How are you studying and recommendations

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Vlee
Vlee Registered Posts: 136 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
Hello

I'm having a bit of a battle to get accepted at a college for level 3. I am studying level 2 and will finish before I start level 3 in September, however I refuse to take the exams as it costs so much and I'm finding it pretty easy. I'm now looking at distance or self study, so I'm interested in how others are or have studied level 3.

For background I'm a full time mum of two who is awaiting a school nursery place for my eldest. If I go to college I will have to send both children to a private nursery for the day I will attend. I have a degree and worked since graduation with some relevant experience, especially spreadsheets. After a wobble over whether I should just start a CIMA etc I am sure AAT is right for me right now.

Any tips on what works for distance learning, what providers provide best or worst and whether I'm best self studying? I'm in London so lots of options for exam centres.

Thanks

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  • taraskyn
    taraskyn Registered Posts: 41 Epic contributor 🐘
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    I am in London myself. I started level 2 in college and completed it in three month. Then I decided to self-study level 3 and found it amazing. I did not regret it. Why didn't I do it earlier? How I decided that I can do it myself? Simple. When I was in college I still was doing 90% of hard work at home. 90% if not more. And then I realised how much money I wasted on college. This is so much easier and you have all you need on AAT website. You can sit exam as an external student anywhere you like: Bpp, First intuition, kaplan, local colleges...lots of choices.
    And I am house husband, and when I started a year ago my son was only 3 y.o. doing part time in nursery.
    12 month later I am nearly completed level 3.
    I don't know about distance learning but can assume they're all the same, a part of multi billion pounds industry where you have to do 90% of hard work. Only imagine how much money you will save.
    Good Luck!!!
  • Nps
    Nps Registered Posts: 782
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    Self study all the way. Work at your own pace, sit exams when ready, save a fortune in the process. Save the money for if you go onto CIMA and feel you need courses then. I've completed all of AAT and am just about to hit the half way mark of ACCA exams, and all in just over the time a college would have taken to get through the level 2 AAT syllabus. I've saved enough money that I can justify courses for the final few ACCA exams if I feel I need extra help.

    I too have young children and self studying is by far the easiest way to fit studying around them. Many a night I've clutched a text book whilst feeding or rocking the baby to sleep (in fact I'm rocking away as I type now!)
  • Vlee
    Vlee Registered Posts: 136 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
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    Wow that's good to know. Level 2 seemed very doable alone but I wasn't sure about level 3. Everyone has different abilities and natural strengths so I know some people need more support than others. Just not sure where I fit. I might bite the bullet and buy the level 3 books and register with AAT.

    I guess the college responses were putting me off, making me think it was a lot harder.

    I'm super impressed with studying while rocking a baby. I need to be away from distractions so the kids are going to nursery. Even at weekend my husband wouldn't leave me alone. I would have to spend the day in the library instead.

    Ok that's it I will go it alone. Not very social but I will volunteer too. I'm in no rush to finish but did the first level 2 book in ten days so a year seems a long time.
  • Nps
    Nps Registered Posts: 782
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    What's the worse that happens, you struggle and end up finding a course to attend? What's the best that happens, you find it straightforward and you sail through the levels whilst saving a fortune.

    I don't want to sound cocky but just to give you the other side of the coin (to balance out the impression that you are getting from colleges). I found all the AAT levels very easy and the study texts were more than adequate. Perhaps I've just found my strengths, who knows. I understand why some people need structured lessons though, I know if I had to learn a new language, I'd need all the help I could get, my brain is just not wired for languages. I just want you to know that it doesn't have to be the hard slog that learning providers try to convince you it is. Don't get me wrong, I had to learn it all from scratch and I'd be lying if I said I hadn't dedicated hours upon hours to studying, perhaps at the expense of enjoying time with my new baby and toddler, but I believe you get back what you put in and I was determined to pass as quickly as possible.

    Go for it, you've got nothing to lose.

    PS you mention in your sig about not knowing how to do the CA module of level 2. I didn't bother with it as I didn't need it to go onto level 3. I've just done a Sage course (at home) for my own reasons (after level 4) and this would have earned me an exemption from that module anyway. So just worry about it later and only if you particularly want the knowledge from it.
  • Vlee
    Vlee Registered Posts: 136 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
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    That's good advice. Before ordering level 2 books I didn't think I could do alone so I will see how I get on with level 3. I can start anytime with a distance provider afterall. And the college can miss out on the £1k fee!

    I also don't want to be cocky. I'm pretty intelligent, very logical and a quick learner. What I know about the course and job fits my skills rally well, much better than education policy for sure! Which is why I'm getting so frustrated at the colleges. I was planning to do the sage test package for £100 before applying for jobs due to lack of experience. But I've used loads of similar systems in work. Plus any issue I have a very IT literate, excel expert husband with Maths degree.

