Getting Started on the CTA Qualification – What You Need to Know

11 Mar 2021

The CTA is the most prestigious and highest-level tax qualification available in the UK. Here’s what you need to know before you register as a student.

Who can take the CTA? 

The CTA is open to everyone, but unless you have a previous qualification in accounting or law, we strongly recommend that you take the ATT CTA Tax Pathway route to maximise your chances of passing the CTA.


How to achieve the CTA qualification 

What does the CTA Direct Route qualification involve? 

The CTA includes tax exams and Computer Based Exams (CBEs). You must successfully pass seven exams: 

  • One Awareness exam which comprises three modules 
  • Two Advanced Technical exams 
  • One Application and Professional Skills exam
  • Three compulsory CBEs

 The Awareness exam modules are: 

  • A: VAT including Stamp Taxes 
  • B: Inheritance Tax, Trusts & Estates  
  • C: Corporation Tax 
  • D: Taxation of Individuals  
  • E: Taxation of Unincorporated Businesses  

Your chosen Awareness modules must differ from the Advanced Technical subjects e.g. Module D. Taxation of Individuals cannot be chosen if you wish to sit Advanced Technical Taxation of Individuals   

 The CBEs are:  

  • Principles of Accounting 
  • Law 
  • Professional Responsibilities & Ethics 


The Advanced Technical exams are:  

  • Taxation of Individuals 
  • Inheritance Tax, Trusts & Estates 
  • Taxation of Owner-Managed Businesses 
  • Domestic Indirect Taxation 
  • Cross-Border Indirect Taxation 
  • Taxation of Major Corporates 
  • Human Capital Taxes 

Your chosen Advanced Technical exams must differ from the Awareness modules e.g. Module D. Taxation of Individuals cannot be chosen if you wish to sit Advanced Technical Taxation of Individuals

The Application and Professional Skills exams are:  

  1. Taxation of Individuals 
  2. Taxation of Larger Companies and Groups 
  3. Owner-Managed Businesses 
  4. Human Capital Taxes 
  5. VAT and Other Indirect Taxes 
  6.  Inheritance Tax, Trusts & Estates 


How much time do I need to study for the CTA? 

This will depend on your professional and personal commitments, but most of our students complete the CTA within two or three years. 


What do I need to know to register as a student? 

You must be registered as a student at least four months before you intend to sit the exam. 

Registration deadlines 

  • For the May exam session: you must register as a student by the last day of December
  • For the November exam session: you must register as a student by the last day of June

Exam entry deadlines 

  • The closing date for the May exam is the last day of February
  • The closing date for the November exam is the last day of August.

Can I re-register if my registration has lapsed? 

Yes. If your registration has lapsed, you can re-register for an additional three years. 

When you are six months away from expiring there will be a Re-Register link under your profile in the Portal

You will not need to wait four months to sit the exam after you have re-registered, although you must apply for re-registration before the deadline for exam entry. 

What are the fees?

View our fees section for the up-to-date costs of each exam, CBE and exemption.


CBE Study Manuals 

You will need the latest editions of the following: 

  • 'Principles of Accounting' manual 
  • ‘Essential Law for Tax Practitioners’ 
  • 'Professional Responsibilities and Ethics for Tax Practitioners' 

These are available from the shop on the Institute’s website

Have any other questions?  

If you have any other enquiries related to the CTA qualification, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’re happy to help.