Home For AAT student members AQ 2013 AAT Level 2 (Level 5 in Scotland)
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About to start self study as a full time mum - any advice?

VleeVlee Well-KnownRegistered Posts: 136
Hello

I've been mulling over starting this course for sometime but I've just ordered my books so need a bit of advice and encouragement. I'm a full time mum of two and have been at home for almost three years! I was a civil servant and only have a little bit of relevant accounting experience.

I am planning to self study level two but not take the exams - it's so expensive and I'm told level two isn't too difficult, equivalent to GCSE. Although my confidence is pretty low so I would've preferred a college evening course but it's £800 plus books.

I am hoping to get up to scratch by September and start the level three course then, either distance or college. Is this achievable and how much time study per week should I expect to be ready for level three by September?

I'm also concerned about my lack of experience and actually finding a job once my eldest is in school. I live in London but haven't seen any jobs that don't require x years of experience. Any advice please.

Comments

  • Jo ClarkJo Clark Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 2,525
    Welcome to the Forum :o

    Congratulations on making the first step to studying the AAT qualification, it is a fab qualification and I'm sure you won't regret it :)

    If you are aiming to complete Level two between now and September I would say you have plenty of time and also see this is a good basis to prepare for level 3. As for how many hours study, everyone is different so I can't answer that. I would say if you can do a couple of hours a day a few times a week and see how you feel you are progressing. You may need to do more or less. Just wait until you start. You may find some of the modules easier than others.

    Regarding your lack of experience, you could look to do voluntary work to gain experience, perhaps speak to the nursery/school where your children go/will be going to see if they need a treasurer for the PTA/School Fund etc. There are also various volunteering websites where you can look for opportunities.

    Good luck with it all and if you have any questions with your studies, here is a good place to ask :o


    JC
    ~ An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest ~
    Benjamin Franklin
  • angmcangmc Feels At Home Registered Posts: 73
    I would say make sure you do the practice exams on the AAT website, they're very similar to the real thing and will give you an idea of how you're doing and also familiarise you with the CBT format for when you start doing the exams for real on Levels 3 & 4.

    Good luck!
  • steve2008steve2008 Feels At Home Registered Posts: 89
    I suggest doing one of each of the practice tests for BA1&2 and costing before you start. But only do BA1 and BA2 if you have some knowledge of double entry book keeping and ledgers.

    It will give you an idea of what you don't know. I was pretty surprised how little I had to learn for the costings module. I found that with a good grasp of maths, the mathematical type questions can be answered without any/much study. e.g. You need to know what FIFO, LIFO and AVCO mean.

    Good luck.
  • VleeVlee Well-Known Registered Posts: 136
    Thank you for the encouragement. I have absolutely no real experience or training, just some general knowledge and a bit of work experience on expenses, petty cash records, raising purchase orders and excel.

    I did the test on the premier training website and they were happy for me to start level three if I brushed up on basic book keeping - I'd never heard of double entry book keeping until researching courses so I was surprised I managed it.

    I will check out the practice exams and work through the books I've ordered - osbourne tutorials with workbooks. It's all the jargon and new concepts that are going to be the big learning curve, my maths and IT are ok and my husband will help as he has maths and computer science degrees. My classics degree isn't so helpful!

    Thanks for the volunteering advice, I am in the process of applying for school nursery for my eldest so will ask about the PTA when we visit next week, I might also ask the church treasurer if I can help - as long as I don't have to ask people for money! I'm thinking of emailing local accountancy firms or recruitment agencies for work experience. This will give me a better idea of what I actually want to do within accountancy.

