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How to Become a CA in India

2 February, 2019
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If you want to become a Chartered Accountant in India, you’ll need to qualify for ICAI membership. The journey is quite long. And you’ll have to pass several exams: CA Foundation, CA Intermediate and CA Final.  As well as undergo practical training known as an articleship. And in each step of the journey, you’ll have to face several challenges and make tough decisions.


And once you become a CA, you’ll have to consider your career prospects. You might want to take up more certifications and post qualification courses. It all depends.

In the following post, we’ll talk about all this. How to register and sign up for the course. Eligibility requirements. What to look for in an articleship. Exam tips. Even career prospects! And a little bit about post qualification courses and certifications.

As you can imagine, it’s going to be a long read. So, we’ve divided the post into several sections for easy access. Let’s go!

The Journey to become a CA

What’s on this page:

Introduction

Why become a Chartered Accountant?

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI)

Bird’s Eye View of the Chartered Accountancy Course

About the Examinations

The CA Foundation Exam

The CA Intermediate Exam

The CA Final Exam

All About Articleship

Career Prospects

Other Examinations and Certifications to Consider

Frequently Asked Questions About the Chartered Accountancy Course

But before we go on, if you are looking for study material to help you pass the exams, click the button below:

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Introduction

The Chartered Accountancy Profession is a noble one. It’s a challenging career. It stands at the cutting edge of trade, industry and economic growth. Chartered Accountants (CA) today occupy many important positions in top management. Both in the public and private sectors. As an aspiring chartered accountant, you’ll need to know right away that the journey to become a CA is not easy. Because of its importance.

The journey involves a lot of sacrifice, soul searching and heartache.

And so, a serious question comes to mind.

Why do you want to become a chartered accountant?

Why become a Chartered Accountant?

Why indeed.

This is quite a personal question. And we can’t answer for you. But if it is because you want to do it because everyone around you is doing it … well that’s not a good enough reason.

As we said earlier, the journey is long, and you’ll have to make many sacrifices along the way. You’ll have to give up on your social life for at least 3-4 years. You’ll have to put a 100% effort in your study. You should also be aware that although the entry for the course is easy, the exit is challenging.

In other words, you’ll have to be serious and passionate about your study. For a long time. Otherwise, you’ll end up stuck in a rut with no end in sight.

Of course, there are concrete benefits of becoming a CA. Rather than just pursuing your interest. It’s, after all, one of the most respected positions in the commerce domain. Not only that, it pays quite well too. In fact, the average starting salary for a new CA is around 7 l.p.a!

If you’ve decided that becoming a CA is the right choice for you, you should know something about The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI). It’s the institute that conducts the exams.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI)

To become a CA in India, you’ll have to gain membership to the ICAI. So, you’ll need to know something about this institute. How it functions, its responsibilities, etc.

What is ICAI?

 Fig (1): What is ICAI?

According to the ICAI website, it is “a statutory body established by an Act of Parliament, viz. The Chartered Accountants Act, 1949 (Act No.XXXVIII of 1949) for regulating the profession of Chartered Accountancy in the country.”

The body is responsible for education and administration of the Chartered Accountancy Course, the professional education of its members among other things. A bit of trivia about the institute is that it is the second largest such body in the world!

As you can see, the prestige of this institute is immense. It’s also recognized worldwide as the premier body for maintaining the highest technical and ethical standards in accounting.

This institute is going be a big part of your life for the foreseeable future. And so, we suggest that you find out as much as you can about the ICAI!

Bird’s Eye View of the Chartered Accountancy Course

The Chartered Accountancy Course has two components: practical training and a theoretical (or examination) component.

The theoretical component consists of passing three exams:

Each examination combines both practical and theoretical aspects to give you a holistic picture of the subjects involved. And the ICAI is the only body that conducts these exams. And they conduct each exam twice yearly. Once in May and the other in November. We’ll talk in detail about this later.

Let’s move on for the moment.

The practical training component is known as an articleship. As mentioned, it runs concurrently with the theoretical component.

The training lasts for three years. During this time, you’ll work on real world assignments for employers. (Mostly CA Firms). And you’ll receive a small stipend as well.

It’s important to note that you’ll need to choose where to do your articleship training wisely. It’s so important that we’ve dedicated an entire section of the post on how to make this difficult choice. Also, you must note that you will need to meet some minimum criteria to be eligible for practical training. It all depends on your background and ability. For now, keep in mind that this articleship training phase is perhaps the most important aspect of the course.

During the last 6-month period of this articleship training, you’ll appear for the CA Final exam. 

Once you pass the CA Final exam, you can then enrol as a member of the ICAI. And become a designated Chartered Accountant. Then you can start your career in earnest. The minimum total duration of the whole course is about four years.

That’s the bird’s eye view.

