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  • Which accountancy profession suits you?

    by User Not Found | Oct 14, 2016

    The accountancy profession is a great career path, offering excellent financial rewards and a real opportunity to progress. It’s also a really popular choice for career changers, with our research showing that 55% of accountants previously had a different career.

    With lots of different specialisms and entry routes, it can be hard to know exactly what type of accountant you might like to be. Would you like working in Audit, as a Tax Manager, as a Management Accountant or something completely different?!

    So we’ve devised a quick quiz to help you narrow down your options. We’ll suggest an area of accountancy you may find interesting based on your traits, personality and motivations. Take a minute to find out what kind of accountant you could be.

    Take the quiz

    The careers considered in the quiz fall into five areas: management accounting, bookkeeping, auditing, financial accounting and tax. Each role comes with its own responsibilities and rewards, as well as different entry requirements which are explained.

    The traits and characteristics that will help every accountant

    There are certain core qualities that every accountant needs, whichever route they take. And no, it doesn’t mean being a genius at maths and dreaming about numbers – although that can be a great help in some jobs.

    Accounting is about providing accurate and relevant information so that businesses can make the best possible financial decisions. That might be for a multinational company looking to understand why a product has started losing money, or a freelance professional who wants to reduce her tax bill so she can buy her first house.

    To become a good accountant, you’ll need to be motivated and hard working. To develop the technical skills to become an accountant, you’ll need to be studying a professional qualification, which you might also have to fit around work/life. You’ll also need to have great attention to detail and act be ethical when dealing with sensitive information and advising clients.

    But beyond these core skills, there are lots of other ways to excel.

    Finding that perfect career specialism

    Take a look at some of the accounting specialisms in a bit more detail below:

    • Management accounting is about helping managers understand how to run the business, and maybe even running your own team of accountants. This is the strategic end of the business world, shaping a company’s future either through setting budgets, looking at strategies to grow the business or managing pricing for new products. You’ll need to have strong communication and people skills, plus enjoy thinking creatively to solve complex problems.
    • Financial accounting is similar but is about providing financial information to investors or government regulators about a business or even a whole sector. You’ll need to be adaptable, organised and have great communication skills, whether that’s producing reports or dealing with people face to face.
    • Auditors check figures and reports for accuracy and can uncover wrongdoing. It’s the sort of role that suits someone with an appetite for understanding rules and an ability to unpick intricate issues.
    • Tax technicians help their clients understand how much tax they need to pay, advise on ways to legally minimise tax and also advise on tax implications of investments and takeovers.
    • Bookkeepers are absolutely crucial to every business. These accountants focus on ensuring that transactions are accurately recorded and financial statements produced. Whilst they do little in the way of analysis, this option can provide a good work-life balance option for some.

    The accountancy profession and your development

    Whether you’re changing career or starting fresh from school, the key to having a long and successful career in accounting is to get the right qualifications. You can start any time, but most people do so whilst in employment. You may even find your boss is willing to fund your studies or give you time off to help with studying.

    If you’re brand new to accountancy, you’ve got a number of options available to you, including the AAT Professional Qualification, CIMA Certificate in Business and ACCA Applied Knowledge to name a few. These qualifications will give you a solid grounding in the main areas of accountancy and finance and will give you enough knowledge that you could even set up your own business as a Bookkeeper.

    Once you’ve completed this qualification, or if you have exemptions, you can study towards becoming a Chartered Accountant. Again, there are many options available but the ACCA Strategic Professional, CIMA Management and ACA qualifications are some of the most popular and will give you a much deeper understanding of accounting techniques, each with their own specialisms.

    Haven’t taken the quiz yet? Take it now

  • ACCA Qualification – the future

    by User Not Found | Oct 12, 2016

    On Monday 10th October, ACCA announced some significant changes to their qualification. The design of the qualification followed an extensive two year review and consultation with a number of stakeholder groups, including employers and students. The aim of the re-designed qualification is to give students the forward-thinking strategic abilities and advanced skill set required of modern professional accountants who will shape the future of global business. It integrates ethics and professional skills with deep, broad and relevant technical skills. The qualification will have a real –world focus resulting in students who will be prepared to handle the challenges of the workplace immediately.

    Key features:

    • A new Ethics and Professional Skills module
    • P1 & P3 replaced with a case study
    • P2 overhauled, to give students more experience in finance and business reporting

    In brief the changes include; a new Ethics and Professional Skills module, that will replace the current Professional Ethics Module in October 2017 and from the September 2018 examinations, P1 & P3 will be withdrawn to be replaced with a case study and P2 will be overhauled to expose students to the wider context of finance and business reporting. Please see below for further details. 

    From October 2017, ACCA will be making changes to the ethics module

    • The Professional Ethics Module will be withdrawn and replaced with Ethics & Professional Skills, a new module that has ethics at its core but also focuses on employability and the professional skills that accountants in the 21st Century need.
    • It aims to develop the professional skills and leadership capabilities to make students more employable and increase their effectiveness and career potential in the work place. It also  introduces and applies the key ethical and professional skills and behaviours required to help prepare students for the Strategic Business Leader examination (please see below).

    Changes to the Professional Level examinable from September 2018

    Professional Level will become known as Strategic Professional. It will still consist of the Essentials and Options subjects. The Options level will see no change in structure but syllabi will be refreshed.

    However there will be extensive changes to the ‘Essentials’ level.

    P1 & P3 will be withdrawn and replaced by a new case study, Strategic Business Leader (SBL). This case study is based on a realistic business scenario and aims to give students the skills and technical expertise required by modern businesses.

    It will be a 4 hour exam and will not have any pre-seen information; all information will be provided on the day. In the specimen exams this was made up of 6 exhibits, 8-9 pages of information in a variety of formats such as Company background, an interview transcript, integrated reporting data, board reports, and notes from a meeting. It unites governance, risk, ethics and business analysis to mirror the workplace more closely than traditional exams preparing your staff for the real life challenges they will experience as part of their everyday working lives.

    There is a much greater emphasis on professional skills, 20 professional marks were available in both of the specimen exams awarded for demonstrating commercial acumen, scepticism, analytical skills and communication skills.

    P2 will be revamped and will be renamed Strategic Business Reporting (SBR). It will remain as a 3hour 15 minute exam testing the underpinning principles of corporate reporting but will go further than the current exam to give students the vital skills needed to explain and communicate, to a range of stakeholders, the implications of transactions and reporting. This new examination will better reflect the role of strategic accountants in a modern business environment.

    Within Kaplan, our publishing team, as official ACCA publishers, have been involved in the consultation process and are currently working on the creation of new material to support the September 2018 exam sitting and beyond. We are looking at the implication this will have on our courses and will keep you posted on any developments.

    How do these changes affect students’ studies?

    There are 7 exam sessions remaining before September 2018 so it is essential to plan ahead and think about the number of exam sessions students may want to study to before September 2018. Then it is essential to consider how many papers will be taken each sitting and in what order they will be sat. It is important that this planning takes place so that every exam a student has sat will count towards their final qualification.

    In order to receive an exemption (converted pass) from the Strategic Business Leader exam students must have passed both P1 and P3. If they have have passed just one, unfortunately they will lose this pass. It is therefore important for students to plan their studies so they will have passed both subjects by the September 2018. Alternatively, students might decide they should sit P2 and some of their Options papers first and attempt the Strategic Business leader exam at (or after) the September 2018 session.

    If a student has passed P2 they will automatically receive a converted pass in the Strategic Business Reporting exam.

    Any student that has passed the existing Professional Ethics Module (PEM) by October 2017 will retain the credit. However, they will have access to the new Ethics and Professional Skills module if they would like to attempt it. If they have not completed their Strategic Professional exams, students may find it useful to attempt the new module, even if they have already passed PEM, as not only has it been designed to help develop the professional skills required in the workplace but it will also support their studies at the Strategic Professional level.

    ACCA have provided a tool to guide you through the transition based on a students’ individual circumstances. Please follow the link below:

    For access to the syllabi and specimen papers please follow the link below:

    If you have any queries or would like more specific information, please contact one of the Kaplan team on 0161 259 7400.

  • CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting

    by Sharon Cooper | Oct 06, 2016

    The new Certificate in Business Accounting (Cert BA) will be introduced on 11th January 2017, with exams for the current syllabus finishing the day before.

    The Cert BA offers an entry route to the Professional Qualification and will be more directly linked to the three learning pillars on which the 2015 Professional syllabus is based. Additionally, the Cert BA can be completed as a stand-alone qualification, giving students a recognised certification in the fundamentals of accounting, economics, ethics, corporate governance and law.

    In terms of what will be changing, the biggest difference will be the removal of the existing C03 Business Mathematics subject. Under the new syllabus there will be four subjects that will be examined:

    • Fundamentals of Business Economics
    • Fundamentals of Management Accounting
    • Fundamentals of Financial Accounting and Fundamentals of Ethics
    • Corporate Governance and Law

    The maths elements that were previously examined as part of C03 will now be spread across the other units, allowing for more business context and application of techniques.

    The other subjects that are studied on the current syllabus (C01, C02, C04 and C05) will have direct equivalents on the new syllabus, and have been renamed BA1-BA4 as you can see below.

    New CIMA certificate syllabus

    Transitioning on to the new syllabus is simple, and from 11th January you will only be able to study on the 2017 syllabus. If you haven't completed the qualification by 10th January, any units you passed on the 2011 syllabus will be awarded as credits within the 2017 Cert BA. For example, if you have passed C01 on the 2011 syllabus then you will not need to sit BA2 on the 2017 syllabus.

    If you have not completed the C03 unit, you can apply for a waiver (unless you are on a Higher Apprenticeship Programme). This will allow you to move on to the Professional Qualification as soon as you have passed all of the other four units, but this needs to be done before the 10th January 2017.

    How should you prepare for the changes?

    If you've nearly completed 2011 Cert BA we would recommend aiming to complete the qualification by 10th January 2017. Remember, to complete you must have passed all five exams or passed the four exams and taken the C03 waiver before that date.

    If you are part way through 2011 Cert BA but don't think you'll be able to complete by 10th January 2017, we would recommend you aim to pass the exams for any units you have studied by that date. This way you won't have to sit the exam for these units under the 2017 Cert BA and can move on to your next papers.

    If you haven't started studying Certificate yet but would like to you don't need to wait until 2017 Cert BA is introduced. You still have time to study for and pass an exam under the current 2011 Cert BA syllabus.

    Your questions answered

    We know that our students have got lots of questions surrounding the upcoming changes and we've answered some of the most common questions we're being asked below:

    "I'm currently part way through my studies and don't think I'll be able to complete the qualification in time for the changes. What should I do?"
    Firstly, don't panic! Transitioning to the new syllabus is very simple. Aim to have passed the exams for any units you've studied by 10th January so you'll receive a credit for the equivalent unit on 2017 Cert BA.

    "If I've studied for a unit but not passed the exam what will happen after 10th January? Will I need to enrol on the course again?"
    This would be up to you, but you must be aware of the context changes for each unit. Remember that what used to be tested under C03 will now be spread across the other four units, and will be particularly featured in BA1 and BA2. Kaplan students will receive full transitional guidance via their MyKaplan accounts that will enable self-study for any additional syllabus areas.

    "How do I go about transferring on to the new syllabus?"
    Moving on to the 2017 Cert BA is simple, and you don't need to do anything to transfer. From 11th January you'll be automatically moved on to the new syllabus, and any exams you've passed on 2011 Cert BA will be awarded as credits on 2017 Cert BA.

    "Should I get the C03 waiver?"
    Yes, if you haven't previously studied and passed the C03 exam then you must apply for the waiver before the 10th January 2017 to be able to complete your qualification (unless you are on a Higher Apprenticeship). The waiver and the C03 exam will not be available from 11th January 2017 onwards.

    "Will the current study materials I have cover the 2017 Cert BA as well?"
    Kaplan have released new official CIMA study materials for 2017 Cert BA, which are available to buy now. If you have not passed the exam on the current syllabus by 10th January and need to sit the exam on the new syllabus we would advise purchasing the new and updated materials to ensure you cover everything you need to know.

    If you have any questions about 2017 Cert BA that we haven't covered here, speak to your tutor or contact our customer support team on 01908 540 069.

    Kaplan will be a running a range of Certificate courses throughout the rest of 2016 to help you prepare for 2017 Cert BA. Our new 2017 Cert BA courses will be announced soon.

  • IFRS/US GAAP convergence and global accounting standards - where are we now?

    by Bruce Cowie | Sep 26, 2016

    In an ideal world, there would only be one set of accounting standards globally, which would all be applied uniformly in every country, and regulators would consider the outputs on a consistent basis.

    Actually, there are many who would observe that in an ideal world we wouldn’t have accounting standards or accountants at all!

    Putting that aside, a key conclusion in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 was that regulation of the financial markets suffered due to the global variations in accounting standards. In 2009, and in subsequent years, this led the G20 to call for the development of a single set of high quality global accounting standards.

    How far have we come?

    It is regularly stated that there is only one feasible way of achieving the above objective, namely the global use of IFRS whether by adoption or by convergence. If we look at some statistics, it appears that some substantial progress has been made. In 2016 the IASB profiled 143 jurisdictions:

    • 93% (133/143 jurisdictions) have made a public commitment to IFRS as the single set of global accounting standards; and
    • 83% (119/143 jurisdictions) already require the use of IFRS by all or most domestic public companies, with most of the remaining jurisdictions permitting their use.

    What is GAAP?

    GAAP (pronounced 'gap’) stands for ‘generally accepted accounting principles’, and is the set of accounting rules and standards applicable to financial reporting. It covers industry-specific regulations, concepts, and principles.

    Unfortunately, this analysis turns a blind eye to the elephant in the room – the fact that US GAAP has long been a highly sophisticated and respected GAAP regime. Indeed, back in 2002 when the mandatory use of IFRS by EU listed entities was first proposed, one of my key clients observed “I don’t know why they bother with IFRS: we’ve already got a good international regime in US GAAP!”

    Since 2002, the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) and the US Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) have pursued a convergence agenda. This was encapsulated in the period to 2008 by a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). Following 2008 there was a renewed commitment to achieve joint standards on the outstanding (and crucial) areas of Consolidation, Business Combinations, Leasing, Revenue & Financial Instruments.

    At around the same time, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) published a proposed road map for the adoption of IFRS by US domestic issuers.

    Where are we now?

    For a while the signs were positive in respect of US adoption of IFRS, with polls at one point indicating that the majority expected it to happen. More recently however the wheels have somewhat come off, and it is now considered highly unlikely.

    At the same time, three key remaining headline convergence projects have ended in a degree of failure.

    • The new models for classification and measurement of financial instruments and for impairments using an expected credit losses method are different between US GAAP and IFRS. Given the importance of financial instruments regulation following 2008, this is unfortunate to say the least.
    • Despite prolonged discussions the new leasing standards under the two regimes differ, crucially in respect of accounting for leases of real estate.
    • The new revenue standard at first seemed a success with the same standard issued by the FASB and IASB. However, even before the standards are effective, FASB amendments and IASB clarifications are resulting in divergent standards.

    Why has this happened?

    It is far too easy for “us and them” attitudes to prevail here. In fact, there are valid reasons why problems have arisen.

    Firstly, there is the prevalence of litigation in the US. This results in preparers of financial statements quite rationally wanting highly detailed rules in all areas, in complete contrast to the IFRS central approach of setting principles and requiring preparers to apply them to individual situations. After all, which of these is going to carry more weight in court:

    • “I applied the rule as set out in FASB guidance”, or
    • “I took the underlying principle from IFRS and applied it to the given scenario using my personal judgement and expertise”?

    This of course leads to the second key sticking point, principles based accounting. The IASB under Hans Hoogervorst has reaffirmed its belief in a principles based accounting regime. Meanwhile, consider the following quote from Christopher Cox (ex SEC Commissioner):

    “As America moved closer to the reality of being part of a global system, and the actual details of what it would mean came more clearly into focus, the experience proved troubling. American stakeholders want things like independence, transparency and accountability in standard-setting, but that they weren’t getting that from the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB). With the exception of revenue recognition, attempts at joint-standard setting haven’t gone well. For example, during the joint project on leasing, the consensus started to break down as the FASB acted like more like the IASB and stopped listening to US stakeholders.”

