Should You Take Tax or Assurance CPA PEP Module First?

The Tax and Assurance electives are the “bread and butter” of accounting. If you want to work in public practice (or if you already work in public practice), you should take those two electives; they are required for various licensing requirements.

Candidates often ask me which one is better to take first, Tax or Assurance? The short answer – take Assurance first.

Assurance is “kind of” easier than Tax

Unless you are a tax specialist or someone well-versed in the Canadian tax, you will likely find the Assurance elective easier.

The number of common topics in Assurance are much lighter than in Tax:

  • Audit Planning Memo (APM) – CAS 315, 320, 330
  • Assertions (B/S, I/S)
  • Audit evidence – CAS 500
  • Procedures – CAS 510
  • Analytical Procedures – CAS 520
  • Special Reports – CAS 805, HB 5815, HB 8600, HB 9100,  CSAE 3000, CSAE 3001
  • Reviews – CSRE 2400
  • Compilations – HB 9200
  • Misc assurance topics…

The quant analysis is also very minor, compared to Tax, and from my experience, most candidates fail due to time management issues on the quants.

The key to getting good at the above Assurance topics is to read the Learning eBook and make concise summary notes for yourself.

Take Assurance, then Tax

The Core and Elective modules are different. It’s better to take the “easier” Assurance to get comfortable with the Elective module and exam, then take the Tax elective when you have experience under your belt.

  • Elective modules have longer cases
  • The exams have two cases and few MCQs
  • There is greater requirement for depth in the Electives

You are better off “warming up” with Assurance, then take on Tax.

Assurance Practice cases and Solutions

I will be releasing supplementary Assurance mock exam cases to improve your case writing skills and technical knowledge. Check back on Feb 2021.