A record number of candidates sat for SAICA’s Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) in November 2015 (2 709 candidates compared to 2050 in 2014). Karin Iten analyses the results
In March 2016, SAICA announced that 88% of APC candidates (2 396) had passed this final qualifying assessment, and recognised three key achievements that came out of the assessment.
SEVEN CANDIDATES HONOURED AS TOP OF THE CLASS OF 2015
According to Mandi Olivier, Senior Executive: Professional Development at SAICA: ‘SAICA is extremely pleased with this year’s candidates’ successes. They positively illustrate that SAICA is leading the process of transforming South Africa’s chartered accountancy profession and the economy as a whole.’
A record number of candidates registered and passed the final CA(SA) assessment.
This year’s APC Honours Roll recognised seven candidates who performed exceptionally well in the case study and showed the greatest insight in the way they completed the tasks. These candidates, in alphabetical order (by surname), are:
SAICA’S NATION-BUILDING PROGRAMME GIVES THE PROFESSION CAUSE FOR CELEBRATION
The number of African and Coloured candidates who sat the APC grew by a staggering 58% (1 138 candidates in 2015, up from 722 candidates in 2014). This means that African and Coloured candidates comprised 42% of the 2015 APC-writing population – a direct result of the significant resources that have gone into transforming the profession through SAICA’s various Thuthuka initiatives. Their combined 81% pass rate illustrates the positive impact SAICA is having on transforming the demographics of the CA(SA) profession.
E-WRITING PILOT SUCCESS
For the first time, a group of candidates who volunteered to participate in the pilot wrote the 2015 APC assessment using laptops (with secure software to lock down access). This further emphasises the nature of the assessment as one that simulates the real world. 283 candidates took part in this e-Writing pilot.
Owing to the success of the e-Writing pilot, candidates may, going forward, elect to write the APC electronically for the next two years. By 2018, it will be compulsory for all candidates to complete the assessment electronically.
WHAT IS THE APC AND WHAT DOES IT MEASURE?
The APC assesses professional competence and specifically a candidate’s ability to use and apply their technical knowledge in a real world context by setting tasks that can be expected of entry-level CAs(SA), their technical competence having already been tested through the Initial Test of Competence (ITC), which is written on completion of the academic programme. The assessment, which takes the form of a written examination, places emphasis on pervasive skills (ethics, personal attributes and professional skills) and seeks to assess whether a candidate can demonstrate their competence both through their behaviour during the case study period, as well as through the application of their acquired skills and technical knowledge to a realistic multi-disciplinary case study.
Consisting of a single integrated case based on a comprehensive real-life scenario, this multi-disciplinary assessment revolved around a case study about a fictitious company, Arubah, based in the healthcare industry.
Overall comments on the papers from examiners indicated that candidates’ responses to the various tasks in the case study were generally of an appropriate standard – meaning that they possessed the ability to perform real-life tasks and display professional competence. They also noted that it was pleasing to see evidence that candidates researched the issues contained in the pre-released information.
However, their comments also revealed two general areas of concern. First, some candidates wrote far too much in response to certain tasks, for example copying or paraphrasing accounting theory instead of discussing salient issues pertinent to resolving the task. Second, certain candidates’ responses ‘covered all the bases’ illustrating that they were unable to reach a definite conclusion when performing certain tasks.
To all the successful candidates, Olivier has the following to say: ‘Well done, class of 2015! You are the living proof of soccer player Pele’s belief that “success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and, most of all, love of what you are doing.” We are very proud of your achievement and look forward to see you grow into your career and become our future business leaders.’
SAICA SAYS THE APC’S INTEGRITY IS NOT IN QUESTION
In February, SAICA postponed the release of the APC assessment results due to an alleged breach of expected ethical conduct during the 2015 APC assessment – this was done to ensure that its investigation into the breach was conducted properly and fairly. Having released the results in March, SAICA wishes to reiterate that it is satisfied that the assessment itself was not compromised in any way and assures stakeholders that candidates suspected of contravening the APC regulations and the SAICA Code of Conduct have been charged and are currently undergoing a disciplinary process outlined in the SAICA by-laws. Once the investigation has reached completion (a process that could take up to three months), SAICA will release further details.