Advice to students embarking on the TPE course


The Test of Professional Expertise (TPE) courses are due to start soon.

TPE brings together the knowledge, skills and techniques acquired throughout the training and combines them with new topics in order to provide professional advice in real-life business situations.

As, in many ways, this is a different way of teaching and learning to Test of Competence (TC) and Test of Professional Skills (TPS), TPE tutors have compiled some advice for students about to embark on this stage of their journey.

The following points have been helpful to previous students preparing for TPE:


  • Expect something completely different from TPS. You will likely need to change your study and exam technique for TPE – don’t let this put you off.
  • Come with an open mind.  Listen to the tutors and try their ideas and suggestions for approaching case study-style scenarios.
  • Take your tutor’s advice – even if you don’t believe it at first.

Technical knowledge

  • The TPE course assumes you already have sound technical knowledge. If your theory is rusty, you need to refresh this before starting the course. Follow the guidance provided in this preparing for classes document which forms part of your pre-course material.
  • Don’t bury your head in the sand and assume that, for example, the tax you studied in previous courses won’t come up at TPE.  It might and you need to be prepared for this.
  • Don’t try to do more and more TPS revision. The TPE course is about applying your TC and TPS technical knowledge in a business context and providing integrated solutions.
  • Aim to add value for your client using your technical knowledge – not just regurgitating what you know,
  • Always put yourself in the shoes of the person you are giving advice to.  Sometimes you need to ask yourself:
    • Are they an accountant?
    • Will they understand the technical terminology?
    • What do they really need to know? Perhaps some of the technical detail is not needed.

Pre-course material

Use of laptops

  • Be confident with Word and Excel. You will be using this for your final exam and throughout the course, so you need to know how to use it. For example, can you use formula, create tables and insert headers and footers?

Commercial awareness

  • At TPE, you need to think about current issues and what is happening in the business world. Start reading commercially, from a broad range of areas. A good place to start are the updates and roundups on the ICAS website.
  • Practice, practice and practice writing – any opportunity you get to write documents and to proofread reports at work will help improve your business writing.


  • CA Student blog

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