    Effectively he appears to be saying that the IASB have followed their Conceptual Framework slavishly at the expense of what stakeholders actually want from financial statements.

    Do we care?

    This of course is the key question. The efforts towards convergence to date have left a limited number of key differences, but those differences can at times have substantial impacts.

    Consider for example an EU based entity which has a substantial US presence and has listings in both London and New York. As long as it still counts in the US as a foreign issuer it will file its financial statements under IFRS. However, the biggest scrutiny it is likely to face is from the US and particularly the SEC. In my experience such scrutiny often entails the use of a US style rules based approach to the application of principles based IFRS accounting standards.

    Also consider a US entity which has a number of subsidiaries in the IFRS zone. It is almost inevitable that there are problems with the reporting back to the US for consolidation purposes. These most commonly arise from a lack of empathy for and understanding of the (rules driven) information requests from the US in the IFRS zone based entities.

    Finally consider a potential investor considering the financial statements of two large entities, one set prepared under IFRS and the other under US GAAP. The convergence exercise has resulted in very similar statements, but there may be substantial differences below the surface. An extreme example of this is given in Vodafone’s 2006 financial statements, where a £23.5bn impairment loss was booked under IFRS, with the US GAAP reconciliation (the requirement for which has since been removed) showing no impairment at all.

    A FASB director a few years ago may have had it right in comparing it to the use of UK or US English - there are some small differences of detail, but we understand what the other is saying. The Vodafone example I think goes a tad beyond this.

    Coping with the consequences of convergence failure

    In spite of substantial sincere efforts, the differences between US GAAP and IFRS will persist for the foreseeable future with complications ensuing for preparers, readers and regulators alike. As an unpopular start, there may be mileage in (re)introducing GAAP reconciliations for entities with cross border listings to give a degree of transparency.

    On a more day to day level, how do US entities with IFRS exposure, and IFRS entities with US GAAP exposure, minimise the consequent problems? The answer has to be a building of awareness of the differences in terms of underlying reporting culture, specific differences in accounting standards, and required information flows.

    Kaplan LPD has the expertise and facilities to help you build up the required awareness to understand and utilise any differences or changes in accounting standards. If you would like to talk through any of the points raised in the article in more detail, please fill in the form and one of our experts will call back to discuss.

  • Your guide to starting out in Financial Accounting

    by User Not Found | Sep 20, 2016

    What is a Financial Accountant?

    Financial Accountants are responsible for recording, summarising and reporting a company's financial transactions.

    They produce regular financial statements to help show the position of the business. These include:

    • the profit & loss statement
    • the balance sheet
    • the cashflow statement

    What can I expect to earn?

    Qualified Financial Accountants can earn around £40,000 a year with benefits including private pension and healthcare. This can rise to £60,000 and beyond with experience (taken from ACCA members salary survey 2015)

    What skills do you need to be a good Financial Accountant?

    • Strong organisation skills – you may find yourself at times processing large volumes of transactions or working to tight deadlines (e.g. monthend) to produce a statement. Being able to prioritise and manage your time will be key
    • Attention to detail – similarly, you’ll need to make sure your work is accurate and you follow processes to make sure any statements produced are correct.

    How do I get into a career in Financial Accounting?

    To work as a Financial Accountant, you’ll first need to get a Chartered accountancy qualification.

    Did you know?

    Accounting plays a big role in law enforcement. In the USA, the FBI counts more than 1,400 accountants among its special agents.

    If you're brand new to accountancy, the most common entry route is the AAT Professional Qualification, which covers all the main areas of accountancy and tax. You could also consider the ACCA Foundation Diploma.

    From there, getting a job in an Accounts department will provide you with great practical experience to help apply the theory. And, after completing you AAT or ACCA Foundation, you can then move on to study with the Professional ACCA or ACA qualifications.

    If you would like to find out more about training options, call our friendly advisors on 0161 259 7400.

  • Your guide to starting out in Management Accounting

    by User Not Found | Sep 20, 2016

    What is a Management Accountant?

    A Management Accountant will usually work in the Finance department of a single company. Roles are often varied and could involve:

    • setting and monitoring monthly budgets for other departments
    • supporting new product launches, including setting prices, predicting sales volumes or controlling costs
    • looking at strategies to grow and develop the business for the future.

    You could even see your career progress to join the Board of Directors as its Chief Financial Officer!

    What can I expect to earn?

    A typical starting salary for a qualified Management Accountant is £32,000* a year, with benefits including private pension and healthcare. This can exceed £60,000 as you gain experience.

    What skills do you need to be a good Management Accountant?

    • Strong communication and people skills – you’ll work with people across the business and will often have to attend meetings or give presentations
    • Problem solving – you’ll love problem solving and will often have to think creatively to come up with solutions to problems you are given
    • Commercial awareness – you’ll always be thinking about what is best for the business, helping them to reduce costs or maximise revenue

    How do I get into a career in Management Accounting?

    To become a Management Accountant, you’ll first need to study a Chartered Accountancy qualification, the most common of which is CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants).

    Did you know?

    According to research carried out by CIMA, qualified CIMA members in the UK are earning more than twice the UK national average at £63,000 in basic salary plus £7,200 in bonuses. That’s a total salary of £70,200 per year.

    Most people new to Accountancy start the Certificate in Business Accounting (Cert BA) qualification, which gives you a strong introduction to accountancy and management topics. This will also help you secure your first role in an accounts department, giving you opportunity to apply the knowledge you learn in a practical setting.

    From there (or if you already have exemptions from Cert BA), you can then progress onto the CIMA Professional Qualification and secure your role as a trainee Management Accountant.

    Get more information about becoming a Management Accountant on our CIMA qualification page.

    *Source: 2019 Association of International Certified Professional Accountants Salary Survey

  • The importance of the tutor in an online world

    by Stuart Pedley-Smith | Sep 09, 2016

    By Stuart Pedley-Smith, Head of Learning at Kaplan

    In his 1791 biography of Samuel Johnson, James Boswell made reference to a quote from the famous author, lexicographer and poet:

    "Lectures were once useful; but now, when all can read, and books are so numerous, lectures are unnecessary. If your attention fails, and you miss a part of a lecture, it is lost; you cannot go back as you do upon a book..."

    Words of wisdom, or was Dr Johnson not recognising the importance and complexity of learning?

    The same mistake can easily be made today – with the vast resources available online via a plethora of mediums, it may seem that there is nothing that a student can't achieve working in isolation.

    However, there is one key aspect of the learning experience that cannot be replicated simply through the learning materials - namely, the contribution made by the tutor.

    Tutors1 do more than simply turn the written word into a verbal version and this article will look at the key attributes that tutors bring to the learning experience, and why they are just as important in an online environment as they are in the classroom.

    Making the complex simple

    The main objective of the tutor is to change student behaviour. In effect, as a result of a learning experience, a student should end up doing or thinking something differently.

    In order to facilitate this, a tutor clearly needs subject knowledge. However, this alone is not enough - they also need the ability to make the 'complex simple'.

    In my view, this is the most important attribute of a good tutor. Equally, the difficulty in doing this should not be underestimated - in order to make something simple the tutor themselves has to have a deep understanding of the subject.

    This understanding of the subject serves another purpose, as it enables the tutor to provide alternative explanations for students if they don't understand or fail to grasp what is being said. The good tutor will come at it from another angle, by using different examples or changing the context until the student gives a nod of approval that it now all makes sense.

    This is personalisation at its best and shows why tutor contact is so important for the student in helping them develop a deeper understanding of the subject.

    There are two other attributes of a good tutor that should be mentioned; firstly the ability to motivate, and secondly the ability to make what they are saying memorable.

    Motivation and memory

    If all students were highly motivated then maybe they would just read textbooks and we would have no need for the lecturer, but human nature is complex and self-motivation is not within everyone's grasp.

    The motivation often has to come from the tutor and it's their job to inspire, persuade and cajole the student into studying and learning. Most tutors will have a real love for their chosen subject and the passion and interest that they can bring is contagious, making what at first appears dull and uninspiring into one of the most interesting subjects in the world.

