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ACA queries: Two tax (professional level) papers during busy season (March sitting)

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    Hi all,

    A bit of background of myself: I am in the second year of my training contract at a Big 4 in London and I work in financial services audit. I have passed all certificate level ACA papers and also two professional level papers (Audit&Assurance and Financial Accounting&Reporting).

    I am the sort of trainee who needs to work particularly hard to pass the ACA papers, and my typical score is in the 60-70 range.

    All my ACA modules are taught via 'home study', so I only get a couple of revision weeks before each sitting, and I will get maybe 5 week days off in January to just self study from home.


    Question:

    I will likely be sitting my Tax Compliance and Business Planning Taxation papers during March 2015, which is right after my busy season.

    During my busy season I work very rough hours, and I tend to travel a lot.

    How should I go about preparing for these papers?
    I will receive my materials in January (which in my opinion is really cutting it fine!).

    I was thinking of doing the bulk of my revision on the weekends, and perhaps doing just a question or two per night during the weekdays to keep my Tax knowledge ticking.

    I do however have access to the 2014 exam materials in November. My understanding is that the tax syllabuses (specifically rates, some reliefs etc.) will change for the 2015 exams, but some colleagues have advised me that it could still be a good idea to learn the Tax Compliance 2014 syllabus in advance, as the pro formas and methods should all be the same.

    Any advice will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
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    I'm calling PwC April joiner potentially? Or have other Big 4s expanded into home study now?

    I had this same situation this year, for FAR/AA. Having just sat the BPT/TC papers, I can tell you that they are hard work and I don't really envy you having to do it alongside audit, you really have to get into the tax frame of mind with them.

    I would advise doing what you said, use the weekends for the studying. Tax compliance is all proformas and continuations of principles of tax with a few extra rules/inheritance tax, but as you had to know how to do them anyway for POT, it's not a big deal. BPT is a lot more challenging as it is difficult tax principles that do take a while to sink in. I would therefore suggest doing tc in the week to keep it ticking over and bpt at the weekend when your mind is fresher having not spent a day doing audit. Ultimately, yes you have to do your day job but exams are more important and your employer/manager should have had it communicated that they can't keep you working until 1am when you'll be studying at the weekend, it's not fair.

    I wouldn't hugely advise learning it in advance, I think that is a waste of time personally. Tax tends to go in one ear and out the other with most people, so it's unlikely you'll retain much, especially with Christmas smack bang in the middle.

    Also remember, you only need 55 to pass! Those weeks in college really do sort you out.

    ALSO. BPT is going to be a complete mess when you start and you will get seriously pissed that you're having to home study it, but it really does come together in revision week as the exam technique is hammered into you. Don't pay too much attention to the model answers in the question bank as they are impossible to write in the time you have and have way too much detail.
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    (Original post by Roronoa)
    Hi all,

    A bit of background of myself: I am in the second year of my training contract at a Big 4 in London and I work in financial services audit. I have passed all certificate level ACA papers and also two professional level papers (Audit&Assurance and Financial Accounting&Reporting).

    I am the sort of trainee who needs to work particularly hard to pass the ACA papers, and my typical score is in the 60-70 range.

    All my ACA modules are taught via 'home study', so I only get a couple of revision weeks before each sitting, and I will get maybe 5 week days off in January to just self study from home.


    Question:

    I will likely be sitting my Tax Compliance and Business Planning Taxation papers during March 2015, which is right after my busy season.

    During my busy season I work very rough hours, and I tend to travel a lot.

    How should I go about preparing for these papers?
    I will receive my materials in January (which in my opinion is really cutting it fine!).

    I was thinking of doing the bulk of my revision on the weekends, and perhaps doing just a question or two per night during the weekdays to keep my Tax knowledge ticking.

    I do however have access to the 2014 exam materials in November. My understanding is that the tax syllabuses (specifically rates, some reliefs etc.) will change for the 2015 exams, but some colleagues have advised me that it could still be a good idea to learn the Tax Compliance 2014 syllabus in advance, as the pro formas and methods should all be the same.

    Any advice will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
    Third year Big 4 ACA trainee here, have passed all exams so far on first attempts.

    First off your typical score is what is everyone's typical score: most people pass with a high 50 something to a mid 60 something. Your scores are very average, as such I don't think you're necessarily working more than anyone else.

    I do not envy your home study approach at all, I find that college seriously helped me learn everything better regardless of which exams I was doing. With tax this is especially true since unlike with AA or FAR where you see that stuff at work all the time, the tax stuff is something that most people will never come into contact with outside of the exam setting. As such a tutor makes the material much more understandable.

    I find it a bit odd (though also makes sense in other ways) that the two tax exams are being sat together. On the one hand you're learning a bunch of that stuff just once, though then again BPT is largely building on what TC laid the foundation for.

    Your approach sounds fine. Hammer out as many questions as you can from the Question bank. For BPT have a good well referenced set of notes as well as make a list of references to question bank answers that address certain topics well since the same things tend to come up over and over. I know when I did my BPT exam, there were a few places where I literally copied out stuff from the question bank and ended up passing with a 60 something.

    My firm almost never has people sit the March sitting, weird that yours makes you do this as they know full well that you'll be working long hours. Try and speak to your managers/seniors/in-charges on your jobs to let you go home a bit earlier so you can study. For me passing an exam is far more important than ticking a few more invoices or doing some fixed asset schedule so I'd basically tell them to "shove it" when they ask you to do more work. What's the worst they'll do to you, give you bad feedback? But failing the exam stains your CV and can get your fired. Think about those two things.

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