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Passing the PTAX assessment

There is a real problem with the Personal Tax (PTAX) unit at Level 4.

July 2016

Back in 2012 the assessment had a 78% success rate, but now the pass rate has slumped to 47.4%. It all means Personal Tax has by far the lowest AAT pass rate at the final level.
Despite this, over the past three years the optional Personal Tax unit has proved as popular as the mandatory units. For example, for the six months ending June 2015 some 9,917 UK assessments were completed. By comparison, the highest number of assessments taken for a mandatory unit in the same period was 12,967 (Financial Performance).
AAT’s Theo Ege said that in every report on AQ2013 the chief examiner has highlighted that students have particular difficulties with tasks 2, 6, 7, and 11. Of these, task 7 is the worse of all. Just so you know, in the current sample assessment tasks 6, 7, 8, and 10 are human marked in the live assessment.
The AAT feels that many students are taking the Personal Tax assessment without a true mastery of the written task elements of the paper. Some PQs also appear not to have a true understanding of some of the key computations.
Another worry is that tutors are allowing students sit the assessments without a firm understanding of what it takes for students to pass, again in particular the written elements of the assessment.
Ege promised a more targeted set of guidance materials, for both tutors and students, focusing on known areas of poor performance.
Sample and live assessments for tax units will also contain enhanced reference material specific to the Finance Act where appropriate, akin to what happens in Indirect Tax.
He assured tutors that questions are written and checked for plain English. It should also be remembered, said Ege, that marks are awarded for correct methodology and workings in both human marked tasks and computer marked tasks, where this is appropriate.
Turning to AQ2016, Ege explained that its content was a bit wider, but felt at the end of the day “tax is tax”. The main difference is the increased emphasis on application and communication, and the introduction of Inheritance Tax.

Personal Tax in numbers
• Assessment duration: two hours
• Number of tasks in assessment: 11
• Competent pass mark: 70%
• Average number of assessments taken each year: over 10,000

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