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Fewer Students are Passing the CA Final Exams, Why?

The low pass percentage in the latest CA final exams is causing the supply of good chartered accountants to stay low

Published: Feb 17, 2010 08:17:59 AM IST
Updated: May 31, 2010 06:25:46 PM IST

Call it a result of the economic downturn, the Satyam effect or simply turning off the tap by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI). The Chartered Accountancy final examination results touched a record low in the November 2009 attempt. The CA exam is clubbed into two groups of four subjects each. Of the 18,502 students who appeared for both groups, only 1,454 passed. That is a pass percentage of 7.86 percent. Now compare this with the November 2007 results; a time when the economy was rocking. Of the 8,654 students who appeared for both groups, 2,446 cleared the exam. That’s almost 28.26 percent.

That’s a striking fall in just two years. Most students who sat for the November 2009 final attempt have been pursuing the course for almost five years. So, when the results were announced on January 17, 2010, the usual euphoria was missing. At the Big Four — PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, KPMG and Deloitte — there were no exuberant mails from partners spelling out how brilliantly the articles had fared. Just to give you a sense, at one of the smaller firms, 21 articles took the exam and only one cleared.


Fewer Students are Passing the CA Final Exams, Why?

Illustrations: Malay Karmakar

So what went wrong? To start with, accounting was a tough paper, auditing very lengthy and all questions in all eight subjects were made compulsory. Till May 2009, one didn’t have to solve the entire paper. ICAI pushed the bar higher this time around. But, quite a few students are attributing their failure not to the question papers but to the economic downturn which has led to over supply of chartered accountants in the job market, implying that the results were controlled. “A lot of companies stopped hiring. Even the ICAI which runs its own placement cell couldn’t place all the students enrolled with it,” says a student who didn’t want to be identified.

Uttam Prakash Agarwal, president of ICAI, rubbishes such claims. “ICAI is not controlling the results. Nobody has the right to spoil the future of students,” he says. “It is the cancer of coaching institutes. Students are being misguided by these institutes and think that they will take coaching for three months and qualify. They don’t even open my course material and have failed because they haven’t taken the exam seriously,” Agarwal adds.

But coaching institutes have been around for decades. Does that mean ICAI had been snoozing until now? Agarwal doesn’t agree. “The paper pattern was more practical this time,” he says. He feels this could also be the reason for the low pass percentage.

Many feel that this is where the larger problem with chartered accountancy as a professional course lies. Compared to other courses like Chartered Financial Analyst or even an MBA with a specialisation in Finance, which are fairly practical in their approach and assessment, chartered accountancy continues to concentrate a lot on ex post facto analysis and rote learning. “Let me just say that the demand for good accountants far outstrips the supply. The course gives a fair grounding of accounting, finance, tax and mathematics. But it could do a lot with what is currently relevant, in terms of applying the learning to actual situations, because the moment it is tested, people flounder,” says Bobby Parikh, Partner, BMR Advisors. ICAI currently doesn’t provide any such training and does little beyond distributing course materials, past years’ question papers and suggested answers.


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Correction: This article has been updated. The CA exam is clubbed into two groups of four subjects each and not three as stated earlier.

(This story appears in the 19 February, 2010 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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  • Vikas Jain


    on Oct 4, 2016
  • Shubham Shah

    Does Icai pass out CAs as per the need of the country?

    on Jun 28, 2016
  • S.bharath Kumaar

    My daughter has finished her 10th exam in CBSE. She is interested in mathematics. I told her to take commerce to do her C.A. after finishing her 12th standard. Lot of people are telling C.A. will be tough - so ask her to do Engineering. They are telling to take 1st group [physics,chemistry,maths & computer science] for safer side. Please give your comment and best solutions for my daughter. Thanking you S.Bharath Kumaar 98401 35249

    on Mar 24, 2016
  • Abc

    Seriousness of student should check at entry level. Allow him to give unlimited attempt for entrance. Allow a student enter in course only after become serious student. Any student with just 35 % mark has open entry in CA course. And entrance called CPT 40 % pass is very easy as compare to CA final 5%. Seriousness of student is checked at final level after averagely wasting 5 year of life. At this stage, students face lots of problems - uncertainty about the future, career and insult socially, marriage issues etc.

