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Is this realistic?

badgergirlbadgergirl New MemberRegistered Posts: 8
Hello all - I am new to the forums and AAT but have spent the last couple of days avidly reading through all the past posts and it has helped me to come up with a plan of action that I hope is realistic!

I am currently a small business owner looking to retrain in accountancy with a longer term plan of running a small accountancy business. I am also a single parent to a 2 year old with limited childcare options!

From running my own business and also from my previous employment I have a good understanding of some accounting practices but my lack of double-entry bookkeeping experience let me down on the AAT skilltest. So my plan was to self study Level 2 and use the practice tests and mock assessments on MYAAT until I felt comfortably knowledgable, and then progress on to self study for Level 3 without taking the L2 exams. I have bought the L2 books off eBay and they are winging their way to me now.

However I would like to do the current syllabus at Level 3 and I understand that I need to have started it before September in order to do so. So I was thinking that in parallel to studying L2 I could study and sit the exam for one L3 module by end of August. I am thinking of doing PEAF as this is more common sense/cramming information as opposed to learning new practices. But I am also considering Indirect Tax as I have some experience of this from running my business.

I guess my questions are:

Is between now and end of August a realistic timeframe to study for PEAF or Indirect Tax?
Will not having fully studied Level 2 be a hinderance to doing the above?
A bit subjective but should I go for PEAF or Indirect Tax as the L3 module to study and sit by end of August?

Apologies for the bombardment of questions and long winded first post! I hope it all makes sense!


  • NpsNps Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 782
    Hello and welcome,

    I don't see a problem with you doing that. Both PEAF and Indirect Tax are both fairly stand alone modules (PEAF particularly) and 7-8 weeks for either would be more than enough. You're right in that it is the other modules which will need the level 2 knowledge.

    As you are self studying, the exam centres won't care what exams you do or in which order, so tandem studying 2 levels won't cause you any issues on that front. I wish I'd done certain modules of level 3 and 4 together with the benefit of hindsight.

    As to which one you do first. PEAF is quite dry, whereas at least Indirect Tax feels accountancy like. If you're motivated, perhaps get PEAF out of the way. On the other hand, you are given all the guidance notes in the Indirect Tax exam to refer to, so if you have exam nerves, that would be a nice one to start with as you have a bit of a safety net and don't need to remember all the little details.

    Hope that's helped a little.
  • badgergirlbadgergirl New Member Registered Posts: 8
    Thanks Nps that is a great help. I think I might order both the PEAF and Indirect Tax study materials and have a look through them to decide. Do you think it would be too ambitious to think about studying and sitting them both together by end of August? The reason I ask is that my nearest exam centre would be 1.5 hours away (and I'd have to arrange childcare for the day) so it would make logistical sense, unless I can convince my local college to take me as an external candidate.

    Out of interest, which L3 and L4 modules would you have wished to have done together?
  • NpsNps Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 782
    Actually I very nearly suggested trying to do them both, but resisted as I didn't want to put you under pressure! It's definitely do-able, all depends on how quick you learn etc. I also have a 2 year old (and an 11month old) so fully appreciate that you can't always revise when you want to!

    As for doing modules together, I am rather unusual so please don't think this is normal (I imagine most people would think I was mad), but if I was starting again, I'd do BA1 and 2 with AP1 and 2, then Financial Statements. I'd then do cash management, cost and revenues, then budgeting and Financial Statements. But I only had a limited amount of time available to do the whole of AAT, so had to race through as quickly as possible. I know this method would not be recommended by most people so feel free to ignore! AAT put the modules into levels for a reason so I'd never recommend that anyone go against that, it's just what would have worked for me, but everyone is different.
  • badgergirlbadgergirl New Member Registered Posts: 8
    Lol! I hadn't thought about mixing up all three levels!

    I have just ordered PEAF and Indirect Tax study materials from Foyles - incidentally using the fab 20% discount code you posted on another thread so thank you for that! I also went through Quidco to get 7% cashback - every little helps as they say!

    I am going to challenge myself to do both together by end of August!