    Finally, a good tutor can always make content memorable. What is the point in teaching if after the event no one can remember what you said? This simple idea was one of the reasons I became so interested in memory over 25 years ago.

    Tutors need to deliver content whilst thinking how best they can present it in a way that cannot be easily forgotten.

    This goes far beyond simple acronyms and acrostics and into the use of colour, images, repeating key words and the telling of stories that contain important facts. Interestingly when the student thinks back on the day, it is most likely the stories and pictures they will remember, not the pages in the book.

    People matter even more online

    Many of the skills and qualities outlined above can add real value to an online learning experience, but not without thought. For example, it is not sufficient to just record a tutor in the classroom.

    That is why when Kaplan decided to build an online tutor-led course, they spent time learning from media experts, trained all of their tutors in how best to present to camera, and asked them to think carefully as to the most important points they were to present. For instance, attention spans are short online and content needs to be broken down into manageable chunks – around 4 to 6 minutes is best. This proved challenging even for our most experienced tutors, as any form of reduction is hard.

    As Blaise Pascal said:

    "If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter."

    Motivation is arguably more important on-line as students are often working on their own. That is why we decided to use tutors presenting to camera to help guide them through the learning material's. A friendly face, supported by a passionate delivery can be all some students need to help them stay on track.

    But if that's not enough we believe tutors have one final role to perform. That is to be both coach and online subject matter expert. If a student encounters a problem whilst studying, being able to speak to a tutor who can explain in detail how a concept may be thought of differently or a calculation prepared is the final piece of the learning jigsaw.

    Education may be moving quickly to embrace new technologies and media, as they offer many benefits, but it must be ensured that one of the most valuable aspects of learning is not lost - the importance of what the tutor can bring.

    1. Although it may be possible to draw a distinction between a lecturer, tutor and teacher, on the basis that each has the job of effecting change we will treat them as if they were the same.

    About OnDemand

    Kaplan now offers a new and exciting way to study for its CIMA examinations - OnDemand for CIMA.

    OnDemand is a flexible way of learning that works around your business, combining the benefits of classroom learning with the convenience and flexibility of virtual study.

    The new OnDemand course for CIMA provides unrivalled support for students, with an academic tutor support team available 7 days a week, even on evenings and weekends.

    It can be accessed outside of office hours, or you can set the amount of office time dedicated to study - limiting downtime during business-critical times.

    This method of learning is perfect for organisations requiring a consistent and flexible approach across boundaries and time zones, without wishing to risk pass rate success.

    To find out more, enter your details below to talk to our team today.

    Lead Source (Secondary):
    Lead Source (Secondary):
  • New Level 3 Accountancy Apprenticeship Trailblazer Standard is given green light

    by Cassandra MacDonald | Sep 08, 2016

    We are really pleased to learn that the Department for Education (DFE) has approved the Level 3 Assistant Accountant Trailblazer Standard as being ready for delivery.

    This now means that two Apprenticeships in the Accountancy sector are now ready to be used under the Trailblazer initiative at Level 3 and Level 4.

    The standard and assessment plan have been created by a group of employers, training providers and the AAT. Apprentices completing the Apprenticeship will demonstrate the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed to be an Assistant Accountant across industry, practice and public sector. It compliments both the AAT’s 2016 new syllabus and the Level 4 Trailblazer standard for Professional Accounting/Tax Technician already available, with apprentices completing a synoptic test and bringing together a portfolio of work showcasing the best of their achievements.

    Kaplan is delighted to have played a leading role in the development of this standard. Earlier this week the value of lower level Apprenticeships was called into question by the National Audit Office, a view we would challenge when you consider Apprenticeships such as this one. For somebody wanting to embark on a career in Finance, the chance to complete this Apprenticeship with a respected, transferrable professional qualification embedded within it is a really positive step that should be encouraged and championed.

    We look forward to welcoming new starts on this programme.

    Download our factsheet >

    For any questions about this or any other Apprenticeship matter, please contact Cassandra MacDonald, Head of Professional Apprenticeships at

  • Q&A with CIMA

    by Sharon Cooper | Aug 31, 2016

    We recently asked Peter Stewart, CIMA's Director of Learning a few questions on what it means to be a Premium Learning Partner and Official Publisher, and found out a bit more about how CIMA developed the 2015 syllabus, and what the reaction has been like. Read on to find out what he had to say...

    What does it take for a Tuition Provider to be a Premium Learning Partner, and what have Kaplan done to achieve this high level?

    CIMA's Premium Learning Partners offer students the best experience available across: learning materials, tuition support and course administration. What makes a premium partner stand out is consistent delivery of pass rates in excess of global average. The accreditation covers all forms of learning delivery: classroom, distance learning and online.

    Premier partners are benchmarks against which all colleges delivering CIMA training can set their standards.

    Kaplan has been one of CIMA's highest accredited partners for a very long time, working in a close partnership with CIMA to deliver the shared goal of seeing as many students as possible progressing through the exams and enhancing their career prospects.

    As the Official CIMA Publisher, how do Kaplan and CIMA work together to deliver the study materials?

    We have only one "Official Publisher" – Kaplan. The Kaplan materials are the only publications which are reviewed by the faculty who write the CIMA syllabus. The syllabus writers collaborate with the authors to deliver accurate coverage of the study material.

    How does Kaplan support CIMA on making developments to the qualification for the benefit of the students?

    Recent developments to the CIMA qualification were driven by consultation with organisations who employ finance professionals. As Kaplan are one of our largest learning partners (in terms of student numbers), with a shared desire to see capable and dedicated students increase their employability, we value input and feedback from Kaplan on the ideas we want to implement.

    Zoe Robinson, Kaplan Director of Accountancy and Peter Stewart, CIMA Director of Learning

    Zoe Robinson, Kaplan Director of Accountancy and Peter Stewart, CIMA Director of Learning

    What has the reaction been like from students and employers to the changes made in the 2015 syllabus update, and the move to on demand exams?

    The 2015 syllabus and assessment have been ground-breaking. CIMA completely changed the focus from "training to pass an exam" to "learning to enhance employability". The switch to computer-based exams is only a small part of the picture. The fact that we have built a qualification on the results of employer surveys, rather than academic research, is massive – it hasn't been done before.

    Many students were already in the system when the change was made. The change has moved them out of a familiar environment (I won't say 'comfortable'; no one is truly 'comfortable' with exams!) so it's no surprise that the initial reaction was mixed. However, after a relatively short period, we've seen growing appreciation of the changes with students telling us that the revised qualification (as a whole) is making them 'better management accountants'.

    Having been consulted extensively early in the process, employers are both supportive of the changes made (even if it's just the flexibility of the exam system) and appreciative of the fact that we are 'producing' individuals who are better prepared for the world of work.

    What do you think the future holds for CIMA - how do you think the qualification will have changed in 10 years' time?

    CIMA has put itself in a great place to serve the world of business in years to come. The qualification will develop to meet the changing demands in the workplace, whether those are technological advances or technical financial advances. We've put employability at the heart of everything the qualification does (syllabus, assessment, practical experience and post-qualification professional development) and we will continue to evolve and adapt in order to keep our promise to students, members and employers.

    How is the CIMA qualification seen by employers in the UK and globally?

    Given that we shaped our competency framework, our syllabus, our practical experience requirements, our assessment and our professional development around requirements described by those employers in the early consultations, it's little surprise that they are highly supportive of the changes we have made.

    Peter Stewart, CIMA Director of Learning and Zoe Robinson, Kaplan Director of Accountancy

    Peter Stewart, CIMA Director of Learning and Zoe Robinson, Kaplan Director of Accountancy

    How has CIMA moved with the times, to meet the challenges and changes in economy or the new demands from students and employers?

    I've been told that the average amount of time an office worker spends writing with pen and paper is seven minutes per day. For younger people in the work force, the figure is bound to be much lower. Does it make any sense to ask those people to spend 3 hours (or more) with pen and paper to give an indication of their suitability for the workplace?

    Of course it doesn't. The majority of our new students are "digital natives"; the move to computer-based examination is a response to that.

