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Chartered Accountant (CA)

Here’s what you need to get started with the Chartered Accountant (CA) course

Chartered Accountant is an honorable designation that authorizes and makes the designation holder more credible in the field of accounting. A statutory body certifies candidates as a Chartered Accountant after testing the candidate on the grounds of accountancy, taxation, analytical skills, business practices, corporate laws, and others.

To become a Chartered Accountant (CA) a candidate needs to have skills that includes good quantitative, analytical, problem-solving, commercial awareness, communication, teamwork skills along with ethics, professionalism, and eye for detail.

The Chartered Accountant designation is granted by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), which is considered as one of the reputed institutes globally. ICAI regulates the Chartered Accountant profession and practices in India.


The Chartered Accountant (CA) Course details

The Chartered Accountant course consists of three levels of examination

  • Foundation course or CPT (Common Proficiency Test)
  • Intermediate or IPCC (Integrated Professional Competence Course)
  • Final Examination

A candidate can choose to pursue a Chartered Accountant (CA) course after completion of the 12th through the Foundation course option. If a person opts to pursue a Chartered Accountant course after graduation, they can directly register for the Intermediate course through Direct Entry option.
Students who don’t hold a graduate degree but have cleared the intermediate level examinations by the Institute of Cost Accountants of India or by the Institute of Company Secretaries of India can directly register for the Chartered Accountant Intermediate course, as the Foundation course has already been covered in the previous institute.

Students can appear for CPT in June and December. While students can appear for the Intermediate (IPC) & Final examinations in May and November.


Eligibility for Direct Entry system

Graduates and Post Graduates can apply through the Direct Entry system, if their score is at least 55% aggregate or equivalent. This criterion is for students who have studied Accounting, Auditing, Mercantile Laws, Corporate Laws, Economics, Management (including Financial Management), Taxation (including Direct Tax Laws and Indirect Tax Laws), Costing, Business Administration or Management Accounting, or subjects that are similar. Graduates or Post Graduates from a non-commerce background need at least 60% score in aggregate or equivalent.


How to plan for the Chartered Accountant (CA) course

  • Register with the Board of Studies (BoS) for the Foundation Course

  • If the student is planning to pursue the Chartered Accountant (CA) course after 12th then he needs to register for the Foundation course with the institute. The Foundation course is a four-month course and the student can choose to appear for the examination in June or December. Once the candidate has qualified the CPT exam they can register for the Intermediate course. If a candidate has completed graduation, they can directly register for the Intermediate exam, which means they do not need to appear for the Foundation course.

  • Register for Intermediate course

  • The Intermediate Course is 8 months of study course and the student can appear for the exam in May or November. The institute provides the option to appear for only one group of subjects or both the group of subjects in the given month. A direct entry student can appear for the Intermediate exam only after completing nine months of practical training.

    The student is eligible to enroll and complete the Integrated Course on Information Technology and Soft Skills (ICITSS) once they register for the Intermediate course. This is a four-week course and is compulsory to initiate articleship or practical training.

    If a student has taken the foundation route then they need to pass at least one of the two groups of Intermediate exam before commencing the practical training. The Direct Entry students can commence the practical training immediately after completing the Integrated Course on Information Technology and Soft Skills (ICITSS).

    The student needs to register for the three-year practical training and join a Chartered Accountant firm or work under the supervision of a Chartered Accountant who is authorized to provide training to the articles.

  • Register for the Final Exam

  • On clearing both the groups of the Intermediate exam and completing 2.5 years of practical training, the student can appear for the final exams. The student also needs to complete the four months Advanced Integrated Course on Information Technology and Soft Skills (AICITSS) course after completing one year of practical training and before appearing for the final exams. Once the student has completed 3 years of practical training and cleared both the groups of the final exams, they are granted the Chartered Accountant designation by the institute.


