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Complete guide to Company Secretary CS Exam

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

Complete guide to Company Secretary CS Exam.

There was a period in history when crunching numbers was a career for nerds. There are many certifications to leverage this passion of aspirants. But it is not easy to decide which one to take up, and if a company secretary’s career is tempting you, please take a minute to read about the program thoroughly. Our attempt below can help you with your confusion and make it easy to decide your future. So let’s look at what we have in store for you.

Complete guide to Company Secretary CS Exam

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About CS Exam

As defined in the Company Secretaries Act, 1980, a ‘Company Secretary’ (CS) is a member of India’s Institute of Company Secretaries. To earn an ICSI membership, candidates are required to complete a comprehensive 3-level company secretary course. Usually, CS plays a vital role in a company’s financial and legal management. For example, a Company Secretary can act as the chief legal advisor to the Board of Directors and perform secretarial audits for public-listed companies. In addition, CS is supposed to be an expert in corporate governance matters and deal with regulatory compliance-related issues in any organization.

Roles:

  • Compliance Officer
  • Chief Advisor
  • Executive Secretary
  • Governance Professional
  • Board Advisor
  • Secretarial Auditor

Exam:

The company secretary exam has three levels of exams, including eight months of Foundation Programme, Executive Programme, and Professional Programme. The minimum CS program duration is 2.5 years for graduates and 3.5 years for those with 10+2.

Exam Dates:

Exam LevelsExam Dates
Foundation ProgrammeJune 5 and 6, 2021
Executive ProgrammeJune 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 9, 2021
Professional ProgrammeJune 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9 and 10, 2021

The Deal:

Students are systematically acquainted with accounting and business practices at the Foundation level, which has four papers. The Executive program is divided into two modules, including seven pieces, focused on company laws, tax laws, company accounting, and auditing practices. The Professional program is divided into four modules, including a total of 8 papers. This level focuses on company secretarial practice, corporate governance, restructuring, and strategic management, among other advanced topics. Each exam at each level is four hours with a 1-hour break in between.

Eligibility:

Students with 10+2 can start with the foundation program, and those who have completed either foundation level or are graduates can opt for the executive program. Still, to pursue the professional program, it is mandatory to complete the executive program.

CS Program Completion Criteria

  • After passing 10+2 (except Fine Arts students), candidates must complete the foundation program. The minimum duration for the program is eight months, but it must be completed within three years of registration. Aspirants can take the exams only after the completion of nine months from the date of registration.
  • Those who have cleared the foundation program or are graduates (except in Fine Arts) can enroll for the executive program.
  • The minimum duration is one year and must be completed within five years of registration for the program. The executive program consists of two modules, and students can sit for exams of both modules after completing a minimum of 9 months of study course.
  • Only those who have completed the executive program can enroll in the professional program. The minimum program duration is one year, but it must be completed within five years from the date of registration for the executive program.

Oral Coaching & Training Requirements

Oral Coaching: As part of the formal education requirements, 30 lectures of 2 hours duration for each subject are mandatory for the foundation program. For the executive program, 35 classes of 2 hours for each subject are compulsory. For the professional program, 40 lectures of 2 hours for each professional program topic are mandatory.

Other short-term training programs: After completion of the executive program, students are required to complete:

