Let's share our experiences of studying the AAT and finding suitable employment.

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geek84
geek84 Registered Posts: 568 Epic contributor 🐘
Good Morning folks

I thought I would start off this thread, since studying the AAT, or in fact any other academic course, can be quite a lonely experience, especially if you are doing it via distance learning.

It would be a good idea if we can share (and help) each other to identify the reasons why we choose the AAT and the circumstances which led us to this path, together with identifying different ways of studying, and what we expect to gain from completing the qualification.

I will start off by telling a bit about myself -

I have been out of work for just over a year now, I have almost 10 years experience of credit control. I have always enjoyed dealing with numbers, so that is probably the reason why I did credit control for so long. However, doing it for such a long time became boring (there is only a certain amount that needs to learned in order to do the job competently).

After my last job ended, I decided to do some tests (the ones which claim to match you to your ideal career). After spending a few weeks doing these and also using the govenment's careers website, I decided that accountancy was the most relevant to me. Therefore, in order to develop my career from credit control, I started the AAT in the summer of last year. However, I am still out of a job and try to find suitable employment (sales/purchase ledger clerk, accounts assistant etc)!

It would be nice if some of you fellow students could share your experiences and perhaps by doing so, we could help each other in our studies (by means of motivation when we are feeling a bit 'down'), and giving advice/pointers in finding getting suitable employment.

Who knows, we may even manage to make long term friends!
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  • melb2902
    melb2902 Registered Posts: 38 Regular contributor ⭐
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    Morning Geek,

    THanks for sharing your story. Mine is a little bit different. I started working in Yorkshire Building Society - Banking Dept then Mort Arrears before heading into Crecit Control. After 5 years in this area i left to have a child and then joined the Civil Service - nothing to do with numbers. Then had to move and thats when i realised i was on the totally wrong path. Being out of work gave me time to think.

    After not being sure if i had the confidence to do studying, I thought if i took each module at a time instead of buying the bulk level - what was £100 to see if I enjoyed it and was still good at it, then it was worth a shot.

    I have got 2 modules under my belt now (yippeee) and now studying my third. I am part time employed as an Account Assistant and i have to say i love it.

    Mel
  • geek84
    geek84 Registered Posts: 568 Epic contributor 🐘
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    Hi Mel

    Thanks for your reply. I am on the certificate level of the AAT and on unit 31 - skills test. What part are you on?

    I have been to a few job interviews for sales/purchase ledger clerk roles but it seems I am in a catch 22 situation - no experience - no job. I think it may be best with me to try and get a credit control job again and then move into other fiunctions within an organization.

    How are you finding the studies? Are you doing them via college or distance learning?

    By the way, can you be kind enough to give me ideas of how to get an accounts related role?

    Thanks
  • geek84
    geek84 Registered Posts: 568 Epic contributor 🐘
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    Hi

    Would anybody else like to share their story of their own 'study journey' and/or thpe of accounts role they are doing on the moment?

    Thanks
  • zhulme
    zhulme Registered Posts: 52 Regular contributor ⭐
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    Afternoon folks

    I started out studying the AAT via the distance learning route 2 1/2 years ago. During the first year i found it impossible to find a job in accounts despite already been qualified as a bookkeeper. I have since been employed in various accounts assistant roles over the last year and have gained experience in most fields. Tbh it seems very hard to even advance from accounts assistant until fully AAT qualified but then theres a large jump of roles after that, so fingers crossed for next year :) I have found though that regardless of what qualifications you have unless you go into the interview showing lots of initiative and drive then you wont get anywhere. The only reason i am in the position i am in is because i really wanted to progress and applied for 25+ jobs a day and sold myself to the max and thats what i would encourage anyone else to do otherwise you have no chance of climbing the ladder.