    Thanks again for your advice.
  • NpsNps Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 782
    Oh I love Quidco, though using TopCashBack more nowadays as there is no annual fee and the rates are often higher. Just bought my hubby's Father's Day present by converting my topcashback earnings into Amazon vouchers.
  • badgergirlbadgergirl New Member Registered Posts: 8
    Yes I use Topcashback as well. Don't know why I didn't use them this time though! I love converting my earnings into Amazon vouchers and shopping for free!
  • VleeVlee Well-Known Registered Posts: 136

    I've started both those modules too. Ethics is very dry so I'm hoping ITX will make it less boring if I study them together. I'm sure you will sail through ITX so you may feel exam ready sooner. Spreadsheets appears to be anyother good one to do first, I don't think you need any L2 knowledge for that but I could be corrected. Some exam centres allow up to three exams per day but I think these are week days only and depends on childcare. It's a great qualification to dip in to whenever you have some time, very bite sized which is ideal when you have kids and other demands on your time. Enjoy it!
  • mentorkeithmentorkeith Feels At Home Registered Posts: 74
    Hi Badgergirl

    What books have you ordered? Kaplan or Osborne? I found the PEAF book by Kaplan hopeless. It gives loads and loads of information but few examples showing what the information actually means in the real world. It really doesn't explain itself very well and doesn't give enough activity questions. I had about 30 of my own questions which I could not find the answers to in the book. I borrowed the Osborne book on Professional Ethics and wow I found almost all the answers to my questions. The Osborne book is 10 times easier to read and digest and actually enjoyable to read. It took me ages to go through the Kaplan book, but I was able to go through the Osborne book very quickly.

    If you get both books, you will find that both books work together well. The Osborne book explains things much much much better, but the Kaplan book gives more information, facts and figures. So it is good to use both.

    Almost all of my fellow students all failed the PEAF exam first time, but those who took my advice to use the Osborne book ALL passed second time round.

    Indirect Tax
    Whereas the Kaplan Book is not a very good book for studying PEAF it is much better for Indirect Tax. In fact I sped through that book within 2 weeks doing all the activities throughout. It is fairly easy to follow.

    For those who still need to take the exam I recommend that you ensure you understand 100% everything that goes onto a VAT Return. Before I took the exam, I tested myself on the AAT CBA's. On CBT1 I got every single question correct apart from 2.2 (the VAT Return). I got the VAT return 60% correct but failed the CBT mock exam JUST ON THAT. Clearly the VAT Return carries high marks. You have to get 70% in both sections. Section 1 is relatively easy to get 70%. However, as Section 2 only has 3 tasks, it is clearly not enough to be 100% on 2.1 and 2.3 because (at the most) it only represents 67% (two thirds) of the marks. Actually, task 2.1 and 2.3 probably only represent about 30% of the marks combined. So focussing on getting the VAT return correct will virtually get you through the exam.

    I advise practice all 4 CBA's until you get the VAT return 100% correct every time. Then you will be virtually ready for your exam. Obviously you need to be familiar with all other aspects in section 1 also but it is fairly easy to become familiar with it.
  • steve2008steve2008 Feels At Home Registered Posts: 89
    IMO the VAT module does not contain much in the way of content you have to remember, the guidance notes are available in the exam contain most of the information. If you want to be sure of getting one done this would be the best bet.

    The double 'should' be doable too in that time, depends on your personal circumstances. My exam center is over an hour away too so I crammed 4 exams into a day (BA1/BA2/Costing/WEAF then Spreadsheets/Tax/AP1/AP2), I don't think most centers would do that though. The independent one I used let me start the next one as soon as I liked so i didn't have to hang around all day waiting for the start time.
  • VleeVlee Well-Known Registered Posts: 136

    I've just spent a few hours studying PEAF from a Kaplan book :glare: So dry and some bits really don't make sense or could be worded far more concisely to be understood. Just one more chapter to go and I will see whether the elearning will help if I'm not passing the practice assessments. I really liked Osbourne so might go back to them for L4. Was there anything not covered or was it just the style that made the Kaplan book less useful?

    I have Kaplan and an old BPP for ITX so should be ok there.
  • mentorkeithmentorkeith Feels At Home Registered Posts: 74
    For PEAF Kaplan just simply made statements which they quoted from other sources. These sources most often used difficult to understand words , phrases or the sentences were much too long, leading to difficulty in interpreting what it said, leading to misunderstanding it. Kaplan NEVER explained what these sources were actually saying and gave no examples, but assumed we would understand. Osborne DID clarify these long winded words and explained it really well giving great examples of what it meant in practice.