Curriculum for Chartered Accountant (CA) course


Subjects for Foundation course:

  • Paper 1: Principles and Practice of Accounting
  • Paper 2: Business Laws & Business Correspondence and Reporting
  • Paper 3: Business Mathematics and Logical Reasoning & Statistics
  • Paper 4: Business Economics & Business and Commercial Knowledge


Subjects for Intermediate Course:

Group I

  • Paper 1: Accounting
  • Paper 2: Corporate and other Laws
  • Paper 3: Cost and Management Accounting
  • Paper 4: Taxation (Section A: Income Tax Law and Section B: Indirect Taxes)

Group II

  • Paper 5: Advanced Accounting
  • Paper 6: Auditing and Assurance
  • Paper 7: Enterprise Information Systems & Strategic Management
  • Paper 8: Financial Management and Economics for Finance


Subjects for Final Course:

Group I

  • Paper 1: Financial Reporting
  • Paper 2: Strategic Financial Management
  • Paper 3: Advanced Auditing and Professional Ethics
  • Paper 4: Corporate and Economic Laws

Group II

  • Paper 5: Strategic Cost Management and Performance Evaluation
  • Paper 6: Elective Paper (any one of Risk Management, Financial Services and Capital Markets, International Taxation, Economic Laws, Global Financial Reporting Standards, Multi-disciplinary Case Study)
  • Paper 7: Direct Tax Laws & International Taxation
  • Paper 8: Indirect Tax Laws (Part 1: Goods and Services Tax and Part 2: Customs and FTP)


Skill Assessment for Foundation Course – marking scheme:


Level I: Comprehension & Knowledge

Level II: Application

1 – Principles and Practice of Accounting5%-20%80%-95%
2A – Business Laws50%-65%35%-50%
2B – Business Correspondence and Reporting100%
3 – Business Mathematics and Logical Reasoning & Statistics100%
4 I – Business Economics40%-50%50%-60%
4 II – Business and Commercial Knowledge100%


Skill Assessment for Intermediate Course – marking scheme:


Level I: Comprehension & Knowledge

Level II: Analysis & Application

1 – Accounting5%-15%85%-95%
2 – Part I: Company Law40%-55%45%-60%
2 – Part II: Other Laws35%-55%45%-65%
3 – Cost and Management Accounting20%-30%70%-80%
4A – Income-tax law5%-20%80%-95%
4B – Indirect Taxes20%-45%55%-80%
5 – Advanced Accounting5%-15%85%-95%
6 – Auditing and Assurance30%-55%45%-70%
7A – Enterprise Information Systems40%-65%35%-60%
7B – Strategic Management50%-70%30%-50%
8A – Financial Management20%-30%70%-80%
8B – Economics for Finance60%-80%20%-40%


Skill Assessment for Final Course – marking scheme:


Level I: Comprehension & Knowledge

Level II: Analysis & Application

Level III: Evaluation & Synthesis

1 – Financial Reporting5%-15%55%-85%15%-25%
2 – Strategic Financial Management10%-20%20%-40%50%-60%
3 – Advanced Auditing and Professional Ethics15%-25%40%-70%20%-30%
4 – Corporate & Economic Laws
Part I: Corporate Laws
Part II: Economic Laws




5 – Strategic Cost Management and Performance Evaluation10%-15%45%-55%35%-40%
6 – Direct Tax Laws & International Taxation
Part I: Direct Tax Laws
Part II: International Taxation




7 – Indirect Tax Laws
Part I: Goods and Services TaxPart II: Customs & FTP






The Chartered Accountant course form ICAI is considered one of the toughest courses in the world. Thousands of candidates appear for the exams every year, but the percent of candidates who clear the examinations is very low. Here are the statistics of the candidates who appeared and candidates who cleared the final exams in the May 2019 attempt.


New Course – May 2019




Pass Percentage

Group I8894150016.87%
Group II6529114617.55%
Both Groups
Passed group I11092166915.05%
Passed group II4323.89%
Passed both groups231320.85%
Total candidates26515706026.62%


Old Course – May 2019




Pass Percentage

Group I25052461018.40%
Group II36945876223.72%
Both Groups
Passed group I15560212713.67%
Passed group II6023.87%
Passed both groups11877.63%
Total candidates775571728822.29%

More than 26,000 students appeared for the CA Finals for the new course syllabus. Out of those, only 7060 students could clear the exams which comes to 26.62% passing percentage. More than 77000 students had appeared for the CA Final exams for the old course syllabus, out of which 17288 students cleared the exams. That constitutes 22.29% of the total candidates who appeared for the old syllabus.

Students who want to pursue a high designation course in the field of Accountancy can also choose to pursue CPA or ACCA certification which are considered the best alternatives to the Chartered Accountant course.


