You’ve passed your Initial Test of Competence - a major achievement in its own right, so well done - but what comes next? The Assessment of Professional Competence is the second part of the qualifying examination and, as the name suggests, assesses your levels of professional competence.
To be eligible, you have to not only have passed your ITC, but completed at least 20 months of your registered training contract and successfully completed a professional programme too, as the two exams are very different and a professional programme will properly prepare you for the assessment. The professional programme is valid for three years, so you must obtain your APC in that period or you will have to redo it to be eligible to sit for the exam again.
The APC takes place once a year, every November, and is a single multi-disciplinary case study which simulates real life scenarios. The same case study is used to assess all candidates writing the exam, regardless of your training contract elective, and is developed based on the foundational competency areas of accounting and external reporting, as well as pervasive skills and strategy, risk management and governance (the other competency areas are also assessed within this).
Applications for the APC must be made via the online registration form on the SAICA website before the closing date, although it is possible to submit a late application up to 14 days before the date of the assessment, subject to an increased fee. SAICA will then inform you in writing if you are eligible to sit the exam.
The format of this assessment is very different to a traditional exam. Pre-release material is released five days before the exam and is aimed at assisting candidates prepare as fully as possible and– SAICA will publish the date it will be made available on its website. The material will be made available at 8am in PDF format through various channels including the SAICA website, email and professional programme provider electronic sites. The onus is on you to print it out, get to grips with it and take it along with you on the day of the assessment. The pre-release period is your opportunity to carry out research that will update the necessary specific aspects of your technical knowledge, obtain a deeper understanding of the industry provided by the case study and perform analyses.
You will be given eight hours (a full work day) to complete the assessment, between 9am and 5pm, and you are allowed to take a copy of certain documents and books into the exam: the International Financial Reporting Standards; the International Audit and Assurance Standards, Legislation, Governance (King III Code); and Tax Legislation from the SAICA student handbooks; and a lever arch file of material you have gathered during the pre-release period.
SAICA is piloting writing the exam electronically using basic Word and Excel functionality in 2015, with the aim of fully rolling this out over a 2 year period. This allows the candidate to better simulate working in the real world.
SAICA will then inform you of your result in writing. Should you fail, it is possible to request a copy of your answer book with a summary of level of competence achieved; if you would like more detailed comments on individual answers, it will come with an additional fee.
Once you have proved that you are capable of performing tasks as an entry-level CA within a professional environment, the world will become your oyster.
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