Preparing for your APC exam doesn’t need to stress you out. With the help of last year’s APC honour roll candidates, you can learn everything you could possibly need to know to take you to the top of the class. In part two, Justin Shein, Megan Thomas and Marco Pinheiro share their top tips.
Justin’s top tip is to think clearly and logically. “There are many curve balls that could come your way on the day of the exam, but so long as you go back to the core principles that you have learnt, you will be able to apply them and come out with the correct answer,” he says.
You should also work on honing your writing skills because the person marking your script is relying on a written answer only – aim for a well-structured, clear and concise answer while bearing time constraints in mind.
Preparation for APC includes preparing for Accounting Professional Training (APT), but as long as you stay up to date with your APT work, that will be sufficient. You’ll find that preparing properly once the APC pre-release info comes out will be enough as you have no idea of what to study before you receive the scenario.
There’s no need to fear the APC. “To have made it this far, you have made it through CTA, ITC, undergraduate study and years of articles. This is the last hurdle, and the one that you’re probably best prepared for as you have all this past experience under your belt. If you have made it this far, you have no reason to doubt your abilities,” he says.
Megan agrees that you haven’t made it this far to fail now and suggests that you treat it like another day at work. “You go to work, you do what you need to as best you can, you make sure you finish and then you leave,” she says, adding that you shouldn’t put too much pressure on yourself.
In terms of preparation, try to take on a more high level view of your audit files and your firm’s general business operations, as well as write more memos. Your team is a critical part of your preparation: make sure you trust your team and they can be relied on in terms of work ethic and skill set.
Overall, she recommends that you do enough that you feel confident, but don’t over-prepare. “If you have done your work and you are confident in your view then don’t try and read everyone else’s research and prep work because it will just stress you out,” she advises.
Preparation, says Marco, starts passively from day one of your articles - with a more active focus on these skills from when you start your professional programmes. “Dedicate sufficient time to the case studies throughout the professional programmes and try to replicate exam conditions as far as possible with regards to time and pressure,” he advises. “These skills don’t develop overnight, which means you need to continuously work on these skills throughout your training contract and your professional programmes.”
Pair this with an attitude of excellence and appropriate balance during the pre-release period - don’t spend 14 hours a day all five days before the APC preparing, he says. Be mentally prepared to respond to any role and audience in the exam.
His advice: “The APC is a real-life scenario which replicates everyday tasks that are expected of a recently qualified CA. It’s not set with the intention of failing the candidates but rather safe guarding the profession. Writing the APC is equivalent to a normal day at the office. Granted there will be increased pressure due to the nature of the examination and the fact that it’s a determining factor in qualifying you as a CA (SA). As with any task given at the office, any fear you have will be overcome through your preparation. With the APC, your preparation throughout your articles coupled with your professional programmes will enable you to approach the APC with the composure of a normal day at the office and a sound (and hopefully well rested) mind.”
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