New elective study plans for success

Jul 01, 2019

Word by John Munnelly

Public sector

With approximately seven weeks until the elective exam, what can public sector candidates do to maximise their chances for success in August? 

There are 17 topic areas in the public sector elective: 

  • Six in syllabus area one: ‘Sources of Finance Available to Public Service Organisations’.
  • Five in syllabus area two: ‘Financial Planning and Strategy Development in the Public Sector’.
  • Six in syllabus area three: ‘Application of Tools and Techniques to Support Strategy Development and Delivery of Objectives’.

Study plan

From 1 July, there are 54 days left until exam day. Candidates can approach study in two ways: during the week or over the weekend. 

Candidates who prefer to study during the week after work from Monday to Friday have 35 study days from 1 July until the week of the exams. If candidates were to take a topic, consolidate notes and understanding, connecting any real-world examples to each topic and complete this exercise for each topic area every two days, then they will arrive fully prepared the week before the exam.

Candidates who prefer to use weekends as their time to study will have seven weekends or 14 days available to them. Under this approach, candidates will have to complete the exercise above at a pace of a little more than one topic per day.  

Whichever your preferred method of study, try not to get overwhelmed: there is plenty of time to get ready for the Public Sector elective. 

At FAE we define luck as: “Thorough preparation meets the opportunity to demonstrate that preparation.” 

We wish you well in your preparation and look forward to you demonstrating it in August. 

Good luck with your exams!

Advanced tax ROI and NI

With summer here, the FAE exams are fully in focus and this article serves as a timely reminder of some key points to remember when studying for the August 2019 sitting of the FAE advanced tax ROI and NI elective papers.


Identifying the tax reliefs which are relevant to a given scenario is a critical part of the tax elective papers. It is important to remember that when discussing any tax reliefs as part of your answer, credit will be given for outlining the conditions necessary for a relief to apply and for confirming whether the relief will apply in a given scenario based on the facts of the case presented.  

“But that was in the interim assessment” 

Success in the interim assessment should have laid the foundations for a successful FAE cycle and it is worth remembering that just because a certain topic or tax relief was examined in the interim assessment does not mean it will be excluded from the main paper. Your study should, therefore, cover all topics and not avoid any particular tax issues on the basis that these were examined in the interim assessment.

Know your competency statement

In preparing for the final exams, the competency statement should be your reference for what is examinable rather than relying on what has been examined in previous exam cycles. Whilst past papers and solutions form an important part of your exam preparation, be mindful that there may be examinable topics which have not been examined in the past. For example, property transactions have been regularly examined in past exams, but the Mini One Stop Shop (MOSS) system has rarely, if ever, been examined despite being just as examinable. Remember that the entire competency statement is examinable within the advanced tax elective exam and this also includes topics from CAP 1 and CAP 2 competency statements under the cumulative knowledge principle.

Don’t forget about VAT and stamp taxes

A review of the published solutions for past exams will show that even for questions which focus on corporation, income or capital taxes, credit is given for explaining the relevant VAT and stamp tax issues to be considered for the scenarios presented. When planning your answers, make sure you consider VAT and stamp taxes and include these in your answers as these can contribute important marks which will enhance your overall performance.

Good luck with your studies. Keep the above points in mind during your preparations – they will hopefully contribute to success in the FAE exams in August 2019.