What is the structure of CPT and how many times is it conducted in a year?
CPT is an entrance exam for the person who is interested in doing their CA course. In order to do the CPT the basic requirement is that you should have passed your 10th Grade. If you meet this requirement then you can register with the CA institute. In Mumbai the CA institute is situated at Cuff Parade.
You can register for the CPT after your 10th Grade, but can take the exams only after your 12th Grade exams. The 12th Grade exams are held in the month of February and the CPT exam is conducted in the month of June. The CPT exam is conducted twice in a year, the second of which is held in December.
The paper is spread across 2 papers of 100 marks each. The first paper is split into 60 marks of Accounts and 40 marks assigned for Law. The second paper consists of 50 marks for Economics and 50 for Mathematics. The paper is based on the MCQ format and there is 1 mark for every right answer and a negative marking of .25. The negative marking can be altered by the CA institute, in which case it can be increased to .50. The overall passing cut-off across 2 papers is 50%. However the CA institute has been planning to have an individual cut-off for each subject which hasn't been put to practice as yet. This implies that one has to score 100 out of 200 to pass the exam.
Are there any sectional cut-offs?
At present there are no sectional cut-offs. The CA institute had proposed a 30% individual section-level cut-off, but the issue is still pending with the central Government.
Are graduates not required to give CPT to undergo the CA course?
The CA institute has passed a rule which says that a graduate does not have to give CPT; they can directly enroll for IPCC. The approval has been granted but it has not yet been applied. Therefore even a graduate has to give the CPT.
Coming to the sectional questions within CPT, usually students consider maths to be the most difficult part in the CPT. How does one go about tackling the same?
It's not 100% mathematics. Let's split it into 3 parts: arithmetic, calculus and statistics. Arithmetic includes topics like ratio and proportion, calculation of interest etc which is usually covered in course curriculum leading up to the 12th Grade. Second part i.e. Statistics which is new for everybody and is easier to score. The third part is Calculus which is a little difficult with students with a non-math background in the 12th Grade. Topics like Derivatives and Integration which form a part of this section are complex in their own right. We suggest these students to focus heavily on Arithmetic and Statistics and leave Calculus for later attempts. This would ensure efficient time management and an attempt to cross the cut-off of 100 marks. There are also some theoretical questions which can be attempted in place of the practical ones.
Would you say that CPT exam is only concentrating on your strengths and letting your weaknesses go or you would say that like a CA exam i.e. the IPCC exams where you can get the questions out of the blue?
In case of paper 2 featuring Economics and Mathematics, students can heave a sigh of relief as they don't feature in the further stages. It also means that one can gamble only in these exams and avoid certain topics which are difficult to comprehend. Students tend to worry a lot and lose focus from their strong areas. Many CPT takers fear the mathematics section and end up concentrating entirely on that. This contributes a great deal when it comes to clearing the cut-off. I think that they should be focusing on Accounts and Law as they will be holding a higher subject/knowledge value in the future levels.
Economics contains a lot of modules. How should one go about with the enormous readings as a part of one's preparation?
The Economics at the CPT level is a combination of the topics covered from one's F.Y.J.C to his/her T.Y. B.Com. However, the emphasis is more on the Economics of the 11th and 12th Grade. Some of the other topics are very interesting and require conceptual understanding.
What are the different sources of preparation?
The module put out by the CA institute is easy to follow and self-explanatory. Students can grasp the basic concepts and can also visit the institute's web site to access more study material and video lectures. Moreover the CA institute provides 30 mock papers for practice purposes. There are also many online and physical coaching classes which train students for this exam. Students just need to be familiarized with the trends of questions asked and their associated answers. The trick is to solve more papers to get the entire drift and increase one's confidence levels.
How many tests should a student take on an average and how should he/she go about analyzing his/her attempts?
One should take the chapter wise tests which feature at the end of each chapter before diving into the mock papers. Irrespective of the nature of the tests, analysis of the results is crucial as it helps to understand the ways to measure one's performance and work on the areas to improve. For example at ideal classes we've got 'ISET' which is a self-evaluation test whereby there are small tests of 20 marks on each topic with the allotted time of 20 minutes. Students can take the test multiple times. Every time a new set of questions appear and one is given an opportunity to assess oneself in 20 minutes which is very important. One needs to know and mark the errors and mistakes and subsequently rectify them in the early stages, so that one is prepared comprehensively for the actual exam.
How should one measure his/her speed and accuracy correlation? How should one go about benchmarking oneself?
As per my observation students undergoing regular tests and mock papers never have a problem completing the paper. Mathematics is a roadblock as students get confused with the questions in that section and tend to spend more time cracking it. One mark per minute is a fair evaluation.
Do you think sectional cut-off would be introduced this year?
It's quite possible. However, if it's introduced then students will have a tough time redistributing their time allotment as they would have to attempt the math section to clear the 30% cut-off (15 marks). The results would be highly affected and the overall percentage of CPT results will fall drastically.
How should one go about preparing for the CPT exam if he's giving his attempt this June? How should he allocate his time towards revisions?
One should devote at least 9 hours a day towards preparing for the CPT exam. The 12th Grade exams conclude by the second week of March and one should put in those long hours post that.
By when should the students be done with their basic preparations?
Students should be done with their preparations by the 31st of May. The exam date typically falls around the 18th or 19th of June. Students should focus on solving the mock papers after May 31st.
Given that Law and Accounts will be featuring in level 2 and 3, what should be the key areas/topics of focus, both from CPT and future exams point of view?
The concepts learnt in the 11th and 12th Grades need to be crystal clear as CPT is the test of one's sound understanding of the subject matter and the basic construct built in these two years.
What would be your final advice to the students who would be giving the June 2012 attempt?
Every student differs in terms of his/her capacity and capability. However, one's positive attitude defines one's success. Even if you've scored 70% in your 10th Grade, you can easily clear the CPT exam. The CA course overall is difficult, but the trend of passing percentage is increasing year on year. The passing percentage at present stands at 40%.
Do you see an increasing trend when it comes to the number of aspirants taking the test each year?
The number of students taking the test each year is definitely increasing thanks to the introduction of the MCQ style of answering. Students feel more confident once they clear their CPT exam and tend to focus more strongly on the second and third stage exams which are more complex in nature.
The author, Professor Manisha Lopez is a CPT, CA, CS and junior college trainer since 23 years. She is the Head of department of the CA-CPT coaching arm of the Ideal Classes
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