Let’s go into all this in detail.

About the Examinations

As we said, there are three levels of examination. CA Foundation. CA Intermediate and CA Final. If you think of all the exams as a house, the CA Foundation would be like … the foundation. It’s the base upon which you build your knowledge. The CA Intermediate exam would be like the walls. You’ll be building up your base. The CA Final would be the roof, we suppose. It’s the most intensive part of the course. And it needs you to put a lot of effort in clearing it.

Now, let’s figure out what each exam contains. And the registration process.

The CA Foundation Exam

The first examination you’ll have to pass is the CA Foundation Exam. As you may recall, we said that the ICAI conducts all these examinations twice yearly. Once in May and the other in November. If you want to appear for the exam in May, you’ll have to register by 31st December of the previous year. And if you want to appear for the exam in November, the last date is 30th June of the current year. Got that?

But you’ll need to meet some minimum criteria to register. Let’s see what those are.

The CA Foundation Exam: Eligibility Requirements and Registration

You’ll have to appear for The Secondary School Examination (10+2) or its recognised equivalent by the Central Government. The ICAI prospectus gives you a list of acceptable alternatives. You can take a look at it here. Specifically, page 33.

If you’ve met this prerequisite, go ahead and register! You’ll have to register with the Board of Studies (BoS), the part of the ICAI that deals with theoretical education, practical and computer training.

Once you’ve registered, you’ll have at least four months of study time. (Notice that the last day for registering for the May/Nov exam is Dec/June.) And hopefully you’d have passed your class XII examination by then.

After you’ve passed your class XII exam, and paid the necessary exam fees, then you can appear for the Foundation Exam. It’s kind of confusing, so let’s explain in detail.

In a nutshell, you can register for the Foundation Exam if you have appeared for your class XII exams. But you can only appear for the Foundation Exam if you have paid the examination fees and have passed your XII exams. That way, your time isn’t wasted waiting for your XII results.

Whew! Complicated.

Here are more details on how to register and appear for the CA Foundation Exam.

The CA Foundation Exam: Types of Papers

Alright.

Now, let’s move on to what’s in the exam itself.

There are four papers in this examination:

Papers of CA Foundation Exam

Fig(2) Papers of CA Foundation  Exam

The first two papers, papers 1 and 2 contain subjective type questions. The next two papers, paper 3 and paper 4, are objective in nature with negative marking!

For information on each paper and the syllabus, you should find out what is in the CA Foundation exam!

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The CA Foundation Exam: Requirements for Passing

You can appear for the CA Foundation Exam as many times as you want. But you’ll have to appear for all papers at the same time. The minimum passing requirement is that you have to obtain at least 40% marks in each paper AND a minimum of 50% marks in the total aggregate of each individual attempt. That is, your marks are not carried forward from previous attempts.

Here is the journey to clear CA Foundation:

 

 

Video: Journey of CA Foundation Student

The CA Foundation Exam: General Tips

The CA Foundation exam is, in general, easy. Easy in the sense that the difficulty level is not any higher than your Class XII. As a result, many people take it too easily. And they end up failing.

This is not going to be you. Understand that people come into this exam from various backgrounds. If you are a commerce student, chances are that you’ll find paper 1 and to a certain extent paper 4 to be easy. If you come from engineering, or have focused on mathematics, paper 3 is going to be easy.

In any case, it’s a good idea to focus your study on those papers where you don’t have a strong base. But remember! Don’t neglect any paper. Score as much as possible in your strong areas (depending on background) and obtain at least the minimum marks in your weak areas.

Also, keep in mind the examination is spread over roughly a week. In May 2018, ICAI held the exams on May 10, 12, 14 and 16. So it’s a long exam and you need to be well rested. Make sure that you eat well. Don’t get discouraged by not doing well on one of the papers. Make up for it in another. But ensure you get the minimum aggregate.

[By the way, we suggest that, as you are pursuing the Chartered Accountancy Course, you pursue your graduation as well. This is for a fall-back option. Just in case.]

The CA Foundation Exam: Statistics and Final Thoughts

To give you an idea of the pass rate, ICAI has released the passing statistics of the latest CA Foundation exam held in November 2018.

As you can see, the pass rate is about 40%. Quite low for a relatively easy exam! And this is because of the reasons we mentioned earlier. People coming into the exam from different backgrounds. Or plain overconfidence.

If you want to get the best chance of being a part of the lucky 40% who pass, sign up for our CA Foundation video lectures now.

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As our parting thought on the CA Foundation exam, we feel that the exam is relatively easy. Compared to what lies ahead. Also, most people fail because of lack of preparation. And not because of any intrinsic difficulty in the exam itself!

Okay. Now, let’s move on to the Intermediate Exam.

