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Exam tips and FAQs for AAT Levels 2, 3 and 4

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General Tips

  • If there is 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 give you the best chance of passing, we recommend that you join a Kaplan course. There are various options available: Classroom, Live Online, and Distance Learning. Alternatively, you could purchase separate Kaplan Publishing study text and/or revision kit.
  • When in the exam, read the questions carefully. The existence of one word can completely change the perception of the question. So it is advisable to at least read the question twice.
  • Exams can be quite time pressured, therefore practise as many questions as possible to time before the exam. The more you practise the faster you will become. Practising as many questions as possible prior to the exam will also allow you to get used to the way in which questions are asked and also the best way to approach the question.
  • Students with a good knowledge of a wide range of areas will have a greater chance of passing the exam than students with an in depth knowledge of a small range of 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.

Level 3 only - If you’re unsure which formula to use in the Spreadsheet Software (SDST/SPSW) exam

If you don’t know which to use then hit the Insert Function button and type in what you want the function to do in plain English - this will provide a few likely options, and explain how that function works.

Level 4 only - Understanding why we calculate variances and what they mean

If you’re studying the Financial Performance (FNPF/FPFM) or Budgeting (BGT/BDGT) units, variance analysis helps a business to understand why they performed better or worse than expected. If worse, it could have been because we paid more for materials that we should have done, 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 had an overall pass rate of 94%, based on first time pass rates for all Level 2 students from Sept 2015 - Aug 2016.

To pass the Financial Statements (FSTM - the old FNST paper) it requires a markedly different emphasis to pass than students may be used to. FSTM is the only Financial Accounting paper at Level 4 and there is a lot of content for the student to learn and be familiar with.

Exam Technique is absolutely KEY to passing this paper. Even a student who has all of the theoretical knowledge may struggle if they haven't worked on exam technique. Do not feel as though you have to do the tasks in the order they are set. It may be better for you to work through areas you feel stronger on earlier, to avoid over-running on time. However this is a personal choice so pick a question order which works for you. It is also VITAL to practise a mock exam in full including the written tasks. This will help you with time management so you are comfortable with how long each task will take.

Get all the latest news

AAT’s Accounting Technician magazine is your source for the latest news in accounting and finance. Providing easy to read insight and analysis on all the major topics, not just finance, it’s a great way to relate your studies back to the real world.

As well as all that, you’ll also find plenty of helpful information for your studies:

  • Study zone – including top tips from current students
  • Assessment tips from our assessors
  • Careers guidance

As an AAT student member you’ll be sent the magazine every two months but you can view content online by going to aat.org.uk/accounting-technician.

Types of questions likely to appear on the CBT

This will depend on the unit you are sitting so we would advise that you look at the various AAT practise assessment on MyAAT to familiarise with the type of questions which could be examined on the various units. However, it is worth noting that the questions in the exams are randomly selected so the more question practise you do the more familiar you will get with the different type of questions which could be asked.

Practising for CBT exams

  • You should aim to work as many practice questions as possible. With lots of practice you will recognise familiar patterns and formats and 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 and find the question that they are familiar with instead of reading the actual requirement. The requirement is usually at the end of the question. So, read the requirement, think about what type of information is needed to answer the question, and then look for the information.
  • Don’t spend time making your workings perfect – no one will see them.
  • Make sure you are familiar with your calculator – do not buy a new one the day before your exam! You should know how to use all the relevant functions and, for example, the most efficient way of working out a percentage. You may wish to consider purchasing a second identical calculator as a spare too.
  • All question practice should be attempted under exam conditions and to exam time.

What to do when entering the CBT exam room

  • Remain silent from when you enter, as you are then under exam conditions.
  • Sit at the desk allocated and ensure you are comfortable, adjusting your chair, the monitor position, keyboard and mouse placement, until you are happy with the setup.
  • Listen to the invigilator’s instructions. Ask the invigilator any questions you have, prior to the commencement of the exam. Raise your hand to ask a question.

FAQs

Q: How long will it take to get results?

A: If you are sitting exams on Level 2 or 3 you receive provisional results immediately.

Q: Can I re-sit straight away?

A: Normally we advise three days from receiving your results.

Q: I'm struggling with time in the exam?

A: If you require additional time in the exam due to special consideration, you will need to speak to your AAT Approved Centre in advance of your exam to make them aware, but it will also allow them to arrange additional support if required.

Q: Where can I re-sit the exam?

A: You can re-sit your exams at any AAT approved centre.

Q: How much does it cost to re-sit the exam?

A: At Kaplan, a resit exam costs the same as your initial exam; there are no additional charges.

