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ITC Unraveled | Cracking the SAICA ITC Exam.

As you near the completion of your accounting degree, there's one big hurdle standing between you and beginning your articles journey: the Initial Test of Competence (ITC), your first board exam. Don't worry, though! In this blog post, we'll break down everything you need to know about the SAICA ITC exam, how it's different from your CTA or PGDA year, and give you some tips to ace it like a pro.

Graphic representing the SAICA ITC (Initial Test of Competence) exam, the first board exam for SAICA Trainees on their path to becoming a CA(SA).

Getting to Know the ITC Exam

So, what exactly is the ITC exam? Well, it's a major milestone for those of you who've completed an accredited Postgraduate Diploma in Accounting (PGDA) program. It's a comprehensive test that assesses your core technical competence, which is super important for aspiring chartered accountants. Remember, you need to hold a SAICA-accredited PGDA to be eligible for this exam. It’s written before you begin your three years of articles, and is intended to ensure you have acquired all the right technical skills from your university career, irrespective of where you studied.

Exam Structure: The Lowdown

The ITC exam consists of four papers: Professional Paper 1, Professional Paper 2, Professional Paper 3, and Professional Paper 4. Each paper carries a maximum of 100 marks, making the whole exam worth a total of 400 marks. To pass, you'll need a minimum of 200 marks (that's 50%). But hold up! You also need to achieve a sub-minimum of 40% in at least three of the four professional papers. This ensures that you demonstrate your skills across different accounting areas and disciplines.

Time and Breaks: Take a Breath

When it comes to the exam duration, you'll have 30 minutes of reading time at the start, excluding the time to review the specific requirements for each paper - you’ll get to see the scenario, but won’t know what the required questions are until the end of the reading period. After the reading period, you'll be given the questions, and have 2.5 hours to tackle each paper. The exam spans two consecutive days, with one paper in the morning and another in the afternoon on each day. Don’t worry, you get a gap of up to 2 hours between the morning and afternoon session.


How the ITC Exam Differs from CTA and PGDA

Now, let's clear up some confusion. The ITC exam follows the completion of a SAICA-accredited PGDA program. Think of the PGDA year as a solid foundation. It focuses on developing your technical knowledge and skills in the various accounting disciplines, priming you for the ITC exam.

The main difference between your PGDA/ Honours year, and the ITC is the integration of subjects within papers. There is no separate paper for Tax, Auditing, Financial reporting, etc., but rather multiple disciplines are integrated into each paper. While this can be challenging, it also shows the importance of engaging with the scenario during the reading time, to make sure you're ready for anything!

Tips for Tackling the ITC Exam:

  • Study Smarter: Make sure you have comprehensive study material that aligns with the exam syllabus. Stay updated and focus on understanding the concepts rather than cramming. Remember, the content in the ITC is identical to that of your PGDA year - you know the work, now it’s time to refine those skills

  • Practice, Practice, Practice: Get your hands on past papers and practice, my friend! It's the best way to get familiar with the exam format, types of questions asked, and to improve your time management skills.

  • Seek Support: Don't go it alone! Join study groups or connect with experienced professionals who've conquered the ITC exam. They can offer invaluable insights and advice to help you prepare effectively.


Wrapping Up.

As you embark on your journey to becoming a chartered accountant, the SAICA ITC exam is a significant milestone. Take a relaxed yet focused approach. Allocate dedicated study time, practice those past papers, and don't hesitate to reach out for support. With the right attitude and solid preparation, you'll be ready to tackle the ITC exam with confidence, knowing you're one step closer to achieving your dream of becoming a CA(SA). Good luck!


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