How to become a CA

So you’ve decided to become a Chartered Accountant. Congratulations on picking one of the hardest career paths available! Or maybe you haven’t decided, and you’re looking at this to help you decide. In which case, becoming a CA is super lucrative and affords an opportunity to work with hundreds of companies!


Before you become a CA, there are some prerequisites that need to be fulfilled. These aren’t academic prerequisites, however. They are more closely related to your attitude, habits and tendencies. If you don’t possess certain traits, becoming a CA will likely be a tougher path for you. It’s still possible, just harder.

1) Grit - The path to becoming a CA is very difficult. It is the equivalent of a doctoral degree and as such, following that path requires grit and determination unlike anything you’ve ever worked for before.

2) Self-discipline - While preparing for the exams, you will have to push away distractions, and focus completely on studies. Being able to discipline yourself is a must, otherwise distractions will eat up all your time.


You can only take the CPT after completing your 12th standard exams. The four subjects in the CPT exam are accounting, mercantile laws, economics and quantitative aptitude. Since each incorrect answer costs you - 0.25 marks, it is highly recommended that you be very careful about attempting questions. You have to score a minimum of 30% in each of the four subjects and 50% overall in order to pass. While this may seem relatively easy, the questions are difficult enough that the pass rate is barely 15%.

Given all of these hurdles what is the best way to crack the CPT?

Here are a few tips.

Time management can save your life. By using your time properly you can increase the number of hours that are available to study.

Accounts is the linchpin of the entire exam. It is the single most important topic in the syllabus and if you master it, your path will be significantly smoother.

Practice using the given syllabus. When you register for the exam with ICAI, you will be given a set of textbooks and a set of model papers. Worst case scenario, studying with these books and papers will lead you to success in the CPT.

Revise, revise, revise. There is no substitute for hard studying and practice. The more you study, the easier the exam will be.

Ultimately, success in the CPT boils down to focused, intelligent study. It creates the foundation on which you will build your career as a CA. The skills you will learn and refine while studying for the CPT will come in use during the next few stages. The next part, the IPCC exam will test you like you have never been tested before.


Once you crack the CPT, the next step is the integrated professional competence course or IPCC exam. This course consists of two groups of 4 and 3 subjects respectively. You can get a passing grade in the IPCC if you get a minimum of 40% marks in each subject and an aggregate of 50% in each group. This means that both groups have to be passed separately. However, if you get 50% collectively in both groups without an individual aggregate of 50% in each group you still qualify as having passed. The IPCC is a significantly more difficult exam as compared to the CPT. The amount of dedication required to pass this exam is incredible. The study methods that worked to help you pass the CPT are what will help you pass the IPCC too. From daily study, regular reviews, minimal Internet usage and with a commitment to gradual improvement to maintaining good health, both physical and mental, you must dedicate as much time to study as possible without burning out. This is a balancing act which you must finetune further.


Before you can take the CA Final exam, there is one huge hurdle left, and that is Articleship. Now, Articleship involves joining a firm or working under a qualified CA to learn the way business is actually done. The Big Four firms of CAs, namely Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst and Young and KPMG, are the most prestigious places for an aspirant. While getting in at one of these places can be a great career boost, it often happens that due to the vast nature of these firms, aspiring CAs don’t get well-rounded experience. Smaller firms get a wider variety of work, and as such, you will be able to function in a variety of situations. Your choice. During the articleship, you will also have to prepare for the CA Final exam. While a fair portion of the work you will do will be applicable to the CA Final, you must also maintain your studies. Continuity of practice is the secret to success.

CA Final Exam

The last step to becoming a CA, and the most difficult one. Thousands have failed to crack this exam, widely regarded as one of the toughest in the world. If you have cleared both groups of the IPCC, you can take this exam in the last six months of your articleship. At this point it is pretty much the best idea to abandon everything except studies, and of course health. No point in being too sick to give the exam! Focus all your attention on conceptual understanding. If you just practice a few questions, odds are they won't appear in the paper.

Combine coaching classes with self study. This will help you achieve the best results possible. Since coaching classes give you an additional source of support, they can help you understand concepts that you may fail to understand on your own. The CA final, like the IPCC, consists of two groups of four papers each. The questions are updated as per the technical progress and changes in the business practices, ensuring that the students who pass are superbly equipped to thrive in the competitive world of Chartered Accountants.

This is an incredibly difficult, yet incredibly rewarding journey. I wish all of you aspirants the best of luck!


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