  • EDP: Students also have to undergo an Executive Development Program (EDP) of 8 days after completing the executive program and before the 15 months training.
  • Fifteen months Management Training (including PDP): After passing the executive program, candidates are required to undergo 15 months of management training under a company secretary in practice or with a company. This training includes 25 hours of Professional Development Programme (PDP).
  • Training programs (SIP), Compulsory Computer Training: Within six months of registering for the executive program, candidates must complete a 7-day Student Induction Programme (SIP). Additionally, students have to complete a 70-hour compulsory computer training program to enroll for the executive program exams, including two days of induction, three days of e-governance, five days of skill development, and five days of entrepreneurship development.
  • Fifteen days Specialized Training: Candidates are required to undergo 15 days of training in a specialized agency such as the Office of the Registrar of Companies (Other Short-term training programs: After completion of the Executive Programme, students are required to complete:
  • EDP: Students also have to undergo an Executive Development Program (EDP) of 8 days after completing the executive program and before commencing the 15 months training.
  • 15 Months Management Training (including PDP): After passing the executive program, candidates are required to undergo 15 months of management training under a Company secretary in practice or with a company. This training includes 25 hours of Professional Development Programme (PDP) as well.
  • Training programs (SIP), Compulsory Computer Training: Within 6 months of registering for the Executive Programme, candidates need to complete a 7-day Student Induction Programme (SIP). Additionally, students have to complete a 70-hour Compulsory Computer Training program to enroll for Executive Programme exams. 2 days induction, 3 days e-governance, 5 days skill development, and 5 days Entrepreneurship Development
  • 15 Days Specialized Training: Candidates are required to undergo 15 days of training in a specialized agency such as the Office of the Registrar of Companies (ROC), stock exchange, financial or banking institutions, or a management consultancy firm. This training is only undertaken after passing the professional program examination and completing the SIP, EDP, and a 15 months training program.
  • MSOP: There are 15 days of Management Skills Orientation Programme (MSOP) after the professional program and 15 months of training.

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What Do You Earn?

After completing the professional program and 15 months of the training program, candidates can acquire the Membership of ICSI and use the title of Associate Company Secretary (ACS) after their name.

Why Pursue CS?

It takes real hard work to become a CS, but it brings a great deal of trust, respect, and credibility and has its perks for sure. For one thing, a company secretary is a highly valued designation that validates the legal and management expertise of a professional in managing corporate affairs.

  1. CS interacts with the top-level management, including MD, CEO, or Board of Directors in a company, and is relied upon for legal advice in corporate affairs.
  2. CS is usually an expert on corporate law and plays a vital role in devising and implementing corporate governance policies. This makes them a key part of the management personnel in the organization.
  3. Career prospects are bright, and a CS can either work with an organization of repute or start their independent professional practice. Apart from that, the salary package is amongst the best in the industry.

CS Exam Format

The CS Foundation, executive, and professional program papers need to be answered in 4 hours. Their exam format varies from multiple choice questions, optical mark recognition, and open book examinations.

CS Qualifying Marks

For the foundation exam, candidates have to score at least 40% on each paper and 50% in the aggregate of all the documents to pass the exam successfully.

For the executive and professional programs, a candidate must score at least 40% in each paper and 50% in the aggregate of all the documents within each module to clear the exams.

CS Exam Fees

 Below is the break up of the CS exam fees.

CS fees

CS Results & Passing Rates

CS Foundation Pass Percentage Dec 2015

 CS Exam foundation pass percentage

CS Executive Pass Percentage Dec 2015 (New Syllabus)

executive pass percentage

CS Professional Pass Percentage Dec 2015 (New Syllabus)

professional pass percentage

CS Study Material

Subject-wise, foundation, executive, and professional program study material can be purchased from the ICSI website.

Study guides for each subject, including practice test papers, can also be downloaded for free from the ICSI website.

CS Exam Strategies

CS Exam Strategies

Strategies: Before the Exam

Grasp the Fundamentals:

  1. Develop a conceptual understanding of the subject matter instead of memorizing and adopt an analytical approach to learn better.
  2. Study extensively to cover all the significant concepts instead of doing it on a selective basis.

The practice holds the key to success:

  1. Practice as much as possible for calculation-based questions to arrive at accurate results in the minimum time likely.
  2. Practice case studies based on the subject matter to develop a practical understanding of the ideas.
  3. Practice with an eye on the watch, especially while doing practical problem solving, which will help save a lot of time during the exam.

