5 Insights from the recent SAICA APC results

SAICA APC results for the December 2023 exam were released on 23 February 2024. The APC (Assessment of Professional Competence) exam is the second part of the qualifying exam managed by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) to be eligible to register as Chartered Accountant. We’ve analysed the data in order to answer the most common questions we get asked.

We regularly get questions from both employers and professionals in the field of accounting about whether South Africa is also facing a shortage of Chartered Accountants, as many other countries, including the United Kingdom are currently facing.

Using the APC data that was published by SAICA, we’ve answered some of these questions. In no particular order, this is what we found:


Are fewer South African Chartered Accountants entering the job market year-on-year?

The short answer is yes. The diagram below illustrates this.

Bar graph displaying total SAICA APC passers, both first-time and repeat, from 2019 to 2023 with varying numbers for each year.
  • 445 fewer first-time writers passed in 2023 than in 2022.
  • This is 16% less than in 2022 and 7% less than the 5-year average.
  • Positively, 12% more Chartered Accountants (242) passed compared to pre-COVID-19 numbers.

Is the drop in pass rate because the exam is becoming more difficult each year?

No, the exam was not harder than usual, here’s why:

Line graph showing annual pass rates for SAICA APC exams from 2019 to 2023 for first timers, repeats, and aggregate on a dark background.
  • The first-time pass rate in 2023 was 63%, which matches the 5-year average first-time pass rate.
  • The 2023 pass rate is 3% higher than in 2022, which is a slight improvement. This shows that the APC exam is not getting more difficult year-on-year.

Then is the drop in numbers because there are fewer first-time writers of APC?

Yes, there are fewer first-time writers. Here’s the analysis to support it:

Bar chart displaying the number of first-time writers of the SAICA APC exam from 2019 to 2023, with an increasing trend peaking in 2021.
  • There are 26% (878) fewer writers in 2023 than in 2022.
  • This is 10% less than the 5 year average; and 
  • 6% less than pre-COVID-19 levels.

What are the writer demographics?

Line graph displaying the percentage of SAICA APC exam writers by race from 2019 to 2023, with African, Coloured, Indian, and White demographics.
  • There were 43% more African candidate writers in 2023 than in 2019 (2,344 vs 1,639)
  • There were 3% less white candidate writers in 2023 than there were in 2019 (1183 vs 1216).
  • Coloured and Indian demographics have remained fairly stable, with only a 1% decrease in Indian writers over the last 5 years.

What is the demographic of new Chartered Accountants entering the market?

Horizontal bar chart comparing the number of SAICA APC exam passers by race for the years 2022 and 2023, with categories for African, Coloured, Indian, and White.

Passer demographics for 2023 are as follows:

  • 40% African
  • 37% White
  • 16% Indian
  • 7% Coloured

For a full overview of APC results published, visit the SAICA website.

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