    Sorry sounds a bit preachy.
  • janwal
    janwal Registered Posts: 1,189 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
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    Hi

    I am doing level 2 at the moment, rather late in life. I worked in credit control for 5 years when I first left college, then ended up in retail for 8 years, found it really hard to get back into an accounts position. For the last 9 years I have worked in the payments dept at the local hospital, but would ideally like to have a more varied job as it does get mondaine doing the same things and feel if I am learning new skills would like to use them. May decide to take on some volunteer work or part-time just to have a go at something more challenging, would like to go it on my own once I qualify but a bit to go yet! :001_smile:

    Jan
  • melb2902
    melb2902 Registered Posts: 38 Regular contributor ⭐
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    geek84 wrote: »
    Hi Mel

    Thanks for your reply. I am on the certificate level of the AAT and on unit 31 - skills test. What part are you on?

    I have been to a few job interviews for sales/purchase ledger clerk roles but it seems I am in a catch 22 situation - no experience - no job. I think it may be best with me to try and get a credit control job again and then move into other fiunctions within an organization.

    How are you finding the studies? Are you doing them via college or distance learning?

    By the way, can you be kind enough to give me ideas of how to get an accounts related role?

    Thanks

    I started Level 2 for a couple of reason. I haven't studied for nearly 15 years so the practice at something easier I felt was good. Also as I hadn't worked in actual Accounts Dept I thought there were probably quite a few bits that I wouldn't have known.

    I have to say it might sound big headed and i don't for it to but i do find it quite easy at the moment. I am sure when i get to Level 3 i will feel a difference?! I am doing them at home so I find it much easier to do at my own pace and not falling asleep listening to a lecturer which would likely be the case lol!

    I managed to get a job by going through an agency. I did persevere a little to get an interview which is what they liked - I think they feel it makes a difference for some reason. After my interview with them I had an interview for a job the following day and got it on a temp basis - I was then taken on as Perm which was just brill. I think go to an agency and let them know you are really into Accounts and willing to do anything they have - try temping if you can as it will give you lots of different experience. Or even try volunterring - thats what a lot of people do.

    Use your credit control experience to show that you are good with numbers - did you have deadlines and targets - did you do any reporting even just filling in for a manager - draw on that - thats what I did. And I let them know i wasn't bothered about being the "Office Junior" just wanted to get into that field.

    Hope this helps....
  • geek84
    geek84 Registered Posts: 568 Epic contributor 🐘
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    Good Morning everyone

    Many thanks indeed for all your replies.

    Mel2902 - Are you studying via distance learning? If so, who is your provider? I am with Premier Training. I am also on level 2 - that is the first level - I think it goes from level 2 through to level 4, which is the technician stage. Am I right?

    Zhulme - I take it that you are studying at a college? When do you hope to finish? You say that you have book keeping qualifications, so perhaps you could start a bookkeeping job? How did you manage to get at accounts assistant role?

    Janwal - You say thst you started the AAT later in life. It's never too late to learn - or so I am told! I presume, you do have at least 3 decades of your working life left to go!!

    Are any of you thinking of studying further after completing the AAT e.g. ACCA or CIMA?

    Thanks
  • melb2902
    melb2902 Registered Posts: 38 Regular contributor ⭐
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    Morning Geek,

    I am distance learning with Kaplan. I have done the Basic Acocunt I and II just on the WEAF now. I started mid Oct last year and want to get this level done asap. Not sure what the norm is for finishing times?!

    Yep it goes thorugh to Level 4 which i hope to complete. You going to go all the way?

    With regrads to taking ti further after, I think I will jsut get the AAT out of the way first lol!! :-)

    How are you finding the studies?
  • janwal
    janwal Registered Posts: 1,189 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
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    Hi Geek

    A lady never tells her age but lets say by the time I finish it will be nearer 2 decades then 3, never really had the opportunity before but work offered to pay 3/4 of the fees and I couldn't pass it up.

    Would like to have a go maybe at ATT after this as feel if I do manage to go it alone would be quite useful......wait and see how I feel at the end of AAT.