    I can't wait to get stuck in, just waiting on those books and a bit of time to myself. Being at home has turned my brain to mush!
  • becciwalesbecciwales New Member Registered Posts: 8
    Hi, I'm new also, I have literally just signed up for level 2 (an hour ago) as well but I want to take the exams. My background is nursing and I'm looking for a change. One question I have is when to sign up for AAT membership? I know I need it to do the exams. It's also my aim to be ready to start level 3 in September in case I want to do a college course not the distance learning for that.
    Bec xx
  • CeeJaySixCeeJaySix Well-Known Registered Posts: 645
    As others have said, now til September is loads of time for level 2, it's really not that difficult as long as you get your head round the basics of debits/credits and double-entry. BAI and II are by far the most difficult parts for someone completely new to the field as they deal with the technical side of it.

    I'd also say don't sell yourself short - although nearly every advert for practice roles asks for experience and you will probably get binned during the initial sift without it, I found that a well-written CV highlighting the transferable skills your previous career has given you coupled with just the Level 2 qualification to show you have an interest and basic knowledge can open doors if sent directly to firms rather than responding to ads. I sent mine to 7 practices and signed up with one specialist agency less than three weeks ago, I've got a job offer with a top 30 firm and a second almost-offer (meeting with the MD this week) with a smaller niche firm, both offering well over the average for someone with my qualifications. Although most training firms look for school leavers or graduates to fill their training posts, there's always someone who wants extra experience even if it's not in a directly related field. Concentrate on what skills your current job requires that would benefit a practice - IT, record-keeping, anything that demonstrates accuracy and meticulousness, and management skills are all relevant. Above all, most traditional practices need good communication skills, which most jobs can be related to - you just have to emphasise the right points. Show ambition, intelligence and the desire to learn and you'll be surprised that good things can happen - I certainly was!

    Work experience is always good, but don't think that just because the advertised jobs require experience that you shouldn't go after an unadvertised position - there are far fewer applicants and all it takes is your CV to land on the right desk at the right time. Good luck!
  • VleeVlee Well-Known Registered Posts: 136
    Thats very promising on the job front. I am planning to approach practices and see if I can get work experience initially. Id have to earn about £30k just to cover childcare, which is not realistic, so I have plenty of time to prepare my cv when the children start school.

    I have got stuck in and im already on chapter five of BAC1. Its no problem but I don't feel it properly explains things, especially double entry. I like to understand things not just learn them - knowing where to enter a transaction and whether its debit or credit. I'm hoping this is explained later on...
  • liveprincessliveprincess Well-Known Registered Posts: 214
    you won't understand why sales, liabilities etc are credits and assets, expenses etc are debits. Somebody who invented double entry has just decided this and you have to learn it. there is no explanation to it really
  • business_connex4ubusiness_connex4u New Member Registered Posts: 10
    Try to take the exams, it will really spur you on and make you feel good when you pass them
  • steve2008steve2008 Feels At Home Registered Posts: 89
    Vlee wrote: »
    I have got stuck in and im already on chapter five of BAC1. Its no problem but I don't feel it properly explains things, especially double entry. I like to understand things not just learn them - knowing where to enter a transaction and whether its debit or credit. I'm hoping this is explained later on...

    I've just explained my (weird) way of getting my head around this on the "Learning Methods" thread in this forum. So I won't post it here again, take a look there, it might help.
  • Jo ClarkJo Clark Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 2,525
    steve2008 wrote: »
    I've just explained my (weird) way of getting my head around this on the "Learning Methods" thread in this forum. So I won't post it here again, take a look there, it might help.

    http://forums.aat.org.uk/showthread.php?36526-Learning-Methods
    ~ An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest ~
    Benjamin Franklin
  • steve2008steve2008 Feels At Home Registered Posts: 89
    Jo Clark wrote: »

    Thanks, I wasn't sure on the rules regarding posting links.
  • Jo ClarkJo Clark Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 2,525
    I'm not sure if there are any Steve, I just thought it would be easier to have the link to the thread here :)
    ~ An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest ~
    Benjamin Franklin
  • VleeVlee Well-Known Registered Posts: 136
    Thanks for the link I will try to get my head around it. So far im just trying to memorise it for each transaction - sale/purchase/returns. I haven't made many notes as I feel there isn't a huge amount of new stuff to learn it just some really key concepts. Do you think double entry debits/credits just clicks with practice or will I have to keep reminding myself?

