Why is a company secretary course hard

Complete guide to Company Secretary CS Exam.

That period is a history when crunching numbers was a career for the nerds. To support the passion there are many certifications to pursue, They surely assure the required push. But it is definitely not easy to decide on which one to take up. And if the Company Secretary career is making you tempted to pursue it, please take a minute to read about the program thoroughly. Our attempt below can help you with your confusion and will make it easy for you to decide about your future. Let’s have a look at what we have in store for you.


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About CS Exam

As defined in the Company Secretaries Act, 1980, “Company Secretary” (CS) is a member of the Institute of Company Secretaries of India. To earn the membership of ICSI, candidates are required to complete a comprehensive 3-level Company Secretary Course. Usually, CS plays an important role in the financial and legal management of a company. A Company Secretary can act as the chief legal advisor to the Board of Directors in a company and performs secretarial audits for public-listed companies. CS is supposed to be an expert in matters of corporate governance and deals with regulatory compliance-related issues in any organization.


  • Compliance Officer
  • Chief Advisor
  • Executive Secretary
  • Governance Professional
  • Board Advisor
  • Secretarial Auditor


Company Secretary exam has 3 levels of exams including 8- months Foundation Programme, Executive Programme, and Professional Programme respectively. The minimum CS Program duration is 2.5 years for graduates and 3.5 years for those with 10+2.

Exam Dates:

All 3 levels of exams are conducted twice a year in the months of June and December.

The Deal:

The student is systematically acquainted with the fundamentals of accounting and business practices in the Foundation Level which has 4 papers, Executive Programme is divided into 2 modules including a total of 7 papers and is focused on company laws, tax laws and company accounting and auditing practices. The Professional Programme is divided into 4 modules including a total of 8 papers. This Level focuses on company secretarial practice, corporate governance, restructuring, and strategic management among other advanced topics. Each exam at each of the levels is of 4-hour duration with a 1-hour break in between.


Students with 10+2 can start with Foundation Programme and those who have completed either Foundation level or are graduates can opt for Executive Programme but to pursue Professional Programme it is mandatory to first successfully complete Executive Programme.

CS Program Completion Criteria

  • After Passing 10+2 (except those with Fine Arts) candidates have to complete the Foundation Programme. The minimum duration for the program is 8 months but it must be completed within 3 years of registration. Exams can only be taken after completion of 9 months from the date of registration.
  • Those who have cleared the Foundation Programme or are Graduates (except in Fine Arts) can enroll for the Executive Programme.
  • Minimum duration is of 1 year and must be completed within 5 years of registration for the program. Executive Programme consists of 2 modules and students can sit for exams of both modules after completing a minimum 9 months study course.
  • Only those who have completed the Executive Programme can enroll for Professional Programme. The minimum program duration is of 1 year but it must be completed within 5 years from the date of registration for the Executive Programme.

Oral Coaching & Training Requirements

Oral Coaching: As part of formal education requirements, 30 lectures of 2 hours duration for each subject are mandatory for the Foundation Programme. For the Executive Programme, 35 lectures of 2 hours duration for each subject are mandatory. For Professional Programme, 40 lectures of 2 hours duration for each subject of the professional Programme.

  • Other Short-term training programs: After completion of Executive Programme, students are required to complete:
  • EDP: Students also have to undergo an Executive Development Program (EDP) of 8 days after completion of the executive program and before commencing the 15 months training.
  • 15 Months Management Training (including PDP): After passing the executive program, candidates are required to undergo 15 months of management training under a Company secretary in practice or with a company. This training includes 25 hours of Professional Development Programme (PDP) as well.
  • Training programs (SIP), Compulsory Computer Training: Within 6 months of registering for Executive Programme, candidates need to complete a 7-day Student Induction Programme (SIP). Additionally, students have to complete a 70-hour Compulsory Computer Training program to enroll for Executive Programme exams. 2 days induction, 3 days e-governance, 5 days skill development and 5 days Entrepreneurship Development
  • 15 Days Specialized Training: Candidates are required to undergo 15 days of training in a specialized agency such as Office of the Registrar of Companies (ROC), stock exchange, financial or banking institution or a management consultancy firm. This training is only undertaken after passing Professional Programme examination and on completion of SIP, EDP and 15 months training program
  • MSOP: There is a 15 days Management Skills Orientation Programme (MSOP) after the Professional Programme and completion of 15 months of training.

What Do You Earn?

After completion of the Professional Programme and 15 months training program, candidates can acquire the Membership of ICSI and use the title of Associate Company Secretary (ACS) after their name.

Why Pursue CS?

It takes real hard work to become a CS but it brings along a great deal of trust, respect, and credibility and has its perks for sure. For one thing, Company Secretary is a highly valued designation which validates the legal and management expertise of a professional in managing corporate affairs.

  1. A Company Secretary interacts with the top-level management including MD, CEO or Board of Directors in a company and is relied upon for legal advice in corporate affairs.
  1. CS is usually an expert on corporate law and plays an important role in devising and implementing corporate governance policies within a company. This makes him/her a part of key management personnel in the organization.
  1. Career prospects are bright and a CS can either work with an organization of repute or start his or her independent professional practice. Apart from that, the salary package is among the best in the industry.