    How are you all finding distance learning, at the mo I am studying through local college but level 4 is night class only and that would mean 2 nights a week not getting home til 10.30 and having to be back at work for 8, so may have to re-think!

    Jan
  • zhulme
    zhulme Registered Posts: 52 Regular contributor ⭐
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    Hi Geek84

    I did actually do the first year at college but found the tutoring very pricey for the poor quality of teaching so turned to homestudy with kaplan for the second and final year. I hope to finish this time next year as ive just started the personal tax unit. Youre right i could go into bookkeeping but i do like the management accounts side and the general accounts environment and there doesnt seem to be that many bookkeeping jobs around and if they do you dont get a look in unless you have the bookkeeping experience. Ive found 2 out of 3 of the accounts positions myself ive had bad experiences with agencies. Im sure theyre not all the same but ive been sent out to lots of interviews that im too qualified or underqualified for with the wrong job descriptions so i tend to use my own methods. However the job im in at the moment is through an agency which have been fantastic really so overall i cant complain.

    Still undecided on the CIMA/ACCA side of things i think ill probably choose ACCA but theres still plenty of time to decide! Could probably do with asking a few peeps about it really
  • geek84
    geek84 Registered Posts: 568 Epic contributor 🐘
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    Hi folks

    Thanks for you replies. The fact that I can log on hear and 'talk' to you makes me feel not alone anymore! As you know, I am doing the AAT through distance learning, and that can be a lonely experience - you don't have the friendly classroom environment.

    Anyway to reply to some of your questions in general -

    I am planning to finish the AAT by Xmas. I started last summer, so maybe I'm being too optimistic! However, I am not working at the mo, soI can study about 4 or 5 hours a day - once I take the kids to school! They are off this week (Easter), and it is a problem keeping them occupied, let alone concentrate on my studies!

    After completing the AAT, I am thinking of going on to do the ACCA rather than CIMA,because ACCA is more geared towards financial accounts - which I enjoy more. I have also bee told there are more career opportunities for ACCA qualified peoolpe. But then again, I might go on to do the ATT. I enjoy dealing with taxation!

    MEL - I am on level 2 unit 31 skills test. I have just completed the 2nd exam, and apparently it takes them 1 month to get it marked. It that normal? Does that happen to you. For me, it seems a waste of 1 month, because apart from apply for jobs, there is not really much else I can do. I can't really carry on to study the next part, in case I have failed some part of this exam and need to do a resit. What do you do in the meantime?

    JAN - I'm sorry for mentioning your age. I did not read your name! I also have roughly 2 decades left of my working life. I too feel that I started a bit late. The danger is after spending time & money studying, would anybody be williing to employ us at our age? We would be up against 21 yr olds, who may have equal, or better, qualifications than us!

    Zhulme - I know there are not a lot of opportunities for bookkeeping - no work - no experience - catch 22 situation. I've been there! I have qualifications up to level 2 in book keeping but thinking of not taking it further for exactly this reason. However, you could atted one of the regional networking events which the ICM organize from time to time, in order to gather business. Also, you mention that you use your own methods of finding work. Can I be cheeky enough to ask you what those methods are?

    Finally, although it can be hard at times, I do enjoy the aspect of studying and gaining knowledge quite a lot. The major stumbling block for me at the moment, is finding a relevant job.
  • melb2902
    melb2902 Registered Posts: 38 Regular contributor ⭐
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    http://www.do-it.org.uk/ try this website to see if there is anything voluntary you can put your hands to in order to get the experience!

    So if you are on Level 2 that is the same as me then? But are you on the old papers? Aren't due to expire shortly so you need to go on the new papers like me?

