What to prepare and take into your TPE exam

women uses laptop

22 March 2016

The TPE exam is an open book exam that you complete on your laptop. This raises plenty of questions not just about what to take, but how to prepare for this exam.

A 5 hour 30 minute exam might appear to leave plenty of time for you to search through the material you’ve brought into the exam hall, but it doesn’t.

It’s crucial that you know your way around the books and notes you bring with you and that they are annotated in a useful way.

The aim is to have easy access to key elements of assumed knowledge so you can apply them easily in a time-pressured case study. You should think hard about the value of the material you include.

It should not be based on the principle of ‘better safe than sorry’. Although this is a tempting approach, it may cause you to place too much reliance on being able to teach yourself technical knowledge on the day.

Choosing your materials should be an active part of your preparation for the exam and your success at condensing down the volume of material you take into the exam hall will reflect your readiness to sit the exam.

You may take any reference material into the exam hall which you think might help. This can be either hard copy or in electronic form. You may refer to this material throughout your examination but you won’t be able to access the internet.

How to prepare material

We recommend that you prepare your own notes. By doing so, you will have taken the time to think about how the technical information could appear in a TPE case study and your notes will be a concise summary of helpful reference points.

In order to prepare, consider the case study skills 2 exercises on business scenarios. These will help you to organise/index assumed knowledge to deal with various business scenarios. They can be included in your exam material as reference tools.

TPS permitted texts

It is expected that you will bring your TPS books into the exam. Any combination of books/years is acceptable.

TC and TPS material

We recommend that you don’t take all of your TC and TPS notes. If you feel you need all this material, then you are not fully prepared for sitting the TPE exam. There is far too much information for you to search through during the exam and this may encourage you to simply lift large chunks of technical information without applying it to the client.

However, the summary pages from each chapter can be very helpful as a reminder of key technical points.

Reference books and notes

In addition to the TPS permitted text, you may wish to bring other reference books and notes from your studies. This includes handwritten or typed notes – you may bring these on paper or saved in a Word document on your laptop’s hard drive.

Pro-forma calculations

You can prepare pre-formatted calculations but remember that the calculation is likely to contain more than you will ultimately need in the exam, as you will have tried to cover all eventualities’.  It may be quicker and cleaner to create a new calculation than to attempt to edit a pro-forma.

Pro-forma documents

Pro forma documents such as reports, letters, emails and slide presentations can be taken into the exam with you.  Although a report is normally asked for in the exam this might not always be the case.

If you choose to prepare a report format you may wish to include:

  • A very basic cover page – a ‘Private and Confidential’ only
  • Content page set up
  • Introduction heading – you can draft appropriate basic caveats to then tailor/remove depending on what the report is on or who the report is for. For example, if no tax advice is being given there is no need for a tax caveat, therefore, you would need to remember to take this out
  • Executive summary heading.

Know your TPE material

You will need to be very familiar with the content and structure of your material. Time spent on this means you will be calmer in the exam, it will be easier to access the relevant information under pressure, and it will provide you with a logical and personalised approach for tackling case studies.

A suggested process of collating the material since you have attended block 1 of classes would be:

  1. During and after Block 1 – complete the technical element of your material and prepare your own notes on the TPE skills required.
  2. During Block 2 – we would expect your material to be nearly complete adding in any summaries you want to include from Block 2 material.

This Exam Material FAQ gives suggestions of material to cover.

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