One of the major questions running in the minds of CA aspirants, who are opting for transition under Revised Scheme of Education and Training, is "What are Open Book Exams?". Through this Article, we’ll try to resolve all your major questions and queries regarding Open Book Exams introduced by the Institute in the category of Elective Paper 6 of CA Final Examinations and give you an insight about the same.

Why has Revised Scheme of Education and Training been introduced by ICAI?

There has been a notable shift towards strategic decision making and entrepreneurial roles that add value beyond traditional accounting and auditing. The causative factors for the change include globalization leading to increase in cross-border transactions and consequent business complexities, significant developments in information and technology and financial scams underlining the need for a stringent regulatory setup. All these factors necessitate an increase in the competence level of CAs to bridge the gap between competence acquired and competence expected from stakeholders.

Why has the concept of Electives been introduced by ICAI?

In the Revised Scheme of Education and Training, the concept of Electives has been introduced with the thought that Specialization is the key to developing professionally competent Chartered Accountants. As per this thought, an emerging Chartered Accountant has to be geared up to assume new roles as consultants and advisors, necessitated on account of growing business complexity, dynamic changes in legislation and regulatory requirements and client expectations.

The seven core papers represent the competence areas in respect of which an aspiring CA has to be technically well equipped, regardless of his intended future specialization or role.

Under this scheme, the students will be required to opt one of the following Electives papers and the examination of these Electives will be Open Book and Case Study based:

  • 6A Risk Management
  • 6B Financial Services & Capital Markets
  • 6C International Taxation
  • 6D Economic Laws
  • 6E Global Financial Reporting Standards
  • 6F Multidisciplinary Case Study

What is an Open Book Examination?

Open Book Examinations, as the name indicates, allow the students to take notes, texts, books or other reference materials into the examination hall. But attempting the exam is not as easy as its name. The students attempting this exam can just not copy the lines from the book or reference material while answering any question. The students are expected to analyze the situation described in the question, understand the issues faced, note down the bottlenecks, refer the books to just have an exact understanding of the law, and then answer the question in the sense of advising the best possible or probable solution to the depicted situation.

Hence, it takes a toll on the intellect of the students as they are expected to give a practical and real-time solution to the situation depicted in the question and not just copy paste the lines or texts from the reference materials. Answering the questions well requires more than just copying information straight from texts.

Since giving a professional or logical advice requires a thorough knowledge about the topic and not just a ten or twenty minutes referral, the students need to work on the content like they do for the normal examinations. The students are expected to be quite clear about their fundamentals of the subject that they choose before going to the exam hall and hence, seven to ten days are not enough for its preparation. Giving it less time than other subjects will not be logical and hence, altogether baseless.

Open Book Examinations are more prevalent in the Universities in Foreign Countries. They basically come in two different forms:

  • Traditional sit-down/ limited time examinations: As the name indicates, they have to be completed within the fixed span of time and are mostly held in the exam centers of the Institute conducting them.
  • Take home examinations: These types of Open Book Examinations can be completed at home. Questions are handed out by the Institutes and the answers are attempted by the students without help from others, and the exam is returned within a specified period of time.

The Open Book Examinations opted by ICAI fall under Category 1 i.e. Traditional Sit-down examination.

Why have Open Book Examinations been introduced by ICAI?

  • These exams are basically conducted to test the analytical and logical ability of the students in some real-time situations which are framed as questions.
  • The students are expected to find and apply the knowledge which is gathered from the reference materials on immediate referencing, and give the most logical solution to the problem referred or question asked.
  • These exams test for more than just rote-learning and hence don’t support simply memorizing and repeating the information. They are meant to equip the students with intellectual abilities and skills.
  • They even test the ability of the student to quickly find the relevant information and then to understand, analyze, apply knowledge and think critically.

Which Subject should you opt for?

The aspirants can choose any one among the six elective papers keeping in mind their desired area of specialization. Before choosing a subject in this elective paper it's advisable to start taking a note of areas and things that interest you in terms of work since this will be a case study based exam.

Thus, it is advisable to look at the content of each subject carefully. You should check whether it aligns with your interest, skill set and future career option you want to opt for. The things you enjoy doing daily can actually be components of your future career. If you make a career in the field which interests you the most, then obviously your scope of development will be a lot more.

Here, we have listed down the contents of each subject and who should opt this particular subject:



Who should opt this subject? (Author’s Remarks)


Introduction to Risk, Source and Evaluation of Risks, Risk Management, Quantitative Analysis, Risk Model, Credit Risk Measurement and Management, Risk associated with Corporate Governance, Enterprise and Operational Risk Management

Ideal for those who want to pursue a career in risk control, risk management or credit risk management and risk analysis.


Global Financial Markets, Impact of various policies of Financial Markets, Primary and Secondary Capital Markets, Money Market, Institutions and Intermediaries, Commodity Market, Banking-Management, Banking as a source of Capital including NBFCs, Mutual Funds, Private Equity, Investment Banking, Credit Rating, Treasury Operations, Risk Management, Credit Derivatives, SEBI Guidelines

Ideal for those who want to pursue a career in investment banking, equity research, financial market analysis. This field is among the highest paid fields globally.


Transfer Pricing provisions and other provisions relating to taxation of international transactions and non-resident taxation under Income Tax Act, 1961; Law and Procedures under the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015; Overview of Model Tax Conventions; Tax Treaties, Application and Interpretation; Anti-Avoidance Measures; Taxation of E-Commerce Transactions.

Ideal for those who want to be a Professional Tax Consultant or Tax Advisor. Advantage is that Apart from the law related to Black Money, the syllabus matches the 30 marks portion of Paper 7. Hence, preparation of Paper 7 can ensure the preparation of this paper, if this is elected.


WTO, Competition Act, 2002; Real Estate Act, 2016; Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016; Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002; Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999; Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, 1988. (Each Act with respective Rules and Regulations)

This one requires strong fundamentals and is ideal for those who want to make a career in legal counseling, representation in courts.


Conceptual Framework for Financial Reporting as per IFRS, Application of International Financial Reporting Standards, Significant differences between IFRS and US GAAP.

Ideal for those who want to make a career in Financial Accounting, Consolidation, and related Reporting practices.


This paper will include case studies from the fields like Financial Accounting and Reporting, Audit and Assurance, Taxation, Financial Management, Management Accounting, Corporate Laws, Business Strategy, and Management.

This paper will test the intellectual and analytical abilities of the students in the core areas of the course. Ideal if you want to be a professional consultant or advisor.


The following modalities have been laid down by the Institute for these Open Book and Case Study based papers:

  • At the time of registration for Final Examinations, one of the Elective from the list has to be selected by the students. They’ll be issued the relevant study material and other academic inputs on the basis of the option selected.
  • Any time after registration but up till filling the examination form, the students are allowed to change their selected Elective, if they want to.
  • Once the examination form is filled, the students cannot change the option for that particular examination. They have to write the Elective opted by them in the Examination Form.
  • In case the student is not able to clear the examination in the chosen elective, any other elective can be opted, but only before filling the exam form for the next examination.
  • The study material for the Elective opted after the initially opted Elective has to be purchased separately. Exchange of study material of the initially opted elective with the newly opted elective will not be allowed.

Wishing you all the very best for your future!

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Tarun Kumar Madaan
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