Passing the ADIT can be a challenge. We discussed general principles of exam preparation in a separate blog post, but with the exam date quickly approaching, it is a good time to consider principles of the successful exam sitting.
1. Build your technical
knowledge and ensure you have the necessary practical skills
impossible to pass the exam without having solid technical knowledge and
practical problem-solving skills. To pass the exam, you have to start well in advance
and follow your learning system to cover all syllabus items and build the wide range of skills and expertise. Check our blog
on preparing for the exam here.
If you feel
that you are not prepared well, and your chances of passing the exam are low,
consider rescheduling it. CIOT allows deferring your exam entry for up to one
year. This means that you can move your booking so that your exam takes place
in your choice of session during the next twelve months: either June or
You can request to defer your exam entry until 48 hours before your exam
start time. Check the CIOT website
for more details.
2. Prepare your computer and install the Exam4 software
It is critically important to ensure that your PC is fully operational
and the necessary software is installed before the exam session. CIOT did a great job by putting
together all the essential guidance and checklists to help you with this. From
our experience, it is crucial to start your PC at least an hour or two before
the exam, as there is a chance that Windows will decide to update itself (surprise!).
Check these links for more guidance:
3. Develop a
By the time
you have to sit the exam, you should already have a good feeling about your strengths
and weaknesses. You should develop your strategy depending on where you feel
the most/the least comfortable.
gives flexibility in choosing problems in Parts B and C. You should choose problems
that are the easiest for you. For example, when sitting the TP exam, I knew I
am not going to take the “court cases” question, as it will take too much time to
answer (and it is difficult to remember all of the details of every court
case). When sitting the Principles of International Taxation, I (obviously)
selected problems connected with transfer pricing whenever possible.
thing to do is to dedicate time to every selected problem of the exam. By this,
you will ensure you maximize your points. It is better to solve two problems with
50-70% result (instead of spending time on one question in an attempt to
You also should consider the order of answering
the questions. You don’t want to bump into the most challenging question and spend
all of your time trying to crack it. The general recommendation is to start
with your “best” question. Anyway, time management and layer technique can help
you overcome the issue and maximize your points.
is essential for a successful exam sitting. I know a lot of good candidates who
simply failed the ADIT exam due to the lack of control over time.
are tricky, as you can find answers to most of the questions in permitted
texts. However, the truth is you will not have sufficient time to search for
answers. You should know permitted texts and their structure very well, and use
them only for short and concise references. You should be able to quickly navigate
through the text to find relevant lists and guidance (when you are asked about
features of low-value adding services, for example). But you will not have time
to read the source. No way. (remember that the use of study materials other than permitted texts is not allowed).
dedicate time to every problem of the exam. The time you spend should be
proportionate to the number of points you can potentially get. For example:
A, problem 1: 25 points, i.e. 45 minutes (25% of 3 hours)
A, problem 2: 25 points, i.e. 45 minutes
B problem: 20 points, i.e. 35 minutes
C, problem 1: 15 points, i.e. 25 minutes
C, problem 2: 15 points, i.e. 25 minutes
also want to leave some time to review your answers before submitting.
your answers in layers
approach that I find especially useful is to build answers in layers. For
example, imagine a case problem where you need to identify controlled transactions
and suggest applicable TP methodologies. What you can do is:
- Give a “minimum viable” answer –
what this means is to answer questions without much additional details and
explanations. For example, you just list transactions you identified, and you
indicate and explain TP methods that seem to be the best for the case. Ideally,
your “minimum viable” answer should take you only 50% of the time dedicated to
- Move to other problems and scenario questions and give “minimum
viable” answers there.
- After you answered all of the questions,
you come back to problems that will give you the most points, and extend your
answers there. For example, when coming back to controlled transactions/TP
methods problem, you can add references to the OECD Guidelines, explain the general
logic of TP methods selection, extend your explanation of methods and reasons you
did not select other methods, make reference to transaction-specific guidance,
this approach, you ensure you answered every question, and you allocate your
time and efforts in a way that will maximize your points.
your hints and tips for passing the exam? Please share them with us! We would love to discuss it in the international tax professionals community. Also, don't hesitate contacting other international tax practitioners - your colleagues are usually very friendly and eager to help.
luck with the exam!