ACCA P6: How to approach Section A questions in the Advanced Taxation exam
The ACCA P6 exam will contain two compulsory questions in Section A which will total between 50%-70% of the total marks. The questions can be equal in length or one may be longer than the other. They are also constructed in a case study style with often the question covering at least two pages of the exam paper with many tasks to undertake. Students quite rightly feel overawed by these questions; however a sensible step by step approach to answering them should improve confidence.
Start at the end with the requirements
The first thing I always do is to start at the end with the requirements. I’m looking to see whether a particular format is required for my answer like a report and I’m also working out how long I need to spend on each part. Don’t just calculate how long the entire question will take as this can seem like ages but identify how long you need to spend on each part. You also need to note any further guidance for example being told to assume the current tax rates apply throughout. This first step will at least get you started. One point though to mention, often the requirements at the end of the question are summarised and the full details of your tasks will be within the body of the question but at least you get an idea of what is being covered.
Read the question carefully
The second step is to read the question carefully, at least twice is needed. On the second read I try to read actively by underlining/highlighting key points and making notes on the question paper in respect of thoughts I have about the information. It will also be necessary to identify from the body of the question exactly what you have to do – there will normally be many tasks so it’s a good idea to jot these down so you can tick them off one by one. Also look for any guidance that the examiner is giving you on how to approach your answer, what to look out for, where to start, and what level of detail is required.
Answer in the correct format
The next step is to set out you answer using the correct format. There will always be some professional skills marks in the Section A questions for correct format and how well you communicate your findings. It’s a good idea to have some made up names for addresses but make sure you address the document to the correct person and identify what their gender is. It does you no favours to refer to them as him when they are a her.
If calculations are needed it’s a good idea to have a separate appendix for any workings. This gives you space to do any calculations and then refer to them in the body of your answer.
Include an introduction
Make sure your answer contains a brief introduction and brief conclusion and use headings to separate into the different parts of the question.
Show relevance to the client
Always keep stopping and thinking about whether you are answering the question and in particular is your answer relevant to the client. Remember they are supposed to be paying you for your tax advice so they only want to know what is relevant to them.
Keep track of time
Finally check on your time as you go to make sure you have enough time to answer each part.
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