Please can someone give me advice on the best path to take with home study courses/qualifications?

rob59 Registered Posts: 4
Hello, I am new here. I wonder if someone would be kind enough to give me some advice please.
I have a degree in Accountancy which I gained some fifteen years ago, but I didn't pursue a career in it and have now forgotten everything I learnt. However, I have been thinking of late that I would now be interested in pursuing a career in Accountancy but know I would need to get the relevant qualifications.
I would like to study for the relevant qualifications but do the studying from home and at my own pace. Can anyone give me advice please on what is the best way to do this - i.e. what qualifications I do need and who offer the best home study courses? Also, any advice on the time it would take and costs?

Thanks in advance to anyone who can help.


  • ariadne
    ariadne Registered Posts: 218
    It may depend on how much you recall from your degree, if you do feel pretty able and confident it will come back, especially the double entry accounting, then you may find it easy enough to start with ACCA. Lots of graduates start ACCA from scratch, those with accountancy degrees may have exemptions but it sounds like you'd benefit from recapping rather than skipping exams.

    If you feel really unprepared to jump into the professional qualifications AAT is a good stepping stone. I'd read up on double entry if you are rusty and then jump into L3. You can finish L3 off very quickly if you have the time. I probably did it in three months while home with two pre-school kids. But this meant that every evening and any free time in the day and weekend I was studying. L4 will take longer as its more in depth and involves a written project which takes time to mark. The exam availablity is also a delay depending on your location and availability. At L3 spreadsheets and ethics are marked manually but the others are marked instantly on the day by computer. L4 exams all involve written elements and these take six weeks to be marked.

    At L3 each exam is £55ish and you can study without a provider except for spreadsheets where you can buy the module for £140 roughly, there are six exams in total. At this level I bought all books second hand, although the ethics exam has changed so make sure it is a new enough copy for the post 2013 exams. There are three main publishers - Kaplan, BPP and Osbourne. You can mix and match to see which suits you best. Once you get AAT membership you can access their materials and practice exams. You shouldn't need a provider for L3 so this saves a lot of money. The text books are enough alongside practice questions. Many continue L4 self study successfully too. Make sure you get new copies of the books for the tax modules, these are the optional modules are L4. The exams cost slightly more each with three core modules and two options plus the project, again you need a provider for this.

    If you go straight to ACCA (or CIMA if preferred), you can also self study for as long as you are comfortable. AAT L4 used to be given exemptions for the first three ACCA exams, they only give one exam exemption now, although I think CIMA and ACA still provide more exemptions for AAT L4. It's seems that AAT L4 and the F1-3 are roughly equivalent except ACCA is a little more in depth and AAT covers more breadth with the options and project. ACCA F1-3 are computer based and give instant results, they cost £80ish each, F4 is also computer based while the rest are paper exams with manual marking. Again buy the books for each module and there are practice tests online, opentuition has free material presented in lectures with notes to try the examples as you watch. You may find this a good place to test how familiar the material is - F3 is a good start for the financial accounting statements and double entry. ACCA takes a few years to complete compared to AAT which you could do very quickly given the time and aptitude.

    It also depends on what you want to do within accountancy. If you want to set up a practice and start quickly then AAT is a good bet, but if you want to be chartered and work in practice ACCA is better. CIMA for management accounting and ACA is only doable if you have an employer already who will sponsor your study.

    My route as a graduate but not in accountancy is AAT L3 and then starting study for L4 core papers and ACCA F1-3 concurrently and hopefully taking the ACCA exams. I've learnt the basics thoroughly and will save money not doing two sets of exams. Hopefully once I gain employment I will get sponsored through the later ACCA exams as I think the cost rises and need for tutor support may arise.
  • rob59
    rob59 Registered Posts: 4
    Thank you so much for your detailed reply, I will read it thoroughly in the morning. I really appreciate your help and time writing that. Thank you and really good luck with your studies and gaining employment in accounting.
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