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How to become a CA: Course details, paper-wise preparation tips

ICAI CA exam 2021: So, how can you pursue CA course after 12th. Well, here’s the roadmap to get started

New Delhi |
Updated: March 9, 2021 2:33:32 pm
CA 2021Here's how to prepare for CA exam 2021. Representational image/

Written by Vishal Shah

ICAI CA exam 2021: Chartered Accountancy (CA) has been a popular choice for students due to the stability and growth this profession provides. Students, irrespective of whether they have chosen science, humanities, or commerce stream, take up CA as their career of choice every year. However, it is a challenging course as it delves deep into various subjects related to accounting, taxation, and business management over a period of four to five years.

CA programme is conducted by the ICAI (Indian Chartered Accountants Institute). Here’s all you need to know about the course including the eligibility criteria.

READ | Check schedule of ICAI CA exam 2021 

The whole CA course consists of 4 segments

– CA foundation

– CA intermediate

– Articleship training for 3 years with a CA

– CA final

Each of these segments has a set of papers that require a deep understanding of business laws, financial accounting, and taxation. You can also choose to go for graduation and pursue CA post graduation. You can then directly enrol for the CA intermediate exams and complete the necessary course requirements from this point.

Now the first thing you will need to worry about would be the CA foundation course. Let’s take a look at this in detail.

CA Foundation

Aspirants can register themselves for the CA foundation programme after their class 12 board exams. The foundation exam happens twice a year — one in May and the other in November. Attending the examination also requires at least four months of the study period and you can opt to study yourself or attend coaching classes to prepare. Until 2017, the aspirants had to appear for CPT (Common Proficiency Test). This has been replaced by the foundation course instead.

You need to clear four papers to successfully complete the foundation course.

– Principles and practice of accounting – subjective paper

– Mercantile law and business English – subjective paper

– Business mathematics, logical reasoning, and statistics – objective paper

– Business economics and business and commercial knowledge – objective paper

If you are a commerce student, you have an advantage in terms of the knowledge of accounting and business law-related subjects. But students from all streams are eligible to enter the CA courses.

Let’s take a look at the papers in some detail

Principles and practices of accounting

This is a subjective paper that deals with accounting in greater detail. The course material consists of 2 modules and covers a range of topics from the theoretical framework of accounting, cost accounting, business accounting for various types of businesses, and more.

READ | ICAI launches international curriculum on CA Course 

Mercantile law and business English

The 5 basic laws associated with businesses are covered in this paper. The contract act, sale of goods act, The partnership act, the LLP act, and the companies act are covered here. This is again a subjective paper. The second part covers business communication in detail.

Business mathematics, logical reasoning, and statistics

This is a composite paper that covers the basic mathematics you would need to know, logical reasoning and statistics in one MCQ based objective paper. There will be negative marking for this paper so you would need to take good care while preparing and answering the examination.

Business economics and business and commercial knowledge

In part 1, the basics of business economics like demand-supply, production, and cost, etc are covered. The second part deals with the business and policy environment in general and discusses some of the leading companies in the country. In order to successfully clear the course, you will have to secure 50 per cent aggregate score across all papers and 40 per cent score for each individual paper. Once you complete the foundation course, you are eligible to continue to the intermediate course.

How to prepare for the exams?

Now that we know about what’s expected from the foundation course in detail, let’s look at some tips that will help you prepare for the examinations.

Plan and prioritise

One of the first things to do is to plan out your preparation properly. Assess the areas in which you are strong and give it lesser time and spend more time on the areas that you need to work on. This allows you to prepare for all subjects equally.

If you are a science student, accounting and business law-related areas would need more focus than maths. Creating a schedule and sticking to it is also important. This allows you to control your day and get the best out of the time you have.

Get help if needed

CA syllabus has a way of overwhelming you because it has a wide coverage. So if you think you need it, get help from coaching centres or academies to help you with your preparation. This will also help you structure your learning and cover more syllabus.


One of the best ways to sharpen your learning is by practising the papers. The previous years’ papers are easily available for you to attempt. You can also take mock tests that the various test centres may offer. Practising the previous years’ papers as well as the mock papers will help you manage your time while taking the examination. It will also help you understand the kind of questions that are likely to be asked.

The author is CEO of JK Shah classes 

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