    on Mar 24, 2016
  • Truekart

    Fewer Students are Passing the CA Final Exams, Why? Answer : (1) The Indian chartered accountant have no social benefit. (2) Writing CA before the name of Indian Chartered Accountant the ICAI ( Institute of Chartered Accountants ) wants to proof that the CA's are like Doctor . But what social benefits these chartered accountant actually play for Indian economy is questionable. The big question I want to ask to India Government and ICAI that for whom the CA's are worked actually -- for the Government or for it's Wealthy and Healthy Clients ? (3) There is no use of in following critical and complicated tax structure and audit mentioned in IT Act 1961 after Globalized Investment in India. (4) The India and India Government is deprived in collecting Tax revenue ultimately from persons in India since chartered accountants take the advantage of Income Tax Act and CBDT circulars and Income tax law to safeguard it's Clients . (5) There is no social benefit of Indian chartered accountant rather the Indian CAs are responsible for low tax collection for India Government , Monetary scam , Ghotala , Stock Market share price misrepresentation , etc. all evils for the society . thanks.

    on Dec 10, 2015
  • Raj

    The candidates who have passed CA exam very recently say in the last 6-7 years, their quality is so poor that seeing is believing. To a great extent coaching classes are responsible because I have observed these classes resort to short cut methods and selective studies for getting through. In their effort to make fast buck they have evolved methods to get students through CA exams. Ultimately, most of those passing CA barring few lack adequate knowledge in subjects they passed. As a consequence one can find CAs working for salaries ranging between Rs.10,000/= to Rs.20,000/= p.m. In some cases CAs absorbed by reputed companies have been asked to resign for obvious reason.

    on Sep 12, 2015
  • Gurlal Singh Cheema

    ca should be made mandatory for the graduates.. clearing cpt does not mean some 1 can easily clear ca .. so there should be similar treatment given to both graduates and cpt students doing ca ...../

    on Jan 5, 2015
  • Ramesh

    And dont knw why icai is taking people under direct entry increasing the competition....they shouldn\'t

    on Oct 30, 2014
  • Kaushik Mandaliya

    We should not b so selfish. We cleared cpt in good result time n now we expect that there should b a cut in the entrance exam itself !! I have given ca final in nov 13 n may 14 but d result was negative and i was also much depressed after may 2014 result wer i couldnt clear d exam. But 1 need to think practically that ca final is d biggest competition in d life . If v crack this v can crack any damn thing.. we all students r failing not bcz of lack of hard work but bcz of lack of a particular language for a particular paper.. each of d 8 papers has its own language n a style of presentation . The day v understood this v r cleared. This was told to me by 1 of my friends , who was an avg student in the school n college time and cleared ca final in 1st attempt in nov 2013 (3% result).. Hope, no body depresses after such a low results n go ahead with d full force. Even i m going ahead with 1 more attempt despite of being of 23..Good luck !!

    on Sep 7, 2014
    • Raj

      Don\'t get disappointed. In CA exam. luck does play an important role. I know of a bright student who failed thrice in Income Tax paper and could not get through even after three attempts and surprisingly he got the same marks in all the three attempts. Call it a coincidence or his fate. Only ICAI can answer that. Secondly, for your information even ordinary commerce graduates are earning better than qualified CAs these days. One should know ways to make money and build one\'s career.

      on Sep 12, 2015
      • Aarthi

        ca final nov 2015 results are declared much disappointed as i din clear this 4 th attempt also.great shock is i scored 31 in direct tax n may 2014 and 28 marks in nov 14,may 15,nov is it possible.and in other papers more or less same .am scared to attempt again.whether same marks wl b awarded again.what can i do in this situation?hopes lost .am gold medalist in cleared acs all levels in first attempt

        on Jan 17, 2016
  • Vennela

    Hi All, In those day students are passing due to the following reasons. 1. At that time Members are not giving dummy articles so students are getting good knowledge and able to apply and getting through the exams 2.At that time there were no computers in the audit firms and articled students were writing on the paper for audit findings and hence they are very careful when finding the qualifications where as now tablets are there. 3.At that time there were no mobiles and hardly students used to call to their parents once in a weeks time. 4. At that time there are no social network sites so called Face book, Twitter,Whatsapp,Line...etc which are now available handy 5. At that time the entrance test is not objective type which is now CPT and hence students who don't know how to present also passing and failing at a later stage. 6.Adding all to the above the coaching institutes are Blending professional career in the class room without giving practical exposure. coming to the statistics , one has to calculate the % based on students who are actually undergone real article ship. then you can observe the decent % now a days students are not able to come to class in time then how come they become professionals. the students who are scribbling here has to think themselves whether they are away from their mobile at least 2 hours in a day. and they have to see whether they can be away without connecting to internet for at least 1 week. strictly these are spoiling the current students. No need to blame the institute. don't think how your age is getting turned but think how the current technology is making you as slave to the failure. hope this clarifies to all about what is ICAI and what is profession.

