How to pass Taxation

Key messages

In the Taxation (TX) exam there is no choice of questions and all syllabus areas are examinable. Think of this as a positive factor – you do not have to make the agonising decision of what you can risk leaving out of your revision! You will avoid wasting time wondering which questions to pick in the exam.

In the heat of the exam it is easy to forget that the pass mark is 50%, which means you do not need to answer every question perfectly in order to pass.

Be prepared

Section A has fifteen Objective Test Questions (OTQs) worth two marks each. Questions in this section can be on any area of the syllabus.

Section B has three scenarios with five OTQs for each one. Each OTQ is worth two marks so there are thirty marks in total available for Section B. The questions in this section can involve computations or they can be narrative questions.

Section C has three question that are mainly computational, with some written elements. Two of the questions are worth fifteen marks each and the third is worth ten marks. One of the fifteen-mark questions will focus on income tax, and the other on corporation tax. The ten-mark question can cover any area of the syllabus.

The examiner’s report for July 2020 comments on the lack of knowledge of spreadsheets shown by some students. If you feel that your spreadsheet skills are weak, it is crucial that you have plenty of practice on using the spreadsheet functions available on the exam platform. Even if you use spreadsheets every day, you should still familiarise yourself with the functionality available in the exam, as this will be slightly different.

No matter how good your knowledge of the syllabus, there is no substitute for practising questions under time constraints. Familiarity with the CBE platform is crucial since the feel of the exam is different from a paper-based one. Sonar Education’s suite of three mocks is designed for maximum syllabus coverage, and at the end of each exam you will be shown some metrics that allow you to see at a glance if you are weak in any of the main syllabus areas.

In the exam

Section A

You will probably be able to answer some of the OTQs quickly, whilst others will require more time to think or calculate. It is important that you keep to your time allocation for this section as a whole, and when the time is up, move on. You can come back to any unanswered questions at the end of the exam and, as a last resort, you can have a guess.

Section B

ACCA recommends that you split the time that you should be spending on this section between the three scenarios rather than between individual questions. This is good advice because you will need to read and absorb the information for each set of five questions before answering them. Once the time is up, move on. As with Section A, you can come back to any unanswered questions at the end of the exam. 

Section C

Unlike the OTQs in Sections A and B, which are marked automatically, Section C questions are manually marked. This is important because you can make it easier for the marker to award you marks by doing the following:

  • Have a clear and well-structured layout for your computations

  • Show your workings – even if the final figure is wrong you can be given credit for any correct elements in your calculation

  • Cross-reference the workings to your answer

  • Make written points in separate paragraphs – this helps the marker and it also helps you make sure that you have covered everything without duplication

The more questions you practise under time constraints, the better your plan of attack will be in the real exam because you will have a tried and tested approach that works for you.

Key Resources

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