    We have harnessed the advent of "Big Data", drawing on the vast experience of global assessment experts, PearsonVUE, in order to develop reliable, fair, comprehensive and, in an age of increasing litigiousness, fully defensible examination system.

    We built the 2015 Professional Qualification on up-to-date employer research; we've done likewise for the 2017 Certificate in Business Accounting. We will continue to do so, so that we can deliver on a promise of enhanced employability for all who go through our qualifications.

    Where is the most exciting place you have travelled with CIMA?

    I've been very lucky to travel to many countries on business with CIMA and I'm always welcomed with great warmth by colleagues, students, tutors and people in the business community. It is wrong of me to pick out one over the others but an idea of the diversity is: buying three Rolex watches for about £10 in Petaling Street, Kuala Lumpur; experiencing the youthful dynamism of the booming economy in Delhi; cuddling a real, live lion in South Africa (yes, it was a 3 month old cub!); working with joint venture colleagues in the USA to build a greater understanding of management accounting; being in Hong Kong in 2014, during the build up to the student demonstrations (not CIMA students, I hasten to add!) and being introduced to the delights of the "hot pot" meal in Shanghai.

    I have a particular soft spot for the people (and, yes, the food) of Sri Lanka. I was recently talking to a well-known former politician who had recently been in Colombo. I asked him, "Did you visit the Ministry of Crab?" He was bemused to hear of a ministry with such a narrow focus until I explained that it is actually the name of my favourite restaurant.

    If you are interested, find out more about studying CIMA and view our CIMA courses.

  • Chloe Thomas-Hui - Accounts Assistant

    by Sharon Cooper | Aug 19, 2016

    An insight into how studying a Kaplan Apprenticeship is helping Chloe Thomas-Hui and her future career prospects. Chloe is currently studying as an Accounts Assistant and is employed by Saffrey Champness.

    Why did you choose an Apprenticeship?

    After college I knew I wanted to work in accounting and in a finance environment. When I found out it was possible to work full time and gain experience at the same time, rather than continuing into full time education, it made more sense for me and seemed like the better option for my career. I originally thought I needed a degree to get a good job, but after speaking to different employers and people I knew who worked in accountancy firms, I realised the Apprenticeship route was just as respected and could get you to the same position in the future.

    Did you know?

    Training via an Apprenticeship means you can avoid paying high university fees and stay debt free.

    We've been awarded AAT Apprenticeship Provider of the Year in 2015, 2016 and 2017 so we can support you every step of the way.

    How has Kaplan helped you to succeed?

    Kaplan originally introduced me to Saffery Champness and kept me updated with different Apprenticeship roles that I would be suited to. Kaplan was very helpful and prepared me for my interviews by going through different questions I may be asked, explaining the job role and what would be expected in more detail. After Kaplan had helped me to secure my position at Safferys, I then started my ATT qualification at Kaplan and was introduced to my assessor who I meet with regularly to catch up on everyday office life as well as my studies.

    What would be your advice for anyone considering an Apprenticeship?

    Be open minded, I didn’t originally plan to go into tax, however once Kaplan provided me with different job roles both accounts and tax, I realised tax sounded more suited to me and was something I wanted go in to. Make sure you do plenty of research into the area you are looking to go into, if you pick the right subject, an Apprenticeship can give you a lot of experience for the future, even if it is a different job within that area.

    What are the top three things about your Kaplan Apprenticeship?

    Gaining a recognised qualification as well as gaining the practical experience. The Apprenticeship allows me to learn and develop new skills that will be used in my job, for example, setting up meetings and delivering presentations. Also, enjoy the working office environment and getting to meet a variety of different people as a result.

    Could an Apprenticeship be right for you?

    Search and apply for current vacancies here

    Download Chloe's story

  • How Does Flexibility Benefit Business?

    by Stuart Pedley-Smith | Aug 16, 2016

    “May you live in interesting times” is not something you would wish upon a friend. The expression is used ironically - the implication being that times of calm and stability are preferable to times of change and uncertainty.

    For many businesses there is some truth in this. Unplanned changes are not desirable; uncertainty can create risk and risk needs careful management to ensure it does not get out of control.

    In this article we look at how the rise of flexible training can allow companies to manage a rapidly changing work environment and limited resources, as well as mitigate the risks of busy and changeable times.

    The demands of work

    Back in 1930, Keynes predicted that the working week would be drastically cut, to perhaps 15 hours, with people choosing to have far more leisure time as their material needs were satisfied.

    However in 2016 we are working as hard as ever - over 6 million people in Britain work more than 45 hours a week.

    This leaves little time for training and staff development, which itself has to continually evolve to remain relevant and valuable.

    Educating the professionals

    The need to balance a highly educated, well qualified work force and a viable business can be seen very clearly in traditional professions such as accountancy, law, and medicine. All have to remain technically up to date and yet continue with their day job of servicing customers and clients.

    In the world of finance, time and timing is critical. For those working in practice, clients can set difficult deadlines requiring staff to work long, often anti-social hours to complete the job on time. Working in industry is equally challenging, with ‘month end’ requiring Finance Directors and Management Accountants to work similarly long hours to ensure the monthly accounts are out on time.

    These working environments are not the result of unscrupulous employers wanting to maximise the work effort of their employees. It is the nature of their business and the demands made by their customers. The challenge for employers is to ensure its workforce is technically qualified and well-educated, but they do not feel that learning is too stressful given the demands of their job.

    Scheduled training courses offer set dates that can be put in a diary well in advance and this can work, but what happens when there is an urgent, unplanned job? In most cases, the study time will give way to customer needs.

    If you can’t control these events, then you need to have a study method that works with the business, not against it. This is where flexible learning methods are a helpful solution.

    Flexibility to the rescue

    By its very nature, flexible learning means that staff can study when it is convenient for them, as well as for the business. The rise of online learning has allowed this type of training to become widely available, with all relevant course material available at any time across a wide range of devices.

    Furthermore, some flexible courses can also provide tutor support outside of normal working hours, so the quality of information and feedback available is in no way compromised by being out of the classroom.

    The key benefit of all this is that even though time has to be set aside to study, if the business requires an employee to return work, they can do so without compromising their studies.

    However, this additional flexibility comes with a health warning for the company: they must ensure that the employee gets that study time back at some point.

    The primary benefit of flexible learning is not to minimise study time, but to make it work around business needs.

    Though there is no longer the need to sit in a traffic jam to get to college, and there is much evidence that courses with an instructional component make learning more efficient, learning still takes time and that must be respected.

    Another real positive for the company is that in addition to being able to call on the student when there is a business need, they can plan whole cohorts of students to be off at different times. Using this manpower planning, the increased efficiency can result in a significant saving.

    Finally, it is worth adding that many institutes are also moving towards more flexible examining models, so staff can now plan the timing of their examination dates and take more control of their studies. If the examining method is flexible, it makes sense for the learning method to be flexible too.

    Too much of a good thing?

    Being able to study when convenient sounds ideal, but there is the potential for it to lead to procrastination. There is also a danger that the employee continually puts work first - a commendable quality, but one that in the long run will benefit neither the employee nor the organisation. Dates must be put in diaries that work for both staff and employer, and staff encouraged to stick to them.

    This is made easier if support is offered by the course provider. Human interaction often comes by way of a learning coach, who watches the performance of the student as they work through tests, deciding exactly when to intervene to offer words of encouragement or technical advice.

    De-stressing staff

    Balancing work, life and study can be stressful, and a stressed work force is something no good employer would want. Offering a way for employees to gain new skills, engage in worthwhile work, without putting under so much time pressure that stress levels rise, is very much the end goal for most companies.

    Having a more flexible learning environment, sufficient and protected time to study, together with the help and encouragement of trained learning coaches may not be the complete answer, but it is certainly a step in the right direction.

    About OnDemand

    Kaplan now offers a new and exciting way to study for its CIMA examinations - OnDemand for CIMA.

    OnDemand is a flexible way of learning that works around your business, combining the benefits of classroom learning with the convenience and flexibility of virtual study.

    It can be accessed outside of office hours, or you can set the amount of office time dedicated to study - limiting downtime during business-critical times.

    This method of learning is perfect for organisations requiring a consistent and flexible approach across boundaries and time zones, without wishing to risk pass rate success.