    on Sep 5, 2014
  • Urvashi Maheshwari

    cpt should be bit harder as because after clearing cpt many of them think that's it, they become ca. For ipcc i think "it" (7th paper) should be eliminated or its weightage should be reduced. ca results of final and ipcc should be improved

    on Aug 16, 2014
  • Alisha Roy

    Hey Arindam, Indeed the results are dicey. I totally agree with you. I can relate to your zeal. I was born and raised abroad but did my high schooling (10 2 ) and degree in India. I was one of the toppers of my school and college never scoring less than 85%. Even in PCC, I sailed past with a decent score of 344/ 600 without a rank. But it all turn around in Finals. I\'m 25 and shattered to the core as I have yet to clear even 1 group. I\'ve started with ACCA, one could know why. You\'re just 23 and will clear soon with your determination. Cheer up, don\'t be depressed. =)

    on Aug 4, 2014
  • Arindam Mukherjee

    CA results became very dicey, i gave CA final in november 2013 with a zeal to clear in one shot. ICAI failed me with some marks short in each groups. I suffered from depression after that and my performance was not good in May 2014, i just gave one group. Now i am already 23 and very scared when i think about my future.

    on Jul 30, 2014
  • Pranay

    This june 2014 was my 2nd attempt for cpt,and i am 100% sure that i can\'t get 15 marks out of 60 in Accounts and 11 in maths out of 50. I think that i should file a suit against icai,suggest me what to do..

    on Jul 22, 2014
  • Jack

    Ca pass percentage should increase

    on May 11, 2014
  • Narendra Kumawat

    Cpt result should be under 20 %.

    on Mar 22, 2014
  • Shrenuj Jain

    sir the result of November 2013 is even lower just 3%

    on Mar 5, 2014
  • Sreekanth

    Yes the result is based on First In First Out method,the paper correction are simply following higher authorities orders i.e prefixed percentage.Here luck playing a crucial role than hard work and intelligence... So scary situation created by ICAI please don\'t spoil the future of brilliant students with your logicless results.

    on Feb 6, 2014
  • Nisha

    Dear Pradnya, I am very much scared and disturbed by reading your comment. I wanted to become a CA since my childhood but due to some family pressure and some unwanted situation I could not complete it ....before marriage i completed my CA inter I am a 31 yrs old woman and mother of two kids but still want to study and chase my dream, my family member suggest me to do MBA as it fits my situation rather then ca .......but as you told they prefer the youngsters to pass in that case keeping other factors (hard work,determination, passion for study etc ) constant.......a woman of 36 yrs old (after 5 yrs from now) seems then impossible to pass so please can you tell me despite of all other challenges how much reality there is in your statement "they want only young people between 20 to 25 others are facing only attempts"

    on Jan 29, 2014
  • Pooja

    If ICAI really wants to maintain the standard of the CA profession,why reduce the percentage.Instead reduce the number of students entering the Final level of the course.What I mean is to make the entrance level that strict and that practical keeping the number of students clearing Final the same.Giving 3% results at the Final level where a person reaches that stage of life where he wishes to get settled seriously discourages.By giving 3% results it seems that ICAI intends to clear the batch of nov 2013 in 33 attempts..!!Please do think...

    on Jan 26, 2014
  • Uday Waman Deshmukh

    What is the reason of so low percentage students passing in CA FINAL EXAMS? Are the students not writing answers properly or what the assessor requires them to answer. i always find 80 to 90 % students appearing for CA FINAL work very hard , even then they do not get success .

    on Jan 16, 2014
    • Raj

      Sir, I am living in a small city Rajkot in Gujarat. There are more than 2000 CAs. Most of them except very few are doing odd jobs. In some cases, employers have struck CAs off their rolls after appointing them. You are saying, students fail because they do not answers properly. How they manage to pass the exam despite abysmally poor knowledge of English is nothing short of miracle. CA results are very dicey and it does not ensure that those passing the exam are good professionals.

      on Sep 12, 2015
  • Aditya Sharma

    Ya I agree with some of the comments, I have also heard about articles checking CA final copies...ICAI is just maintaining the quantity not quality.. You can visit..

    on Jan 16, 2014
  • Pradnya

    i know ICAI wants to maintain their standard but what is my observation.those who are passing are having only theoretical knowledge. But they lack application of knowledge . Also most of them do dummy articles. So that they can get enough time to study i.e. ratta system. Working students gets failed even though their papers are good.ICai considers age and past exam records while passing old students. they want only young people between 20to 25 others are facing only attempts...

