HELP! External candidate info please . . .

Iannalise Registered Posts: 8 Regular contributor ⭐ ? ⭐
Hey AATers, I wonder if I can pick someones brains please?

I have recently spent a small fortune buying all the latest (level 2 - BPP) materials with the intention of self studying at home at least to begin with and using a provider for the more challenging sections later on.

I was trying to work out how to book an exam as an external candidate (this seems straightforward enough) and also to purchase my first annual AAT Student membership in preparation for sitting my first one. When completing the online form it has course provider as a required field. I then used their live chat support only to be told this is because you cannot self study and have to be registered with a course provider. Im confident I have read about others completing the certifications this way though and would really appreciate if any of you could shed some light?

Thanks in advance



  • Nps
    Nps Registered Posts: 782

    Yes you can self study so when I registered I just said either BPP or Kaplan (I can't remember which one) even though at that stage I didn't know who I would be doing my exams with. In the end I ended up taking some at BPP and some at Kaplan depending on who had got the most convenient dates for me at the time. All I had to do was call up AAT the day before an exam to let them know where I was taking the exam so that they could update my record (you have to be registered at the same centre that you take the exam else the centre cannot upload the exam for you). I think I changed my centre code about ten times over the course of my studies.

    The only problem occurred when I was doing my ICAS project with Kaplan and I took some exams at my local BPP centre. Whilst I was registered with BPP, my Kaplan ICAS tutor couldn't access my project, so I ended up ringing AAT before the exam to change to BPP, and then called them back after the exam to change me back to Kaplan.

    So if you know where you are likely to be taking your exams, treat them as your course provider for now, but you can always change if you happen to take any exams elsewhere.
  • Iannalise
    Iannalise Registered Posts: 8 Regular contributor ⭐ ? ⭐
    Thank you, THAT makes sense. When I queried with the AAT adviser on live chat she was adamant you could not self study to the point where when I asked why they sell the materials alone without buying a full course she even said its just because they are independent publishers who see an opportunity to make extra cash ad occasionally it might be helpful to buy various versions of the same unit from different publishers to have the content explained in different ways. I then asked if it was a waste of money buying the books alone and she told me it was as even if I wanted to use BPP (it was BPP materials I bought) I would ave to buy the exact same materials again when I purchased the course!

    So can I ask who you preferred to take your exams with? I live on the outskirts of London so have access to Kaplan or BPP so would be interested to know if there's any difference be it he atmosphere of the place, ease of booking or costs?

    Thanks again
  • Nps
    Nps Registered Posts: 782
    Gosh, that is shockingly inaccurate (it is partially true if you are talking about the spreadsheets module or the ICAS project, but certainly not for the others).

    I have completed all levels and I can assure you each module has only cost me the price of a study text and the price of the exam (except ICAS).

    I used BPP texts, for no reason other than I used them for my first exam and was happy with them so continued to use them. I did buy a Kaplan text for an ACCA exam as I was struggling with a certain bit, and the Kaplan book did explain that bit better, but I preferred the BPP text for the rest of the module. Swings and roundabouts, and personal preference I guess.

    As for exams, my BPP and Kaplan centres are within minutes of each other so I enquired about dates with both of them. Kaplan had the best dates for me so I did my first exams there and carried on using them out of convenience. It was only when they didn't have any convenient dates for a particular exam that I called BPP and then discovered that they only charge the exam fee whereas Kaplan had been charging me a £15 admin fee on top of the exam fee. Funnily enough I did the rest of my exams with BPP. As for actual centres and exams, I found both as good as the other, the exam is set by AAT so essentially the only difference between the two is the exam environment (and the cost!). I could book at either centre via phone, but with BPP they just took my card details over the phone whereas Kaplan ask you to fill out a form and fax it to them, so booking with BPP is definitely slightly easier.

    I have found though (via these forums), that each centre seems to differ even within the same company, so you may find that my comments only relate to my specific centres (Milton Keynes).

    Hope that helps!
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