Latest developments from the P6 examiner - Rory Fish

At the ACCA teacher’s conference, a presentation was made to highlight students’ areas of strengths and weaknesses in the P6 paper, Advanced Taxation. These comments are based on candidates taking the UK stream but will be of interest to candidates taking any variant of P6.


Common problems seen on students’ scripts included:

  • The nature of the tax paper means that students must have knowledge which is precise and crisp. Vague knowledge is not tolerated in this paper and will earn few, if any, marks.
  • Knowledge of VAT and import/export issues is weak.
  • Some students produce irrelevant calculations and do not apply their knowledge to the facts of the question scenario.

There were however some strong points in students’ scripts:

  • Students have a good understanding of income tax, group tax issues, inheritance tax, and purchase of own shares.
  • Students’ exam technique has improved, with more candidates attempting the required number of questions.

The examiner gave the following tips for candidates attempting P6:

  • Students must make sure they put in the effort to build up a sound knowledge of the tax rules relevant to their variant and exam sitting. Tax rules and proformas should be rote learnt, and then applied to the question scenario.
  • Some questions will require knowledge brought forward from F6, so it is important to refresh your assumed knowledge of this previous paper.
  • Improvements are needed in basic exam technique - especially understanding the verbs used in questions, and how to manage time allocation between question requirements.

ACCAHELP advises all P6 students to:

  • Students must work hard to learn the relevant tax rules. Be aware that changes in Finance Acts mean that study material quickly gets out of date. Make sure you are using updated study material.
  • Practice questions under timed, exam conditions to build up your time management skills.
  • Listen to passacca’s free audio download on exam techniques which contains useful information on time management.
  • Read all relevant articles published in student accountant. Recent articles include ‘The taxation of income from trusts and settlements’ (January 2009), ‘Corporation tax and groups’, and ‘Trusts and tax’ (both March 2009), and ‘The taxation of income from regional hubs’ (April 2009).