    on Dec 25, 2013
  • Ashish

    I am totally satisfied with the ICAI\'s belief to maintain standards of the profession. What is disappointing is the exam paper checking process which faces serious flaws. I once heard that one of the articles was correcting the CA final paper.. How does that sound ? Probably that article knows more than what the CA final student has prepared for the exam and appeared. Since with the aid of luck, anybody is passing the exam, it\'s no surprise why the CA\'s job in a company is tuned to accommodate a MBA finance graduate. To add, with no stress of imagination, can the pass % fluctuate over 2.5 times (between nov 07 and nov 09) in 2 years. Atleast one cannot lead a chartered accountant to believe that.

    on Nov 25, 2013
  • Aryan

    Icai have certain criterias regarding the number of students they pass. If they pass more students, many educated mens will say that the profession of ca is losing its standards. So you have to respect these gentlemens\' wishes. What standards do they talk about I really don\'t understand. Our country is not even fully literated and these people are valuing on standards.

    on Nov 23, 2013
  • Suresh

    Whoever joins CA is simply wasting their time and money because it'€™s exam pattern is ridiculous and no individual paper wise pass is allowed like ACCA or CPA. At the same time ACCA and CPA holders getting more salary as compared to Indian CAs. ICAI is spoiling and killing valuable Indian labour or brain hours by not giving required passing marks or exemption. Why ICAI not permitting revaluation of answer sheets? Only recounting is there and that also look like just as a farce action.

    on Oct 30, 2013
  • Amit Tiwari

    I think,\"if there is a will there is a way dudes...don\'t despair....persistence is the key to it a CA course or anything..........!

    on Oct 25, 2013
  • Naveen Bn

    i think in ca course almost all the academies are doing politics because of money i saw that all the exam centers and teachers are doing money because of ca so the icai must do strict in cpt exam and ipcc i am the student who wrote cpt two times but i didn\'t pass the atleast cpt but only 40%of the students will pass the cpt so be careful about academies and almost all the lectureres are doing money today after the cpt exam you must join the academy because this level was so touch so u must join the academy so be careful because almost all the academies in india did not have the licence to run the academy in academy

    on Aug 11, 2013
  • Aastha Paudel

    I \'ve just passed my S.L.C with 1st div. and i m physically disabled i.e of hands so i think CA would be easy 4 my future bt i dnt knw abt it

    on Aug 7, 2013
  • Sujay

    i think i.c.a.i is perfect because they maintined the level and quality of c.a. if they passed student than it become as engineering where many student passed but they dont have quality

    on Jul 27, 2013
  • Patinda

    ICAI only passes people after considering the demand constraint. Cmon, that\'s a known fact, no hiding it. I have received unexpected results and seen friends complain / be surprised by unexpected results in exams as well over my long tryst with the course. The problem with the ICAI is its that it is in a constant state of self-denial by publicizing a so called \"professional\" image and over-abusing that word every where. Mr. President, by words, no one gets fooled, we need action, solid visible tangible action. Till then most people of other professions like MBAs of top repute at the international standards will view ICAI in the image of \"government\". Just printing and distributing books (that too with poor quality study material, often chhapa of standards etc) will not do to better that image. The course comes nowhere when compared to MBAs institutes of the IIMs. I\'ve seen this first hand having someone in my house who has grad from there.

    on Jul 26, 2013
  • Payal

    plz anybody suggest me..wat shall I do now.. after investing so many of years in C.A..yet i have not cleared my final xams.. and now I cannot switch to another course.. from my side I ve given my best..

    on Jul 15, 2013
  • Shyjuchettan

    I think that the Standards of Accounting Profession does not equal to the low pass percentage of ICAI.Highest standards means several factors are considered. icai forget the indepth standards at everytime. I have 100% confident that ICAI- India didn\'t compete with the foreign bodies in all sense.

    on Aug 28, 2012
  • Dr. Pratima Roy

    It is really very rejuvenating to see that the Institute of Chartered Accountants is keeping up the standards and quality of the profession in the days when all other universities and institutes of higher studies are aiming to pass out their students by blindly awarding marks and degrading the standards.I write this with great anguish at the fall of standards in education system and at the same,I congratulate the ICA for maintaining the quality of Accounting Education.

