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WHAT IS IN THE CS FOUNDATION EXAM?

14 March, 2019
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Brief Overview of The Post

The Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) has, in 2017, changed its entry level requirements into the Company Secretary Course.

The change also mandates the use of CBE (Computer Based Examination). This is due to the changing requirements in the modern age. And to make the evaluation of results easy and streamlined.

The hope is that students will embrace this new system and to prepare students for the next challenges ahead.

So, what’s in the new CS Foundation Exam? And how does the computer-based examination for CS Foundation programme work?

That’s what we are going to talk about in this post. The nature of the exam. The number of papers. Weightage of each topic. How it is assessed.

Bear in mind that the syllabus and changes are relevant for the June 2019 attempts onward.

Let’s go.

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What is in the CS Foundation Exam?

What’s on this page:

Introduction

Eligibility Requirements and Registration

The Papers of the CS Foundation Exam: Overview

Paper 1: Business Environment and Law

Paper 2: Business Management, Ethics and Entrepreneurship

Paper 3: Business Economics

Paper 4: Fundamentals of Accounting and Auditing

More about the Computer-based Examination

General Study Tips and Passing Requirements

Introduction

The exam is informally known as the CS Foundation exam. ICSI is the conducting body. The exam is held over two days. There are four papers in the exam. Students are expected to write two papers in the first day and the other two in the second day. The exam is held twice yearly. Once in June and the other in December.

The exam is computer based. All papers are MCQ based. There is no negative marking.

Now, not everyone can register and appear for the exam. You’ll have to fulfill some minimum criteria. Let’s see what those are.

Eligibility Requirements and Registration

You’ll have to appear for The Secondary School Examination (10+2) or its recognised equivalent by the Central Government.

If you’ve met this prerequisite, you can register. You’ll have to register on ICSI’s website itself. Registration is open throughout the year. But note that if you are appearing for the June exam, the last date of registration is 30th September of the previous year. And for the December exam, the last date of registration is 31st March of the same year. That is, for example, if you want to register for the December 2019 exam, the last date is 31st March 2019. As for June 2020? Yes, you guessed it, it’s 30th September 2019(!).

The Papers of the CS Foundation Exam: Overview

As we said there are four papers in the exam. The duration of each paper is 90 minutes. The table below shows the breakdown.

Paper

Subject

Marks

Duration

1

Business Environment and Law

 

100

90 Minutes

Part A – Business Environment

40

Part B – Business Laws

60

2

Business Management, Ethics and Entrepreneurship

100

Part A – Business Management

40

Part B – Ethics

10

Part C – Business Communication

25

Part D – Entrepreneurship

25

3

Business Economics

100

 

Part A - Economics

80

Part B - Elementary Statistics

20

4

Fundamentals of Accounting and Auditing

100

Part A - Fundamentals of Accounting

70

Part B - Fundamentals of Auditing

30

Table (1) Papers of the CS Foundation Course

As this is a foundation course, the level of knowledge you are expected to show is “basic knowledge.” Note that basic doesn’t mean easy. It just means that it is basic as compared to the level of knowledge you are expected to possess in later levels.

Now, let’s see what each paper contains.

Paper 1: Business Environment and Law (100 Marks Total)

The Business Environment and Law paper is divided into two parts. According to the ICSI, the objective of the paper is “to give orientation about different forms of organizations, functions in organizations, business strategies and environment, along with an exposure to elements of business laws and entrepreneurship.”

The total duration of the paper is 90 minutes.

Let’s now look at the syllabus for each part and approximate weightage given to each syllabus topic. Note that the syllabus for Business Environment and Entrepreneurship is applicable for the June 2019 attempt onwards.

Paper 1: Part A – Business Environment (40 Marks)

There are 5 chapters covered in this part of the paper. Also, based on our analysis of the papers from the December 2013 examination to June 2018 examination, the table below shows the rough weightage of the chapters covered based on the frequency.

Chapter No.