    With regards to sitting an exam, I have got my results straight away for the last two I sat (provisionally at the centre i sat them at) but then updated ontot o AAT later. Provisional is good enough. For me paying for it myself, I found that the first time i had a big gap between the exam and getting my next package so when i was revising for my second exam, I ordered my third module so that it was there waiting for me as soon as I had sat the exam - no time wasted then :-)

    Are you hoping to finish all three levels by December then? How many exams have you sat so far?
  • geek84
    geek84 Registered Posts: 568 Epic contributor 🐘
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    Hi Mel

    I am on the first stage - the certificate stage - I think that is level 2(?). As you know, level 2 is divided into 2 units - unit 30 & 31. I passed unit 30 about 4 months ago, I got a distinction by sitting the cba!

    Unit 31 is further divided into 3 parts. I have passed the 1st part and done the exam for the 2nd part. It is not a cba, but you need to appoint a supervisor and do it under exam conditions. You also need to do it via your laptop at his/her place (home or work). Have you done that part?

    Each time I dio an exam for unit 31, it takes my provider 4 weeks to get it marked by external examiners. That is 3 months in itself! If it carries on like this, I haven't got much of a chance of finishing by Xmas! I could and have studied for the 3rd part but not done the assignments - in case I may need to redo some of the part 2 exam again!

    I am doing the old style AAT at the mo. I presume my provider will tell me when it is time to change to the new format. Or do you think I should make my own enquiries?

    I am based in the Midlands - what part of the country are you in?
  • melb2902
    melb2902 Registered Posts: 38 Regular contributor ⭐
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    I am sure the deadline for doing the old AAT is June this year? I would definitaley check up on this as you may find that if you haven't done it on time you have to switch - I would hate to find anyone losing out to the change.

    The new system for studying is in 5 different modules. They are all computer based bar one. I am on the assessment style one which I am not enjoying - it is Working Effectively in Accounts which I feel is aimed at yourngsters. I am in my thirties so if I haven't already learned how to put into priority my workload and Data Protection Act etc, then i probably shouldn't be on the course lol! I find i am skimming through a lot of it but not sure that will help come assessment day lol!

    Who are you studying with?

    I am with Kaplan - not sure if I mentioned - they seem to be pretty good. I don't think I have ever read any bad reviews regarding them so they must be fairly well thought of. (Hope so)

    I am Cambridgeshire way!
  • melb2902
    melb2902 Registered Posts: 38 Regular contributor ⭐
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    Jan - I find that i am really enjoying the Distance Learning. I would be falling asleepw itha elcturer for sure and for me I think it would be de-motivating. I think because I am enjoying it so much I am motivated to get the study done at my own pace rather than slower or more expensive going to college. I think if i wasn't enjoying it I wuld be questioning if I am on the correct career path....

    Mel
    janwal wrote: »
    Hi Geek

    A lady never tells her age but lets say by the time I finish it will be nearer 2 decades then 3, never really had the opportunity before but work offered to pay 3/4 of the fees and I couldn't pass it up.

    Would like to have a go maybe at ATT after this as feel if I do manage to go it alone would be quite useful......wait and see how I feel at the end of AAT.

    How are you all finding distance learning, at the mo I am studying through local college but level 4 is night class only and that would mean 2 nights a week not getting home til 10.30 and having to be back at work for 8, so may have to re-think!

    Jan
  • geek84
    geek84 Registered Posts: 568 Epic contributor 🐘
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    Mel

    I am with Premier Training. I am on the old style AAT Diploma Pathway. When it all does change to the new style, I presume I could carry over any credits etc and get exemptions from th new style assessments. Surely, I won't have to start all over again?
  • annefreeman
    annefreeman Registered Posts: 21 New contributor 🐸
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    Hi, I'm based in Plymouth and have done project monitoring (financial spend etc) under the New Deal for Communities. I went straight in at level 3 and passed it all (thank goodness), I'm now studying Technician level and whilst pretty confident I've failed 2 out of 3 exams, had a lovely wake up call and really knuckling down to studying now. I want to go onto ATT as I really LOVE taxation - personal and business.

    I was made redundant at the end of March and am now full time self employed as well as being a carer at home. I run 2 businesses in childrens entertainment and bespoke jewellery, so am pretty good with my own books :) It's an exciting but scary time though.

