How? (Not Why?): The Road to Becoming a Certified Bookkeeper

The Accountancy program in our curriculum includes a National Institute of Accounting Technicians (NIAT) Certificate in Bookkeeping, as stated in our college catalogue. However, surprise met me eye to eye when I was informed by my classmate that upon his inquiry to the Accountancy OIC and the Management Accounting Chairperson, they answered that we are not required but encouraged. At that instance, though surprised, I was not regretful of paying the examination fees of Php 2,500.00 (discounted price for students) since my payment will be refunded by Menzi Trust Fund Inc., my ever benevolent grantor.

One has to pass the Certified Accounting Technician (Level 1) Exam to become a member of the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers, thereby having the right to use the MICB suffix. In the Philippines, such certification is not much recognized by hiring professionals but in the United Kingdom, it is highly acknowledged; that is, if one intends to work as a bookkeeper. For further information about how this certification and other certifications (i.e. CAT Level 2 Exam- Registered Cost Accountant, CAT Level 3 Exam- Certified Accounting Technician) can boost your CV, please visit

Earlier, I took the exam for which I have prepared for seven days. The test officially started at 8:30 AM and ended at 12:30 PM. We were given four hours to read, analyze, and comprehend the problem and to write the requirements. Yes, you were right at reading it: problem—without an “s,” indicating singularity. Last year, the exam was a mixture of problem-solving and essay-type questions. In fact, two BS Accountancy graduates from our school, University of St. La Salle, got a 100% rating. But after having answered the exam administered to us earlier, I can say that I can’t get a perfect score. I studied about internal controls, special journals, single-entry bookkeeping, cash to accrual basis of accounting, correction of errors, ratio analysis, and the voucher system, among others but none of these came out in the exam. The CAT Level 1 Exam has four modules:

Module 1: Review of Bookkeeping Skills

Module 2: Completing the Accounting Cycle

Module 3: Constructive Accounting

Module 4: Special Journals

None about Modules 3 and 4 came out in the exam; by none is meant 0/100. Seems easy, eh? Yeah, it wasn’t hard but it was tiring—tiring to the extent that your weariness impedes your ability to analyze and your knowledge reservoir has turned into a pitcher with few mL of liquid that you need to turn upside down for that little knowledge to drop. Simply, tedious.

Our review focused on challenging topics especially in constructive accounting. One of our reviewers even said, “It’s close to impossible that they will let you create a worksheet for that will consume a large amount of your time.”

As soon as we received our final papers (questionnaire and answer sheet), we began to answer. It is important for one to write his e-mail address correctly because results shall be sent there. The exam was simple. There is not much detail to analyze or confusing information, except for one which, I believe, made me the only one to have erred—foolishly. The problem used up about 3 and a half pages; the rest of the pages are for the answers. We were asked to do the steps in the accounting cycle:

  1. Journalize the transactions without minding the posting references and explanations (31 points).
  2. Post them to the ledger accounts and create an unadjusted trial balance. Create a 10-column worksheet (8 points)
  3. Make the adjusting entries and post the adjustments to ledger. Complete the worksheet (24? points).
  4. Prepare a Statement of Financial Condition.
  5. Prepare a Statement of Changes in Equity.
  6. Prepare a Statement of Comprehensive Income.
  7. Journalize the closing entries (4 points).
  8. Make a post-closing trial balance (6? points).
  9. Journalize the reversing entries (5 points).

I cannot remember the distribution of points to every requirement but the total number of points is one hundred (100). Finally, the exam, which was good for four hours, is done. Now, I have to extend my waiting, no agony involved since I’m not overly concerned, to 2-3 months. Still, I pray for favorable results.

By the way, agony will be involved again upon release of exam results for both parties. For examinees who failed, agony will be present for an obvious reason. For the qualifiers, why? It’s because the annual membership dues are close to a hundred bucks.


55 thoughts on “How? (Not Why?): The Road to Becoming a Certified Bookkeeper

  1. glenn p. javellana says:

    gd day sir… I am a public school teacher… but my degree in BSC major in Acctg.. but i am not a CPA… was a bookkeeper for years in my last company I’ve worked for before i entered dep ed… i just want to be a member of any association in bookkeeping profession.. i need it cuz am applying in seinor high ABM strack as a plus factor..i am already a holder of Bookkeeping NC III. i took it at TESDA… just want to ask if i can join this assn.?


    1. stvensontupas says:

      Hi Marione, it depends if your university is accredited. If it is, you have to complete your degree for ‘you to wave six exams and grant you the right to take the CAT Challenge exam right away that will fast track you to achieving the CAT title.’ If you’re an undergraduate, you can take the exam as long as you attend CAT review courses organized by NIAT or study with an accredited provider ( You may contact NIAT on this matter. 🙂


      1. Clang says:

        Hi! I’m a CPA passer (just recently). I’m interested in taking the exam soon while working because of what I’ve heard that the titles you’ll earn are internationally recognised. Are there differences between the undergrad takers and those who are not? Also, are we still going to take the same examination? Or they have different sets of exams for undegrad and those who are not? thanks!!


      2. stvensontupas says:

        Hi Clang,

        I don’t know if there has been any policy revisions but during our time, the exam was standardized. The same set was administered to both undergrad and grad examinees. 🙂


  2. sofiadanielle says:

    i’m a 4th yr accountancy student in a 5yr curriculum BSA program. can i take the exam even if i don’t take review courses? and my school (unfortunately) is not listed as one of NIAT’s registered universities.


