Poor AAT Exam Resources

mbuck Registered Posts: 7
Does anyone else agree that the AAT resources available to you before you sit an exam are not sufficient enough? I am now on level 4 and have sat my first exam in cash management, which I am not yet competent. However, I believe that the two sample assessments available are not enough to fully prepare you for the exam and the anomalies that the AAT put in.

I have spoken to my tutor and classmates regarding this and they share similar views. This may be enough to support you through level 1/2/3 but for the depth of knowledge and the variety of questions that can be asked I don't believe this is adequate in level 4.

I think that the AAT should do more to prepare you for the range of questions that will be asked and the different ways is which they can ask them. The issue of 2 samples of each question before an exam is not good enough in my eyes. During my exam, I was asked questions in ways that I had not seen during studying/ revision and the sample assessments, which completely threw me and was 100% unsure as was not something I had covered. When I spoke to my tutor, it came to light that the only resources available to them is also the two sample assessments and they base there learning material on that, which reiterates that you practice a certain way in which you view and tackle a task.

Please understand I am not trying to excuse myself for my disappointing results in the exam, I just want more support from the AAT and wondered if anyone else agreed?

Please comment as would like to know your thoughts!


  • Clarekaye
    Clarekaye Registered Posts: 307
    I found that for 3 and 4, you have to make sure you cover yourself from all angles, they can't tell you the question will be x y and z you need to expect z a and t if you get me?!
    Talking from someone who is now doing ACCA AAT is a breeeeze, don't forget they need to keep their own standards up so need to test every student to their highest level. Good luck :)
  • welshwizard
    welshwizard Registered Posts: 465

    Sadly, you're studying for a qulaification which requires a level of comeptence (not just a pass) and, therefore, you should be able to tackle tasks regardless of the format/way questions are asked provided the task requirements fall within the assessment criteria.

    I've lost count of the number of times people say 'I've never seen a question, like that' - surely, in the workplace, you'll be coming across new situations/problems on a daily basis and, just because you haven't faced them before, doesn't mean you can't address the issues.

    If you're well prepared for the assessment you should be able to tackle anything that's thrown at you but, if you need more practice material, why not buy one of the question/revision books out there? Osborne, Kaplan and BPP all have books out there with a wide variety of task types and, importantly, more practice assessments.

    We tutors can only give you the tools to do the job - the key for you is to be able to take those tools and use them accordingly.

    I am sure that you'll be far more successful with your next attempt at this assessment - remember, you didn't fail, you achieved differently and, importantly, learned what you don't know/weren't competent at along the way. This will surely stand you in good stead for the next sitting.

    Good luck.
  • mbuck
    mbuck Registered Posts: 7
    Thank you both for your replies. I completely agree with you that AAT should test you for competence in order to keep their high standards. I just feel that in class you are taught over and over again a set and normally single way in which to do something, that there needs to then be more to broaden the learning material available. I mean, surely in class you should be taught various angles in which to deal with something not only to prepare you for the exam, but also for the workplace.
    However it seems that all learning material provided is what is based upon those two sample assessments. I am not damning the AAT at all, don't get me wrong about that, I just believe that there should be more provided to fully prepare you, even if this is to broaden the variety in the two samples?

    Thank you again for your replies
    roy ramphul
  • BeccaLouJ9
    BeccaLouJ9 FMAAT Posts: 896 Regular contributor ⭐ 😼 ⭐
    edited February 2015
    Do you not think that maybe your learning provider needs to address this issue rather than the AAT? They (the tutor) are there to teach you the subject and exam technique, this is what they are trained for. As @welshwizard says, they are there to give you the tools, which as an accountant, you need to learn how to use in a varied set of circumstances. If they aren't giving you the level you require perhaps it is something you need to discuss with them?

    I found the BPP books really good for level four, maybe give those a try?

    Good luck in your studies.

  • mbuck
    mbuck Registered Posts: 7
    Thank you for your reply.

    Like i said i have spoke to my tutor, and he's told me that the AAT don't provide any other sample assessments than the one on the AAT website. Therefore the questions they prepare for us are exactly the same as that on the sample assessment, which is exactly my point. We are being taught something on the basis of the AAT samples, where the content in the CBT's are nothing we have practised! ( I know what you have said but surely you can not be tested on something that you have not been practised?)

    I just think it would be beneficial all round for the AAT to provide a few more sample questions in the different formats even if this is directly to the AAT providers?