CS Exam Format

The CS Foundation, Executive and Professional Program papers need to answer in a duration of 4 hours. Their exam format varies from multiple choice questions, Optical Mark Recognition, and open book examinations.

CS Qualifying Marks

For Foundation Exam, candidates have to score at least 40% in each of the papers and 50% in the aggregate of all the papers to be able to successfully pass the exam.

For Executive as well as Professional Programme, a candidate shall have to score at least 40% in each paper and 50% in the aggregate of all the papers within each module to be able to clear the exams.

CS Exam Fees

 Below is the break up of the CS exam fees.

CS Results & Passing Rates

CS Foundation Pass Percentage Dec 2015

CS Executive Pass Percentage Dec 2015 (New Syllabus)

CS Professional Pass Percentage Dec 2015 (New Syllabus)

CS Study Material

Subject-wise Foundation, Executive and Professional Programme study material can be purchased from the ICSI website.

Study guides for each of the subject including practice test papers can also be downloaded for free from the ICSI website.

CS Exam Strategies

Strategies: Before the Exam

Grasp the Fundamentals:

  1. Develop a conceptual understanding of the subject matter instead of focusing on memorizing and adopt an analytical approach to learn better.
  2. Study extensively to cover all the major concepts instead of doing it on a selective basis.

The practice holds the key to success:

  1. Practice as much as possible for calculation-based questions to be able to arrive at accurate results in the minimum time possible.
  2. Practice case studies based on the subject matter to develop a practical understanding of the ideas.
  3. Practice with an eye on the watch, especially while doing practical problem solving, this will help save a lot of time during the exam.

Adopt a Balanced approach and stay updated:

  1. Maintain a balance between theory and application while concentrating on any specific study area.
  2. Stay updated on the latest information on relevant knowledge areas through official publications and other sources.

Focus on Legal Provisions:

  1. Acquire an understanding of the intricacies involved in Companies Act, 2013 and any modifications, regulatory changes related to company law.
  2. Make an in-depth study of legal provisions and their practical applications to be able to support your answers with an emphasis on the legal aspect.
  3. Be aware of pronouncements, legal provisions and case studies decided by judicial and quasi-judicial bodies.
  4. There is no negative marking for incorrect answers except for a deduction of 0.25 marks for each incorrect answer in OMR-based exams in the Executive Programme.

Strategies: During the Exam

  • Start Easy and Stay Attentive:

  • It is better to attempt more familiar questions first, tough questions can be attempted later.
  • Read the questions carefully and analyze all the options available, if it is a multiple-choice based exam.
  • For calculation-based MCQs, calculations should be made instead of making an intuitive choice.
  • Chalk out a Rough Plan:

Work out a plan for handling lengthy questions that can consume a lot of time. Do not lose track of time while attempting them and move on to the next problem as fast as possible.

  • Stay Calm, Save Time and Score Higher:

Do not constantly think about the time constraints and the number of questions yet to be attempted. Avoid panic at all costs and remain calm and composed to be able to give your best.

  • Stay Logical and not be Afraid to Analyze:

Make it a point to support your line of reasoning and conclusions with legal provisions and display your analytical prowess while writing answers.

Scholarship Opportunities

  1. ICSI offers Merit Scholarship (Company Secretaryship Course) Scheme, 1983 with an intent to recognize and promote meritorious performance. The scholarship is made available only to registered students of Executive or Professional Programme.
  2. For Executive level students, they should have cleared all the Foundation papers in a single sitting, in the first attempt, without exemption in any paper and must have scored at least 55% aggregate marks and should have registered for Executive Programme within three months of the announcement of Foundation exam results.
  3. For professional Programme students, they should have cleared all the papers of both modules at Intermediate level in a single sitting, in the first attempt, without exemption in any paper and have scored at least 55% aggregate marks.
  4. The number of scholarships to be awarded for both Executive and Professional Programme would be limited to 25 in a session and 50 within a single year.
  5. The value of scholarship would be INR 500 per month. In order to continue to avail of the scholarship, students are required to meet the stipulated requirements set down by the institute. This includes maintaining high standards of studies and satisfactorily pursuing oral coaching as specified under the course guidelines.
  6. Examination Committee of the Council will be administering the authority of this merit scholarship scheme and its decision shall be final and binding in matters pertaining to the same.

Useful CS Exam Prep Resources

For updating, Students are advised to read ‘Student Company

Secretary e-bulletin’, Chartered Secretary, Bare Act, recommended books and other publications on the subjects.

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CS is meant for highly ambitious yet focused individuals who are determined to carve a niche for themselves in the field of corporate law and finance. The most defining aspect of this course is its unflinching focus on management while dealing with finance, law, and accounting as some of the integral aspects to be dealt with while managing the affairs of an organization.

After completing CS, a professional can look forward to working with top-level management in a company while acting as an advisor to the Board of Directors, CEO or MD. It opens up an exciting yet intensely competitive field for a professional where he or she can play a direct role in critical corporate decision making. The level of responsibility is that much higher, but so are the perks.

Filed Under: Finance Certifications, Other Financial Certifications