    1. stvensontupas says:

      Hi Jonirose, the CAT Level 1 exam is internationally recognised. Those who pass the exams are MICBs (Member of the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers). Meanwhile, Bookkeeping NC III (If I’m not mistaken, you’re referring to the one offered by TESDA) is locally recognised only.


  3. Mike says:

    Hi! When you say the exam was “simple” and it didn’t have “much detail to analyze or confusing information”, it didn’t include all that FOB stuff in the transactions for example? Your description of the exam sounds like it’s the NC III exam which is straightforward.


  4. Emz Marasigan says:

    Good Morning, stvensontupas,
    ASk ko lang po, Graduating na ako ng Bachelor of Science in ATech sa AMA University and im planniing to take these CAT Exams, pwede po ba yun regarldess kung saan ka grumaduate na school ng BSAT? kasi po 170 units lang ang curriculum ng AMA BSAT. Wala naman siguro requirements kung ilang units? And, May lisensya din po bang nkukuha or ID or card or doocument pag nakapasa na na pwedeng dalhin sa work in the future na licensed ka?


    1. stvensontupas says:

      Hi Emz,

      Maaari kang makipag-ugnayan sa NIAT ( Sila ang makapagbibigay ng malinaw na paliwanag sa iyong mga katanungan na lubhang teknikal. Sa huli mong tanong, ang sagot ay OO. Pagkatapos mong pumasa sa exam at gusto mong magpa-miyembro, may halagang kailangan mong bayaran. Kapalit nito, makakatanggap ka ng ‘certificate’ at ID bilang katibayan na ikaw ay MICB (Member of the Institute of Bookkeepers). Salamat!


  5. Shin says:

    Hi good day 😊 I am an accountancy grad from one of the recognized universities as listed in the NIAT website. I’ve worked as an Accounting Clerk for a year and a month. i wanted to take the CAT EXAM, when will be the next sched and the filing of application starts?


  6. Wando says:

    Hello, currently I’m a student taking up accountancy sa isang accredited university and gusto ko lang po matanong kung paano po magtake nung exam. Paano po mag apply? Required po ba na kumuha nung review or pwede self study?


  7. Kristin says:

    You are given 3 months to apply to your membership both for NIAT and International Qualification.
    If you do not wish to apply yet for International Qualification (e.g. CB, RCA, CAT), you need to apply as member of NIAT to keep your eligibility valid for next 12 months. Failure to apply will invalidate your examination.

    HI ive read this sa FAQS ng website ng NIAT, what if after a year d ka na nagbayad ng membership fee, magiging invalid na ung pagpasa mo? Also u need to finish ba ung 3 exams para makapaglagat ng CAT after ng name? =)



    1. stvensontupas says:

      Yes, that’s what happened to me. I passed the exam but I did not pay for the membership fees so if I want to have the title (MICB/CB) affixed to my name, I have to retake the exam. Also, you have to successfully complete all three levels to become a CAT. 🙂


  8. anna joyce says:

    Hi, Im a business ad graduate. Nag pplano ako mag take ng Cb exam before ako mag masteral. Makakatake ba ako kahit di ako graduate ng accountancy ? thankyou!


  9. Divirly Domingcil says:

    Hi Good afternoon, I’m a graduate of BSBA major in Management Accounting at Isabela State University main campus, I’ve checked in the website and it is one of the recognized universities of NIAT,.,.,I am also a passer of Bookkeeping NC 3 of TESDA and currently working as a compliance officer in a bank. I’ve been a Bookkeeper for 2 years and a Treasury Head for 2 years also in same bank. Just wanna ask if how could I take the CAT exam? Do I need to pass the first and second level exam before I can take the CAT exam or there are still some courses that I need to attend to?
    Thank you so much and God bless


    1. stvensontupas says:

      Hi Div,

      Yes, you need to take the Level I and II exams before taking the Level III exam. In my school, even our Chairpersons and Dean who are CPAs did so. Since your university is NIAT-recognized, you only have to pay for the fees (which includes the reviewer) for you to take the exam (no courses required). To be sure, you may reach out to the contact person for your university. Best wishes, Divirly! 🙂


  10. Kez says:

    Hello. How much pala yung annual membership fee? Also, where can we take the exams? NIAT headquarters lang? Like, in Manila lang ba? i cri


  11. Hershey Gine Nadura says:

    Hi. I was searching for “the benefits when u passed the certified bookkeeper” until i found this site. I was wondering kasi I passed the examination last October 2016 and registered to NIAT on February 2017. Its been 7 months but i am not aware of some other benefits kung saan ko pa pwedeng gamitin yung NIAT membership ko.


  12. rhonalyn says:

    Hi, im a grade 12 student, in january we will take are assessment about bookkeeping,so i just want to ask,
    What are the advantages if we will take it??


    1. stvensontupas says:

      Honestly, here in the Philippines, the CAT certification is not much recognized and valued in comparison to the CPA certification. As a Grade 12 student, if you take the CAT Level I Exam, you’ll be able to assess your bookkeeping skills. The results of which can help you decide whether to take up an accounting course in college. 🙂


  13. Thomas Aguilar says:

    Module 1 Recording Business Transactions
    Module 2 Drafting Financial Statements
    Module 3 Maintaining Financial Records
    Module 4 Reconstructing Incomplete Records

    These won’t come out in the exam? I’ll be taking this Saturday, what advices can you share I wasn’t able to attend our two day review in usls last weekend


    1. stvensontupas says:

      Hi Thomas, I believe the scope of the exam differs every year. I hope you’re prepared just in case all the contents of the 4 modules come out. Stay focused and relaxed. Say a little prayer from time to time, when your mind gets clouded. God bless you! 🙂


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