Illusionary
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I know that this isn't likely to get a huge response due to the specialist nature of the qualification, but I know that there are some of you out there on the site who have taken/are studying for the CTA.

My position is that I've now all but completed the ICAS CA (I'll qualify in two months) and I'm now looking ahead to taking the CTA qualification (for anyone who doesn't know what it is, see here). While not mandatory, I'm pretty sure that I want to take it as it should put me on a very strong technical footing as well as improve future prospects (more qualifications is rarely a bad thing!).

The plan at the moment is that I'll take Advanced Corporation Tax and Taxation of Owner Managed Businesses as my advisory papers, and I'll have a credit against the case study so don't have to worry about that. Most likely I'll aim to sit all three tax papers in the May 2011 sitting (with the ethics and law papers at some during 2010). What I'm looking for with this thread is any tips, info about the workload compared to the ICAS (or ICAEW) qualifications or just other general experiences of taking it. How do those two advisory papers stack up to the others, if anyone's in a position to comment? My firm's CTA policy document suggests that 500-600 hours of private study are recommended - does that sound realistic? Thanks in advance!
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Big_Dave
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(Original post by Illusionary)
I know that this isn't likely to get a huge response due to the specialist nature of the qualification, but I know that there are some of you out there on the site who have taken/are studying for the CTA.

My position is that I've now all but completed the ICAS CA (I'll qualify in two months) and I'm now looking ahead to taking the CTA qualification (for anyone who doesn't know what it is, see here). While not mandatory, I'm pretty sure that I want to take it as it should put me on a very strong technical footing as well as improve future prospects (more qualifications is rarely a bad thing!).

The plan at the moment is that I'll take Advanced Corporation Tax and Taxation of Owner Managed Businesses as my advisory papers, and I'll have a credit against the case study so don't have to worry about that. Most likely I'll aim to sit all three tax papers in the May 2011 sitting (with the ethics and law papers at some during 2010). What I'm looking for with this thread is any tips, info about the workload compared to the ICAS (or ICAEW) qualifications or just other general experiences of taking it. How do those two advisory papers stack up to the others, if anyone's in a position to comment? My firm's CTA policy document suggests that 500-600 hours of private study are recommended - does that sound realistic? Thanks in advance!
500 - 600 hours is realistic the pass rate for the CTA is currently 33% imagine the ACA and times it by about 40 times and that is generally how difficult it is. But it is also highly valued because of the above.

Be prepared to put the work in, but generally firms are more lenient with the CTA in terms of pass and fails as they recognise its difficulty!
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Gohalath
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Can't comment as I don't know anything about it but I presume you've settled on a career in tax? Obvious I know - but my understanding was that this will pigeon-hole you pretty much as the 'tax person'.
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456789
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"times by 40" :O

Not necesarily Gohalath he would be pigeonholed if he had only CTA but he will have CTA and ICAS
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Illusionary
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Thanks for the replies, guys - much appreciated (though of course any other opinions/advice would be great).

I'm aware of the difficulty (I've seen several years of others taking it) - though admittedly haven't yet seen the material in any detail - and understand that there's the potential for pigeonholing to some extent. The way I see it is that specialising is to a large extent needed to progress to higher levels, but as 456789 points out I'll still have my generalist qualification. For the time being I do see myself staying in practice.

Does anyone else here have experience of both ICAS and CTA? If so, how much overlap in the material (presumably at the awareness rather than advisory level)?
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Ianan
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CTA is much harder than the CA. However, you will be exempt from the worst paper (the case study), so it's not all bad news. The case study is hell, the others are doable.

I realise you want to do the CT advisory paper because that's your field. However, its pass rate is really low. If I were you, I'd consider taking the individuals one instead, simply to increase your chances of nailing CTA first time.

Once you do your awareness paper, you can't change your advisory choices without redoing the awareness exam, so you do need to be sure about what you want to do.
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456789
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excellent post Ianan!
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Illusionary
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(Original post by Ianan)
CTA is much harder than the CA. However, you will be exempt from the worst paper (the case study), so it's not all bad news. The case study is hell, the others are doable.