The CA Intermediate Exam

The CA intermediate exam is the next exam in the theoretical component of the course. The overall objective of this exam is to solidify and expand upon concepts learned during the foundation level. It’s more intensive than the foundation exam by a large degree.

Just as in the case of the CA Foundation Exam, ICAI conducts the CA Intermediate exam twice early. In May and November of each year.

But the eligibility and appearance requirements are … complicated.

Let’s peek at what those are.

The CA Intermediate Exam: Eligibility Requirements and Registration

The easiest way to enter this course and appear for the exam is to pass the CA Foundation Exam. Simple enough.

But there’s more!

You can also directly REGISTER for the exam if you satisfy one or more of the following:

  • Commerce graduate or post-graduate (minimum 55% marks)
  • Other graduates/post-graduates (minimum 60% marks)
  • CS Executive exam pass
  • CMA Intermediate exam pass

By the way, you can provisionally register for the CA Intermediate exam if you are in your final year of graduation. (The reasoning is the same as in the CA Foundation case. Register while awaiting your results so as not to waste time!)

Note that the CA Intermediate Exam consists of two groups of papers. Group I and Group II. You can choose to appear for one or both groups of papers. Note that, for registration purposes, if you opt to directly register for the exam, you must register for both groups of papers. But if you choose to register by first clearing the CA Foundation exam, you can register for either one of the groups or both.

Note also that if you have passed the CA Foundation Exam and/or a CS Executive/CMA Intermediate exam pass, then,

  • if you want to appear for the exam conducted in May, you must register on or before 1st September of the previous year (OR)
  • if you want to appear for the exam conducted in November, you must register on or before 1st March of the current year.

For graduate/post-graduate students,

  • if you want to appear for the exam conducted in May, you must register on or before 1st August of the previous year (OR)
  • if you want to appear for the exam conducted in November, you must register on or before 1st February of the current year.

Wowza! That’s a lot to take in. Here’s a convenient picture of the situation:

CA-Intermediate-1

Fig (3): Direct Entry Route for CA Intermediate

Simpler now, correct?

Bu there’s more!

If you are a graduate/post-graduate, you’ll need to fulfil other obligations so that you can APPEAR for the exam. Remember, a little way back, we talked about articleship training? And how, depending on your background, you’ll have to register and get trained?

Well, if you are such a graduate/post-graduate who has skipped CA Foundation, you’ll have to first train for 9 months before you can appear for the CA Intermediate exam. And before you start your articleship, you’ll have to go through a four weeks course known as ICITSS (Orientation Course and Information Technology). In this way, ICAI hopes that you’ll be able to develop a strong foundation to move ahead. Because you had skipped CA Foundation. (By the way, we feel that it’s a good idea that you do CA Foundation first even if you can skip it. We talk more about this in the section under study tips for CA Intermediate.)

And for those who are CA Foundation pass and/or CS Executive/CMA Intermediate passes, the requirement is to undergo a study period of 8 months before exam appearance.

And of course, you can only appear for the exam AFTER paying the necessary exam fees.

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Note that if you meet the minimum requirements for exam appearance, appear for the papers in the group(s) you’ve registered for.

A picture is worth a 1000 words, so here is all of the above converted into a nice flowchart:

Eligibility Requirements and Registration: CA Intermediate Exam

Fig (4): Eligibility and Registration Requirements for CA Intermediate

Okay. Let’s get back on track.

We’ve talked about the minimum requirements to register for the exam. We talked about the deadlines for registration. We also talked about the fact the eligibility criteria for APPEARING for the exam is slightly different depending on how you choose to enter the Chartered Accountancy Course. And the reasoning behind ICAI’s decisions for eligibility and registration deadlines.

Now let’s suppose that you’ve met these requirements. The registration process is roughly the same as for CA Foundation. Take a look at the process of registration and appearance for the CA Intermediate exam here.

The CA Intermediate Exam: Types of Papers

The CA Intermediate Exam consists of two groups of papers. Group I and Group II.

Papers of Group I:

Papers of CA Intermediate May 2019 Exam Group I

Fig(5) Group I Papers of CA Intermediate

Papers of Group II:

Papers of CA Intermediate May 2019 Exam Group II

Fig(6) Group II Papers of CA Intermediate

If you want more details on each paper and the syllabus, take a look here.

The CA Intermediate Exam: Requirements for Passing

You can appear for either one or both groups of papers. Appearing for a group means that you’ll have to appear for all papers in that group. Note that you’ll have to pass both groups of papers to move on to the next step.

If you appear for only one group, the minimum requirement to pass the group is that:

  1. you obtain a minimum of 40% marks in each paper of the group and
  2. you obtain a minimum of 50% marks in the aggregate of all papers of the group taken together.

