The formulaic nature of the TC exam paper
Tax Compliance

The formulaic nature of the TC exam paper

May 3, 2021

For several years now, the TC examiners have used an approach of setting the same topic for each of the 5 TC exam paper questions. For example, Question 1 always relates to Ethics, Question 2 always relates to VAT and Stamp Duties, and soon.

Additionally, the number of marks allocated to each question has become very stable overtime. For example, Question 1 on Ethics always seems to be worth around 7 marks, Question 3 on IHT and CGT is always around 25 marks, and so on.

This very predictable nature of the exam is obviously very useful to candidates in different ways.

Before the exam, you can have reasonable assurance regarding how many marks each topic area will be worth and so some candidates will take an approach of allocating more revision time to the topics that they know will be worth more marks.

This is a real advantage of the TC paper because whilst all other ACA papers have certain topics that are worth more marks than others, there is no guarantee as to what will actually come up in the exam.

Since you will know the order in which the questions will be set, many candidates will decide before the exam the order in which they are going to tackle the questions. For example, some candidates find that they can get bogged down in the Ethics element of the paper since it is the first question so they will deliberately skip ahead to a “meatier” part of the paper. Other candidates will know that they find particular topics extremely difficult or extremely easy and will act accordingly.

In our view, the new 2021 edition of the ICAEW computer-based assessment software allows students to navigate between questions and answering sections much more easily than in the past so a strategy of deliberately starting with parts of the paper other than Question 1 should be more feasible this year and in the future.

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