.

  • Once a candidate completes CA, they will earn instant credibility. They do not need to flee to companies and stand in a queue. Instead, they can practice themselves as self-employed professionals or join a credible post in an organization.
  • Someone says so well that it is not achieving but becoming that worth. So, when a candidate invests their day and night in pursuing CA, they will clear the ICAI exam and become resilient, persistent, hardworking, and immensely knowledgeable. On a scale of 10 in employability, where all these skills are a must, a candidate should score more than eight if they pursue CA with utter diligence.
  • The CA exam is a comprehensive course. The candidate will learn a lot about many subjects that would be your ally for the rest of your career. For example, they would learn about accounting and learn audit, taxation, financial reporting, and many more. So, every sweat that the candidate drops from their brow would benefit the rest of their career.

Let us have a look at the top 5 companies which employ CA: –

  • Deloitte (based in 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 four audit companies in the world; second largest professional services network in 2014).
  • Ernst & Young (EY) (one of the big four audit firms and the largest service firm in revenue in 2012).
  • KPMG (employed over 162,000 people and is one of the big four audit firms globally).
  • BDO International (fifth largest accountancy network in the world).


The ICAI exam registration leads to a four-step route to being a certified auditor in the country. Let us understand each of them in detail through the discussion below.

CPT (Common Proficiency Test)

  • CPT is an entry-level test in the CA exam. To pass the ICAI exam, one needs to clear four subjects divided into two sessions in the first battle.
  • In the first session, the applicant needs to appear for the Fundamentals of Accounting and Mercantile Laws.
  • The applicant will appear for General Economics and Quantitative Aptitude in the second session.
  • The knowledge level one requires is foundational.
  • There are a total of 200 multiple-choice questions one must answer to clear the CPT exam.
  • To pass CPT, a score of at least 50% is required. As in, a score of 100 out of 200 to pass the exam.
  • There is no negative marking for not attempting any question. But if every wrong answer carries a negative marking of 0.25 marks.

IPCC (Integrated Professional Competence Course)

  • There are some eligibility criteria before you can sit for IPCC. To appear for IPCC, one needs to clear CPT plus 10+2, or one should complete their graduation with 55% marks in the commerce stream and 60% in other streams or candidates who have passed the Intermediate level examination in ICSI or ICWA. An applicant also needs to complete 100 hours of Information Technology Training (ITT) before they are eligible to opt for the exam. Moreover, they should register for their IPCC exam at least nine months before taking the examination.
  • There are two groups in IPCC. The first group has four subjects, and the second group has three subjects. In the first group, an applicant 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 appear for Advanced Accounting, Auditing & Assurance, and Information Technology & Strategic Management.
  • If an applicant appears for IPCC, they are expected to have working knowledge in each subject.
  • To clear IPCC, one would need to score at least 40% in each subject, and an aggregate in all the subjects must be 50%.


  • Articleship is the added advantage or requirement of passing the CA exam. Once an aspirant completes IPCC, they need to do three years of articleship. The minimum requirement for doing an articleship is to clear at least one IPCC group and complete 100 hours of ITT.
  • Articleship is practical training, and students get paid a stipend every month.

CA Exam Final

  • There are two requirements to be eligible to appear for the CA final exam.
  • The first thing is to pass both groups of IPCC.
  • The second criteria is to complete at least 2.5 years of article-ship before the exam.
  • There are two groups to clear to pass the CA final. In each group, there are four subjects. The first group consists of Financial Reporting, Strategic Financial Management, Advanced Auditing & Professional Ethics, and Corporate Laws & Secretarial Practice. In the second group, one will attempt Advanced Management Accounting, Information Systems Control, Direct Taxes, and Indirect Taxes.
  • The applicant needs to have an advanced knowledge in the intricacies of accounting to clear the CA Final.
  • One needs to score at least 40% in each subject and 50% in aggregate to pass the exam.
  • Once the exam is cleared, they will enroll as a member of ICAI. As a result, they 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).
  • The aspirant will also get two certificates once they pass the CA final – first,is the certificate of membership and second, is the certificate of practice.