    I would strongly recommend you get hold of the Osborn book. Maybe borrow from a library. If they don't have it, ask them if they would order it for you.

    The e-learning is ok to get the general overview of ethical thinking. but the exams do not ask questions related to what they ask you on the e-learning. The E-learning sets you thinking in the right way. Once you think in the right way, you can then apply your thinking to the exam questions.
  • mentorkeithmentorkeith Feels At Home Registered Posts: 74
    This discussion can also be found on a newer link. Please click here to go straight there:

    Regarding the Osbourne Book on Professional Ethics, my college library had just one copy of the book which I borrowed. I asked if they could order more books for my fellow students and explained why. They ordered 2 more books (the latest revised issue) which took about 3 weeks to arrive. Oh, by the way, ensure you ask for the separate activities/questions book also (can't remember what it is actually called) that is great for testing yourself. It has a whole book full of questions/answers that help you to understand ALL the difficult topics.

    If your library doesn't have it, why not try a public library? Why pay out for a book which you will possibly only need for a few weeks if you can get it free.
  • James PattersonJames Patterson Trusted Regular Registered Posts: 281
    HI Badgergirl,

    Dependent on what you think you need to do, as you appear to be doing this for your personal knowledge over the qualification, and if you want to focus on double entry it is probably best to focus on Basic accounting and accounts preperation.

    Its not too bad that you aren't sitting level 2, as most of the exams are light groundwork, but it is a very handy entry level and gets you thinking the right way to build on with level 3.

    You can definitely achieve indirect tax and PEAF by August. PEAF strikes me as common sense which i'm sure you will be fine with being a small business owner yourself. Tax isn't an overly time consuming topic either.

    Which Books have you gone for? I use Osbourne books personally.

    I know everyone has covered it well, just my personal view :)

    Hope this helps and best of luck
  • badgergirlbadgergirl New Member Registered Posts: 8
    Thank you Vlee, Steve2008, Mentorkeith and James!

    I have ordered the BPP books - mentorkeith do you think these are any good? I doubt my local library will have any of the relevant books - it's pretty small and is currently closed for refurbishment until the end of July! I'll have to see how I get on with the BPP books and if they are as rubbish as the Kaplan one seems to be then I'll get hold of the Osborne book somehow.

    I have today booked my place at the assessment centre for 29th August to do Indirect Tax and PEAF - scary! At least it will give me a deadline to work to and force me to study.

    I think I will probably study Basic Accounting 1 & 2 and then Accounts Prep 1 & 2 and sit those two exams next. As those subjects seem to sit nicely together.

    Vlee it's good to hear that you're finding PEAF and ITX work well together.

    Mentorkeith thank you so much for the pointers for how the exam is marked and what to focus on. Very helpful!
  • mentorkeithmentorkeith Feels At Home Registered Posts: 74
    Badgergirl. You are very welcome. Actually I have not even heard of BPP books, so cannot comment. Our college only recommended Kaplan (because they are cheaper for the students) and Osborne.
  • NpsNps Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 782
    I used BPP books for all of AAT (as you've probably read on my other threads!). I have never come across a question in any AAT exam which hasn't been fully covered by BPP. I suspect BPP actually go a bit more in depth than you need for the exam but I have no problem with that. I have read threads on here by people saying that there was something in an exam which their Osborne book did not cover, but that could just as easily be due to them having not read it properly so I may be doing them a disservice! All I can confirm is that if you have a BPP text and you are comfortable with all the content, you will not have a problem in any exam.
  • badgergirlbadgergirl New Member Registered Posts: 8
    Thank you Nps - that's very reassuring to hear! I did choose BPP because of the positive things I'd read on this forum - in particular what you'd said about them - about them being very comprehensive. I think these books along with repeated practice of the AAT CBAs should do the trick. Just got to put the work in now!
  • NpsNps Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 782
    You'll be fine. And if you're not, there's lots of help here.
  • badgergirlbadgergirl New Member Registered Posts: 8
    Thank you! It does feel a bit weird/mad to have exams booked for subjects I've not yet even received the study books for! I'm raring to get going though.
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