    on Feb 12, 2012
  • Chirag Samwant

    1. ICAI does not have any infrastucture to train its Students. 2. What students are learning is nothing but tax evasion. 3. Why should not ICAI start a Lucky Draw for students 4. We are through out India collecting evidence against corrupt practices, will prove that they are wholly responsible for Indian poverty, uneducation and underdevelopment 5. Will give an example suppose if Practising CA evasion is 1 crore to 100 core Tax per annum, and there are 45K to 80 K Practising CA....imagine the loss. Good work Indian chartered accountants. Every Indian blames Chidambram, government or political leader for corruption but i feel if somebody want develop India, they must scrutinise ICAI also.....

    on Sep 6, 2011
  • Arun


    on Aug 25, 2011
  • sasirekha

    Can anyone reply for kamal's question pls.i think nothing will happen speaking about ICAI.They are going to the same thing next time also.

    on Aug 13, 2010
  • sasirekha

    What vikas said is exactly true.ICAI should not play with student's life.Even after putting a lot of hardwork,lot of students failed.What ICAI is going to answer for this...They are spoiling student's life.

    on Aug 12, 2010
    • Priyank

      Sasirekha, ICAI has not pulled any one hand to join the course and if ICAI will pass every one than do you think CA\'s will have any respect in the Market.

      on Dec 20, 2013
  • Kamal

    How to get confidence to reach success in ca final ?

    on Aug 11, 2010
  • Vikas

    We cannot deny the fact that the results are controlled by the ICAI. Many of my friends could not make this time also after putting a lot of hard work although it was their 3rd or 4th attempt. There is a clear cut demand and supply rule following the system and may be ICAI desires more money through the exam registration fees. It's really horrible!

    on Jul 23, 2010
    • S N Shenoy

      Dear Sir, My brother took 14 attempts for inter and 14 for final. Total 14.5 years. He is practicing now and his practice is roaring.If Demand supply rule applied he must have been pushed in one of the so called demand wave.

      on Jan 26, 2013
  • meenakshi verma

    I did my papers so well, I don't know what actually happened, why did they fail me in costing...i strongly feel that this time result have been controlled..its ridiculous that institute is ignoring our hard work done for years.

    on Jul 23, 2010
  • jose panesar

    Once again the results have been controlled. 3 pc pass percentage is laughable.

    on Jul 23, 2010
  • aradhana anand

    I also feel that the results are being controlled. But this has led to spoiling future of many bright students. They are losing confidence in own self. It takes a lot to even attend the coaching classes early morning with so many restrictions from the institute. I pity ICAI they don't value hard work but just Money

    on Jul 22, 2010
  • MIhir

    In case CA Final there are Two groups with FOUR Paper each and not THREE Papers each as mentioned in this article.

    on May 31, 2010
  • deepak

    the result is failing the students they are increasing their course is there from the last 50 years...we have heard about a lot of manipulations in ICAI...this thing never happened in ICAI is becoming a profit making organisation...only the name is different...this Uttam Agarwal is really a corrupt person.

    on May 9, 2010
  • Jose Panesar

    Really good posting. I appreciate this.<br /> <br /> And for that loser uttam agarwal; if news wala asks him about "why naxals attacked dantewada?", then also, in his waiter in Irani hotel like english; he will accuse "dummy students and coaching classes." <br /> <br /> All of us know that ICAI controls/manipulates results. And one thing to pressurise them is that economic slowdown as well as their follies damaged students chances of getting placed. Instead of attacking coaching classes (at least they don't give old, outdated, rat-eaten, erroneous books like icai just to CLEAR stock); icai should improve training system of articleship, remove transfer restriction, have CAG audit of icai funds, and their president should try to emulate Lalit Modi of IPL (otherwise one Sunanda Puskar will cause fight between Modi and some Tharoor: just what happened in icai-delhi office)

    on Apr 15, 2010
  • Puneet

    It is quite right that exams results are being controlled. Thats why it is generally delayed beyond the declaration date to decide the appropriateness of result. They used to cut down the % due to fall in economy. And every member of institute giving coaching is of that opinion. That fact must be controlled

    on Apr 13, 2010
  • Atindra

    C.A. is the dream of many students. But I.C.A.I. broke the heart of students. President of this institute said that I became C.A. dream of India. This word is very bad. Government has to take action.

    on Apr 10, 2010
  • Anil Pais

    It is surprising that a magazine of your calibre should refer to CA students as articles! They are articled clerks (which became "articles" over the years in the CA fraternity). The Institute has since changed the term to audit assistants.

    on Feb 17, 2010
  • Joshi

    ICAI has been very unfair with students in "Old course" ie the ones started articles after PE II. There course duration had increased due to the experiment by ICAI. And now in the new course, final attempts comes early. Hence,Old course srudents have suffered a lot.

    on Feb 19, 2010