The breakdown of the ICAI exam sheet at each level is different. Let us understand the breakdown of each level in detail through the discussion below.

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, the first section is General Economics and the second section is Quantitative Aptitude. Both have been given equal weightage (i.e., 50%).


Let us look at the weightage of each group (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%)

ICAI Exam Final

Let us have a glance at 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)

Each subject is given a similar weightage (i.e.25% each).


It takes five years to complete the CA exam if an applicant clear the exams in one attempt. First, let us look at the fee structure derived from the the ICAI exam portal, assuming that an applicant is enrolling for CPT as well.

  • Firstly, the cost of appearing for CPT costs ₹1,500.
  • Once the applicant clears CPT, they are directed to pay a sum of ₹7,500, which includes their registration as an audit clerk (₹500), IPCC tuition fees (₹4,000), and a registration fee for 100 hours of ITT (₹2,000).
  • Once IPCC is cleared, a fee of ₹8,500 is due for the last stage of these set of exams.
  • In totality, an applicant spends ₹17,500 for appearing for all stages of the exam. Usually, the cost involved is multi-fold as they opt to take additional coaching from an institute that charges exorbitant fees.

Exam Results and Passing Rates

It has been mentioned time and again through this article and conversations in general that a ICAI exam registration is tough and only a minimal percent of applicants clear all levels in one attempt. Based on these statistics.


The passing rates between 2011-2015 are below: –

CPT Pass


The passing rates between 2011-2015 for both groups are:


CA Exam Final Results

The passing rates between 2011-2015 for both groups are:

CA Final pass
  • Source- The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India

Study Materials

ICAI provides all the study materials. However, it is usually found that an ICAI exam registration takes solving previous year’s papers and browsing through for more information relating to current affairs to sharpen the foundations of their knowledge in the concept.

Strategies To Crack The Code

Here are a few tips which will help an applicant crack even the toughest of ICAI exam sheets.

  • Irrespctive of what level one is preparing for, they first need to know that it might take six or so months of intense preparation before the exam. It might take a certain level of avoiding regular social interactions or a relaxed lifestyle.
  • Having mentioned six months, it is equally important to plan each subject diligently. Remember,  one needs to complete at least one walk-through of the overall topics and two revisions.. Within the first four months, you need to complete the whole walk-through of all the subjects (if you are 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 the CA final, you have 15 days for each subject).
  • During your first walk-through, make sure that you have at least three days to spare. If you are preparing for the CA final, you need to prepare one subject in 12 days. After another two days, you need to summarize, and on the last day, you should appear for a 3-hours exam to get an idea about your area of improvement.
  • Once you are done with the first walk-through, it is time for the first revision. Let us say you are preparing for the CA final. You need to revise 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 the exam. You need to give the final revision and sit for the mock test every day during this time.
  • Make sure you decide six months by considering the exam date beforehand. It would help if you took seven days more for contingency. That means if you choose to take six months to prepare for the exam, take 187 days of preparation, leaving seven days for contingency. We advise you to keep this time if any emergency arrives or if you get sick during your preparation time.

This article is a guide to what is ICAI Exam. Here we explain its format, fee structure, breakdown, passing rates, and a comprehensive guide to the exam. You may also have a look at the following articles: –

Reader Interactions


  1. Stephen Roberts says

    Well-structured and briefly explained. Great work!! Thanks for sharing this informative post.

  2. Savio Gomes says

    Thanks for sharing this informative guide. This has helped me a lot to understand all about CA examination. Can you also make me understand the comparison between CA and CFA?

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      Thanks for the note. I am glad to hear that this has helped you. if you want to consider CFA Or CA and also if you want to understand their quick comparison, then you must have a look at this article – CFA vs CA

      • Umesh Ravindran says

        Excellent and Extraordinary explainantion ….. million of Thanks and Billions of Blessings to YOU

        • Dheeraj Vaidya says

          Thanks for your kind words!

  3. jeneka Desouza says

    Hi sir,

    I too gave my First attempt CA final in 2015 and didn’t clear. Can you provide me a little help on this?

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      Hi Jeneka, what help do you require from my side. Happy to help you.