If you appear for both groups simultaneously, then you clear both groups if:

  1. you meet the minimum requirements to clear a group individually or
  2. you obtain a minimum of 40% marks in each paper of both the groups, and a minimum of 50% marks in the aggregate of all papers of both groups taken together.

Now, you can appear for the groups as many times as you want. And your next attempt can be made the next time ICAI holds the exam. That is, suppose you’ve failed a group in your May attempt. You can appear for the same group in November! Similarly, if you choose to appear for only one group and pass it, you can appear for the next group the next time ICAI conducts the exam.

You can also get certain exemptions depending on marks obtained from previous attempts.

It works like this.

Suppose you’ve failed a group. But you’ve secured a minimum of 60% marks in one or more papers of that group. Then, you are eligible for exemption in those paper(s) for the next THREE attempts.

That is, on your next attempt(s), you will pass this group if you meet the minimum requirements of passing a group as defined above. However, you’ll not have to appear for this/these paper(s) where you scored a minimum of 60%; the marks obtained will be carry forwarded!

And as we said before, this exemption will last for the next three attempts. Note that you will not be eligible for further exemptions in the remaining paper(s) until you’ve exhausted all exemptions granted.

The CA Intermediate Exam: General Tips

Now, things get interesting. The CA Intermediate Exam is an order of magnitude harder than the CA Foundation.

But, there’s no need to worry, you see.

With adequate preparation, and concentration on your fundamentals, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t pass.

But before we get into the general tips, we do want to say something here. Even if you do meet the eligibility requirements that we talked about in the section above, we suggest that you pass the CA Foundation Exam first. We are not talking about those who have passed the CS Executive Exam or CMA Intermediate Exams. Because in studying and passing these exams, you’ll already have a good foundation (Haha! Did you see what we did there?) for the CA Intermediate Exam.

No.

We are talking about graduates and post-graduates specifically. Because your foundation may not be so strong. Perhaps your math skills are weak. Perhaps you are not a commerce student and your knowledge of accounting is not up to par. You’ll find great difficulty in going ahead then, you see. That’s why do CA Foundation even if you meet the bare minimum requirements!

And, as always, when studying, focus your attention on papers in which you are relatively weak. And score as much as possible in your strong areas. Beware of the minimum requirements. Also, there is no need to fear exams. In this post, we’ve talked about how to overcome fear.

And here's where we give you tips related to this particular exam.

And as we mentioned in the section related to CA Foundation, keep in mind the exam is held over several days. And as always, in long lengthy exams, you need to be well rested. Eat well. Sleep well. And don’t be discouraged of not doing well in a paper. Make up for it in another. Even if you know you are going to fail a group, try to get at least 60% in the remaining paper(s) of that group. This way, you can at least achieve exemption status for that/those paper(s) for your next attempt! (See the section above for details.)

The CA Intermediate Exam: Statistics and Final Thoughts

As always, numbers tell most of the story. Here are detailed stats released by ICAI about student numbers and pass rate. Compare these to the CA Foundation. You get the idea. This exam is a lot more strenuous! The pass rate for each individual group is around 20% or so as you can see. So, it is quite a bit harder than CA Foundation.

If you want to get the best chance of being a part of the lucky people who pass, sign up for our CA Intermediate video lectures now.

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The CA Final Exam

The CA Final Exam

Fig (7): The CA Final Exam

The CA Final Exam is the final theoretical examination of the Chartered Accountancy Course. It’s a broad exam that covers a lot of area.

It combines both practical and theoretical concepts. Its assessment pattern is such that it tests all round competence in both technical and professional areas. It also tests your values, both professional and ethical. But you can only gain these competencies and values during your practical training. That’s why you can only take up this exam towards the end of your articleship training.

And, at the risk of sounding like a parrot, ICAI conducts these in May and November of each year. This time, though the eligibility criteria are much simpler as compared to CA Intermediate. (Even though the exam is NOT!)

Let’s look at what they are.

The CA Final Exam: Eligibility Requirements and Registration

The main criterion is to have passed both groups of the CA Intermediate exam. Once you’ve done that you can register for the CA Final exam. Once you’ve registered but before appearing for CA Final, you’ll have to complete four weeks advanced AICITSS (Advanced version of ICITSS).

Also, you can only appear for CA Final during the last 6 months of your articleship training.

As we keep mentioning, the ICAI conducts the CA Final exam every May and November. The deadlines for registering are 31st December of the previous year for a May attempt, and 30th June of the same year for a November attempt. Just like in the cases for CA Foundation and CA Intermediate.

Note also that, just as in the case of the CA Intermediate Exam, the CA Final Exam consists of two groups of papers. Group I and Group II. You can choose to register and appear for one or both groups of papers. Group II consists of a few elective papers. So, when registering for Group II, indicate which paper you’ve chosen from the list of electives. You can change your choice before appearing for the exam. But you can change it only once. More on this in the next section. For now, keep this in the back of your mind.

