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CA vs UPSC, Which is Tough?


Debates always give us more insight into a particular thing we partially know. Let’s discuss CA vs UPSC; which one is tougher, or is there any argumentative statement on the theme? What do you think, whether CA vs UPSC is comparable or not? 

Competitive exams are a ubiquitous part of the career attainment journey that most of us undertake in our lives. These exams serve as a crucial stepping stone towards achieving our career aspirations, helping us demonstrate our knowledge and skills, and unlocking opportunities for personal and professional growth.

When it comes to competitive exams in India, the Civil Services Examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) is considered one of the toughest exams in the country. On the other hand, the Chartered Accountancy (CA) exam conducted by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) is also known for its difficulty level. Let’s explore the differences between these two exams and determine which one is tougher.


The Civil Services Examination (CSE) is a three-stage examination conducted by UPSC to select candidates for various civil services, including Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS), and Indian Foreign Service (IFS), among others. The exam is considered one of India’s toughest due to its vast syllabus, intense competition, and low success rate. The exam consists of three stages: Preliminary Examination, Main Examination, and Interview.

The Preliminary Examination is an objective type test consisting of two papers: General Studies Paper I and General Studies Paper II (popularly known as the Civil Services Aptitude Test or CSAT). The Main Examination consists of nine papers in total, out of which two papers are qualifying in nature, and the remaining seven papers are evaluated for merit. The Main Examination is subjective in nature and includes a wide range of topics such as Indian Polity, Economics, History, Geography, Science, and Technology, among others.

After qualifying for the Main Examination, candidates are called for the Interview stage, which is the final stage of the Examination. A board appointed by UPSC conducts the Interview, and candidates are assessed on their personality, communication skills, and overall suitability for the civil services.

On the other hand, the Chartered Accountancy (CA) exam conducted by ICAI is also considered tough. The CA exam has three levels: Foundation, Intermediate, and Final. The Foundation level is an objective test, while the Intermediate and Final levels are subjective.

The CA exam covers topics such as Accounting, Auditing, Financial Management, Taxation, Corporate and Economic Laws, and Information Technology, among others. The exam also includes practical training requirements and work experience requirements.

Now that we have discussed the basics of both exams let us delve deeper into the differences between the two and try to determine which one is tougher.

CA vs UPSC: Syllabus and Level of Difficulty

The syllabus for both exams is vast and covers a wide range of topics. However, the difficulty level of the topics covered in the CSE is generally addressed as higher than that of the CA exam. This is because the CSE covers a wider range of subjects, including subjects like History, Geography, and Political Science, which are not covered in the CA exam. 

The CA (Chartered Accountancy) exam is conducted by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) and consists of three levels: CPT, IPCC, and CA Final. The CPT is an entry-level exam that tests basic knowledge in accounting, mercantile laws, economics, and quantitative aptitude. The IPCC is an intermediate-level exam that tests advanced knowledge in accounting, taxation, audit, and other related subjects. The CA Final is the last and final level exam that tests comprehensive knowledge in accounting, auditing, taxation, financial reporting, and other related subjects.

The CA exam is challenging due to its extensive syllabus and requires extensive preparation, knowledge of current affairs, and analytical and problem-solving skills. Passing the exam requires discipline, dedication, and hard work, but it opens up numerous career opportunities in the field of finance and accounting.

Moreover, the CSE has a higher level of conceptual understanding, and candidates are expected to have a deeper understanding of the subjects covered. The CA exam, on the other hand, has a more technical approach and focuses on applying concepts rather than the conceptual understanding of the subject.

CA vs UPSC: Competition and Success Rate

The competition for both exams is intense, and lakhs of candidates appear for these exams every year. However, the success rate for the CSE is much lower than that of the CA exam. According to UPSC data, the success rate for the CSE is around 0.1% to 0.3%, while the success rate for the CA exam is about 5%.

This can be attributed to the fact that the number of vacancies for civil services is limited, while the demand for qualified Chartered Accountants is high. Moreover, the CSE is considered the most prestigious exam in India, and candidates are willing to appear for the exam multiple times to secure a position in the civil.

Here are some points to consider:

  • The CA exam is a professional course that tests the knowledge of accounting, taxation, and other related subjects. In contrast, the UPSC exam is a national-level exam that selects candidates for various positions in the Indian Civil Services.
  • The CA exam has a vast syllabus and requires extensive preparation and analytical skills, while the UPSC exam requires knowledge of current affairs, history, geography, and other subjects and the ability to think critically and communicate effectively.
  • Both exams are considered challenging and require hard work and dedication to pass.

It ultimately depends on the individual’s strengths and efforts. Comparing the difficulty level between the CA and UPSC exams can be challenging as both require different skill sets, knowledge, and preparation methods. However, both are highly competitive exams requiring significant effort and dedication.

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