    To find out more, enter your details below to talk to our team today.

    Lead Source (Secondary):
    Lead Source (Secondary):
  • New Kaplan OnDemand courses - the best of both worlds

    by Sharon Cooper | Aug 08, 2016

    Kaplan's OnDemand course is a brand new way to study CIMA - the first to fully combine the best of both structured and flexible studying. So if you find it hard to keep motivated on Distance Learning courses, but find timetabled classes don't start when you want them to, Kaplan OnDemand has a number of features that could be ideal for you. With a course that is designed around you, waiting for start dates or finding your way into a classroom becomes a thing of the past.

    These features have been developed from talking to students like you. When designing the course, we asked over 600 students what they wanted most from their CIMA course to help them get the most from on demand exams.

    I want flexibility, but to know there's still structure to keep me motivated.

    With exams available on demand, you have greater flexibility to study when and how you want. But some students told us that they find it difficult to keep on track with no fixed exam date.

    Kaplan OnDemand lets you start studying when you want, but also provides structure to help you maintain progress and go into the exam feeling confident.

    • Your tutor will introduce and explain each unit with a recorded video. Together with a thorough course programme, you'll have a suggested order in which to complete your course.
    • You'll have an integrated workbook which mirrors the tutor-led online content, allowing you to keep all your course notes in one place and track your progress.
    • At the end of each unit, you'll complete an assessment - these will gradually build on what you learn to fully prepare you for the exams.
    • You'll get regular feedback and guidance from a Kaplan tutor. Still struggling for motivation? You can request even more contact with them to pro-actively review your progress.

    I want to know there's someone to speak to when I need them - not waste time waiting for a response.

    When you're working to your own schedule, you don't want to have to put your studies on hold waiting for your tutor to respond. That's why we're keeping our tutor support team open longer than any other provider. You can get an instant response from a qualified Kaplan tutor through live chat, request a callback at the time of your choice or email them your questions - even on evenings and weekends.

    I want high quality content that makes it easier, not harder to learn.

    Students told us that the quality of learning resources was the most important factor for them in choosing a flexible course. Just because you decide to study remotely doesn't mean you should compromise on quality. With Kaplan OnDemand you'll benefit from:

    • A wide range of high quality and engaging online content, all created specifically for the OnDemand course. Created by expert tutors, a mixture of tutor-led videos, worked examples and interactive tests will help guide you through every step of the syllabus.
    • Specifically designed online resources that teach you in an efficient way and are accessible on a range of devices.
    • Official CIMA study materials - Kaplan produce the only materials written by tutors who have had specific guidance and feedback from the CIMA exam faculty.

    I want lots of question practice, but in a format that's like the actual exams.

    Practice questions are an important part of learning. You told us you want enough questions to go into the exam with confidence. But rather than just focusing on the total volume of questions, Kaplan OnDemand assessments are designed in a way that will help you better prepare for the exams and understand areas you still need to work on with personalised feedback. The mock exams will even look and feel like the real exams. Plus you can create your own customised tests or choose from a bank of over 600 questions, so you can focus on the areas you feel you need to practice most.

    I want my tutor to motivate me and give me feedback - not a computer.

    Our tutors are industry experts and subject specialists. Even though you won't meet with them face to face, it's important that you still have access to their knowledge and support. That's why with OnDemand, your tutor will be there to guide and support you at every stage.

    • Struggling to keep motivated? You can ask your tutor to check in with you regularly to make sure you're on track.
    • Got a poor result on your practice test or mock exam? Our tutors will proactively contact you to help you focus on areas for development.

    For your chance to win one of five Kaplan OnDemand courses for a CIMA Professional paper of your choice, enter now at

  • ATT and CTA Joint Programme - The Tax Pathway

    by Sharon Cooper | Jul 07, 2016

    Free webinar  – Fill in the form to download.


    • Michael Steed, Kaplan Senior Training Consultant and President of the ATT
    • Andy Fitzsimmons, Kaplan Head of Tax

    The ATT and CIOT have recently announced an exciting new ATT/CTA joint pathway, ‘The Tax Pathway’, which will accelerate the student route to joint qualification.

    Join Michael and Andy for this informative webinar on the new pathway, in which they will cover:

    • The structure of the joint route and the pathways available
    • The key advantages of the route for employers and students
    • Studying the Tax Pathway with Kaplan

    The ATT/CTA Tax Pathway will bring with it a number of advantages:

    Time and Cost

    There are two routes available to complete the new joint qualification:

    Option One – Students take any 3 ATT papers and subsequently at CTA level they are exempt from Awareness.

    Option Two – Students take any 2 ATT papers plus CTA Awareness to gain their ATT hence being exempt from taking a third ATT paper.

    The exemptions detailed make the route to qualification more cost effective with a corresponding reduction in the required study time.

    Flexibility and Specialisation

    Under the joint route, students can choose which of the 6 ATT papers they wish to study, offering an earlier chance to specialise in line with vocational roles.

    Download our latest guide to the Tax Pathway

    Find out more detail about the ATT/CTA Tax Pathway and studying with Kaplan.

  • AAT syllabus changes - AQ2016 employer guidance

    by Sharon Cooper | Jun 29, 2016

    The new AAT syllabus, AQ2016, will be made available to students from 1st September 2016. Students can still study the AQ2013 syllabus up until 31st December 2017, however any new level started after 1st September 2016 will automatically be started on the new syllabus.

    What needs to be done and when?

    It is important to understand the differences between AQ2016 and AQ2013 in order for you and your students to choose the most suitable syllabus, with a decision needed by 1st September.

    To highlight the key changes and what these will mean, we have created an AAT AQ16 guide for employers, which you can download below.

    This guide includes key information on:

    • New naming for each Level
    • Synoptic assessment changes
    • New grading system
    • Resit restrictions
    • When your students need to move on to AQ2016
    • How AQ2016 fits with Trailblazer standards

    Download our guide

  • Kaplan AAT PassPlus wins 2014 PQ award for innovation in accountancy

    by Sharon Cooper | May 31, 2016

    In September 2013, Kaplan Financial launched the new AAT PassPlus courses, a revolutionary new classroom and Live Online learning experience.

    This is a fundamentally different approach to teaching the AAT qualification that focuses not only on how students can pass their exams, but just as importantly, how the training relates back to the workplace and real life. This will give Kaplan students the edge over others as they will be more employable as they progress through the levels.

    As part of the new course program, students have access to real life case studies that bring the units to life and have been compiled by product experts that have worked in industry. And because everyone learns at a different pace, the course has been designed so that tutors can set different levels of questions depending on individual abilities. That way the experience can be optimised for everyone to get the most out of their studies.

    Since launch the new training program has already improved pass rates by up to 5% which is an excellent achievement in 4 months. These results have been backed up by the course winning the 2014 PQ award for innovation in accountancy.

    This is the second year running that Kaplan have won the award for innovation in accountancy. In 2013 Kaplan won the prize for its free directory of accountancy terms, Kaplan Knowledge Bank.

    In what way is this product different?

    Historically an educator's role has been to get students through their exams, and the importance of this cannot be understated. At the end of the day, a student needs to pass their exams in order to obtain their qualification.

    But what if a student is unable to relate the knowledge they acquire in order to pass their exam to their day-to-day work? Being able to apply their knowledge in this way is key to meeting employers' and clients' expectations of a tuition provider – if a trainee can't do this, it is debatable whether the qualification was worth the effort.

    Based around a set of core principles of a more personalised experience, delivered in an innovative, collaborative and motivating environment, this product goes beyond just simply teaching a student to pass an exam. At Kaplan, we believe our students and clients deserve more; we want to create great accountants that can perform well in the workplace as well as in the exam room.

    To deliver on our belief, this product drives a deeper level of understanding to ensure that students can apply their knowledge to everyday workplace situations and develop key employability skills such as communication and team work as a part of their course.

    The good news is that in addition to becoming more employable, a deeper understanding will also lead to an increased chance of exam success as it enables students to better adapt to the scenarios presented in the exam. One of the dangers of surface level learning is the limited range of situations in which that knowledge can be demonstrated. By more fully understanding the subject matter, students are able to flex their knowledge, working through the implications of different factors in order to deduce the correct answer. They are better able to cope with a slight variation in exam style or a 'curve ball' question.

