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Retaking the Principles of Taxation exam


Published: 09 Nov 2021 Update History

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In this guide we will cover how to prepare to retake the Principles of Taxation including reviewing what went wrong and how to prepare for your retake.

If you didn’t pass the Principles of Taxation exam you now need to think about what to do next. This article will provide guidance as to how to turn that fail into a pass.

Reviewing what went wrong

It is worth taking the time to think about what you did in your last attempt at the exam to try to improve the next time.

When you receive your results you will also receive a marks feedback within your online training file. This will show how you performed in the main syllabus areas. Do you need to revise a particular tax or area of the syllabus in a little more detail?

Try to avoid these common mistakes:

  • Time allocation. It is easy to get stuck on a particularly tricky question. It may be that the next question is easier so flag this question to come back to at the end and move on.
  • Not reading the requirement carefully. This is particularly important in numerical entry questions. For example, the answer to a question ‘what are the capital allowances available?’ takes a very different number from your working to ‘what is the tax written down value to carry forward?’
  • Not time-apportioning figures. Calculations for individuals are performed for tax years, and for companies for an accounting period. If something happens part-way through the period, we usually need to time-apportion.

How to prepare for your retake

  1. Your first step should be to book your exam. Be realistic about how much study you need but try not to leave too much time as there is a risk you will forget what you have learned. Once you have booked this you have a clear deadline to work towards.
  2. Identify what Finance Act is being tested. The ICAEW move onto testing a new Finance Act in January of each year. If you studied under a different Finance Act you will need to allow time to update yourself on the changes under this new one. Using the correct edition of the learning materials will guarantee that you are studying the correct Finance Act and syllabus areas.
  3. Start off by remedying knowledge gaps in your weaker syllabus areas. Go back to your learning materials, work through the relevant chapters and attempt all questions.
  4. Move onto question practise. Try to complete all questions in your question bank starting off with your weaker syllabus areas. Attempt the question before reviewing the answer.

Complete the sample exams on the ICAEW website as complete exams to allow you to work on time allocation and exam technique – this will help you get ready for your next attempt.