Changes and enhancements from June 2023

This article will provide you with a summary of the main changes which will apply for ATX exams from June 2023 (December 2023 for ATX MYS). The main focus of this article is the presentational enhancements we have made to ATX questions to help you in the exam.

Format and structure

The ATX exams consist of two sections: A and B. From June 2023 there will be only three questions in each ATX exam, instead of four, with all questions being compulsory. The new structure of the exam is set out below:

Section A

Question 1 – 50 marks (including 10 professional skills marks and 5 ethics marks)

Section B

Question 2 – 25 marks (including 5 professional skills marks)

Question 3 – 25 marks (including 5 professional skills marks)

Each question could examine any area of the syllabus and will typically examine more than one tax. For further information about what is examinable, please refer to the syllabus and study guide for your ATX variant.

Professional skills

You may be aware that in exams up to and including March 2023, there have been four professional skills marks available in Question 1 of each of the ATX exams.

With effect from the September 2022 exam session, three of the Strategic Professional Options exams, AAA, AFM and APM, have incorporated a total of 20 professional skills marks across the exam as a whole. This change will be brought in for the ATX exams from the June 2023 exam session to coincide with the start of the new exam year (December 2023 for ATX MYS). You should refer to the Format and Structure section above for details of how many professional skills marks will be available for each question.

The professional skills are expected to be evident in the technical points you make. They are not marks to be earned separately, instead they are awarded by reference to the technical work you do. You should therefore treat the exam as being out of 80 (as opposed to 100) marks, such that you will have just over 2.4 minutes per mark in the exam. When compared with the previous format of the exam, this means you will have more time to think about:

−   the requirement;

−   what you want to say; and

−   how you want to say it.

This should give you the time to exercise your professional skills when answering each question.

Look at some of the resources available to help you prepare for this change.


Ethical issues have been examined in the ATX UK exam for many years. With effect from June 2023 (December 2023 for ATX MYS), question 1 of all ATX variant exams will also contain five marks for demonstrating an understanding of the key ethical principles which are relevant in the context of the provision of tax advice.

Under the ACCA Code of Ethics and Conduct there are five fundamental principles of ethics which establish the standard of behaviour expected for a professional accountant and member of ACCA.

You are expected to be aware of the five fundamental principles and to be able to apply them to situations which will be presented to you in the exam. For further guidance on how ethics may be examined in the ATX exams, along with a number of detailed examples, you should refer to the article Ethics Questions in the ATX Exams.

Presentational enhancements

With effect from the June 2023 exam session, the ATX examining teams have introduced a number of changes to the way information is presented to you to help you navigate your way around the exam. These enhancements have been made in recognition of the new 50-mark question in Section A and to help you manage the information provided more easily in the exam. The enhancements are summarised below.

Summary of topics covered

The background screen for each question in your exam provides contextual information such as the date assumption (where relevant), the scenario background and a list of exhibits. Going forward this screen will also include a bullet point list of the main issues which will be examined in the question.

This is to help you see at a glance the key topics which will be examined in the question, before you read the detailed exhibits.

An example taken from the ATX-SGP specimen exam is shown below:


At a glance you can see the main issues which are going to be examined and in what context. For example, there will be some corporation tax issues including administrative matters, expense deductibility, and losses. There will also be some overseas personal tax issues to consider. Remember, this summary is NOT the requirements. The detailed requirements are contained in an exhibit which will always be labelled ‘Work to be carried out’.

This list of topics covered may be particularly helpful to you if you prefer to answer the questions in a different order than they are presented in the exam. Seeing this information, without needing to open the exhibits, may help you determine which order to attempt the questions in to perform your best. Determining a strategy for how to answer the questions is a personal choice and there is no single correct way to do so. You may find it helpful to experiment when completing mock and practice exams to determine which approach works best for you.

‘Work to be carried out’ exhibit

With effect from the J23 exams (D23 for MYS), the exhibit which contains the detailed requirements will be labelled ‘Work to be carried out’ as you can see in the example below:


This should make it straightforward for you to distinguish this exhibit from the others. This ‘Work to be carried out’ exhibit contains the detailed requirements and the mark allocation for each requirement.

Exhibit signposting

The ‘Work to be carried out’ exhibit will also signpost which of the other exhibits are relevant for each task, as can be seen in in the following example:


This enhancement is in recognition that there is more information for you to manage in a 50-mark question than in a 35-mark question, so we felt it would be helpful to direct you to the exhibit(s) you need for a particular task. If you do not need to refer to an exhibit to address a requirement, for example with certain ethical requirements, no direction will be given.

In addition to this, where possible, certain requirements in Question 1 will be distinct from one another. The purpose of this is to help you to perform as well as you can across the question, even if there are certain requirements which you find challenging and/or struggle to answer fully. If you do find a particular aspect challenging, you should still try to answer it as best you can in the time available to try to score as many of the marks available as you can.

Requirement signposting

The requirement exhibit itself will simply say something like ‘Respond to the instructions in the email from your manager’, followed by clear guidance to refer to the ‘Work to be carried out’ exhibit. As mentioned above, the detailed allocation of marks has also been moved into the ‘Work to be carried out’ exhibit. Once you have read the high-level requirement, you can close the requirement window and refer only to the detailed requirements in the ‘Work to be carried out’ exhibit, minimising the number of windows you need to have open at any one time.


Next steps and resources 

Hopefully you now have a good understanding of the upcoming changes to the ATX exams from June 2023 (December 2023 for ATX MYS).

There is a wealth of information available to you on the ACCA website, to help you to prepare for the upcoming changes to the ATX exam.  In particular, we would strongly recommend that you visit the Practice Platform to familiarise yourself with the specimen exam for the ATX variant that you will be sitting.