Skip to main content

Award winning training provider

Award winning training provider

Excellent pass rates

Tutor support until late

Market leader

Moving from ACCA or ACA to CTA

Co-workers talking at a table
Neil Da Costs
By Neil Da Costa, Senior Tax Lecturer Link to Neil Da Costa's LinkedIn profile

In this article our experienced tax tutor, Neil Da Costa, explains how to transition from ACCA or ACA to CTA.

As a tutor who has lectured on ACCA, ACA and the CTA papers, I am often asked by learners who enjoy either the ‘Advanced Tax’ paper or the ‘Business Planning: Taxation’ paper what the CTA qualification is all about.

In this article, I shed light on the subject and show the most popular pathway when progressing to the CTA qualification from the ACCA or ACA qualification.

Please be advised that these are the rules currently applicable, and I recommend you confirm with the institute exactly what exemptions you are entitled to before commencing your studies.

Becoming CTA qualified

Upon completion of the Chartered Institute of Taxation exams, and the relevant work experience, you will gain the most prestigious chartered qualification in professional tax expertise. You will become a Chartered Tax Advisor and can use the letters after your name.

There are three main pathways to the CTA qualification - Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT), Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ACA) and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)

Here I will be looking at the pathway assuming you have completed your ACCA qualification having done Advanced Taxation or your ACA qualification having done Business Planning: Taxation.

Computer Based Exams

There are three CBEs which are one hour in length and contain objective test questions. The papers are ‘law’, ‘principles of accounting’ and ‘ethics’.

If you have completed your ACCA or ACA exams, you should be entitled to exemptions from law and principles of accounting. Please confirm this with the Institute prior to commencing your studies.

CTA Professional Exams

The CTA professional exams consist of three stages: awareness, advanced technical and application and professional skills. All the exams have a 50% pass mark, and you are allowed to use the tax rates supplied by the Institute as well as the Tolley’s Tax Legislation. The exams take place twice a year during May and November.

You can access the full details at

Awareness Stage

This consists of a single 3-hour exam with 12 short form questions on each tax which you should complete in 5 minutes. You spend 1 hour on each tax. Most students who have completed their other professional exams feel that the exam is similar to other professional exams they have done.

You have to choose 3 taxes out of five from the following: individuals, inheritance tax and trusts, unincorporated businesses, VAT, and corporation tax.

For students who do not have a particular preference, the most popular pathway is VAT, corporation tax and inheritance tax and trusts.

If you have completed the ACCA Advanced Tax exam or the ACA Business Planning: Taxation exam, you should be able to get an exemption from the awareness stage. Please confirm this with the Institute prior to commencing your studies.

Advanced Technical Stage

This consists of 3-hour 30-minute exams that have a variety of long form questions ranging from 20 marks to 10 marks. Most students find these exams challenging as they require detailed technical knowledge.

You must select two papers from the following: Individuals, Inheritance Tax and Trusts, Owner Managed Businesses, VAT Domestic, VAT cross border,  Taxation of Larger Companies and Groups, and Human Capital taxes.

The papers you select should not be the same as the Awareness stage options.

For students who do not have a particular preference, the most popular pathway is owner managed businesses and individuals.

Application and Professional Skills Stage

This consists of a single 3-hour 30-minute exam where the Institute simulate you receiving actual documentation from a client. The purpose here is to assess your ability to understand and interpret information and then communicate your recommendations to the client in a professional manner, such as in the form of a report with attached appendices.

You are provided with some basic information on the client before the exam to help you appreciate the context. The exam is at the same level as the Advanced Technical Stage.

You must select one paper from the following: Individuals, Inheritance Tax and Trusts, Owner Managed Businesses, VAT Domestic, VAT Cross Border, and Taxation of Larger Companies and Groups.

The paper you select should be one that you chose for the advanced technical stage.

ACCA or ACA to CTA, 19:43

Kaplan CTA courses

Kaplan is the market leader for CTA tax courses, we run CTA Awareness, Advanced Technical and Application and Professional Skills exams across the country. Please contact our helpful customer service team who will be able to advise you on the most suitable course to suit your requirements.

We look forward to welcoming you back to Kaplan and helping you with your CTA aspirations. Kaplan is committed to lifelong learning and will be there to support you throughout your career.

Neil Da Costa is the author of Advanced Tax Condensed, which consists of memory joggers that have been developed to be used in conjunction with the Kaplan study notes and exam kit.

For further information please visit or connect with him on LinkedIn.