    Thanks for the advice. I might actually get started a bit sooner as I'm so impatient to get my grey cells working after three years at home.
  • Nps
    Nps Registered Posts: 782
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    Gosh, I feel like I'm talking to my twin! Our circumstances are so similar in almost every way (except the IT/excel husband - he's useless at that so afraid I wear that hat in this household too). After my first pregnancy, my brain turned to mush and I found it so frustrating, hence I looked to study anything. I started off looking at Maths degrees but then kind of fell into the accountancy area and figured it was Maths based and may come in useful at some point. I enjoyed it so much that I'm now planning to throw away my very secure, well paid job, to start again at the bottom of the accountancy profession. I'm also pleased to say that studying throughout my second pregnancy prevented brain mush syndrome this time!
  • sonya11
    sonya11 Registered Posts: 27 Epic contributor 🐘
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    I study on a distance learning basis with Kaplan. I started at level 3 after doing the skills test online and finding my knowledge was already enough to justify skipping level 2.

    I have probably taken longer than I would have if going to a class but I've been able to study at my own pace and sit exams when I like. As a result I've passed every exam first time and with only 1 exam of Level 4 left (2 weeks away) the end is in sight!

    The Kaplan books are excellent but then I don't have anything to compare to. They have something called En-Gage also which allows you to do mock exams and practice questions online as well as using the AAT resources for revision.
  • Clintm15
    Clintm15 Registered Posts: 248 Dedicated contributor 🦉
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    I'm with Nps1976. Working at your own pace is the way forward, it eases the pressure. For every exam (other than the projects) I have purchased only the Osborne texts and took my exams with BPP. I have just finished my final exam and it feels great. I highly recommend it.
    AAT
    Level 2 - 2011
    Level 3 - 2012
    Level 4 - 2013

    ACCA
    F4 - Corporate Law - Dec 2015 (passed)
    F5 - Performance Management - Dec 2014 (passed)
    F6 - Taxation - Dec 2013 (passed)
    F7 - Financial Reporting - Jun 2014 (passed)
    F8 - Audit & Assurance - Dec 2015 (passed)
    F9 - Financial Management - Jun 2015 (passed)
  • Vlee
    Vlee Registered Posts: 136 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
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    This is all fab advice. I'd never have thought of doing L2 alone without reading this forum. I'd be really annoyed if I had paid for a course az I'm doing fine on my own.

    I've spoken to the college and will hopefully get an interview for L3 in a few weeks. That gives me plenty of time to finish L2 minus CA which I will do as a sage course before applying for jobs.

    I just need to convince the tutor I can do L3 without taking the L2 exams and then decide whether it's worth the extra cost - twice the cost as self study. I'd only choose the college if I felt the social aspect and support (careers advice/links with employers etc) was worth it. I have just volunteered for our local NCT and will volunteer with the church, both with potential to take on treasury roles as well as other bits.

    Nps it's great someone else is in such a similar position. However a maths degree sounds terrifying. I hated it but was good at it as long as I had a calculator - long division literally made me cry. My mum was bad at maths so gave me issues and it wasn't until I did an analyst role I realised I had a head for numbers. Oh and I don't work, childcare is too expensive so I took redundancy when offered by the civil service. My brain is total mush!
  • Jayne Cowland
    Jayne Cowland Registered Posts: 1 New contributor 🐸
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    I am just about to complete level 2 at college but as fees for level 3 are astronomical I am considering studying for this at home without a learning provider. If I do this how do I go about sitting the exams? Can I just ring my nearest centre when I wish to sit the exam or do I need to register with them first?
  • Nps
    Nps Registered Posts: 782
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    Just ring up your nearest centre, and book it as an external student, no need to register for anything else (apart from spreadsheets and ICAS in level 4). Tip - ring a few if you have a choice as prices vary. Some charge admin fees as well as the AAT exam fee, others don't, and some just seem to make a price up!

    Also, I was told to update AAT with my exam centre else the centre would not have access to my account in order to download the exam and upload my results etc, so I religiously rang AAT before every exam to change my centre code (I used a couple of exam centres depending on who had the best dates). Others on this forum have told me though that they never did this and were able to sit their exams anywhere regardless of which centre code was shown on their AAT account, but you may just want to check if you need to do this.
  • Vlee
    Vlee Registered Posts: 136 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
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    I have two interviews booked, although for one they evidently have school leavers in mind because they don't allow you to book a time that is mutually convenient and just dictate. If they don't return my call I'm turning up with the kids in the double buggy!

    Along with the hassle of college enquiries I also now have a school nursery place for eldest daughter, so college is looking unlikely.

    I've only four chapters left of level 2 (excluding Sage) so I'm so tempted to order my L3 books and get cracking. For self studying people - were the books enough to prepare for the exams?
  • Nps
    Nps Registered Posts: 782
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    Yes, plenty. For each level I bought the BPP text and the BPP question bank. They more than prepared me for the exams. You can be confident that the syllabus will be completely covered if you've worked through those 2 books.
  • JaffasGirl
    JaffasGirl Registered Posts: 387 Dedicated contributor 🦉
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    The BPP text books are fantastic, i buy the text book and question bank and i have never felt like i have missed anything in the exams.

