Prior exam questions can be useful for your studies, but don’t rely on them as the sole source of study material. While some questions repeat from year to year, a question may be slightly changed from one exam to the next, or a law or procedure change may have occurred, so a full point answer for one exam may not receive full points for another year. The exam tests on current law, not what was appropriate for a prior exam cycle answer. Our text and other course materials use updated answers.
Grammar and spelling are not graded, but answers should be concise and legible. Use lists or bulleted items to save time along with common abbreviations.
Your long-term memory is enhanced by working with material in different ways, so we recommend that you read, write, hear and say the information as you study.
Some students find it useful to memorize material using mnemonics, and our text includes many you may find useful. Others make their own flash cards for quick study opportunities while standing in line or waiting for appointments; you can write your own on index cards or use commercially available flash card templates/products that you can create and print.
Build your handwriting skill and stamina so you can write for the requisite 4 hours.
Some individuals find that group study is useful to share information and keep you motivated and committed to a study schedule. Technology makes it possible to study together using electronic means even if no one is located near your office or home.
Get in the habit of regularly checking the Tax Court opinions (available online daily at 3:30 pm Eastern at ustaxcourt.gov). Reading cases helps you understand the procedure and language of the court plus the exam often tests information from cases. You do not need to cite a case or use an IRAC analysis in an answer, but having a basic understanding of important rulings in the exam cycle is helpful.
Visit a Tax Court session in person to watch calendar call and/or a trial session (the schedule is published at ustaxcourt.gov).
Test taking strategies and time management are critical to your success. Before exam day plan which sections you’ll take in what order. During the exam and keep track of your time, perhaps by using the provided scratch paper to record your starting time and anticipated end time for each exam section, because it is easy to lose track of time during the stress of the exam. Remember that if you fail to complete a section because you run out of time, you will not succeed even if you pass all other parts.
Take one or two prior exams under timed constraints (prior exams from 2000-2016 can be found on our website). If you take our course, our review session in November includes a 2-hour timed practice test to simulate exam day conditions. Previous practice exams may be used for our 12 or 18 month assignment modules.