I realise you want to do the CT advisory paper because that's your field. However, its pass rate is really low. If I were you, I'd consider taking the individuals one instead, simply to increase your chances of nailing CTA first time.

Once you do your awareness paper, you can't change your advisory choices without redoing the awareness exam, so you do need to be sure about what you want to do.
At the moment I'm looking at doing the three papers together, probably next May. Point taken about the Advanced CT advisory paper, but I'm not sure how that would be seen by the firm - I'm supposed to have a good 'business case' for doing the exams, etc. I'll raise it with a couple of others who I know did the exams last year and see if this is something that was brought up for them.
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Ianan
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(Original post by 456789)
excellent post Ianan!
Thanks.

(Original post by Illusionary)
At the moment I'm looking at doing the three papers together, probably next May. Point taken about the Advanced CT advisory paper, but I'm not sure how that would be seen by the firm - I'm supposed to have a good 'business case' for doing the exams, etc. I'll raise it with a couple of others who I know did the exams last year and see if this is something that was brought up for them.
Give it some serious thought. The CA is a walk in the park compared to the CTA. You don't want to make it harder for yourself than you have to.

Remember, if ICAS set a ridiculously hard paper, all the big firms will complain and if nothing gets done, they'll get their trainees to do the ACA instead.

There is only one CIOT.

Your clients will not know or care if you take the generalist route rather than the CT specialised one. (It's possible to check, but I doubt clients do.) You'll either be a CTA or you won't. With a pass rate around the 30% mark, those three letters carry a lot of prestige, no matter how you get them. That in itself is your business case.

Check your contract. As you're already qualified, you probably won't get fired for failing CTA repeatedly, just have to pay for your resits yourself and all the associated costs. Weigh up how much you want that CT advisory paper.

I don't mean to scare you - I just want to help you ensure whatever you do, it's with your eyes wide open. I hope I've helped, anyway.
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Illusionary
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(Original post by Ianan)
Give it some serious thought. The CA is a walk in the park compared to the CTA. You don't want to make it harder for yourself than you have to.

Remember, if ICAS set a ridiculously hard paper, all the big firms will complain and if nothing gets done, they'll get their trainees to do the ACA instead.

There is only one CIOT.

Your clients will not know or care if you take the generalist route rather than the CT specialised one. (It's possible to check, but I doubt clients do.) You'll either be a CTA or you won't. With a pass rate around the 30% mark, those three letters carry a lot of prestige, no matter how you get them. That in itself is your business case.

Check your contract. As you're already qualified, you probably won't get fired for failing CTA repeatedly, just have to pay for your resits yourself and all the associated costs. Weigh up how much you want that CT advisory paper.

I don't mean to scare you - I just want to help you ensure whatever you do, it's with your eyes wide open. I hope I've helped, anyway.
Doing CTA isn't part of my training contract, so I've no fear of getting fired for failing. I'll get financial support and study leave for one attempt, but any resits would need to be self-funded. I'll definitely raise this when I get the chance; the relative difficulty of papers had been mentioned in passing by one person who I'd asked so it's clearly known to be an issue, though no specific papers were mentioned as being harder.

Do you think there's any way of quantifying the relative difficulty of the advisory papers? November 2009 pass rates (http://www.tax.org.uk/attach.pl/8855...nformation.pdf) don't seem to show a big difference, with Advanced CT actually having the highest pass rate at 52% - albeit with a lower number of candidates. Was this an exception? I can see that the May 2009 pass rate was much lower at 33%, though.

Thanks very much for all of this - I've had a much stronger reply than I'd expected here.

Edit: Actually, a quick question about the awareness papers. I'm not completely clear on whether you've specifically taken the ICAS exams, but how much of a jump is it from the tax module of ICAS up to awareness level of CTA?
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Ianan
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(Original post by Illusionary)
Doing CTA isn't part of my training contract, so I've no fear of getting fired for failing. I'll get financial support and study leave for one attempt, but any resits would need to be self-funded. I'll definitely raise this when I get the chance; the relative difficulty of papers had been mentioned in passing by one person who I'd asked so it's clearly known to be an issue, though no specific papers were mentioned as being harder.
Based on your skillset, I'd say you'd find IHT, VAT1 and VAT2 hard and not especially useful. That leaves you with OMB, CT and individuals. You will end up doing OMB, no doubt. That's relevant to your field. Individuals or CT? Individuals covers the same taxes as OMB, just fewer of them.