Now, let’s assume that you’ve met the registration requirements. The process of registration doesn’t differ greatly from the CA Foundation and CA Intermediate cases.

Fill in the appropriate application form. As always, make sure you’ve followed the instructions closely. Make sure that you have adequate, attested proof for all your claims. Pay the necessary exam fees. Ta da! You are done. You can now appear for the exam.

The CA Final Exam: Types of Papers

The CA Final Exam consists of two groups of papers. Group I and Group II.

The papers of Group I are:

Group I Papers of CA Final

Fig(8) Group I Papers of CA Final

The papers of Group II are:

Group II Papers of CA Final

Fig(9) Group II Papers of CA Final

If you want more details on each paper and the syllabus, take a look here.

Also, note that paper 6 in group II is an elective paper. You can choose to appear for one paper from among the list of electives as we have indicated.

By the way, an important thing to know is that the elective papers are all open book and case study based. Open book means that you can bring any notes, study material, books and reference material with you when you attempt the exam. And of course, you all know what a case study is!

The CA Final Exam: Requirements for Passing

The requirements for passing the CA Final Exam, is, in essence, similar to the requirements for CA Intermediate!

So, we reproduce what we’ve written in that section here. With one important addition.

The CA Final exam consists of two groups of papers. Group I and Group II.

You can appear for either one or both groups of papers. Appearing for a group means that you’ll have to appear for all papers in that group. Note that you’ll have to pass both groups of papers to move on to the next step.

If you appear for only one group, the minimum requirement to pass the group is that:

  1. you obtain a minimum of 40% marks in each paper of the group and
  2. you obtain a minimum of 50% marks in the aggregate of all papers of the group taken together.

If you appear for both groups simultaneously, then you clear both groups if:

  1. you meet the minimum requirements to clear a group individually or
  2. you obtain a minimum of 40% marks in each paper of both the groups, and a minimum of 50% marks in the aggregate of all papers of both groups taken together.

Now, you can appear for the groups as many times as you want. And your next attempt can be made the next time ICAI holds the exam. That is, suppose you’ve failed a group in your May attempt. You can appear for the same group in November! Similarly, if you choose to appear for only one group and pass it, you can appear for the next group the next time ICAI conducts the exam.

You can also get certain exemptions depending on marks obtained from previous attempts.

It works like this.

Suppose you’ve failed a group. But you’ve secured a minimum of 60% marks in one or more papers of that group. Then, you are eligible for exemption in those paper(s) for the next THREE attempts.

That is, on your next attempt(s), you will pass this group if you meet the minimum requirements of passing a group as defined above. However, you’ll not have to appear for this/these paper(s) where you scored a minimum of 60%; the marks obtained will be carry forwarded!

And as we said before, this exemption will last for the next three attempts. Note that you will not be eligible for further exemptions in the remaining paper(s) until you’ve exhausted all exemptions granted.

Here’s the important addition that you were waiting for.

Remember that you had a choice of electives? Well, you can change your elective choice if you so wish!

Confused on how this works?

Don’t be.

It’s simple.

At the time of registration, you’ll choose an elective. Any time after that, you can change your choice. But once you fill in an option in the examination form, you cannot change that option for that exam.

And if you are not able to clear the exam in your chosen elective, you can opt for another one on filling the exam form for the next attempt.

That’s all there’s to it.

The CA Final Exam: General Tips

We are now not going to copy paste from the CA Intermediate section. We suggest you go to that section on general tips and refresh your memory. It’s better that way. You don’t want us to reproduce all that content again here, do you?

Go on. Brush up on it and come back here after you are done.

We’ll wait.

Back?

Good. Let’s continue.

Of course, you must realize that you’ll have to modify some of the tips we outlined to suit the CA Final. But the general thrust of the tips hold even here.

The only thing we want to add is tips about choosing the elective.

When registering for group II, you’ll have to make the choice, correct? We think that you should mull over the choice carefully. Go over each of the topics in all the elective papers in detail. 

Now, depending on your strengths and interests, make that choice. Make sure that you’ve chosen a subject that you already have some strong partial knowledge. And that it is a topic that you are comfortable with.

But, you don’t have to be married to your choice, you see.

If, during your preparation, you realise that you’d be better of choosing some other elective, then you might want to have a rethink. Perhaps during your mock practices, you are starting to realise that you are not all that comfortable with the topic you’ve chosen.

Or perhaps you realise that you know more about another topic. Or perhaps more interested. Whatever the case may be.

In this case, why don’t you try studying for another elective paper and compare your results on a few practice exams?

If you are consistently scoring better on this other elective, then make the choice to switch. Consistently would mean perhaps over 5 practice mocks or something. Pick a sufficiently large number so that you know it’s not luck. And if you conclude with this evidence in front of you that you do, indeed, understand the material better in the other elective paper … well, the choice to switch is easy!