  • BeccaLouJ9
    BeccaLouJ9 FMAAT Posts: 896 Regular contributor ⭐ 😼 ⭐
    edited February 2015
    I understand what you are saying, what I am saying is that the tutors should really be able to teach not based on just what the AAT provide: they should teach the syllabus and some exam technique. I am sure if it were just a case of copying the exams from the AAT website we could all be tutors?

    I do agree that more AAT exam practice isn't a bad thing, although there are a lot of these in the tuition providers' manuals as mentioned by @welshwizard.

    B x
  • Clarekaye
    Clarekaye Registered Posts: 307
    Having not studied in a classroom environment - all distance learning, I can only say the providers I went with had mocks, practice tests etc so I am backing up BeccaLou here, your tutor should be providing you with more tests and questions here!
  • mbuck
    mbuck Registered Posts: 7
    Thank you all for your comments - I will indeed speak to my tutor. Would you recommend anything other resources other than AAT website? Thank you again
  • BeccaLouJ9
    BeccaLouJ9 FMAAT Posts: 896 Regular contributor ⭐ 😼 ⭐
    As I say I used BPP for all of my AAT studies (distance learning) so I can recommend them, however I can't compare them to anything else! :) There are study manuals, question banks, pass cards etc.

    Also, use the forums for any questions you have! It's an invaluable source and you will always find help, whatever the question.

    Good luck!

    B x
  • mbuck
    mbuck Registered Posts: 7
    Thank you for you help :)
  • Rebeccca
    Rebeccca Registered Posts: 4 New contributor 🐸
    Hi All,
    I can't help but feel this is a slight cop-out. After all, you're going into a grown-up working environment where your employer is hoping not to have to hold your hand for the rest of your working life... So with this is mind, exam practice should involve thinking outside the box a little and, like mentioned above, getting your hands on ALL material available to you that covers the course content.
    For most level 4 papers, I used the Kaplan books issued by my tutor, but felt all mocks etc. we had just weren't enough, so went and bought the Osborne and BPP books too.
    I can't recommend doing this enough as the approach to exam practice are all so very different; BPP in particular have some very wordy questions but I found these harder than the actual exam.
    You may be lucky enough to find students on the forum here, or on places like EBay, who are selling on their books having passed their latest paper, which could save you quite a bit. BUT, be prepared to see notes in them if you don't buy them brand new.

    Best of luck with your exams. Work hard and it will pay off, I promise :smile:
  • leption
    leption Registered Posts: 36
    Welsh wizard you're quite right in saying that in the workplace we'll come across different scenarios at, it happens to me all the time, but at least we can liaise with colleagues for help and guidance. Surely they cant put the same questions, but some of these questions are just plain SILLY even some of the tutors agree sometimes they themselves cant even get the answers to these questions or it takes them ages to work it out.
  • JohnPj
    JohnPj Registered Posts: 38 Regular contributor ⭐ 😼 ⭐
    I agree, there isn't enough rescourses online!! I just failed my CSHM exam too. I got COMPLETELY different questions for my written questions. The examiner just tries to trick you I suppose.

    As to the comment on , in a work place you get new tasks etc. In the everyday life we can research online or ask our managers/bosses for help. Therefore the "exam approach" is NOT realistic. I do believe more examples should be available.
    zippiroy ramphul
  • Sharon123
    Sharon123 FMAAT Posts: 80
    The BPP exam practice books are a useful resource, however particularly by level 4 you should be able to apply your knowledge to different situations. The AAT practice tests on the website are as much as anything to make you familiar with the format of the exams.
  • zippi
    zippi Registered Posts: 182 Dedicated contributor 🌟 🐵 🌟
    I have passed all my exams first time and work damn hard. We did not have more than 4 lessons on this and as this was the last topic, my college wanted to finish it by 1st July. Hence got only 4 weeks prior to exam including lessons. I just had a third attempt on cash management and every time, just like Ptax has been completely different and extremely long and complicated workout. Lot of unnecessary red herring!! However, I agree with Buck and John pj. Some of you I guess are lucky to have tutors, who go above and beyond to help you and give you different materials and resources, unfortunately ours didn't and what little we had was nothing there to prepare you for reality of exam.

    I think AAT should review this and correct it!!!
    roy ramphul
  • SandyHood
    SandyHood Registered, Moderator Posts: 2,034
    This discussion is interesting.
    I get the impression that a consensus feel that good exam preparation requires a variety of exercises. And that many of the contributors consider that this is the responsibility of the college or tuition provider you use.

