The examiner wants you to check your answers, for one

The pass rates for the past four sittings have been 47%, 45%, 48% and 51%.

The examiner stressed that the aim of the paper was to make it passable by well-prepared students. He stressed there were ‘no surprises with me!’ However, he said that the different format was necessary to avoid predictability.
Looking at past performances he said June 2011 had a 51% pass rate. Students answered the IHT question well, although he warned students not to waste time on the obvious.

In December 2011 the pass rate was 48%, and although there were some good performances few trainees managed to achieve 80% or even 70% for that matter. The property question was well answered with the examiner suggesting that group relief was less complicated than students tried to make it. When it comes to DTR he said you need to follow the guidance.

There was no apparent reason for the dip in the pass rate in June 2012 to 45%. Sitters found the trading loss question difficult and the sensible ones would have done Q4 (losses) last. He revealed that students don’t seem to like VAT as they find it bitty and hard to learn, but it is going to be there, so they need to conquer it.

The December 2012 pass rate moved up a bit to 47%, another solid performance. Students didn’t like Q4 and spent too long on Q1 and Q2. That meant they ran out of time.

The examiner warned PQs that his questions aren’t something you can rush through and pick up marks on. And, he stressed that candidates should stand back sometimes to see if the answer makes sense.

The workings were a particular problem, explained the examiner. He doesn’t want 13/14 pages for Q1 with lots of duplicated points. This particularly makes him ‘insane’ as he has to go back to make sure he hasn’t already given you a mark for making the same point earlier. You are not endearing yourself to the marker with this approach!

He stressed that he tells markers to only penalise each mistake once. For example marks will be given for the correct income tax computation even if the taxable income is incorrect. You only lose one mark for a repetitive mistake. Overall then the markers are looking for the correct answer rather than the perfect answer, as seen in the marking scheme.