Also, if you fail in several real exam attempts on an elective paper, perhaps it’s time to switch. It’s up to you at this point. We can’t speak for specific cases. Only general ones.

The takeaway is that if you are consistently performing poorly on your elective choice, be it practice exams or even real attempts, then perhaps a switch of electives is on the cards.

Not only that, as we said before, all these electives are open book and case study based. A common mistake that many students make when faced with open book exams is that they tend to take them lightly. Don’t do that. You’ll have to prepare just as hard for these open book exams as you would in any normal paper! Check out our post on strategies and tips for cracking open book exams.

By the way, just as in the case of CA Foundation and CA Intermediate, you know that you can attempt the CA Final Exam many times. There’s no limit to the number of attempts as you have guessed. And you can even attempt the exam even after your Articleship is over. 

But do try to clear the CA Final in as few tries as possible. You’ll save time and money. Also, future employers will look at the number of attempts during the hiring process. So, don’t go in with a chalta hai attitude of, oh if I don’t pass this time, I will pass next time. And ruin your chances that way!

Need help with studying for the CA Final exam? Sign up for our CA Final Video lectures here.

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The CA Final Exam: Statistics and Final Thoughts

Now, we come to the exam stats of the CA Final. And as you can see, the pass percentage is quite less around 15%. So, you will have to quite well prepared in your study.

All About Articleship

Articleship: Introduction

Now, let’s focus on the nature of articleship. As you may recall, practical training or articleship is a requirement that is unique to the Chartered Accountancy Course. The idea behind this training is to make you a well-rounded professional. And to give you an on the job work experience that is so necessary for a good chartered accountant. The training you receive will also instil in you a sense of discipline and teaches you about time management. You’ll also end up inculcating ethical values.

This training runs concurrently with the theoretical exams that form a part of the Chartered Accountancy Course. And, as always, you’ll need to meet some eligibility criteria before starting your articled training.

Let’s see what these are.

Articleship: Eligibility Criteria

If you have registered and appeared for CA Foundation, you should start this training after completing the Integrated Course on Information Technology (ICITSS) and passing one or both groups of the CA Intermediate Exam. The same requirement holds if you have entered the Chartered Accountancy course directly through CA Intermediate by meeting the requirement of you passing the CS Executive/CMA Intermediate Exam.

But suppose that you are a graduate/post-graduate and have entered the Chartered Accountancy Course directly through CA Intermediate. In this case, you’ll have to begin your articleship after registering for the CA Intermediate Exam, and after completion of the four weeks ICITSS.

Articleship: Registration Procedure

If you have met the eligibility criteria as described above, you’ll need to register for training

You’ll have to fill in form 102 and 103. Form 102 deals with the formal agreement between the Principal (we’ll define this term later) and yourself. Form 103 deals with various particulars including documentary evidence of compliance with certain regulations outlined by ICAI that deal with articleship training.

Now, you can do your training under a Principal. This principal is a practicing member of ICAI and has to be eligible for accepting articled students. The principal’s eligibility requirements are not important for us at this point. As we said, you can find all that information by going through the links we indicated.

For now, just understand that you can do your training under such a person. You can choose to do your training either:

  1. completely under this person (or)
  2. partly under this person and partly under an approved industrial establishment as an Industrial Trainee.

Note two things:

  1. The period of industrial training ranges from 9-12 months. And it’s to be done only during the last year of your articleship
  2. You can only choose option (b) above if you have registered for the CA Final Exam

That’s it. Note that, as the training handbook released by the ICAI says, the relationship between you and the principal is sort of like a guru-shishya relationship. Or if you know people in academia (or even been an academic!), it’s like the relationship between a thesis advisor and a student.

It’s a close relationship is what we are trying to say!

Before registering however, you’ll have to choose wisely where to train. It’s going to be the most important decision of your career probably! 

Let’s look at what you need to think about.

Choosing Where to Train

Choosing where to train is a very important decision that you’ll have to make. And it has far reaching consequences. Mainly in terms of job prospects. People looking to hire you will focus their attention on “From where did you do your articleship?”, you see.

It all depends on your future plans.

It also helps to know what sort of training CA articleship gives you so that you can make an informed decision. You can look at this post for more details.

For now, as a general rule of thumb, keep the following in mind.

Suppose you want to join private practice after completing your CA. (We’ll talk more about career prospects later). Then, we suggest that you should join your articleship in a mid-size firm. Here you’ll learn practical aspects of “something about everything.” Nothing too in depth of any one particular topic. But broad strokes of all topics.

