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Exam advice for AAT students

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Exams can be scary, and we know you need as much support as possible.

So we asked many of you for feedback and came up with some helpful tips to boost exam success.

To break it down, we include the following:

General tips
What to expect in your AVSY (part 1)
What to expect in your AVSY (part 2)
Why we calculate variances
Exam study materials
Questions likely to appear on the CBT
Practising for CBT exams

General Tips

  • If there’s a huge volume of content to learn for your units, don’t cram it in at the last minute.
  • The whole of the syllabus is examinable, so practice and be confident in all areas.
  • Where possible, use mind maps and mnemonics to help to retain the knowledge.
  • To have the best chance of passing, we recommend that you join a Kaplan course. There are various options available: Classroom, Live Online, and Distance Learning. Or you could purchase separate Kaplan Publishinglaunch study text and/or revision kit.
  • In the exam, read the questions carefully. One word can completely change it’s meaning - so read it at least twice.
  • Exams can be time pressured, so practise many to time before the exam. The more you practise the faster you’ll get. It’ll get you used to the questions and the best way to approach them.
  • Students with knowledge of a wide range of areas will have a better chance of passing the exam than students with knowledge on specific topics.
  • Practise answering questions across the syllabus, don’t concentrate on the areas you like.
  • For more general tips on structuring study and revision read how to approach study and revision in our study tips section.

What to expect in your AVSY (part 1)

You can take your exams at any time, apart from the synoptic exam.

With this exam there are only six specific exam weeks for the unit, throughout the year. Understanding when you want to sit and pass your exam will affect the end date of your course and what materials you receive.

Please note, you’ll still need to book your exams separately.

All assessments on this level are computer-based exams (CBE). Our Advanced Diploma Synoptic Assessment (AVSY) course covers the syllabus areas relating to the Ethics for Accountants (ETFA) and Spreadsheets for Accounting (SPSH) subjects, which are assessed only as part of the synoptic exam.

They also allow you to recap your learning from earlier subjects so you’re well prepared for the exam. With it you’ll be tested on an additional unit, Ethics for Accounting, as well as the three independent units: (Advanced Bookkeeping (AVBK), Final Accounts Preparation (FAPR) and Management Accounting: Costing (MMAC)).

You must complete your studies for all separately examinable units before attempting the synoptic assessment.

What to expect in your AVSY (part 2)

There are three tasks in part 2, to be completed using an excel spreadsheet. Please be careful when reading through the instructions for this task. There is a guidance document available, which you can request from your invigilator if the onscreen instructions are unclear.

For each task you’ll download a spreadsheet where your data and exam questions are found. A ‘Save’ prompt will then appear. We recommend you create a folder on the desktop (titled with your full name and your assessment date) at this first prompt. All downloads and saved files should go in this folder for easy access when re-uploading to SecureAssess.

Professional Diploma - Understanding why we calculate variances and what they mean

If you’re studying the Financial Statements of Limited Companies (FSLC) or Management Accounting: Budgeting (MABU), variance analysis helps businesses understand why they performed better or worse than expected.

If worse, it could be because we paid more for materials than we should have, or perhaps our labour worked less efficiently than we thought they would, as a couple of possibilities. The variance calculations help us tell the business performance story.

Did you know?

Our AAT students have an overall pass rate of 94%, and we are the UK's biggest AAT provider.

You should only start studying for the Professional Synoptic course (PDSY) once you've completed the other three mandatory units, as they all form part of the Synoptic Assessment. In the Professional Synoptic course, we'll cover the Accounting Systems and Controls unit that will be assessed in the Synoptic assessment aswell.

There are only six exam windows for this assessment in a year, so bear this in mind when studying for the Professional Synoptic course.

You can complete optional units before or after your mandatory units. For Apprenticeship students, the Synoptic Assessment forms part of the End Point Assessment, and therefore you’ll be required to sit this unit once you have completed all the other units.

We also advise students wanting to study Cash and Treasury Management (CTRM), that they should have completed Financial Statements of Limited Companies (FSLC) prior to starting CTRM.

Exam study materials

We have a wealth of materials to help you revise for and pass your exams. All study options come with the following:

Knowledge checks
As you progress, knowledge checks help assess your understanding of a topic before you move onto the next one.

Progress tests
These are short tests based on key topics to get you ready for sitting the mock exams.

Mock exam
Practice your exam technique with mock exams that look and the feel like the real exam, so you can check your progress.

Additional video learning resources
If you’re studying Classroom, Live Online or OnDemand, you’ll get access to the full OnDemand learning modules, found on MyKaplan launch.

Types of questions likely to appear on the CBT

This depends on the unit you’re sitting, so we’d advise you look at the various AAT practise assessments on MyAAT. This will familiarise you with the type of questions that could be examined on the various units.

However, it’s worth noting that the questions in the exams are randomly selected. So the more question practise you do, the more familiar you’ll be with the different type of questions which could be asked.


Practising for CBT exams

  • Aim to complete as many practice questions as possible. With practice you’ll recognise familiar patterns and formats. This will make it easier in the real exam. As a Kaplan student you should also practice questions on MyKaplan, as answering questions on a computer screen is very different to answering a paper exam.
  • Read each question carefully. Sounds obvious, but many students try to find the question they are familiar with instead of reading the actual requirement. The requirement is usually at the end of the question. So read it, consider what's needed, and then look for the information.
  • Don’t spend time making your workings look perfect – no one will see them.
  • Make sure you’re familiar with your calculator. Don’t buy a new one the day before your exam! Make sure you know how to use all the relevant functions. It might be worth purchasing a second identical calculator as a spare.
  • All question practice should be attempted under exam conditions and to exam time.

Exam ready?

We hope you at least find some of the above helpful in your quest for exam success.