This article is aimed at students who are preparing for a TX variant exam (i.e. any TX exam which is not TX-UK).
The aim of each TX exam is to develop knowledge and skills relating to the tax system for your chosen jurisdiction as applicable to individuals and companies. You will be introduced to the rationale behind - and the functions of – the local tax system. The syllabus will then consider outlines the separate taxes that an accountant needs to have a detailed knowledge of, such as income tax on self-employment, employment and investment income, the taxation of companies, the taxation of capital gains, indirect tax liabilities of businesses and other taxes which may apply in your chosen jurisdiction.
There is no assumed knowledge for the TX exams. You may have studied taxation previously, either as part of an ACCA qualification or elsewhere, however each TX syllabus assumes that you do not have any prior knowledge of taxation. Where an ATX exam is available, the corresponding TX exam for the corresponding jurisdiction provides a solid basis for those students who wish to progress to ATX, Advanced Taxation.
Not all tax legislation applicable to a particular jurisdiction will be examinable as it would be inappropriate to expect candidates to have complete knowledge of a tax system at this level. The Syllabus and Study Guide sets out all of the knowledge which is required and also, where appropriate, excluded topics.
In most jurisdictions, tax legislation is updated on an annual basis where required. In order to provide you with certainty of what will be examined, each TX exam will have a cut-off date to determine which legislation, rates and allowances will be examinable. The cut-off date for each exam is explained in the relevant Syllabus and Study Guide.
TX is assessed by a three-hour computer-based exam (CBE). There will be 100 marks available, which means you have 1.8 minutes of exam time for each mark. You should consider this in your exam preparations.
All TX variant exams consist of two sections, with all questions within each section being compulsory.
You should expect that your TX exam will include broad coverage of the main capabilities in the syllabus and that all taxes included within the syllabus will be examined. However, individual questions and requirements will focus on just one, or a small number of learning outcomes from the detailed study guide in the syllabus. Not all learning outcomes will be tested in your exam.
Section A is comprised of 15 multiple choice questions (MCQs) worth 2 marks each. There are no partial marks for MCQs, so you will either score two marks or zero for each question. The questions could be on any area of the syllabus, with some being computational in nature and some narrative.
Because Section A will include multiple choice questions from the whole of the syllabus it is very important that you cover the whole syllabus when preparing for the TX exam. You should not attempt to predict which topics will be tested and tailor your studies according to this. If you do go on to sit an ATX exam at Strategic Professional level, this core knowledge of the TX syllabus will be of great benefit to you, as in many cases it will be assumed knowledge at forthe advanced levelATX.
It is really important to exercise good exam technique in relation to the MCQs. Based on 1.8 minutes per mark you will have 54 minutes to complete Section A. The mix of questions and the nature of MCQs mean that some questions will take longer to answer than others and you should not be worried about this. Time should be allocated to Section A as a whole rather than to each individual question.
Students can sometimes see MCQs as an ‘easy’ task which can be rushed through to allow more time for the Ssection B questions. It is very important that you do not do this and allocate an appropriate amount of time to this section of the exam. Each question usually tests a very specific part of the syllabus, relying on precise knowledge and if you rush, it is easy to misread or to miss important information you have been given. Of the four possible answers you are given, only one will be correct, but the other three will be the result of expected mistakes students will make, so make sure you read carefully!
As always, it is important that, in Section A, you do not spend too much time on any one question that you may be struggling with. It is important to remember that each question is only worth two marks.
Section B is comprised of four 10-mark questions and two 15-mark questions. The 10-mark questions may come from any area of the syllabus. The two 15-mark questions will focus on income tax the taxation of individuals and corporate taxthe taxation of companies and enterprises. It is recommended that you allocate 18 minutes to each 10-mark question and 27 minutes to each 15- mark question, based on there being 1.8 minutes per mark available.
All questions in this section could have just one requirement, or several requirements and you will be told at the start of each question how many requirements there are. You should pay close attention to which verbs are used at the start of each requirement – whether you are asked to ‘explain’, ‘state’ or ‘calculate’ for example, should guide the structure of your answer. ‘Explain’ will require you to write about the topic in question and possibly do some simple calculations to support your answer. ‘State’ indicates a written answer is required but this should be brief and to the point. ‘Calculate’ indicates that only numbers are required, but these should be well labelled and cross referenced to aid markers in awarding you the appropriate marks.
Questions in Section B will be predominantly computational, although each question may contain written elements. You will be provided with either a spreadsheet or word processing area to complete your answer, whichever is most appropriate for the requirement you are to answer. Unlike Section A, which is auto-marked, the Section B questions are human-marked and so it is absolutely vital that all workings are clearly shown and any assumptions are stated.
Section B questions may require written elements and will test your ability to apply your answer to the context given in the question, so you need to be able to apply your knowledge.
All questions in TX are compulsory and count towards your final mark so you should attempt every question and every requirement within each question. There is no negative marking in ACCA exams, and you can earn follow through marks for the method applied even if you have made mistakes, so even if you are not sure what to do, you should always attempt the requirement or question.
In all TX exams, you will have access to a set of tax rates and allowances. You should ensure you become familiar with this document and use it during your studies so you know which facts and figures you can look up during your exam and therefore you don’t need to memorise. An article is available to guide you on getting the best use out of the tax rates and allowances and explaining how to access them in your exam and making the best use of the tax tables in your TX-variant exam and how to access these during your exam.
For some TX variants, technical articles in relation to specific tricky topics are available on the ACCA website to assist you in preparing for exams.
Before sitting the TX exam, students should become familiar with the software you will use in your CBE. The ACCA Practice Platform is the ideal tool to enable you to do this. You can use the Practice Platform to practise using the spreadsheet and word processing response areas, and most importantly make sure you understand the functionality of these.
The Practice Platform is also where you can access specimen exam and past exam content specific to each TX variant exam. It is very important that you become familiar with the style of TX questions and the type of answers which are expected before you sit your exam.
Data shows that students who use the Practice Platform have a higher chance of success in their ACCA exams.
We hope you have found this article useful. This article should be read in conjunction with other related published material including the Syllabus and Study Guide, technical articles, examiner reports and past exams.
Wishing you the best of luck with your TX exam and your further ACCA studies!
Written by a member of the ACCA TX examining team