If, however, you want to get recruited at an accounting firm, we suggest you try for an articleship in one of the Big Four Firms. (KPMG, Deloitte, PWC, EY.) There, you will learn “everything about something.” That is, you’ll specialise in a specific field of study. Like accounting, income tax, service tax, internal audits, external audits, information technology, management services, etc.

As you can see there’s no one size fits all “right” answer. It all depends on your preferences. The amount of exposure you want, the value addition to your resume, how hard can you work, and how good are your time management skills in balancing work and studying.

As for the choice between these options?

Option A: Undergo articleship under a principal for the entire 3 years’ duration

Option B: Undergo training under a principal for about 2 years, followed a year (or thereabouts) of Industrial Training

Again no one size fits all “right” answer.

If you press us for an answer for all of the above questions and doubts, we think you should go for a mid-sized firm. And undergo Industrial Training as well. It’ll make your resume stand out as compared to those who didn’t do any industrial training.

And why do we say this?

Because it’s the start of your career. You’ll not know where you’ll end up. You may decide that you want to start private practice. Or you may want to go the job route.  You don’t know, right?

So, pursuing articleship in a mid-sized firm followed by about a year as an Industrial Trainee gives you a that extra bit of flexibility, you see. Your industrial training is a bonus for job prospects. And your broad knowledge will help you if you want to start private practice.

Now, after articleship, and after becoming a CA, what should you do? What are your career prospects? And are there any other courses you should be taking?

There’s quite a bit of scope.

Let’s find out what it is.

Career Prospects

There are several options available to you after completion of the Chartered Accountancy Course.

There are two main ways to start. Either take up independent professional practice or work in the industry. There are also global opportunities. This is because many other countries recognise the Indian Chartered Accountancy qualification.

If you choose to take up independent professional practice, you can do so as a proprietor or join an existing firm as a partner or staff member.

Now, there are pros and cons attached to both.  We will not talk about them here. Because, at this point, we are just doing a survey of the opportunities available. If you do want to know more about the pros and cons, check out our post on this topic.

[If you want a more in-depth survey, check out the prospectus by ICAI that outlines this in gory detail. Page 112 on.]

As an independent professional practitioner, you’ll provide several services. And may act as an advisor in several capacities. Business advisor, tax advisor, etc.

In your capacity as a business advisor, your responsibilities may include any or all of the following:

  1. Preparation of financial reports
  2. Helping to secure loans
  3. Preparing financial projections
  4. Determining the viability of the business

If you choose to act as a tax advisor, you’ll help businesses and individuals to comply with tax laws and help to get the best returns legally possible.

You may also have to perform audits of accounts. Mainly of companies, banks, co-operative societies, stock brokers and the like.

If you want to work in the industry, you can work in several different areas:

  1. Financial accounting
  2. Auditing (as we said before)
  3. Cost accounting
  4. Tax management
  5. Management accounting
  6. Financial management

And so on.

As you can see, your options are varied. And ever expanding.

Now, depending on your area(s) of specialisation, you might want to take up other professional qualifications. Especially if you intend to work abroad. Or globally.

ICAI recognises this need for specialisation. And as such, they offer other qualifications post the Chartered Accountancy Course. Let’s look at what those are.

Other Examinations and Certifications to Consider

ICAI provides the following post qualification exams:

(By the way, we at LearnCab are developing a training module for an international post-qualification course. It’s CISA. It’s sort of like ISA. But it’s offered by ISACA. And it’s internationally recognized. So, if you want to work abroad, CISA might be better than ISA! Subscribe to the blog so that you can get updates on when we release this module and others.)

As for certificate courses, ICAI provides these:

  • Certificate Course on GST
  • Certificate Course on ADR (Arbitration, Mediation & Conciliation)
  • Certificate Course on Anti-Money laundering laws (Anti-Money Laundering Specialist)
  • Certificate Course on Cooperatives
  • Certificate Course on Not-for-Profit Organizations (NPOs)
  • Certificate Course on Wealth Management and Financial Planning
  • Certificate Course on Enterprise Risk Management
  • Certificate Course on Concurrent Audit of Banks
  • Certificate Course on Internal Audit
  • Certificate Course on Master in Business Finance
  • Certificate Course on International Taxation
  • Certificate Course on Forensic Accounting and Fraud Detection
  • Certificate Course on Indian Accounting Standards (Ind AS)
  • Certificate Course on Forex and Treasury Management
  • Certificate Course on Derivatives
  • Certificate Course on Valuation

For details of each course and how to register, you might want to look at the ICAI website.

You may also choose to pursue a PhD. For the purposes of admission into the PhD programme, many Indian Universities, including IIT Madras and IIT Bombay, as well as six IIMs, recognise a CA qualification as equivalent to a post graduate degree.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Chartered Accountancy Course

To round off this article nicely, we’ve compiled a list of FAQs about the course. You can find the answers to these questions within the article itself. But for your convenience, there’s no harm in repeating them is there? And you might have missed some small details as you read.