(Original post by Illusionary)
Do you think there's any way of quantifying the relative difficulty of the advisory papers?
No. Pot luck. But CT is meant to be seriously hard, even for those of us from a CT background.

(Original post by Illusionary)
Thanks very much for all of this - I've had a much stronger reply than I'd expected here.
No worries.

(Original post by Illusionary)
Edit: Actually, a quick question about the awareness papers. I'm not completely clear on whether you've specifically taken the ICAS exams, but how much of a jump is it from the tax module of ICAS up to awareness level of CTA?
You've presumably spent about 3 years in CT? You'll have to do some work, because you'll need to do IHT calculations and fun things with trusts quickly (I'm assuming you're not even considering the IHT advisory paper), but it's very much within your grasp. Awareness is the 'easy' paper of the CTA.

Many people struggle with the e-assessments, actually. Personally, I think the main issue is that they're badly written, not that the content is hard. They're multiple choice, but not nice easy to understand multiple choice like in TC.

You will find all the written papers probably around as time pressured as you found TPS.
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Illusionary
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(Original post by Ianan)
Based on your skillset, I'd say you'd find IHT, VAT1 and VAT2 hard and not especially useful. That leaves you with OMB, CT and individuals. You will end up doing OMB, no doubt. That's relevant to your field. Individuals or CT? Individuals covers the same taxes as OMB, just fewer of them.

No. Pot luck. But CT is meant to be seriously hard, even for those of us from a CT background.

No worries.

You've presumably spent about 3 years in CT? You'll have to do some work, because you'll need to do IHT calculations and fun things with trusts quickly (I'm assuming you're not even considering the IHT advisory paper), but it's very much within your grasp. Awareness is the 'easy' paper of the CTA.

Many people struggle with the e-assessments, actually. Personally, I think the main issue is that they're badly written, not that the content is hard. They're multiple choice, but not nice easy to understand multiple choice like in TC.

You will find all the written papers probably around as time pressured as you found TPS.
You've given me a lot to think about, thanks! Yes, I've spent (nearly) three years in CT, and the choice at advisory level is definitely between CT and Individuals, with OMB a given.

I know that awareness is the easy paper (so far as any of this will be 'easy'!), but it's useful to gauge how much I'll need to focus on that in addition to working for the advisory papers. Hopefully I'll be able to get the e-assessments out of the way later this year, so that I've got plenty of time to focus on the tax papers.
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Ianan
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(Original post by Illusionary)
You've given me a lot to think about, thanks! Yes, I've spent (nearly) three years in CT, and the choice at advisory level is definitely between CT and Individuals, with OMB a given.

I know that awareness is the easy paper (so far as any of this will be 'easy'!), but it's useful to gauge how much I'll need to focus on that in addition to working for the advisory papers. Hopefully I'll be able to get the e-assessments out of the way later this year, so that I've got plenty of time to focus on the tax papers.
Once you do a mock for awareness, you'll get the measure for the standard quickly. Questions generally aren't hard, it's just managing your time and avoiding silly mistakes.

Don't underestimate how much time the CTA will require - even just for law and ethics. If you can buy leave and take a regular afternoon off work, that would not be a stupid idea. If nothing else, it gives you a reason to duck out of the office before you end up doing unpaid overtime instead of revising at 5.
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Illusionary
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(Original post by Ianan)
Once you do a mock for awareness, you'll get the measure for the standard quickly. Questions generally aren't hard, it's just managing your time and avoiding silly mistakes.
That much sounds good, at leat. I've scanned through a couple of past papers and that was the impression that I got.

Don't underestimate how much time the CTA will require - even just for law and ethics. If you can buy leave and take a regular afternoon off work, that would not be a stupid idea. If nothing else, it gives you a reason to duck out of the office before you end up doing unpaid overtime instead of revising at 5.
I'm definitely trying not to underestimate it! It's not helped by internal material about CTA being far from easy to find - even the training policy is hidden away in an obscure Notes database. I can buy some extra leave for next calendar year from November and I'll probably carry a few days from this year as well. I think the first training course (probably with BPP, but possibly Kaplan) would be towards the end of this year, so that should put me in a better position to plan this.
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Ianan
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Good luck with it all.
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Phil80
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CTA is the devil, taking the form of tax exams.