Best alternatives to the CA course

US CPA (Certified Public Accountant)

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountant (AICPA) offers the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) certification. AICPA has 429,000+ members across 122 countries and is considered a leading institution for the Accountancy course. While the Chartered Accountant course trains the candidate on the Indian Reporting Standards, AICPA trains the candidate on the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).

CPA is an extensive course and includes topics like financial accounting and reporting, taxation, auditing and evaluation, regulatory frameworks and procedures, laws, ethics, strategizing, planning and management of finances.
Generally, unless a student is brilliant in studies, it takes 6-7 years to complete the Chartered Accountant course. The percent of students who clear the examinations every year is relatively low. In comparison, A CPA course takes 2-4 years to complete with a passing percentage of 50%. Not only the CPA certification is globally recognized, a CPA holder also earns 20-40% more compared to a CA.

Here are the details of the course:

CPA Course Eligibility

The basic eligibility requirement for US CPA is having 150 accounting credits. In India, it is equivalent to a 16-year education. So, having a post-graduation or any other degree along with the three-year graduation degree is compulsory.

The candidates can have any of the below qualifications to be eligible to pursue CPA:

  • Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India.
  • Member of the Institute of Cost and Works Accountants in India.
  • Member of the Company Secretaries in India.
  • Master of Commerce
  • MBA


US CPA course duration

The US CPA course takes half the time required as compared to the Chartered Accountant (CA course). All the exams can be completed in a period of 12-18 months. The number of exams in US CPA course are also less compared to CA Course. US CPA consists of four examinations that can be given as per the candidate’s convenience. They can book an exam slot in advance at a Prometric center of their choice.

CPA Course Syllabus

The CPA course consists of four major sections:

  • Auditing and Attestation (AUD)
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)
  • Regulation (REG)
  • Business Environment Concepts (BEC)

The CPA course takes a total of 14 hours to be completed.

CPA Exam

Time Taken


Auditing and Attestation (AUD)4 Hours90 questions and 7 task-based simulations
Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)3 Hours72 questions and 3 written communications tasks
Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)4 Hours90 questions and 7 task-based simulations
Regulation (REG)3 Hours72 questions and 6 task-based simulations

Since the course consists of only four papers and a single level of examination, students can even complete the course within a year.


CPA Application Process

  • Every state has a different set of requirements for the CPA course. Before applying for the course, thoroughly check the requirement list and confirm that you are eligible as per the checklist.
  • Submit your documents to the US state board for evaluation to clear the eligibility criteria. It is suggested to keep the transcripts of all your course or degrees ready beforehand.
  • Once the board considers you eligible for pursuing the CPA course, register with the Institute and pay the application fee.
  • The board issues an Authorization to Test (ATT) document which allows the candidate to register and pay for the sections of the CPA exam. The ATT will be valid for 90 days. In case you fail to register for the exam within 90 days, you will have to pay the application fee again to register for the exams. Register and pay the exam fee for the sections you plan to appear in the next six months.
  • Next, you will receive the Notice to Schedule (NTS) which will allow you to appear for the exam. The document will be used to log in to schedule the exam date. The document has a validity of 90 days, 6 months, 9 months or 12 months depending on the state of registration. Log in with the NTS on the Prometric testing center website and schedule your exam using the section ID. Carry the NTS and two ID proofs on the day of examination.

(For more details visit here)


ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants)

Association of Chartered Certified Accountants is a United Kingdom-based global professional accounting body that offers the Chartered Certified Accountant course. ACCA has 233,000 members and 536,000 students in over 178 countries. This is the second-best alternative to the Chartered Accountant course and takes 2 to 3 years to complete the certification. The benefit of pursuing the ACCA course is that students can pursue the ACCA course after 12th or after graduation. The ACCA course has different levels for students to start at, suitable as per their qualification or academic background. A student who has cleared his 12th can start with the ACCA Foundation course, while a student who has cleared his B.Com exams can start with the Skills Level. Non-Commerce Graduates can pursue the ACCA course from the Knowledge Level. Candidates who have pursued the CA course are eligible to pursue the ACCA course from the Professional Level. There are certain exemptions for candidates who have pursued CA IPCC as well.

The ACCA professional course covers topics like Business Accounting, Management Accounting, Financial Accounting and Management, Corporate and Business Law, Performance Management and Analysis, Taxation, Financial Reporting, Audit and Assurance on an advanced level.


(For more details visit here)