 Chapter Name

Frequency of Questions Based on Historical Data

Relative Importance in terms of Percentage

1

Business Environment

45

28%

2

Forms of Business Organization

32

20%

3

Scales of Business

27

17%

4

Emerging Trends in Business

33

20%

5

Business Functions

24

15%

Table (2) Paper 1: Part A – Business Environment Topic-wise Weightage

Here is the same information visualised in the form of a pie chart.

Paper 1 - Part A Topicwise WeightageFig (1) Paper 1: Part A – Business Environment Topic-wise Weightage

Now, note that we’ve provided this information to you to get a rough idea of the importance of each chapter. But we suggest that you gain a thorough understanding of all concepts. Don’t try any shortcut tricks and neglect any chapter when studying.

Paper 1: Part B – Business Laws (60 Marks)

There are 8 chapters covered in this part of the paper. Also, based on our analysis of the papers from the December 2013 examination to June 2018 examination, the table below shows the rough weightage of the chapters covered based on the frequency.

Chapter No.

Chapter Name

Frequency of Questions Based on Historical Data

Relative Importance based on Percentage

6

Introduction to Law

26 

12%

7

Elements of Company Law

52

23%

8

Elements of Law relating to Partnership and LLP

32

14%

9

Elements of Law relating to Contract

53

23%

10

Elements of Law relating to Sale of Goods

28

13%

11

Elements of Law relating to Negotiable Instruments

34

15%

12

Elements of Information Technology Act

N/A

N/A

13

Role of C.S. – Duties and Responsibilities, Areas of Practice

N/A

N/A

Table (3) Paper 1: Part B – Business Laws Topic-wise Weightage

Note that chapters 12 and 13 have been added to the syllabus in the recent update. So, we don’t have any historical data to estimate the frequency. But you can be sure that since ICSI has introduced these topics, these will be of importance!

Now, here is a pie-chart comprising of the same data. Note we have omitted chapters 12 and 13 from this visualisation because of lack of historical information. As we mentioned earlier, this does NOT mean that these are of no importance. Instead, pay some significant attention to these because ICSI wouldn’t introduce them just for the sake of it, right?

Paper 1 - Part B Topicwise WeightageFig (2) Paper 1: Part B – Business Laws Topic-wise Weightage 

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Paper 2: Business Management, Ethics and Entrepreneurship (100 Marks Total)

The paper is divided into four parts. Part A, Part B, Part C and Part D. The total duration is 90 minutes.

According to ICSI, the objective of the paper is “to acquaint with the basic principles of management, ethics, communication techniques and entrepreneurship.”

Let’s now look at the syllabus for each part and approximate weightage given to each syllabus topic. Note that the syllabus for Business Management, Ethics and Entrepreneurship is applicable for the June 2019 attempt onwards.

Paper 2: Part A – Business Management (40 Marks)

There are 7 chapters covered in this part of the paper. Also, based on our analysis of the papers from the December 2013 examination to June 2018 examination, the table below shows the rough weightage of the chapters covered based on the frequency.

Chapter No.

Chapter Name

Frequency of Questions Based on Historical Data

Relative Importance based on Percentage

1

Nature of Management and its Process

36

17%

2

Planning

29

13%

3

Organisation

42

20%

4

Human Resource Management

27

13%

5

Direction and Co-ordination

30

14%

6

Controlling

35

16%

7

Recent Trends in Management

15

7%

Table (4) Paper 2: Part A – Business Management Topic-wise Weightage

And here’s the same information visualised in the form of a pie-chart

Paper 2 - Part A Topicwise WeightageFig (3) Paper 2: Part A – Business Management Topic-wise Weightage

Paper 2: Part B – Business Ethics (10 Marks)

There is only one chapter in this part: Business Ethics. Here you will get an overview of what comprises Business Ethics, and ethical principles in business from an Indian and ancient Indian perspective.

Paper 2: Part C – Business Communication (25 Marks)

There are 5 chapters in this part of the paper. Based on our analysis of the papers from the December 2013 examination to June 2018 examination, the table below shows the rough weightage of the chapters covered based on the frequency. 

Chapter No.

