Starting level 3 - timings and syllabus changes

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

I have just finished my level two study. I'm not taking the exams but know I could pass with a little revision (except the sage bit which I will do nearer to the time I plan to apply for work - I'm at home while the kids are little).

So I have two big things to think about now I'm ready to start level three, do I start now with the current syllabus or wait for the new syllabus in September and which order to study the modules?

I'm erring towards starting now because I suspect the PEAF CBA will be easier than the new assessment and doing Cash Management now will reduce the work load for level four. Plus I have older books so more chance of being caught out by the new syllabus.

I called Kaplan to find out about their exam timetable - it was a list of dates and times so I presume they run whatever exam people need to sit, is that right? I was thinking of doing PEAF and Spreadsheets first to get them out of the way.

Thanks!

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  • Nps
    Nps Registered Posts: 782
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    I would crack on with level 3 now. At the rate you've done level 2, and whilst you're still in the swing of things, you could have passed 1 if not more exams by September. I also agree that PEAF is probably easier as an exam than a project and you may even have to pay more for a project.

    I would always be cautious of being one of the first people to start a new syllabus. I'd much prefer to be on a tried and tested route with any issues in a syllabus already ironed out. Do level 3 on the old syllabus and if there are any issues with the new one, they'll be sorted by the time you start level 4.

    As for order of modules, if you've enjoyed BA1 and BA2, I'd do Accounts Prep 1 and 2 first (and together). I did both exams on the same day as they follow on so well together and I just treated it as one module. These were my favourite modules.

    Indirect tax, PEAF and Spreadsheets are all stand alone modules so can be done whenever you like but as spreadsheets can take up to 6 weeks to mark, you may want to do it earlier so you aren't waiting for results before you do level 4.

    To be honest I can't really remember Cash Management and Cost & Revenues so can't advise. I did all the Level 3 exams over 2 weeks so they all kind of merged into 1. If cash management is going to level 4 it may suggest it is slightly more difficult so perhaps leave it till last so you have the confidence of the other passes behind you and the extra knowledge to fall back on.
  • Nps
    Nps Registered Posts: 782
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    And yes, usually the exam centres run exam days but everyone could be taking different exams. They just upload the exam you are booked to do.
  • Jo Clark
    Jo Clark Registered Posts: 2,525 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
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    I agree with NPS that you should start level 3 now.

    Thinking ahead, you may want to plan the order of your level 3 studies around level 4.

    If you plan to sit Financial Statements first you may want to leave AP1/2 until last and study Costs and Revenues and the other modules first. Alternatively, if you plan to start level 4 with Budgeting/Financial Performance then Costs and Revenues would be a good one to leave till last at level 3.

    I know a lot of students find the cash management exam harder/different to the practice assessments. There are often lots of posts about how different the Costs and Revenue assessment is compared to the practice assessment and how students find the volume of knowledge difficult to absorb and remember all of the formulae etc.

    From a personal point of view I completed AP1/2, Costs and Revenues and then the remaining modules (can't remember what order now). I started level 4 with Financial Statements and think I would have been better placed (maybe/maybe not) if I had finished level 3 with AP1/2. I only had a week between finishing level 3 and starting level 4 so no time to really recap so I personally found Financial Statements a challenge. I really enjoyed Budgeting and Financial Performance and the two optional tax papers were my favourite modules.

    Good luck with your decision making.


    JC :o
    ~ An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest ~
    Benjamin Franklin
  • Vlee
    Vlee Registered Posts: 136 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
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    Thank you for this. It's great to hear more sound reasons why I should start now.

    It's also very helpful to hear how the L4 can link in. I might do PEAF and SS first to boost confidence and get used to the assessment style - I haven't taken an exam for a long time (finals at uni nine years ago and driving test nearly eight years ago - all good results at least).

    Any advice on how to study and sit the SS module? Initially I thought I'd buy a module from a distance learning provider. We do have excel on my husband's new laptop and I used to use it a lot at work. Husband is an expert so can help. Is there a difference between the more recent excels and which do they test?

    I am erring then toward going on to AP1 & 2 then ITX and finishing with CMG and C&R, based on your advice. Although if I do L4 with a college I will have no control over which order they do things. I will just have to swot up before I start. I'm going to aim to finish in 12 months. I will register with AAT on 1st June so that will be my deadline for next year, which gives me three months to revise before starting a L4 college course.

    Right I'm off to plan this out. I will have more time in September as both kids will have nursery days.

    Oh and I was thinking I'd like to do the tax modules in L4 too.
  • Nps
    Nps Registered Posts: 782
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    For spreadsheets I bought the study guide and used that. Read my other threads about the exam though, you'll be very lucky to find somewhere who will let you sit the exam without paying for their course (I was very lucky - Kaplan Milton Keynes but I think it was a mistake on their part). Check which version of Excel the exam centre use as I am very confident with the older versions but found the latest version is very different (the first time I saw it was in my exam but that was really bad organisation on my part so entirely my own fault). The spreadsheets assessment is completely different to the other assessments so don't use it to compare the others to.

    I found PEAF very dull and also quite different in content and skills to any other module. That's why I like doing modules together as it was a break from the more mundane ones.