    How do we develop a deeper understanding?

    The AAT PassPlus product encourages deeper understanding in a number of innovative ways, some examples of which are:

    Case studies

    Case studies are embedded as a part of the course to show how knowledge can be used in real life. By providing context, students are better able to appreciate why a process is needed or how a piece of information could be used. Case studies also allow students to see how different parts of a syllabus fit together so they can see the bigger picture.

    Flipped classroom

    In a traditional classroom, the tutor conveys knowledge to students, the students may make some notes and together they may work through some brief examples. For homework, the student is often set some longer questions for them to practise applying their knowledge. The big problem with this scenario is that the tutor might never get to find out how well a student has taken to a subject and whether they have gained the knowledge they need.

    In an AAT PassPlus classroom, the homework is performed up-front when the student acquires some of the basic knowledge via text books or some form of on-line learning. Then, in the classroom, the tutor works to embed that knowledge and sets questions allowing them to assess how well each student is getting on. Questions of varying difficulty are given to students based on their rate of progress. This ability to differentiate the experience for each student allows us to better support each student individually to ensure they have the understanding they require.

    How do we make Kaplan students more employable?

    Being able to apply the knowledge gained from studying is one aspect of building a successful career. The other is having the necessary softer skills to operate in a professional environment.

    The so-called 'employability gap' is a hot topic for educators and employers alike. Employers are more frequently claiming that newly employed graduates or apprentices do not have the necessary basic skills or experience to be able to work effectively. Understandably, employers are demanding more from tuition providers.

    When deciding how best to satisfy this demand, our starting point was to figure out exactly what skills the employers were looking for within their AAT students. Working closely with clients, we've been able to create a list of 20 key 'employability skills' as below:

    • Assertiveness and presenting yourself
    • Commercial awareness
    • Communication with technology
    • Critical thinking/scepticism
    • Study skills, learning plan, evaluating your own performance
    • Decision making
    • H&S
    • Lateral/creative thinking/intellectual curiosity
    • People management
    • Meetings
    • Personal finance
    • Presentation skills
    • Problem solving
    • Self management/taking ownership/independent
    • Team work
    • Time management
    • Verbal communication
    • Prepare and plan a project
    • Analyse, interpret and evaluate
    • Written communication

    Kaplan have combined this understanding of exactly what skills employers are looking for at each level, together with an innovative yet effective approach to education, to allow students to gain much more than a qualification as they study. For example, the inclusion of group activities and collaborative work, not only allows students to more effectively gain knowledge, they also develop skills such as communication and teamwork.

    What our students say

    "Really enjoying the new AAT methods."
    Natalie, L2 LOL Student (started in March 2013, studying PBKT/BAII in February 2014)

    "I liked the group work aspect of the course – it was good to participate with others on the same level and have a wider range of opinions and viewpoints."

    "I liked having a day for planning, fieldwork, and completion and doing the work in that order as it better reflects actual auditing. Group work is good, particularly for judgemental subject like audit. the case study idea worked well."

    "I really enjoyed the learning atmosphere."

    "Love it! Teaching method was great and material was excellent."

    "The course is very relevant which is pleasing as I can actually see practical application of the course."

  • ‘Twas the night before the exam – but what to do?

    by Sharon Cooper | May 27, 2016

    Studying and learning can be enjoyable… honestly, but the fun has to come to an end and it does, with the exam. It cannot be avoided and so is best embraced. Treat the exam as a game and you the player. What you need to do is give yourself the very best chance of winning.

    Become a professional exam taker, someone who follows a process of preparation, very much like a top sports-person. This means you personally need to be in the best physical and mental shape and have a series of exercises that will get you match fit.

    Below is your training regime from the night before the exam – good luck.

    The night before

    You should by now have:

    • Read through and reduced your class/tuition notes down to approximately 10 pages (20 max) of revision notes. You may have some professionally produced revision notes, but it is still best to make your own.
    • Practised past questions on the key examinable areas both under exam and non exam conditions.
    • Started the process of memorising the revision notes.

    Be realistic – The key to the night before the exam is to be realistic. You don’t have much time, so don’t think you can cover everything. Let’s assume you have 3/4 hours, 6.00pm – 10.00pm maybe.

    Put to one side the large folder that contains all your notes taken throughout the term/year, and concentrate only on the 10-20 page revision notes.

    Focus and memorise – In the 3/4 hours that you have you want to get an overview of the subject and focus on the areas that need memorising. These should be the key examinable areas and are most likely to be standard formats, definitions, lists, formulas not given in the exam, etc. Memorising should include some rewriting of notes, but very little, talking out loud, drawing pictures, writing out mnemonics, etc.

    Admin – Make sure you have set to one side everything you will need the next day. This includes your exam entry documents, calculator, gum, mints, etc. You don’t want to be thinking of these in the morning. And of course make sure you know exactly what time you need to leave to get to the exam with about 1 hour to spare.

    Physical and mental preparation – Drink lots of water, avoid tea, coffee, etc as you will need to get a good night’s sleep. Exercise is an incredibly effective method of reducing tension and stress. So you may want to build into your 4 hours, 30 minutes for a run or brisk walk. This could be at the halfway point of your evening, combining a well earned break with the exercise maximises your time.

    Getting sleep is important, so avoid reading your notes and then going straight to sleep. Pack you notes away, put them ready for the morning, then physically go into another room if possible or even outside, watch TV for 10 minutes, something trivial or read a book. You need to break the state of mind from that of studying, relaxation leads to sleep not stress.

    And finally keep a positive attitude, think about what you know and are good at and not what you don’t know and are bad at. Keep telling yourself that you have done everything possible, and if you follow these steps you will have. Thinking you know nothing and should have done more will not help at this stage, it’s a pointless thought strategy and not what the professional exam taker does.

    The morning before

    Set your alarm sufficiently early to give you at least another hour of revision. You don’t need to get out of bed, just continue memorising your notes. This is now about little and often, short 10 minute intervals. Don’t worry about falling asleep in the exam; the adrenalin won’t let you.

    1 hour before

    What you do after arriving at the exam centre/school etc is personal. Some will prefer to sit on their own going over the revision notes; don’t bother taking your folder of course notes. This is still very much about short term memory. Others will prefer to talk, chatting about nothing, just to stop them worrying. Both are fine.

    After the exam

    Afterwards is also a little personal, most will go home, but some will want to talk through what was in the exam, looking perhaps for some conformation they have not made a complete mess of it. Most importantly, if you have another exam, go home, put your old revision notes to one side, forget everything and start on your next subject.

    The American basket ball player Art Williams had a good saying that I will leave you with.

    "I’m not telling you it is going to be easy — I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it."

    And although personally I found exams difficult, I have never regretted the hard work; it was, for me, worth it.


    Stuart Pedley-Smith is Head of Learning for Kaplan Financial. Involved with training and educating finance professionals for over 20 years, he is especially interested in the process of learning and the exam skills and techniques that contribute towards success in the classroom and in life. Stuart has written two books – The E word – Kaplan’s Guide to Passing Exams and A student’s guide to writing Business Reports.

  • CIMA prize winners - November 2014

    by Sharon Cooper | May 26, 2016

    It is always an exciting time when we find out from CIMA how many of the students we’ve taught have achieved a prize (1st place in the world) or a commendation (2nd–10th in the world) for their exam result.

    The list for the November 2014 sitting was no exception. We had students with first place prizes for an incredible seven papers! These covered all three papers from the Operational level, all three papers from the Management level and E3.

    On top of this we also had 36 commendation winners across all the CIMA papers including T4 and Gateway. This was our highest tally of prize winners in one sitting since the May 2010 sitting. It is a great way to mark the end of the CIMA 2010 syllabus.

    Fantastic achievement

    We also had one student from Kaplan Birmingham / Live Online who won a prize or commendation for each of the six Professional exams that she sat (Operational & Management papers). This is a fantastic achievement for a student.

    A huge congratulations to all of the Kaplan students who have achieved a prize or a commendation.

