ICAS grad blog

Are you just about to start Deloitte’s graduate scheme? Or are you a student considering a career at the firm? Either way, you’ll want to know a bit more about an important part of your development here: the ICAS CA qualification. In the third and final instalment of Deloitte’s graduate series, this blog outlines what to expect when you begin studying with ICAS.

From the moment you start on the graduate scheme at Deloitte, you are on track to becoming a world-class business professional. For the next three years you’ll be studying to achieve the invaluable CA qualification, a vital step that will only push your career further in the right direction.

CA qualification broken down 

The ICAS CA qualification is renowned globally and recognised as being at Master’s level. As you’d expect, the process is demanding but extremely rewarding for individuals. With a network of training centres and tutors around the UK and online resources available 24-7, a consistent approach to studying is available to all students.

Over the three years, you’ll pick up a variety of skills and be tested on everything required to be a top-notch Chartered Accountant. Here’s what to expect:

Year one – The first 12 months predominantly consists of a six module blended learning programme (using both classroom and online learning), followed by the Test of Competence exams. Individuals will develop skills in Financial Accounting, Business Law, Business Management, Finance, the Principles of Auditing and Reporting, and the Principles of Tax.

Year two – People tend to notice a big jump in difficulty in second year; and more exposure to clients means individuals have to find a good work/study balance. Advanced Finance, Financial Reporting, Assurance and Business Systems, and Taxation are the subjects you’ll be covering to sit the Test of Professional Skills. All of these subjects involve you providing advice to clients with business problems.  

Year three – In the final year, you’ll sit the five-and-a-half hour Test of Professional Expertise, testing all of the knowledge and skills you’ve gained so far. You work on a case study, providing advice to businesses in real life situations. You can use your laptop to answer the exam and take any material into the exam that you think you will find useful. You also sit an ethics assessment, putting into practice the business standards you’ve learned across the three years.

Practical work – An achievement log is kept up-to-date by candidates showing the total hours spent in classes, in-house training, study leave and it takes into consideration the time spent in work with clients. Overall, you’ll complete 450 hours of work across the three years. That’s no mean feat.

A network of support

The qualification might sound like a daunting prospect - but you have the combined network of Deloitte and ICAS at your disposal; ready to provide guidance in a variety of different ways. That can range from offering peer support groups and buddying to mentoring, study programmes, training and ensuring candidates have time off to focus on their studies. Individuals find support is naturally around them as they go through the process together, with a sense of camaraderie and a willingness to help each other out.

ICAS and Deloitte combine face-to-face teaching with an interactive, online learning platform that can provide help individuals whenever they need it. It can be demanding for candidates to juggle client work with studying, but it’s a gradual process with help always available. 

Grasping the opportunities

You can do well in the CA qualification no matter what your academic background, and we often see success stories emerge from people with no previous accounting experience.

We have seen people from backgrounds in psychology and chemistry do well because they approach it in an analytical, systematic and methodical way, bringing a fresh perspective to the qualification. You don’t always have to come from a technical background either, as skills from other areas in which you are experienced can be taken and applied. 

Hard work pays off

The CA qualification is renowned for taking a lot of dedication. But when you pass you can rest assure your efforts won’t go unnoticed. In the first blog of the series, we heard from one of our graduate success stories, Lisa Thomson. She qualified with ICAS and achieved the Primrose Scott Prize: showing that with motivation, determination and making use of the support available it is achievable, and can take you where you want to go in your career.

The CA qualification is important to Deloitte. We have high pass rates from candidates in the firm and have a great calibre of people who have been there before you, we are confident graduates can excel if they put their minds to it.

Lisa Thomson shares her thoughts on the qualification in 140 words:

“I enjoyed the training experience, largely because of the quality of teaching and support given by both ICAS and Deloitte. The lecturers were always available during breaks and after lessons to help with questions and concerns. As well as great teaching, I had invaluable support from Deloitte. Colleagues from the year above me were assigned as buddies, providing hints and tips which proved really useful along the way. When I was studying in the office into the evenings, my peers were always more than willing to help me. The firm also gave me time away from client work to concentrate on revision; all my work was looked after while I was studying. Of course, revising at the weekends and in the evenings is difficult; but knowing it’s only for the short term and for a great reward made it bearable.”

Interested in learning more? Have a look at our other graduate blogs:

Student graduate brochure
You’re hired: the graduate guide to getting a job at Deloitte
Getting a job at Deloitte: a recruiters guide to graduate success
Myth-busting a career in accountancy: it’s not all about numbers


Katie Walker

Katie Walker - Student Recruitment Advisor, Deloitte

Katie Walker joined the Deloitte Student Recruitment team as the Scotland, Northern Ireland and Newcastle Student Recruitment Advisor in November 2014. Katie joined from UBS, where she spent 4 years working within the Graduate Acquisition and Development Team.

Initially as an intern in the New York office, Katie then developed from a Campus Coordinator to a Graduate Recruitment Specialist in the London office. Katie graduated from Glasgow Caledonian University.

Lisa Thomson - Eyes to Camera

Lisa Thomson - Assistant Manager, Audit, Deloitte

Lisa studied Accounting and Finance at Robert Gordon University and as part of her studies, completed a 12-month industrial placement with Deloitte before returning as a graduate to the Audit team.  

Lisa recently qualified with ICAS, having been awarded the Primrose-Scott prize. Outside work, Lisa enjoys spending time with family and bowling, where she recently made it to the last eight in Scotland’s national championships. 


Fiona Winter - CA Education, ICAS

Fiona studied at the University of Glasgow before joining Arthur Andersen, where she worked and trained in the tax department. She qualified as a CA with ICAS in the 1990s, and joined ICAS as a tutor in 2000, teaching accounting, tax and ethics across the UK. She has also worked in Africa training accounting examiners in their approach to question writing and marking.

In her role as one of the Education directors at ICAS, Fiona is closely involved in the development of the syllabus and teaches all levels of the qualification. She is also the director who looks after Deloitte students studying the qualification and meets with many Deloitte students throughout the year.  


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