    My favourite modules in level 4 were the tax modules, so much so that I sat the ACCA tax paper a few months later and intend to do the advanced one next year. I think they are generally considered the harder options but isn't everything worth doing always the harder option!
  • Vlee
    Vlee Registered Posts: 136 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
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    Yes I think I read about you being lucky and needing to buy the module. I might do that as a usual way of trying out distance learning. I will sign up when I get a moment. It will also make it easier to register with AAT as I will have a provider. I think we have the latest excel now but I think it was a much older version I used, it was the civil service after all.

    I've just been looking at timescales and think I could book an exam for 6 or 7 weeks time and sit SS and PEAF on the same day. Is this doable? I think ITX could be done after as it's supposedly a bit easier than the others. So I'll aim for three to pass by September. Then I'll start AP1 in September when I have the children in nursery and can really concentrate. I suspect I'll need 4-6 weeks on each module at least.

    Thanks!
  • Nps
    Nps Registered Posts: 782
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    Ring up your local exam centre and see what notice they need for exams. I rarely booked an exam until the day before, I think the latest was booking it at 5pm and sitting it at 9am the next morning. That way you can really go as quick or as slow as you want and not find you are ready to sit an exam way too early or not be ready in time. I personally couldn't book exams any further in advance as I was heavily pregnant and having had one premature baby already, was on standby from about 34 weeks onwards so didn't want to be committed to anything! Unless you need the knowledge of having a date set for the exam in which case I can understand why you'd want to book them in advance.
  • Vlee
    Vlee Registered Posts: 136 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
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    Nps - Ah ok I suspect being in London I could book exams with short notice. I guess booking them gives me something to aim for but I haven't really started so I could be ready much sooner than I realise. I can't believe you sat the exams within two weeks. I can't imagine having the time to do it so quickly, the kids are so demanding and I'm always exhausted. They have just found me hiding in my bedroom after I put on a kids film for them (they are 3 and 15 months, the baby naps but the toddler stopped ages ago :( ).

    I think I will identify a target date to take the exams in that case. Early July for SS and PEAF (same day), early August for ITX and then roughly one exam per month from then, but taking AP1 & 2 together. Everything will be easier in September - I'll have two afternoons completely alone and should have most of the remaining three afternoons when baby naps. I could be finished by Christmas!

    Immediate plan of action - check bank balance (£250 to spend), buy spreadsheets distance learning module, register with AAT on Saturday and spend the weekend checking my L2 knowledge. I will start L3 properly on Monday.
  • Nps
    Nps Registered Posts: 782
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    Oh no, I did the work over a month and a bit and then sat all the exams together over 2 weeks! A whole level from start to finish in 2 weeks would be impressive!

    PS mine are a similar age gap to yours, 2 and a half and 10 months. Neither are afternoon nappers unfortunately (or morning ones for that matter) but have slept for 12 hours a night since 6 weeks old so can't grumble! I'm lucky though that I have a great childminder and lots of childcare vouchers stored up.
  • Vlee
    Vlee Registered Posts: 136 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
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    Well I guessed you had a few more weeks of study so I'm still impressed. Although you get slightly less kudos points for having two babies sleep through from six weeks, I'm so envious. I had severe sleep deprivation for a year each time, which is why it was about three months ago that I started looking into AAT seriously. My eldest is in nursery two days to give me a break but the little one is home until she starts in September, minimal childcare vouchers but it will be worth the financial squeeze.

    I have taken the step of buying my SS module from Kaplan, very exciting but the server is down :glare:
  • Vlee
    Vlee Registered Posts: 136 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
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    Hello

    Quick question relating to this topic. I'm putting together a study plan - working out how long each module will take to get exam ready. I'm in no rush so I'm thinking of doing three exams before September ITX and PEAF in early July and SDST a couple of weeks later. I think this is doable as they are allegedly the easier modules.

    As for the others, should I aim to sit any together or study them one after the other? AP1 seems to be an extension of BA1 & 2 but AP2 seems quite different. C&R seems to be a move on from BC and CMGT seems quite different from anything so far. I'm only going off the chapter titles. I am itching to get stuck in but no point until children are safely tucked up in bed! I've held off as I wanted to absolutely nail L2 and BA2 in particular as I have a meeting with a college tutor on Tuesday. I know I'm in for a battle to be taken seriously :(

    Thanks!
  • coojee
    coojee Registered Posts: 794 Epic contributor 🐘
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    Just be careful with doing PEAF first. If you do need to change over to the new standards then you'd need to do a transitional assessment to convert to the new PEAF unit, it's not a straight exemption. As long as you're confident that you can get the whole level done under the current standards before Dec next year then you'll be OK but if there's any doubt in your mind then it might not be such a good idea. Doing a transitional assessment without a training provider would be nigh on impossible.
  • Vlee
    Vlee Registered Posts: 136 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
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    Coojee - Thanks, I do worry about what this PEAF assessment will be like so I want to do it now for that reason. Unless something huge happens I should be ok to finish by the deadline. In fact I've just written a study plan and could finish everything within nine weeks, faster if I had more childcare. I could start L4 in September even if I need a retake or two. But I probably won't push myself and will aim for finishing in December this year, roughly a month per module.
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