    Once I've completed my Technician level, I'll be book keeping on a paid basis (just doing my money laundering compliance/application with HMRC now which takes a little while).

    Oh and I was previously a welfare benefits advisor for over 16 years.

    I am lucky to have a very local training centre - Acacia Training - where I go each Thursday and was also very fortunate to be their Apprentice of the Year 2010..............which was like - WOW.

    During my 18 months there, I've also done my City & Guilds level 2 numeracy and literacy, so the opportunity to update my basic qualifications was really appreciated.

    I love the fact we have this forum where there are some really knowledgeable souls to help with our questions..................thank you for this.

    It's fab to hear where others have come from, what's prompted them to do something etc. I love working with figures and crafts and am lucky enough to have found the perfect way to combine both things I am good at and enjoy at the same time.
  • melb2902
    melb2902 Registered Posts: 38 Regular contributor ⭐
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    Geek I am really not sure of the rules relating to the changes, I would definitely recommend that you contact AAT and find out though. Its always better to have the fullf acts tehn at least you knwo where you are.

    Anne you sound like you know exactly wher eyou are oging and its great to hear. I have ideas at the moment of where I would like to be but I still have a good bit of studying to go beofre I get there. Are you going to start your own business up in Accounting then once you ahve completed all exams or stick to your craft work?

    Mel
  • melb2902
    melb2902 Registered Posts: 38 Regular contributor ⭐
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  • zhulme
    zhulme Registered Posts: 52 Regular contributor ⭐
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    Geek84

    Good Afternoon,

    Nope i dont mind you asking how i find work at all. Mainly the obvious routes jobcentre, and total jobs i think you seem to get a greater chance of feedback and a more accurate description of what the jobs entail in comparison to some agencies that glamourise job descriptions and input/leave things out of the job description that may make you want the job more.

    For example i was offered an immediate start temp position at the beginning of january with no interview due to the urgency and staff absences. I was told the general purchase/sales/payroll/month ends etc etc. what they failed to mention was that the role also included being a full time receptionist on the front desk, answering all the phonecalls that came in and doing all the HR duties such as new starter info, rejection letters and so on. As you can imagine i wasnt impressed at all the these other roles seriously affected the ability to due the accounts succesfully within the timescales given. I did stay for the whole temp contract but made a very swift exit at the end of march!
  • geek84
    geek84 Registered Posts: 568 Epic contributor 🐘
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    Hi Foikld

    I hope you're all fine.

    annefreeman - Welcome to this thread. Can you be kind enough to tell me what 'New deal for communities' is? How do I go about getting a role in a smilar thing?
    I understand you started at level 3 AAT. I presume you have prior work experience or a degree etc? Are you planning to go on to do the acca/cima? I too have got some book keeping qualifications. However, I may not study for my book keeping qualifications further because there doesn't seem to be a demand for it. Where am I going to get the clients? Any ideas?
    By the way, I also love working with figures.

    Mel - Thanks for the link. I have just rung my provider and the official statements is that students need to complete the unit they are on and have it sent to them by 30th April. They then have 2 months - May & June to mark it.
  • janwal
    janwal Registered Posts: 1,189 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
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    Hi all,

    Just wanted to share some positive news, got told today my job is safe and my study funding is guaranteed til I finish in 2 years.

    Geek84 - didn't mind tou mentioning the age thing at all, I will be 46 when completed, so as the budding accountant guess you can work it out. Always had an ambition by 50 wanted to be out of modaine 9-5 job, this is the first ste.

    Jan
  • geek84
    geek84 Registered Posts: 568 Epic contributor 🐘
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    Hi

    Janwal - Are you still working in the payments dept at the hospice? I guess you're doing the AAT at college? What stage are you on? I have just completed part 2 of unit 31 skills test.

    After completing my AAT, I am hoping to carry on to do the acca. How about you?