    I'm desperate to get more study done but its potty training week :(

    I'm not going to take the exams as the £300 cost I worked it I out to be is not worth the minor ego boost. I would love to but that cash is better spent on the house.
  • CeeJaySixCeeJaySix Well-Known Registered Posts: 645
    There are a couple of acronyms mentioned elsewhere on the forum for the whole debits/credits piece, PEARLS being my preferred one:

    Purchases, Expenses and Assets are debits | Revenue, Liabilities and Sales are credits

    The way I got my head around it to begin with was to relate everything back to the cashbook, because then you are absolutely certain which side to start (receipts being debits, payments being credits).

    Eg. you make a sale to a credit customer for £600. Post the invoice amounts to the relevant accounts in the nominal ledger:

    So when your customer comes to pay you, you know beyond all doubt that that will be a receipt in your cashbook (a debit); therefore the opposite entry must be a credit. The effect of that credit will be to reduce the balance on the Sales Ledger Control (ie. reduce the money that is owed to you, as the customer is paying off their debt); therefore the SLC must be the opposite, in debit. So you've now worked out that your invoice for £600 will be posted as debits to the relevant accounts (normally the cust a/c (for info only, not double-entry), SLC, Sales and VAT (or Sales VAT if maintaining separate sales tax and purchases tax accounts), in order to reflect what is owed to you.

    Using the PEARLS acronym, money owed to you is an Asset, and therefore the account will be in debit.

    That may help, it may not! Works for me if I'm unsure. It didn't 'click' as such, I got the principles and the method but sometimes struggled with the DR/CR question until I thought it through and came up with that method. Sometimes I still have to go back to it to make sure I'm going the right way, but generally it just becomes automatic with use. There isn't a massive amount to learn beyond core principles in any of the Level 2 units, I also didn't make any notes, just did the practice exercises at the end of each chapter then went and sat the exam.

    On the money side, AAT level 2 qualified national average is £17.5k, and it doesn't go up that much even through level 4. I've had to take a massive pay hit to change careers, but have got two offers of £20k +benefits, and both firms have said I should be £30k+ within two years. For starting of £30k you're looking at Accounts Senior positions which will need experience. Most accounts assistant positions (ie. training level) are advertised anywhere between £13k and £22k; my cousin's an audit associate at KPMG studying for his ACA and he's only on £24k, and they pay well over the odds for trainees to make sure they get who they want. Unfortunately whilst the pay if you're successful is good, it's not glamorous starting out as a second career when you're used to earning considerably more!
  • VleeVlee Well-Known Registered Posts: 136
    Thanks for this. I have finished the BA1 book. Just need to consolidate my learning by writing up my notes and doing the practice assessments. I will also use the PEARLS bit if I find it helps. And the cashbook chapter has really helped bring it together. I wrote twice as many notes for this as the rest of the module.

    As for jobs I know the starting salary will be low and I can't apply for a top firm as I need a family life too. Any income I earn after child care is a bonus so once they are in school it should be financially worth while and even more so if I can progress. In 18 months I might be able to look for a job so plenty of time for work experience and to get my level 3 I hope.

    Just out of interest, are there any modules which require you to work to complete, eg work based projects?

    Thanks!
  • CeeJaySixCeeJaySix Well-Known Registered Posts: 645
    No problem.

    Although to correct myself before somebody flames me (I was clearly having a bad day yesterday) - last two lines of third para (ie. the one that starts 'So when your customer comes to pay you') should read:

    (normally the cust a/c (for info only, not double-entry), and SLC and therefore the opposite (credit) to Sales and VAT (or Sales VAT if maintaining separate sales tax and purchases tax accounts), in order to reflect what is owed to you.

    Clearly you cannot post as debits to all three accounts - I really was having a retard day!
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