A Chartered Accountant (CA) is a professional who handles various aspects of financial analysis and reporting such as accounting, auditing, taxation, and related advisory services.
ICAI, which stands for ‘Institute of Chartered Accountants of India’, is the statutory body in India authorized to recognize Chartered Accountants. It also acts as a regulatory body in managing the CA profession in the country. An individual must complete the course designed by ICAI to become a member of ICAI.
The CA course has three levels:
In addition to these exams, a student is required to complete 3 years of practical training, also known as ‘Articleship’.
The first step for a student to become a Chartered Accountant is to enroll for the Foundation Course with the Board of Studies (BoS) after clearing the Class X examination. Foundation Examination is conducted twice a year in May and November. Students can enroll till December 31st for the next year’s May exam and till June 30th for the November exam. The time gap between registration and examination is meant to complete the four-month study period.
The registration process is through ICAI’s Self Service Portal
Students can attempt the Foundation exams in the month of May immediately after falling after their class XII exams. In case they fail to meet the eligibility, criteria mentioned above after their class XII results are out, their Foundation registration will be canceled, and Foundation exam results invalidated.
Each subject in CA Foundation is tested for 100 marks and the subjects in the syllabus are:
To clear the CA Foundation, a student must get a minimum of 40 marks in each subject and an average of 50% across all papers. Also, the MCQs carry negative marks. If the student does not clear either of the marks-based criteria, the student may take the exam again 6 months later and attempt to clear the level.
After passing the Foundation examination, one must enroll in the Intermediate course, the syllabus for which is divided into two groups. It is compulsory to complete an 8-month study course to appear in the exam. This exam is also conducted twice a year, i.e., in May & November.
Once the student clears even one group of CA Intermediate, he/she is eligible to enroll for the mandatory articleship training for three years. Students are required to undergo a four-week Integrated Course on Information Technology and Soft Skills (ICITSS) before starting articleship training.
Also, none of the MCQs carry negative marks.
During the articleship, one can register for the Final Course (divided into two groups) but only after passing both the groups of the Intermediate Course with at least 40% in each subject and 50% overall.
A student may clear each group Independently or both groups together. If a student is writing one group, the marks criteria (40% minimum & 50% average) must be satisfied for all subjects in the group. If the student is attempting both groups, the student must secure a minimum of 40 marks in every subject, but it is sufficient if she/he secures an average of 50% across all 8 subjects.
If a student is not able to clear a group, he/she must write all subjects of the group again. However, if the student secures more than 60 marks in any subject during a failed attempt, then she/he is given exemption from appearing in exams for that subject for immediate 2 attempts. A student must appear in all four papers to be eligible for claiming the exemption. This exemption facility is present only at Intermediate & Final levels and not at the Foundation level.
The above provision of writing exams all over again is the ‘Killer’ provision that makes CA a tough course. This is where most of the students get stuck unable to clear the course.
After clearing the Intermediate level, one must undergo a four-week Advanced Integrated Course on Information Technology and Soft Skills (AICITSS) during the last two years of training. This is a must to appear in the Final examination which can only be attempted after completing at least two and half years of training.
The Final exam is also conducted twice a year. After completing the articled training and passing both the groups of the Final Course with at least 40% in each subject and 50% overall, one can enroll as a member of ICAI and can be designated as a CA.
Subjects in the Final Course are again divided into groups of 4 papers each:
Group wise clearing & minimum marks requirement (40% minimum and 50% Average) is applicable in CA Final also.
This path of clearing all three levels is called the Foundation Course route, and the most taken by CA aspirants. However, there is another route called the Direct Entry Route that is preferred by students who wish to take up CA after completing graduation.
In this route, students can bypass the Foundation Course provided they satisfy certain criteria.
Graduates or postgraduates opting for Direct Entry must complete at least 9 months of articleship training before attempting the intermediate examination. They should also register for both the groups of the Intermediate Course.
However, for students who have previously passed the Intermediate level examination of the Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) or Institute of Cost Accountants of India (ICAI), this condition does not apply. After enrolling for the Intermediate course, they just have to complete the 8-month study period before attempting the exam.
Students pursuing CA through Direct Entry should have passed at least graduation or the Intermediate level examination of the Institute of Company Secretaries of India or Institute of Cost Accountants of India. For commerce graduates/post-graduates, at least 55% aggregate is the requirement, which becomes 60% for non-commerce streams.
For students opting for the Foundation Course Route, the minimum duration is close to 4 years and 6 months. Every additional attempt at clearing an examination might cost the students at least an extra 6 months.
For graduates/post-graduates taking the Direct Entry, the minimum duration is a minimum of 3 years and can go up to 3 and half years depending on when the student registers and is eligible to attempt the exams for the first time.
The total fee for the CA Foundation Course is Rs.9,200. There is another optional fee of Rs.600 for the subscription of journals. The fee structure is as follows:
The total fee for the Intermediate Course is Rs.18,000 for two groups and Rs.13,000 for a single group. The fee structure is as follows:
o for both groups – Rs.15,000
o for a single group – Rs.11,000
Student’s Activity Fees – Rs.2,000
Note: This needs to be paid only once. When a student is registering for the second group, this need not be paid again.
Registration Fees for Articleship – Rs.1,000
The Fees for the Final Course is Rs.22,000.
The fee for ICITSS is Rs.13,500 and for AICITSS is Rs.14,500
Students can visit icai.org to register for the Foundation Course. They can also click the following link and follow the instructions: ICAI Login
Is the CA course expensive?
When compared to many other professional courses in India, CA cannot be considered expensive. If the stipend obtained during articleship is considered, it is not expensive at all. However, it can be considered expensive in terms of time invested and the opportunity cost if a student needs more attempts.
Can I do CA after graduation?
Yes. You can also skip the Foundation Course and take the Intermediate Course directly provided you attained at least 55% in graduation if you are from the Commerce stream and 60% if you are from a non-commerce background.
Can I do the CA Course after the 12th?
Yes, you can. You should start with the Foundation Course.
How do I start on my CA journey?
Simply put, start with registration. Get the material, Study with a diligent and focused approach. Enroll @ IndigoLearn & start your journey.
Why CA Course is tough?
CA Course is not tough if attempted with the necessary training and focused study. It simply prepares/trains an aspiring CA during the course period for the kind of work/duties which the aspirant would be performing once actually becoming a CA. But, compared to other professional courses, the number of levels is higher, and time invested in clearing all the levels can become much more for multiple attempts.
Why CA Course?
The average compensation for a CA at the beginning of his career is around 7-8 lakh INR per annum. This is higher compared to most other professional courses. There is a single regulatory body certifying an individual as CA compared to other courses which are offered by many institutes thereby reducing disparities among CAs, unlike students who pursue other courses from various colleges.