Chapter Name

Frequency of Questions Based on Historical Data

Relative Importance based on Percentage

9

Business Communication

40

22%

10

Essentials of Good English

68

36%

11

Business Correspondence

40

22%

12

Interdepartmental Communication

15

8%

13

e-Correspondence

22

12%

Table (5) Paper 2: Part C – Business Communication Topic-wise Weightage

For visualisation purposes, here’s a pie-chart of the above information:

Paper 2 - Part C Topicwise WeightageFig (4) Paper 2: Part C – Business Communication Topic-wise Weightage

Paper 2: Part D – Entrepreneurship (25 Marks)

This is the final part of Paper 2: Business Management, Ethics and Entrepreneurship.

Topics covered are shown in the table below along with their relative importance. Note that chapters 17 and 18 are new, and so we don’t have any historical data for these chapters. Because ICSI made it a point to introduce these subjects, you can get an idea that they are important! DON’T ignore them! 

Chapter No.

Chapter Name

Frequency of Questions Based on Historical Data

Relative Importance based on Percentage

14

Entrepreneurship

58

41%

15

Entrepreneurship – Creativity and Innovation

60

42%

16

Growth and Challenges of Entrepreneurial Values

25

17%

17

Social Entrepreneurship

N/A

N/A

18

Government Initiatives for Business Development

N/A

N/A

Table (6) Paper 2: Part D – Entrepreneurship Topic-wise Weightage

And here’s a pie-chart for easy visualisation:

Paper 2 - Part D Topicwise WeightageFig (5) Paper 2: Part D – Entrepreneurship Topic-wise Weightage

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Paper 3: Business Economics (100 Marks Total)

The paper is divided into two parts. Part A. Part B. The paper is of 90 minutes duration.

According to ICSI, the objective is “to familiarize the basic concepts and theories of economics, elementary statistics and mathematics.”

Let’s now look at the syllabus for each part and approximate weightage given to each syllabus topic. Note that the syllabus for Business Economics is applicable for the June 2019 attempt onwards.

Paper 3: Part A – Economics (80 Marks)

There are 7 chapters in this part. Here is a breakdown of chapters, and relevant statistics about weightage given to topics based on historical data from 2013 to 2018.

Chapter No.

Chapter Name

Frequency of Questions Based on Historical Data

Relative Importance based on Percentage

1

The Fundamentals of Economics

58

16%

2

Basic Elements of Demand and Supply

52

15%

3

Theory of Consumer Behaviour

31

9%

4

Theory of Production and Costs

66

19%

5

Analysis of Markets

51

15%

6

Indian Economy – An Overview

40

11%

7

Basic Elements of Money and Banking

51

15%

Table (7) Paper 3: Part A – Economics Topic-wise Weightage

And here’s a pie-chart outlining the above information in a visual manner:

Paper 3 - Part A Topicwise WeightageFig (6) Paper 3: Part A – Economics Topic-wise Weightage

Paper 3: Part B – Elementary Statistics (20 Marks)

There are two chapters in this part. Here are the relevant statistics about Elementary Statistics!

Chapter No.

Chapter Name

Frequency of Questions based On Historical Data

Relative Importance based on Percentage

8

Descriptive Statistics

87

63%

9

Mathematics of Finance and Elementary Probability

52

37%

Table (8) Paper 3: Part B – Elementary Statistics Topic-wise Weightage

And here’s a pie-chart that describes the statistics above:

Paper 3 - Part B Topicwise WeightageFig (7) Paper 1: Part B – Elementary Statistics Topic-wise Weightage

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Paper 4: Fundamentals of Accounting and Auditing (100 Marks Total)

This paper is divided into two parts. Part A. Part B. The paper is of 90 minutes duration.

As per ICSI, the objective is “to familiarize and develop an understanding of the basic aspects of accounting, auditing concepts and their principles.”

Let’s now look at the syllabus for each part and see the approximate breakdown of marks. Note that the syllabus described below for Fundamentals of Accounting and Auditing is applicable for the June 2019 attempt onwards.

Paper 4: Part A – Fundamentals of Accounting (70 Marks)

Part A: The Fundamentals of Accounting accounts for the major part of Paper 4. Here are the syllabus topics and topic-wise weightage based on historical data. Note that no data is available for chapters 9 and 10 because these are new chapters introduced by ICAI. As such, you must pay special attention to these chapters because ICSI has found it significant enough to include them in the new syllabus.