    Many college lecturers do go to the syllabus and produce questions to help test your knowledge and understanding. These people focus on the same material the exam writers use.

    Sadly some tuition providers (possibly through lack of time) rely on ready made questions for practice. This can leave candidates under prepared for the exams.

    If you are studying without a learning provider I recommend checking the syllabus yourself.

    I am a tutor. My classes are CIMA and ACCA. I use the syllabus for every course I take. I look at the exam questions that were used in the past. I often say,
    "well they tested the topic that way then, how are they likely to test it next time?"
    On those sorts of papers it is a rare surprise to see a particular type of task for a syllabus topic turn up more than once.

    [email protected]
  • deepgc
    deepgc Registered Posts: 6
    BPP in Newcastle were particularly dire, I'm so happy I made the change to FT
  • ShortASSET
    ShortASSET Registered Posts: 21
    I am having some issues too with the quality of the AAT material and partners.
    I came to Malta and sitting my exams at MCAST community college.
    To be honest if I compare the venue to the ones I used in England there are major differences. Very loud and mostly over booked. The noise level makes it impossible to focus on questions. Loud keyboards and talking, last time the student were crunching crisps from a bag. Seriously!
    I always had good results and here I failed two exams already. One is the Ethics one.
    The ethics exam booking it self was a disaster. Home Learning College didn`t responded to my emails in time so I missed two dates. When they finally responded they forgot to book the exam with AAT and Mcast had no idea how to proceed the external student as Home Learning didn`t sent them the required information.
    I pretty much found out on the same day of the exam that I can do it.
    The questions I got were wide open and all kind of threats was present. Unlike support pages on the internet. There were barely straightforward questions.
    I even had one question didn`t even mean anything to me. One sentence, no question but a sentence (empty one) now I am a foreign national but I can speak a very high level of english if I need it to.
    The exam the Ethical one is a disaster it self. Many question can fall into almost every threat, now how can you evaluate what is the most threatened one if everybody has different weaknesses and strengths regarding conflicts.
    I don`t know who creates the questions but I would really like to see answering mine regarding to ethics and see what the person have to say about my feedback.
  • Rachel97
    Rachel97 Registered Posts: 6 New contributor 🐸
    I couldn't agree more mbuck,

    I sat my MDCL ( management decision and control ) exam yesterday and got really upset about it.

    I did all the AAT Mocks & Kaplan's mocks but none of these even related to the actual exam. I did a lot of revision for this so it wasn't like i hadn't tried but i already know i have failed before i get my results back. I do blame this on the syllabus changing as i started on AQ2013 and now i am doing AQ2016 so the exams have changed as well as the study materials ect. I have also spoken to my tutor about this and he said AAT do not give them a lot of information as to what is going to be on the AQ2016, the information they do get is very vague. I do think the mocks should reflect the exam. I know Level 4 exams are not easy but the revision materials should be more varied so there are no shocks in the exam. You are always to get one question that might trick you but not the whole thing!

    roy ramphul
  • amandacavanagh
    amandacavanagh Registered, Tutor Posts: 16 New contributor 🐸
    I am a tutor and some of my learners have just come out of the MDCL exam feeling rather miserable for the same reasons as many of the people above. They feel they have worked hard, done a great deal of practice and have come up against questions in a different format from that which they have seen before. They have used both BPP and Osborne materials.

    I can see both sides of this debate. Clearly, as Welshwizard says, real life is going to throw up different scenarios which may not be "textbook" and a good student should have the knowledge and understanding to tackle many different situations. I have taught levels 3 and 4 for 18 years now and the tone from the learners leaving the exam this year is different from previous years, which says a great deal about the way they are being examined.

    What Sandy Hood says above is spot on. I try and give my students as many different viewpoints on topics as I can but now that every exam is different tutors don't get to see the questions asked so it is difficult to reproduce these new-style questions for the next cohort. And, much as I would love to have more time to be able to think of new, alternative questions for each exam, I do rely on the material from the publishers.