  • CIMA Prizewinners share their tips for exam success

    by User Not Found | May 23, 2016

    We asked some of our recent CIMA prizewinners to share their top tips on how they achieved exam success.

    Plan ahead and prepare yourself

    For the Case Study exam, plan your answers before getting stuck in - this saves you a lot of time trying to think and prevents waffling.

    Management Case Study, 2nd in world, November 2015 - Matthew Bowler

    My goal was to ensure I split my time between the key elements needed to pass the exam, i.e. technical knowledge, knowing the case study and exam practise. With this in mind I drafted a study timetable immediately after booking onto my course, ensuring that I set aside adequate time in each of these areas.

    Strategic Case Study, 8th in world, November 2015 - Steven Scullion

    Don’t leave it too long between your course and exams; get the exams booked early so you aren’t constantly juggling your busy lives.

    Operational Case Study, November 2015 - Nicholas

    I found it useful to make a one pager of the key facts and figures to remember, as in the exam you do not have any time to refer back to Case Study.

    Strategic Case Study, 4th in world August 2015 - Kimanh Duong

    Case study notes and calculator

    Practice as much as you can

    Do all the practice exam material you can. Try not to master every single element of the course - listen to your tutor and focus your time on the key areas or any areas you find harder. For the case study in particular, it’s about applying the knowledge you’ve learnt. So try not to cram facts, but think about what’s relevant to the scenario and how this knowledge can be applied.

    Operational Case Study, 1st in world, November 2015 - Brendan Ryan

    Practice doing questions before entering the exam. Getting used to the particular time pressure of either an Objective Test or Case Study exam is half the battle.

    Management Case Study, 2nd in world, November 2015 - Matthew Bowler

    Question practise is key. Get past paper questions or mock exams from whatever source you can. The greater the variety of questions you come across when studying, the higher the probability that you may get a similar question in the exam and be well prepared for it. Additionally, you will be more prepared for the “shock” factor of coming across a question that you did not expect.

    Strategic Case Study, 8th in world, November 2015 - Steven Scullion


    Student on laptop

    Aim high and give 100%

    You get out of it what you put into it. All theory learned will benefit you as a finance professional. The better I do in the exams and study, the better I am in my role.

    Management Case Study, 5th in world, November 2015 - Scott Coulter

    Believe that you can be a prizewinner and use this belief as motivation to put extra hours in when studying. When others have had enough for the night, a potential prizewinner will do an extra question or two from a past paper, or read a relevant article even when they feel they have had enough.

    Strategic Case Study, 8th in world, November 2015 - Steven Scullion


  • How to make the 4 ACCA sittings work for you

    by User Not Found | Apr 22, 2016

    Whilst the 4 exam sittings offer more flexibility, we understand they can be a little confusing as you now have much more choice. Read our blog on how to plan your studies and decide on the best route for you.

    When planning your studies, it’s important to consider other factors such as your workload - do any of the exam sittings clash with busy periods at work, your personal life - do any of them clash with holidays or events and what best suits your approach to learning?

    Depending on when you want to study, these are your options:

    • Traditional; twice a year
      Studying two subjects in two core sittings (either June & December, or March & September) will give you 12 to 16 weeks to prepare for your exams and still allow you to know the results from your previous exam sitting before moving onto the next. You can really focus on your new subjects without having to worry about waiting for exam results. Plus, you can still use the other 2 sittings to resit any papers and keep your studies on track.Traditional June and December ACCA exam sittings
    • Intensive; every quarter
      Studying 1 paper every 3 months allows you to focus on one subject at a time which you may find beneficial as you progress to the higher level papers. This is because some of the subjects in the higher level are harder, or have a larger syllabus to cover. However, this might mean that you have to start studying for your next paper before you have the results of your most recent exam if you want to have the optimum amount of time to prepare. If you want to wait until you receive your exam results before starting your studies for your next paper, this would mean studying over an intense period of 7 weeks.Studying for all four ACCA exam sittings
    • A combination
      This approach is ideal if you want to have more flexibility throughout the year and vary the number of papers you take at each sitting; to allow for peak times in work or important events in your personal life. For example, you could sit one subject in March, two in June and another in December. This would mean you are still sitting four exams in a year, but you have time for a summer holiday.Combination of using 3 of ACCA exam sittings

    We asked our tutors how their students are benefiting from the move to 4 sittings. Here is a selection of their comments:

    "The 4 sittings give added flexibility as students can either concentrate on one exam per sitting and progress through the qualification quickly or have a sitting on and a sitting off dependent on what is going on in their personal lives."
    "Students can now progress through the qualification quickly as they no longer have to wait 6 months to resit."
    "My students were all first timers. They had chosen to sit an exam in September as they wanted to get through their ACCA qualification much quicker."

    Kaplan offer courses for all 4 exam sittings to allow you to plan your year and study when it suits you. Find out more about our ACCA courses.

  • A global view of accountancy

    by Kaplan News | Mar 16, 2016

    After months of in depth research, analysing the main 16 professional accountancy bodies, we’ve delved into the differences across the world when it comes to a career in accountancy. Our report ‘Global Trends in Professional Accountancy Education‘ presents our findings in full. Fill in the form to download it.

    View our infographic below for some of the highlights, including typical starting salaries, future paths, and the gender divide.

    Global Accountancy Infographic
  • Sleep and study

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Oct 14, 2021

    We discuss why sleep can impact how we learn and why it is fundamental to our mental health.

    This week our host Stuart Pedley Smith, Head of learning here at Kaplan, explores the topic of sleep, how it affects how we learn and our mental health.

    Kaplan’s learn better podcast covers topical subjects to support our past, present and future learners to succeed in both their studies and careers.

    Guest Dr Nishi Bhopal, Psychiatrist and Sleep Specialist, explains how fundamental sleep is to your mental health and how we learn. Focusing on consolidation, one of the three primary aspects to learning, she helps to provide understanding as to why sleep deprivation can affect your recall of information.

    Sharing top tips on how to get the best night's sleep, Dr Bhopal points out how obsessing over the amount of sleep you get can actually have a further negative impact on your mental health and your amount of sleep. She explains that although sleep should be a priority, you need to listen to your body rather than focusing on a specific time.

    Key topics

    What is sleep?

    Sleep is a state of being where your awareness of your environment and environmental stimuli is reduced. Similar to hibernation and being in a coma, the main difference is sleep can be rapidly reversed.

    The three primary aspects of learning

    There are three primary aspects of learning: acquisition, consolidation and recall. Sleep is most important to the consolidation aspect. This is when we file away the information into the correct places to help us when it comes to recalling it at a later date. During this phase we also get rid of any extraneous information that we don't need to know. Sleep deprivation can cause consolidation of information to be impacted.

    I visualize the brain almost like an office, where you’ve got multiple filing cabinets, and with sleep deprivation you can imagine you have an office with papers everywhere. Nothing is filed in the right places.

    Top tips for a good night's sleep

    • Get into bed and get up at the same time each day - Having a routine can really help you to sleep better as well as combat the symptoms of “social jetlag”.

    • Don’t get into bed until you are sleepy - Although this sounds counter intuitive, we need to make sure that you associate being in bed with sleep. Lying in bed for hours on your phone will cause your body to instead associate being in bed with being awake, causing you to struggle to sleep well.

    • Find something to help you unwind and relax - Lots of people struggle to fall asleep as their mind is active and thinking about different things and trying to solve problems. This can make it hard to fall asleep, and so doing something that helps distract your mind and relax you before going to bed can be really beneficial in helping you get to sleep.

    Sleep deprivation and the impact on mental health

    Sleep and mental health are directly related, in fact they have a bidirectional relationship. This means that when you aren’t sleeping well it affects your mental health and when you are experiencing issues with mental health it causes issues with sleep. However, there are several different things you can do to help you have a good night's sleep.

    It’s really hard to improve your depression and anxiety, reduce stress levels and of course optimise learning without adequate sleep.

    The economic issue of sleep

    Sleep deprivation can impact the economy financially. In the US it has been noted that workers lose an average of about 11 days of productivity each year due to sleep issues*.

    Some large companies have even implemented nap rooms into their offices to help their workers get the sleep they need to increase their productivity.

    Tune in now to find out more.

    *Sourced from the Washington Post.

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