    I would also go on to say that BPP will give you what you need to pass the exam and not much more and I mean that in a good way.

    They cover the syllabus to the level required and dont try and fill your brain with things you just dont need to know at this level, which is less to stress about come revision time!

    I have used BPP for all my exams so far, the centre has been extremley helpful and accommodating and I have managed to pass all my exams first time without any help from a tutor.

    Its certainly doable :D Good Luck!!
  • Jo Clark
    Jo Clark Registered Posts: 2,525 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
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    Nps1976 wrote: »
    Yes, plenty. For each level I bought the BPP text and the BPP question bank. They more than prepared me for the exams. You can be confident that the syllabus will be completely covered if you've worked through those 2 books.

    I agree. I found the BPP text book and question bank to be fantastic for tuition and exam preparation.
    ~ An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest ~
    Benjamin Franklin
  • Vlee
    Vlee Registered Posts: 136 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
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    Just ordered a few books off eBay with different publishers to try out. BPP does seem more expensive than Osbourne so I will see if it's worth it. The colleges seem to use Kaplan and I have Osbourne. Just finished Basic Costing and it's so easy it feels like I'm cheating somehow. Although reading questions properly is tripping me up now and then, I'm getting complacent!

    Just three chapters left of BA2 (abandoned when eldest broke her leg) and the practice assessment, then I am done (minus CA).

    I have interviews with colleges and they seem to think it's an unreasonable request to start level 3 without level 2. However I think it would be useful to speak with a tutor anyway and L4 sounds tough so college might be the best option.

    Thanks!
  • Nps
    Nps Registered Posts: 782
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    Broken leg, ouch. Hope she's OK.

    Don't worry about level 2 seeming easy, it is. If you are accountancy minded, you may well find levels 3 and 4 easy too ( though level 4 does get trickier).

    Did you know there is a skills test on the AAT website which allows you to take a mock exam and it tells you whether to start at level 2 or 3? The idea is that you can print off your results and show it to a college as proof that AAT recommend you start at level 2 or 3. But remember that colleges are ultimately businesses so they have a vested interest in you starting as low as possible so will do their best to prevent you starting at level 3. If you have flown through level 2 I think there's a good chance you will get bored doing level 3 at college as you will want to go faster, though I do appreciate you may want the social aspect too.
  • wabisabi
    wabisabi Registered Posts: 130 Epic contributor 🐘
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    Really useful discussion, with much food for thought as I finish L2 at college. I found it interesting but very easy and I sometimes felt I was wasting my time sitting through four long hours each week after a long day at work.

    I'm definitely going to get the L3 books over the summer and have a go at some mock exams to see how I fare before booking another college course.

    Thank you everyone for sharing your experiences :)
  • Vlee
    Vlee Registered Posts: 136 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
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    I was posting a reply earlier today but was interrupted.

    Daughter who has just turned three broke her leg a couple of months ago. She's fine but I lost nursery time for study, plus extra care at weekends and I did my back in. I'm still suffering but seeing a physio as I have an ongoing issue caused by pregnancy.

    I was called by a college tutor. It was a mixed response. Apparently the college have lots of people who ask for exemptions from L2 who then fail. Hence my automatically being treated with scepticism. I wasn't expecting the call so stopped her on the spot verbal test on doubke entry. I may have been able to answer but I thought it was a bit rude. I'm a full time mum this wouldn't be at the forefront of my mind even kf I had the L2 certificate. I even had a patronising question about whether I understood the cost would be over £1k. Not impressed as I have really thought this through and researched it and £1k is a lot of money to commit. I'm very fortunate that we can afford it *whisper* one of my handbags cost about that much eeek! Anyway the conversation was a bit of a battle resulting in me saying I'd already ordered the level 3 books and may self study and come back to them for level 4, added a bit about knowing I had the right way of thinking from my work experience in analysis and was getting over 90% in the practice tests in my workbooks, plus the volunteering I was pursuing. Then she said I would do fine self studying and sound like I have the right qualities or whatever to succeed. I suspect she wanted rid of me really but I'll try to take it as a bit of a positive.

    So I think I'm gonna drop the college option as it's blowing my confidence. I will cancel the two interviews and await my books. Although I am now thinking of taking BA1 and 2 as a boost and proof I can do it. Sorry for the rant I needed to get it out :(
  • omega man
    omega man Registered Posts: 283
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    I went to college for level 2 and found so easy they put me up to level 3 a term late, so i did level 2+3 in one year.

    My fees and books were covered as i was on benefits the college covered the extra for me level 3.

    I distance learnt level 4 and i have passed all exams first time, i am just awaiting the internal verifier passing off my project and i will have passed in around 18-20 months.
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