    So perhaps the answer is for AAT to provide the publishers with a greater variety of sample questions from their question banks. Or for the publishers to create more questions. You can bet your bottom dollar that the publisher who provides this extra resource will be making increased sales as the word gets round. Surely the aim for the AAT is to produce students who are as capable as they possibly can be and if the learners want more practice (and more challenging to boot), let them have it....
    zippiMike Webstermcchocroy ramphul
  • NatalieSarantos
    NatalieSarantos Registered Posts: 150
    > @Rachel97 said:
    > I couldn't agree more mbuck,
    > I sat my MDCL ( management decision and control ) exam yesterday and got really upset about it.
    > I did all the AAT Mocks & Kaplan's mocks but none of these even related to the actual exam. I did a lot of revision for this so it wasn't like i hadn't tried but i already know i have failed before i get my results back. I do blame this on the syllabus changing as i started on AQ2013 and now i am doing AQ2016 so the exams have changed as well as the study materials ect. I have also spoken to my tutor about this and he said AAT do not give them a lot of information as to what is going to be on the AQ2016, the information they do get is very vague. I do think the mocks should reflect the exam. I know Level 4 exams are not easy but the revision materials should be more varied so there are no shocks in the exam. You are always to get one question that might trick you but not the whole thing!

    AAT have suspended the MDCL exam and are reviewing the results. This exam was not normal, it was nothing like any of the questions we had tried and completely different to the sample assessments! I literally walked out of the exam and sent AAT an email complaining. I have never failed an exam and I failed this one by 3%. I completely get that questions will be presented in a different way but if the exam is going to trick you, give more time! 2.5 hours was nowhere near enough time to complete 10 tasks, 2 essay questions AND deal with every task being a trick one!
  • Sheena1707
    Sheena1707 Registered Posts: 5 New contributor 🐸
    Yes I totally agree. There are only two practice exams and the osborne and kaplan books are nothing like what actually turns up on the exam. AAT are using a lot of trick wording and formatting and layout changes that are throwing people off. Im on the level 3 now and although I have just about passed units, the majority of the class have failed and need to do resits. These people are professionals with lots of work experience and even they are failing. Doesn't this show that we are not prepared enough? It doesnt make sense, I get full marks on osborne and kaplan paper tests but can only manage a 70 on the exam. I'm really dissapointed, the effort I put in isn't being reflected in the score.
    roy ramphul
  • NatalieSarantos
    NatalieSarantos Registered Posts: 150
    I do not understand why AAT have felt the need to make exams disproportionately hard this year. The module I am complaining about has now been suspended and is under review because results all over have been abysmal! 6 passes out of 44 students! Impossibly hard!!
  • Mike Webster
    Mike Webster Registered, Tutor Posts: 203 Dedicated contributor 🌟 🐵 🌟
    @amandacavanagh Your post is exactly how I feel. I am certain that many people have been expecting to see questions of a certain format and were disappointed however, I also think that publishers could produce a wider range of tasks - all to often I see recycling of questions.

    As Sandyhood mentions, college lecturers are really pushed for time. Our timetables are filled with teaching so we have very little time to prepare a great variety of tasks. I do produce some but, to be honest, also use material from all three publishers to provide a range of tasks.

    I don't think AAT should work with publishers to produce questions as AAT (the Awarding Body) should not be seen to be involved like this. However, I am sure the publishers could afford to get their writers to produce a wider range of questions - they charge enough for their books. I do think AAT should review the sample assessments for every unit and maybe amend them to reflect the wording of questions students are facing in the live assessment.

    Given the comments I've seen in this thread (and elsewhere) I think a complete review of wording is conducted as a matter of urgency - and not just for MDCL - there are issues with a number of assessments which need to be addressed in the same way.
    Michael JH Webster AATQB FMAAT
    zippiamandacavanaghroy ramphul
  • zippi
    zippi Registered Posts: 182 Dedicated contributor 🌟 🐵 🌟
    I couldn't agree more Mike! You are absolutely right!!! There are other assessments like Cash management, Ptax and Btax to be considered (in AQ 2013 and 2016) which have also wider issues. Having worked damn hard and passing all the exams first time, I feel absolutely gutted that despite of having 4 to 5 attempts at Cash Management, I haven't managed to get through yet! Having lost faith in it, decided to do Auditing but since the subject is so dry, I really need to motivate myself. I did my level 4 in 2014/15, so it has been a while and since I have finished college it doesn't provide any support, I have to study the subject myself. I feel very let down by the whole thing. Hope something is done about it soon or else people will loose their faith in all.
  • AEaves
    AEaves Registered Posts: 5
    Hi does anyone have any links to extra mock level 4 exams? Thanks
  • Agnes123
    Agnes123 MAAT Posts: 41
    I've found the mock exams on the AAT website very helpful and the actual questions didn't vary that much from the mock.
    Saying that, I'm still awaiting results for my 2 last exams!!
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