Chapter No.

Chapter Name

Frequency of Questions based On Historical Data

Relative Importance based on Percentage

1

Theoretical Framework

47

14%

2

Accounting Process

89

27%

3

Bank Reconciliation Statement

20

6%

4

Depreciation Accounting

26

8%

5

Preparation of Final Accounts for Sole Proprietors

56

17%

6

Partnership Accounts

91

28%

7

Joint Venture and Consignment Account

N/A

N/A

8

Accounting for Non-profit Organisations

N/A

N/A

9

Computerised Accounting Environment

N/A

N/A

Table (9) Paper 4: Part A – Fundamentals of Accounting Topic-wise Weightage

And here’s the pie-chart for visualisation purposes:

Paper 4 - Part A Topicwise WeightageFig (8) Paper 4: Part A – Fundamentals of Accounting Topic-wise Weightage

Paper 4: Part B – Fundamentals of Auditing (30 Marks)

This part is divided into two chapters. Here is a breakdown of the relevant statistics:

Chapter No.

Chapter Name

Frequency of Questions based On Historical Data

Relative Importance based on Percentage

11

Auditing

119

69

12

Audits and Auditor’s Reports

53

31

Table (10) Paper 4: Part B – Fundamentals of Auditing Topic-wise Weightage 

And here’s the visualisation of this information:
Paper 4 - Part B Topicwise WeightageFig (9) Paper 4: Part B – Fundamentals of Auditing Topic-wise Weightage 

Hope that this gives you a brief understanding of the syllabus of all papers. Now, as we mentioned, all papers are MCQ-based and are auto-evaluated by a computer. Let’s examine the nature of this Computer Based Evaluation.

Before we go on, why don’t you sign up for our online video lectures that cover the entire syllabus of paper 4: Fundamentals of Accounting and Auditing?

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More about the Computer Based Examination (CBE)

If you are able to read this post, clearly you have a certain degree of digital literacy. 😊

But of course, you may still have some queries. As such, ICSI has prepared a list of FAQs that students have about CBE. Here we’ve reproduced the FAQs relevant for the June 2019 attempt onwards with some minor edits.

Q: What is Computer Based Examination (CBE)?

A: In CS Foundation CBE, the examination is one that is conducted entirely through a computer thus replacing the use of paper and pen in the examination.

Q.: Is computer knowledge required to appear in CS Foundation CBE?

A: No. The computer interface is easy to use and requires no previous computer knowledge. You’ll have to sit before a computer terminal and use a mouse to attempt the questions. At the most, you need to know how to operate a computer-mouse to answer questions.

Q.: Is the Computer Based Examination conducted using Internet?

A: No. CBE is conducted using secured Local Area Network (LAN)

Q: If I face any computer related issues when attempting the examination, who will assist me?

A: IT professional(s) will be on hand to assist you in case any computer problems arise.

Q: Where will the Computer Based Examination be held?

A: CS Foundation CBE will be held in all those cities in India and abroad where the Institute’s existing examinations are held, and it shall be conducted at specified examination centres/venues.

However, the address of examination centre/venue will be provided on the your Admit Card.

Q.: What are the dates for conduct of CS Foundation CBE in June 2019 and what is the maximum time allowed for each subject of examination?

A: ICSI will announce the dates shortly. Note that CBE will be held in two days. CBE will be held in two days. On each day, there would be two 90 minutes session of examination for two papers. Note that after the expiry 90 minutes, you’ll not be able to attempt any question or check answers. Your answers will be saved automatically by the computer system, even if you have not clicked the “Finish Button”.

Q: How many questions are there in each subject of the CS Foundation CBE?

A: There would be 50 Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) of two marks each in every subject of CS Foundation CBE. On day one, you’ll be examined in papers 1 and 2.  In day two, you’ll attempt papers 3 and 4.

Q: How do I answer questions in the CS Foundation exam?

A: You can answer the questions in any order within the stipulated examination time. Each question will be followed by four alternative answers marked as A, B, C and D. In order to answer a question, you’ll have to “click” the option/answer, which you think is the most appropriate/correct. The option, so clicked will be highlighted, automatically saved and treated as the “answer” given by you.

