Aspiring CAs(SA) achieved an 86% pass rate in the Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) that was written in November 2014. The APC is the last formal assessment prospective CAs(SA) are required to pass before they can  register as CAs(SA). By Janine Claassens

The APC replaced the two previous Part II Qualifying Examinations, which were in the disciplines of Auditing (Public Practice Examination – PPE) and Financial Management. It was written for the first time in November 2014, taking 1 773 of the 2 050 APC candidates one step closer to registering as CAs(SA).

In order to ensure future CAs(SA) remain relevant to the employment market, the APC was introduced after significant research and benchmarking and includes many features that are different to those of a traditional examination. For example, it includes a competency-based, multi-disciplinary case study, where candidates receive some of the case study information ahead of the exam date in order to undertake relevant research in a specific industry.

Candidates are assessed as being competent (pass) or not competent (fail) overall and no marks are awarded as in traditional exams. SAICA, however, continues to recognise candidates who demonstrate exceptional performance and insight across all areas of competency in their case study responses through the honours roll.

The number of candidates who are nominated to this list each year is not restricted to a particular number and is determined by the APC Examination Committee, with input from the examiners, based on a specific criteria related to the candidates’ response.

The candidates on the honours roll are congratulated on their impressive achievement, which required talent, hard work and great commitment. We at SAICA are delighted to have candidates of such high calibre entering the profession.

Transforming the profession remains an important goal for SAICA. We are therefore very pleased that black candidates made up 50% of the APC 2014 population of candidates and achieved an 82% pass rate, against the overall 86% pass rate. In addition, SAICA is pleased that 50% of the candidates on the honours roll are black. This is a positive manifestation that our many transformation programmes are gaining momentum as more successful black African candidates emerge.

HONOURS ROLL 2014 (in alphabetical order)


It is important to stress that there was no let-up in the high standards demanded of prospective CAs(SA). The maintenance of the high standards among CAs(SA) is what make the designation so sought after across the globe. The new APC examination involves a rigorous process of setting, assessment and moderation involving many internal and external stakeholders.

The Examinations Committee constantly strives to improve its ability to determine whether candidates demonstrate a level of professional competence at entry into the CA(SA) profession. This is done by means of an ongoing process of evaluation and improvement of the way in which it commissions an appropriate case study for the assessment and decides on the evaluation of competency.

For this year’s assessment, the candidates were required to complete nine different tasks relating to the multi-disciplinary case study, which was based in the wood manufacturing industry. Each task indicated a role that the candidate had to assume in approaching their response.  These roles were either an audit senior at an auditing firm or a newly appointed financial accountant, roles typically undertaken by entry-level CAs(SA).

The tasks covered a wide range of activities:

  • Assisting an audit partner with a list of appropriate questions to elicit additional information with regard to accepting an audit client
  • Reviewing auditors’ working papers and providing review notes
  • Providing, in layman’s terms, the reasons for the possible impairment
  • Critically evaluating impairment workings and a company valuation
  • Providing reasons for not pursuing an investment opportunity
  • Explaining the accounting effect of a long-term share incentive scheme
  • Providing a response to a disgruntled employee letter, and
  • Listing key initiatives to begin implementing in order to enhance business sustainability

The case study and tasks are set to assess the candidate’s ability to apply the concepts and principles of a defined body of technical knowledge, skills and professional values in an integrated and analytical manner to a standard that is expected of an entry-level CA(SA) and which provides for further professional development through a commitment to life-long learning once fully qualified.

Inter-disciplinary integration is a key feature of the APC, the focus being on pervasive qualities and skills, integration and application in ‘real life’.

From a review of candidates’ answers to the tasks for the 2014 assessment the following was observed by the examiners:

‘The communication and pervasive skills displayed by the majority of candidates in the 2014 APC showed a dramatic improvement on what is typically seen in the ITC. This is largely due to the interventions of the professional programme providers.’

‘The ability to pre-research issues also played a part in the quality of candidates’ responses to simulated tasks. We believe that the professional skills developed prior to the APC will provide a major boost to candidates’ future career development.’

‘It is most pleasing to note the ability of most candidates to synthesise the pre-released information, perform real-life tasks and apply professional judgement. We would conclude overall that candidates have enhanced their ability to think, process information and understand the context of simulated tasks.’

Refer to www.saica.co.za for more detailed examiners’ comments and the exam statistics.


Janine Claassens CA(SA) is Project Director: Education at SAICA