The Certificate level ACA Principles of Tax (PoT) exam is likely to be the second exam that you sit. This exam teaches you the fundamentals of taxation which is built on further at the professional stage.
If your day job is not in tax, there can be some new concepts to understand. However on the whole the PoT exam should be one that can be passed with appropriate preparation
Overview of ACA Principles of Tax Exam
This paper provides an introduction to taxation which is further built on at the professional stage.
The areas of examination are as follows:
|Objectives, types of tax and ethics||10.00%|
|Administration of taxation||20.00%|
|Income tax and national insurance contributions||26.00%|
|Capital gains tax and chargeable gains for companies||10.00%|
As can be seen from the above table, administration of tax plays a significant part of this exam. Although this may feel excessive, this is not tested to the same extent in later exams and therefore this serves to get the topic out of the way. When studying the content you will soon learn that the admin of tax material is extremely boring (mainly consisting of remembering specific tax dates) so you will be pleased to see the back of this topic.
The other areas of the syllabus remain very relevant for future tax exams and so learning the fundamentals here will pay dividends further down the line.
Method of Assessment
The exam itself is 1.5 hours and given it forms part of the Certificate level, it can be sat at any time. As such, in the exam you will be set random questions from a question pool and so you will not be answering the same questions as many of your peers.
The marks are split as follows:
- 20% of the marks are allocated to two scenario based (long form) questions
- 80% of the marks are awarded via 40 multiple choice questions (MCQs)
How to pass ACA Principles of Tax Exam?
The key to passing this exam is in the administration of tax section. I believe that with question practice you are able to build up a solid method and understanding of the other sections of the syllabus to be able to work out the answer to most questions even when not 100% certain of an answer.
With the admin of tax section, it’s either you know the answer or you don’t. If you don’t know the answer there isn’t really any logic that you can apply to the scenario and therefore you will be forced to take a guess. This rings true to most people that have taken the exam, as the most common way to fail the PoT exam is by not spending enough time on the admin of tax section.
As with other Certificate level exams, question practice is key. The actual exam is very similar to the question bank and so having completed most sample questions you should be confident going into the exam knowing you should pass. My advice with these exams is to complete every question in the question bank.
How hard is ACA Principles of Tax Exam?
Taken as a whole, the ACA Principles of Tax exam is not the most difficult. Providing sufficient practice questions have been attempted from the question bank, and that the admin of tax section has been memorised, most people should be able to pass this exam.
Overall I would score this a 2 out of 5 for difficulty.