Q.: What are the timings of the CS Foundation exam in June, 2019?

A: CBE will be held in four batches on both days. ICSI will release the timings as under:

The allotment of time-slot to each student will be made by the Institute and no request for change of time-slot will be entertained.

Q.: When should I report at the examination centre?

A: One hour before the scheduled time of start of examination.

Q.: Can I take the CS Foundation exam from home?

A: No. You’ll need to take the CBE in a secure testing environment at the specified examination centre. The presence of an authorised proctor is necessary to launch and monitor the examination process.

Q: Is there any negative marking for the wrong answer?

A: No. There is no negative marking for the wrong answer in the CBE?

Q.: Can I skip a question and come back to it later on?

A: Yes. You can answer the questions in any order you want. If you don’t want to answer a question, don’t click the answer for that question; instead click next question.

Q.: How do I review my answer?

A: You have the option to bookmark any question to review at a later stage before clicking the finish button.

Q:  Can I change my answer to any question?

A: Yes, you can make changes to the answers already chosen by clicking any of the alternate answers at any time before the exam ends or before clicking the finish button.

Q.: What will be the medium of questions for Computer Based Examination?

A: Questions will be provided in both English and Hindi, except for Business Management, Ethics and Communication subject, for which the questions shall be provided in English only.

Q: Will I get access to any practice tests before appearing in the CBE?

A: Yes! Practice tests are available on the ICSI website. You can practice as many times as you want. This will help you get acquainted with the format of the CBE.

Looking for more practice material? Sign up below and get the best CS Foundation Online Video Lectures to help you pass?

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Q: What do I need to bring to the centre?

A: You’ll need to bring your admit card, student identity card or any other photo identity card issued by Government Departments.

Q:  Are calculators allowed in the Computer Based Examination?

A: You can bring your own battery operated, noiseless calculator with not more than six functions, 12 digits and 2 memories in the examination centre.

Q: What items are banned in the examination Hall/Room?

A: Mobile phones, I-Pads, palmtop, tab, pager, any kind of other communication equipment capable of being used as communication device, books, printed or handwritten material, etc. are banned inside the CS Foundation examination Hall/Room.

Q: Can I get paper/sheets for rough work?

A: Yes. A blank sheet will be provided to you upon request. However, you must return it to the test administrator before leaving the examination room. You’ll have to bring your own blue/black ball point pen with you.

Q: Will I know if there are any questions left unanswered?

A: Yes. You can navigate between questions either by clicking on the “Previous” or “Next” buttons. You can also directly click on the question that are displayed as attempted/un-attempted/bookmarked for review in the paper-wise summary panel.

Q: When the results of CBE will be announced?

A: The date of declaration of result of CS Foundation CBE would be announced on the website of the Institute.

Q: What happens if I bookmark a question but forget to review later and the time expires?

A: The option to the question you’ve clicked will be taken as the final answer.

General Study Tips and Passing Requirements

As you can see the syllabus is quite vast and extensive. But much of it may already be familiar to you because the level is no higher than PUC level. We suggest that you concentrate on your weak points and brush up on your strong points. You may also want to look at a few general study tips we’ve outlined. Also, if you feel nervous about exams, don’t worry. You can read up here on how to overcome exam fear.

And because all the questions are MCQ based, you might want to look at our post on how to tackle MCQs. The focus in the post mentioned is for MCQs based on mathematics and logical reasoning, but you can adapt it to your needs. Plus, for a start, you should go over the study material released by ICSI. Additionally, you can try out our CS Foundation Online Video Lectures. These are comprehensive and cover the entire syllabus.

Sign up to get a free trial!

Now, regarding passing requirements, you’ll need to fulfill the following two conditions:

  1. Obtain at least 40% in all papers; and
  2. At least 50% in total

That is, at least 40 in each paper, and a total of 200 when you add up all your marks obtained!

Good luck!

Need any clarifications for any part of this post? Tell us in the comment section below. And don’t forget to sign up for our CS Foundation Online Video Lectures that cover the entire syllabus.

CS

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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