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Five tips on passing a CTA advisory exam

Nitin Rabheru has a five-step plan to get you through the CTA advisory exams. So read, digest – and put them into action!

October 2016

1. Knowledge
At the advisory level it cannot be denied that there is a lot to learn. But learning what you need to know is just the first stage.
For many students this can often be the first hurdle. Some spend too much time using the study manuals without minimal question practice, others tend not to cover all areas of the syllabus.
Students must have a good understanding of all areas of the syllabus and allocate more time to topics they find difficult.
I recommend all my students create a revision folder from day one of the taught course, divided into all key areas to ensure they have sufficient technical coverage by the time they get into the exam.

2. Structured question practice
The key to success is being able to identify key issues, scenarios and tax problems within a question. Not knowing where to begin or how to start a question is a very common barrier to passing.
No matter where you are in your studies you need to start reviewing, annotating and planning/practising questions and continue doing this until the exam. Many students underestimate the importance of reviewing past exam questions and examiners’ reports.

3. Learn to give advice
It is important that you do not simply knowledge dump, you need to think about the tax impact on the client.
When giving advice in the exam you need to use the correct format, as well as stating the general position and applying your knowledge you have worked so hard to learn to the actual scenario/question. Remember to also state due dates and timings of any relevant elections together with a reason as to why you think that election is or is not beneficial.
Try to provide a recommendation stating what the client should or should not do.

4. Be prepared
Create self-made pass cards, crib sheets or model answer plans as well as practise writing sentences out in full, too. Work through calculation questions and prepare computational proformas. The more mistakes you make during the study phase the better. Be sure to make a note of these mistakes to avoid repeating them in the exam.

5. Rehearsal
I would recommend practising a full paper before the real exam or a few. This will enable you to think about skills such as time management as well as the application.
• Nitin Rabheru is a tutor at BPP’s OCR Live Faculty

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