Q: Is there a maximum amount of retakes I can do?

A: No there is no maximum number of retakes you can do.

Q: How should I approach answering the questions in my exam?

A: We suggest you follow Kaplan's 'two wave approach'. Work through all the questions initially answering all the ‘easier’ questions first, then work through the remainder. If you get stuck with a question, do not spend too much time on it, leave it to the end but remember to go back to it. Make sure you answer all questions.

Q: Will all the areas of the syllabus be examined; are there any that I can ignore?

A: With computer based tests, questions are selected from a large database. It means that you could be asked anything from any area of the syllabus, so you should be familiar with all topics in the syllabus.

Q: Are the computer based test questions random?

A: Yes, the questions are selected at random, although the structure of the exam remains the same. So, even if you are sitting next to another student doing the same exam, they are likely to have different questions in a different order from you.

Q: Will the questions in the exam be like those I’ve seen in my text books and on the AAT website?

A: The live exams are not seen by Kaplan and the style of question is ever evolving. The question styles seen in the material are based on expert knowledge and information provided by the AAT practice assessments. You need to have a full understanding of the syllabus and be prepared for any style of question. The more practice you do the better prepared you will be.

Q: Do I need to do the subjects in a set order?

A: In theory you do not need to sit the subjects in a specific order however we would recommend for level 2 that you sit PBKT before sitting CJBS. Students also find it useful to attempt CPAG after completing PBKT and CJBS.

Q: Do I have to renew my student membership with AAT if I am just waiting for my final exam result to come through?

A: Yes. The AAT will not release exam results if your student membership is not up to date. However, the student membership renewal will last for 12 months which means you can apply to be a full member of the AAT (use the letters M.A.A.T) whilst still on the student rate - you will not need to pay full membership fees until your renewal comes around again.

Q: Is there a time limit on qualifying?

A: There is no deadline for a student to complete a level once they are registered.

Q: If I take a break from studying do I still need to pay my membership fees?

A: The AAT membership fee is for 12 months of membership, rather than for each level of the qualification, etc. So it is dependent on the date of their initial registration and how long they intend to break for.

Q: What can I take in the exam room?

A: You will need pens/pencils, a calculator (for any number-based exams) and photographic ID.

You must have official photo ID (Driver's License or passport) as the invigilators of the exam will probably not have met you before so it is essential that you are able to prove who you are. If you do not have ID with you on the day of the exam you will be refused entry into the exam room.

You will be provided with paper on which to do your rough workings. This must be left in the exam room at the end so that it can be destroyed.

Your calculator must not have a printout facility or programmable function; mobile phones are not permitted to be used as calculators.

You may wish to take a watch too – although there is a timer on the screen.

You are NOT permitted to take in the exam room with you: mobile phone, pencil case, books/notes or any other papers/notebooks.

Q: What should I do if I am struggling with a particular area of the syllabus?

A: If you find that there is a particular topic that you are struggling with review your course notes and text books before attempting more questions. Do not waste time writing out revision notes, the best revision is question practice. You can contact your Kaplan tutor for assistance too.

If possible, try and think of fun ways to practice – perhaps hold a quiz with colleagues who are also studying.

Q: How long are the CBT exams?

A: The duration of your exam will depend on the unit you are sitting so refer back to your course notes and text books for this information. You should arrive at the exam location 30 minutes before the actual exam start time, and allow 15 minutes after your exam before you leave.

Q: What do I do at the start of the exam?

A: You will need to follow the instructions on screen. This will include entering a keycode which will be given to you by your invigilator.

Your name, AAT student number and name of the exam will appear on screen – you must ensure that this is the correct exam that you are planning to sit. Inform the invigilator if any of the information is not correct.

There is 1 page of formal instructions on screen to read informing you of specific information for your exam. Please ensure that you read this and follow the instructions which have been given to you.

Q: What do I do once I have finished the exam?

A: The CBE will automatically end once the time is up.

You can finish early if you are certain that you have completed every question to the best of your ability, by clicking on the 'Exit' icon. Don’t feel pressured to finish early simply because some other candidates in the exam room may have done so.

Raise your hand and the invigilator will come over and they will either print off and give you your provisional results or you will be instructed to go to the office to have your provisional results printed off. If your results are given to you in the exam room, please remember that there will still be candidates sitting their exams so please leave quietly so not to distract these students when you have been given permission to leave.

Q: What happens after I get my exam result?

A: If you have passed, your result will automatically be uploaded onto your myAAT – this can take up to 7 days. If you were unsuccessful, you will need to arrange a re-sit.