Currenlty working through it.

Sat originally in November 2008, passed one paper.

I've done both the E-assessments and Awarenss (Nov '09), neither too bad as I sat under the old system in November 2008 which gave me an advantage when re-sitting under the new syllabus.

I've passed the Application paper under the old system (November 2008) and Individual Paper in May '10 (didn't sit May 09 and failed in Nov'09).

OMB is an absolute nightmare. I failed paper 2 in Nov'08 under the old system (47) which is pretty much OMB under the new syllabus. I've also failed in Nov '09 (44) and May '10 (45).

November '10 is my last attempt as my Application credit drops off after this sitting, and there's no way i'm doing that again.

2 main issues with OMB paper - 1 it's wide ranging syllabus and 2 the immense time pressure in the exam itself, which no amount of preparation can prepare you for (you'll understand once you've sat the paper).

It's worth going for but make sure your employer doesn't tie you down to anything in terms of passing, as honestly, unless your an exam buff you may well never get through it.

You need to go through it once to get to grips with it and it's probably the next time round that you understand what's required. I would also say that a lot of it is exam technique so don't get bogged down in the detail, just make sure you've covered all the bases in temrs of the syllabus so you can at least write something on any particular subject.
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Ianan
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(Original post by Phil80)
OMB is an absolute nightmare. I failed paper 2 in Nov'08 under the old system (47) which is pretty much OMB under the new syllabus. I've also failed in Nov '09 (44) and May '10 (45).

November '10 is my last attempt as my Application credit drops off after this sitting, and there's no way i'm doing that again.

2 main issues with OMB paper - 1 it's wide ranging syllabus and 2 the immense time pressure in the exam itself, which no amount of preparation can prepare you for (you'll understand once you've sat the paper).
Good luck - I'm resitting OMB in November too, along with Application. Hoping to pass OMB this time, but I hold out no hope for Application. As I said previously, the fact that Illusionary doesn't have to sit Application is really in his favour.
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Illusionary
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(Original post by Ianan)
Good luck - I'm resitting OMB in November too, along with Application. Hoping to pass OMB this time, but I hold out no hope for Application. As I said previously, the fact that Illusionary doesn't have to sit Application is really in his favour.
Just thought I'd post again here as an update, to say that it does look like I'll have to do the CT paper and OMB at advisory level rather than individuals, but with loads of people having been away recently and our year-end review process having been a big focus recently I'm only just getting around to sorting out the application paperwork.

(Original post by Phil80)
x
Thanks for the advice, and good luck in November!
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shinytoy
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(Original post by Illusionary)
Doing CTA isn't part of my training contract, so I've no fear of getting fired for failing. I'll get financial support and study leave for one attempt, but any resits would need to be self-funded. I'll definitely raise this when I get the chance; the relative difficulty of papers had been mentioned in passing by one person who I'd asked so it's clearly known to be an issue, though no specific papers were mentioned as being harder.

Do you think there's any way of quantifying the relative difficulty of the advisory papers? November 2009 pass rates (http://www.tax.org.uk/attach.pl/8855...nformation.pdf) don't seem to show a big difference, with Advanced CT actually having the highest pass rate at 52% - albeit with a lower number of candidates. Was this an exception? I can see that the May 2009 pass rate was much lower at 33%, though.

Thanks very much for all of this - I've had a much stronger reply than I'd expected here.