    By the way, I am a few years younger than you (but not many). If I do decide to carry on with the acca, then I will be around 50ish, by the time I finish it.

    However, I don't many employers would be willing to give me a job as an accountant at that age! What do you think?
  • janwal
    janwal Registered Posts: 1,189 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
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    Hi

    Geek84 - I am working in the payments dept at the local hospital, been there 9 years but not much of a challange. I do AAT one day a week at the local college and the rest of time at home. I'm doing level 2 under the new system, have done 3 CBA's got 2 to do in June.

    When I finish AAT would like to do ATT as been told best to do if you want to work on your own - will depend on finance as will have to fund that myself. so that will take me nearer 50.

    Well if they keep putting ip retirement age as they do 50 will probably become the new 40, as it is now I can't retire till I'm 68..... another 24 years to work :sad:

    I was actually quite amazed how much I had forgotton as when I did the skill check it said I could bypass level 2 as I have a diploma in Bookkeeping, but as I hadn't studied for quite a few years decided to do level 2 as a refresher...glad I did. Looking forward to level 3 as quite a lot of things not done before so will be a challenge.

    Jan
  • melb2902
    melb2902 Registered Posts: 38 Regular contributor ⭐
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    Hey Jan well done on the study funding!! I am paying for mine myself but it is worth every penny!

    Which modles have you done so far...I am just a little behind you having done 2 but currently on my third! I will make it my mission to catch up! lol!

    How have you found level 2? I thought it would be best to start at that level just for confidence as well. Having not studied for so long - I wanted some practice before getting into the nitty gritty and like you say its surprising how much you forget!

    I also cannot wait to get to Level 3 - I think it iwll be a great challenge and much more interesting.

    Mel
  • janwal
    janwal Registered Posts: 1,189 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
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    Hi Mel

    I have done Basic Costing and BAI both passed, have also sat WEAF but still waiting for the results on that one, been nearly 2 months, have got BAII and Sage to do in June. Sage is fine as I seem to pick up computer systems quite easily but must admit struggling a bit with BAII, especially things like errors in control accounts, but will just keep practising.

    I guess the advantage you have over me is being able to choose when your ready for the exam, wheras I have to wait til college decide, and once finish level 2 can't start level 3 til September although I plan to do some home study during Summer hols as still only get 35 weeks college and there are 2 extra modules next year. Read on one of the other chats that they say it takes 410 hours study each to pass levels 3 & 4.....not sure if I'll have time to go to work as well lol.

    Let me know which modules you got left.

    Jan
  • geek84
    geek84 Registered Posts: 568 Epic contributor 🐘
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    Hi Folks

    I am on level 2 old style - this consists iof units 30 & 31. Any of you doing them? I have passed unit 30, and unit 31 is further divided into 3 parts. I have completed the first 2 parts and ordered part 3 from my provider (premier training).

    MEL & JAN - I presume you are both doing the new style? Hopefully, after completing this unit (unit 31), I shall also be moving to the new style.

    ZHULME - Earlier on you stated that there is a big jump of roles from being an accounts assistant, once you get the full aat qualification. What do you mean by that? What job roles can a person apply for once they are AAT qualified?

    Finally, when choosing a training provider, can someone please advice, what things to look for? Apart from the price!
  • janwal
    janwal Registered Posts: 1,189 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
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    Morning everyone

    Geek84 - I have just sent you an email.

    Mel - don't know if you are interested but we are setting up a studdy buddy network to try and help us all through the tough times to come! If you are let me have your email address.
  • geek84
    geek84 Registered Posts: 568 Epic contributor 🐘
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    Hi

    Zhulme

    We are trying to set up a 'study buddy' forum. It would be great if you can provide us with your email address and join in.

    Manjinder
  • Jo Clark
    Jo Clark Registered Posts: 2,525 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
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    Hello

    Janwal I have sent you a pm.

    Look forward to hearing from you.

    JC
    ~ An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest ~
    Benjamin Franklin
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