Adopt a Balanced approach and stay updated:

  1. Maintain a balance between theory and application while concentrating on any specific study area.
  2. Stay updated on the latest information on relevant knowledge areas through official publications and other sources.
  1. Acquire an understanding of the intricacies involved in the Companies Act, 2013, and any modifications or regulatory changes related to company law.
  2. Make an in-depth study of legal provisions and their practical applications to support your answers, emphasizing the legal aspect.
  3. Be aware of pronouncements, legal provisions, and case studies decided by judicial and quasi-judicial bodies.
  4. There is no negative marking for incorrect answers except for a deduction of 0.25 marks for each wrong answer in an OMR-based exam during the executive program.

Strategies: During the Exam

Start Easy and Stay Attentive:

  • It is better to attempt more familiar questions; tough questions can be tried later.
  • Read the questions carefully and analyze all the options for a multiple-choice-based exam.
  • For calculation-based MCQs, calculations should be made instead of making an intuitive choice.

Chalk out a Rough Plan:

Work out a plan for handling lengthy questions that can consume a lot of time. Do not lose track of time while attempting them, and move on to the next problem as fast as possible.

Stay calm, save time, and score higher:

Do not always think about the time constraints and the number of questions yet to be attempted. Avoid panic at all costs, and remain calm and composed to give your best.

Stay logical and not be afraid to analyze:

Make it a point to support your line of reasoning and conclusions with legal provisions and display your analytical prowess while writing answers

Scholarship Opportunities

  1. ICSI offers Merit Scholarship (Company Secretary-ship Course) Scheme, 1983, to recognize and promote meritorious performance. The scholarship is made available only to registered students of the executive or professional program.
  2. For executive-level students, they should have cleared all the foundation papers in a single sitting, in the first attempt, without exemption in any document and must have scored at least 55% aggregate marks and should have registered for the executive program within three months of the announcement of foundation exam results.
  3. Professional program students should have cleared all the papers of both modules at the intermediate level in a single sitting, in the first attempt, without exemption in any article, and scored at least 55% aggregate marks.
  4. The number of scholarships awarded for executive and professional programs would be limited to 25 in a session and 50 within a single year.
  5. The value of the scholarship would be INR 500 per month. To continue to avail of the scholarship, students must meet the institute’s stipulated requirements. This includes maintaining high studies standards and satisfactorily pursuing oral coaching as specified under the course guidelines.
  6. The examination committee of the council will be administering the authority of this merit scholarship scheme, and its decision shall be final and binding in matters about the same.

Useful CS Exam Prep Resources

For updating, students are advised to read the ‘Student Company

Secretary e-bulletin’, Chartered Secretary, Bare Act, recommended books and other publications on the subjects.

Conclusion

CS is meant for highly ambitious yet focused individuals who are determined to carve a niche for themselves in the field of corporate law and finance. The most defining aspect of this course is its steadfast focus on management while dealing with finance, law, and accounting as some of the integral elements while managing the affairs of an organization.

After completing CS, a professional can look forward to working with top-level management in a company while acting as an advisor to the Board of Directors, CEO, or MD. It opens up an exciting yet intensely competitive field for professionals to play a direct role in critical corporate decision-making. Of course, the level of responsibility is that much higher, but so are the perks.

This has been a guide to the CS Exam. Here we discuss the CS exam, why you should pursue it, its fees, structure, passing strategies, tips, tricks, etc. You may also have a look at the following articles –

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Krishna says

    Very detailed and informative

  2. Mansi C says

    There is lot of useful information in this blog. I need to appreciate your hard work. Thanks for sharing this info. Do you have any information on CMA and CS? How do they differentiate each other?

  3. Verina Parker says

    Thanks for this informative guide. what do companies Usually prefer is that they prefer CAs or CSs? Also can you explain me the salary differences between CA and CS?

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      You are most welcome. If company needs someone in finance domain, generally company prefers CAs rather than CSs, because CA has much broader scope of knowledge and expertise compared to CS. But you cannot ignore CS as a course. They both are equally good, but there is significant difference in salary CA and CS. A good CA earns double of what a good CS earns.

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