Edit: Actually, a quick question about the awareness papers. I'm not completely clear on whether you've specifically taken the ICAS exams, but how much of a jump is it from the tax module of ICAS up to awareness level of CTA?
awareness is easy, most people pass. also note that with the new CTA format (post may 2009) CIOT only publishes pass rates per paper, not overall. the overall pass rate per year ie candidates vs people entering the insitute is like 28 - 32% per year.

these are seriously hard exams and EVERYONE doing hem will have at least one professional qualification ACA or ATT. when i sat them also, most people doing them were like 40 years old, i was one of a few students in my early 20s doing it and let me tell you it was hell. i seriously suggest you DO NOT attempt these studying in your garage, get a proper tainign course with BPP Kaplan or tolleys or you will fail.

i did it with a big 4 firm, almost everyone was oxbridge a few had masters in taxation, a few were accountants already looking to specialise, and only 10 people passed 3 or more papers.

for me the case study is the worst. i can never pass even a mock.

everone i went to college with has given up after teh 2nd attempt. CTA will enhance your prospects, but if there is one guy with 5 years experience and one guy with 3 years experience and a CTA they will take the 5 years guy. when i was awaitng CTA results, i did the general tax route and all firms told me if i wanted to move into a specialist area of tax ie IHT, i would need to start alongside new graduates even if i passed CTA since i woudl totally need to retrain. another alternative is the HMRC internal exams.

anyone doing CTA and workign full time?

do you think i can do 3 papers in 4 months while working 12 hours a day but takign 3 weeks holiday leave? bearing in mind i did CTA twice before and failed, getting around 45% in all the papers i failed (need 50% to pass). please be honest?

i cant face takign all my holiday leave a third year in a row on these wretched cta exams, and they are soo oborig and hard

also anyone know anything about CGT on retricted securties or securities with artificailly dpressed MV? i read that ledge and was like wtfwtf :eek:

glad to see more of you taxis on here
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Illusionary
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(Original post by shinytoy)
awareness is easy, most people pass. also note that with the new CTA format (post may 2009) CIOT only publishes pass rates per paper, not overall. the overall pass rate per year ie candidates vs people entering the insitute is like 28 - 32% per year.

these are seriously hard exams and EVERYONE doing hem will have at least one professional qualification ACA or ATT. when i sat them also, most people doing them were like 40 years old, i was one of a few students in my early 20s doing it and let me tell you it was hell. i seriously suggest you DO NOT attempt these studying in your garage, get a proper tainign course with BPP Kaplan or tolleys or you will fail.

i did it with a big 4 firm, almost everyone was oxbridge a few had masters in taxation, a few were accountants already looking to specialise, and only 10 people passed 3 or more papers.

for me the case study is the worst. i can never pass even a mock.

everone i went to college with has given up after teh 2nd attempt. CTA will enhance your prospects, but if there is one guy with 5 years experience and one guy with 3 years experience and a CTA they will take the 5 years guy. when i was awaitng CTA results, i did the general tax route and all firms told me if i wanted to move into a specialist area of tax ie IHT, i would need to start alongside new graduates even if i passed CTA since i woudl totally need to retrain. another alternative is the HMRC internal exams.

anyone doing CTA and workign full time?

do you think i can do 3 papers in 4 months while working 12 hours a day but takign 3 weeks holiday leave? bearing in mind i did CTA twice before and failed, getting around 45% in all the papers i failed (need 50% to pass). please be honest?

i cant face takign all my holiday leave a third year in a row on these wretched cta exams, and they are soo oborig and hard

also anyone know anything about CGT on retricted securties or securities with artificailly dpressed MV? i read that ledge and was like wtfwtf :eek:

glad to see more of you taxis on here
Well, I've at least sat my exams now - Awareness, Advisory OMB, Advisory ACT (and fortunately an exemption from Application). Results should be out in a couple of weeks' time, so right now I'm sitting tight and hoping for the best - though I have to admit that I'm not all that confident of success! :sad: If my understanding is correct, I'm not at all looking forward to the format of results on the Tuesday evening, with just an impersonal pass list. I still can't decide whether I should look at the 'all exams passed' list first, or the lists for the individual papers...

My training course was with Tolley's Manchester, who have generally been very good. While I am employed full-time, I'm fortunate at least to have had study leave for the duration of the courses, plus I took fours weeks off in the run-up to the May exams (all of the bank holidays helped to make that a little less painful!). Agreed that it's the norm to have a professional qualification of some description before taking CTA - in fact, I think this is actually a requirement of most of the routes to being eligible for the exams in the first place.

When did you last enter for exams? I assume from your post that you've passed Awareness (or its old-syllabus equivalent), so it's "just" the three papers that you've got to take now?
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