So, without further ado, here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the course and answers to them.

Question: Should I pursue BCom. while doing CA?

Answer: Why not? It’s a nice fall-back option in case you can’t complete CA. At least you’ll have some sort of commerce degree, you see.

Question: Is it necessary to do BCom. while doing CA?

Answer: No. It’s not necessary per se. But we think you should do so. Either before or during. Just in case.

Question: Is the CA Course very difficult?

Answer: Look. Nothing in life comes easy. And what’s difficult for some may be easy for others and vice-versa. The CA Course is challenging no doubt. And it’s meant to be. ICAI wants the best from their members. To pass the course, you’ll need to work hard and with complete dedication. But, on the other hand, the CA Course is not meant only for geniuses. An ordinary person can clear it. Perseverance and a willingness to learn are the key factors for success!

Question: How does ICAI evaluate papers?

Oooh. That’s an interesting one. We’ve dedicated an entire post to this topic. You can look at that here. For now, understand that ICAI tries hard to be as transparent in their evaluation process as possible. The objective papers? Easy. You’ve either got it right or wrong. No worries there. For subjective evaluation, evaluators follow a series of guidelines outlined by ICAI. ICAI provides an answer key with suggested answers, and examiners look at your answer to see if you’ve followed the outline! Remember though that this is not school. You don’t get marks for lengthy answers. You’ll only get it if you have outlined all the steps required.

Question: I failed CA Foundation. Should I continue?

Yes! Especially if it’s your first attempt. Never give up easily. Understand the reasons for your failure and work on your weakness. Now, if you’ve failed like 20 times, then maybe you should start considering other options. But realistically, the average person would fail CA Foundation at least once. Since the exam pass rate is about 40%. It’s like a coin toss. The first attempt.

Question: Can I become a CA without coaching?

Yes. It’s certainly possible. But if we are being honest, you will need some guidance. Perhaps you are not the type to sit in a boring coaching class all day. Or you need some extra instruction. If you feel that you need this extra guidance or instruction, why don’t you try out our online video lectures? It’ll help you understand all concepts better!

Question: Is it better to do CA Foundation first, or do a direct entry if I qualify?

It depends on how you’ve qualified for the direct entry route. If you’ve qualified because you’ve already finished CS Executive or CA Intermediate, do a direct entry. But if you qualify via being a graduate/post-graduate, then we think it’s best to do CA Foundation. To strengthen your fundamentals.

Question: Who are the best faculty for various topics?

We think our faculty are among the best. 😊 Seriously. We won’t list out all our faculty here. You can go to our homepage and see for yourself! From gold medalists to rank toppers to former directors … our faculty are amazing.

Question: Where do I do articleship?

Depends on your interest. As we talked about earlier, we feel that it’s best to do your articleship from a mid-size firm to keep your options flexible. Look at this post for more details

Question: Should I do dummy articleship?

No way! It defeats the entire purpose of your education. You can never become a good CA if you do a dummy articleship. Don’t even think about it.

Question: How much money can I make as a CA?

The sky is the limit! CAs have occupied top management positions in both public and private sectors. Even the starting package averages around 7 L.P.A. But don’t become a CA for the money. Money’s good and you don’t need to worry about it. Become a CA because of your passion for it. That’s more important.

Question: How many hours a day should I study?

We can’t answer this question because it’s entirely up to you. And it depends on many variables. Things like how fast do you grasp concepts? Is much of the material familiar to you? How many days left for the exam? Things like that. Keep in mind that efficient study is the best. Don’t get discouraged by your friends claiming they’ve studied 18 hours a day or something while you’ve only studied for 8. Is that 8 hours quality study time? If so, why are you worried? 

Question: What if I can’t finish CA? What should I do now?

Execute your backup plans. You should always do a bachelor’s degree along with the CA course. Try doing stuff like BBA, BBM, etc. rather than Bcom. If possible, choose law as a bachelor’s degree. Now, if you have concentrated solely on CA and have not pursued other degrees alongside, try grabbing some sort of job. Any sort. Reach out to contacts and work your way up from the bottom. Remember to pursue a degree alongside as degrees/qualifications are important in this day and age. 

Question: Is it possible to pursue a Phd. after completing the CA course?

Yes! For the purposes of entry into the Phd. programme, many reputed Indian universities including some IITs and IIMs accept a CA qualification as equivalent to a post graduate degree. Here is the complete list of all universities that accept the CA qualification for entry into their Phd. programme.

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Bharat

Part-time mathematics enthusiast. Loves esoteric and quirky things. Bibliophile. Has a wide range of interests including playing chess and pool, juggling, and creating puzzles of fiendish difficulty. Grammar Nazi.

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