Level 3 - Self Studying


I am finishing level 2 in July after a classroom based, once a week course. I feel confident that I am able to self study and would like to understand the basics.

Am I able to just buy the books from BPP and then book exams once I believe I am ready? Is it as simple as that?!




  • ChristianB
    ChristianB Registered Posts: 197 💫 🐯 💫
    edited March 2015
    Hi @BenFarrer

    That's pretty much all you have to do. There are two projects to complete at Level 3 - PETH and SDST, which need to be marked by a training provider.

    Many colleges and training providers that offer AAT accept external candidates for these one-off modules, so you shouldn't have any trouble finding a tutor.

    Many thanks
    I have now left AAT. If you require any assistance with the forums, please contact membership support: https://www.aat.org.uk/contact-us
  • BenFarrer
    BenFarrer Registered Posts: 3
    Hi @ChristianB

    Thank you for the swift response.

    With PETH and SDST, I would just study prior to the exam and then request an exam at Canterbury College (in my case) that would be marked by the tutor there?
  • ariadne
    ariadne Registered Posts: 218
    Give the college a call and see if they will agree to that, it will probably be a bit extra in fees for marking. I've heard some people had success with Kaplan marking their spreadsheets exam for a fee so worth calling them too. I wasn't sure about ethics as I did the old style exam but was sure others had done it and I thought it was AAT marked, but perhaps not. If you have no luck getting a provider to mark them then shop around to buy these individual modules from a distance provider, it will still be cheaper than college or doing it all with a distance provider - and check which books providers use if you have a preference.

    I completed L3 self study in December and it's definitely doable, trying to L4 now which is not so straightforward!
  • BenFarrer
    BenFarrer Registered Posts: 3
    Thanks @ariadne

    I'll get in touch with them today. How long did L3 take you? I'm very confident with L2. I have found it quite easy tbh hence why I would like to speed things up with self studying L3.
  • ariadne
    ariadne Registered Posts: 218
    I had a bit of a break halfway, loss of motivation etc, but solidly working, and ignoring the gap, I did it all in about three months - the last four exams took about six weeks and I sat those four exams in four weeks. I was up against a deadline so I may have been slower otherwise. I sat the spreadsheets paper early on as there is a wait for the result, ethics will be the same now.
  • zebra246
    zebra246 Registered Posts: 57
    This is an interesting topic for me.

    I am aiming to come in at Level 3 having never taken an AAT qualification before. I would be taking an online course, which is principally self-study.

    I calculate the costs to total £1039.This breaks down in to £288 (6 x £48) exam fees and £126 AAT registration fees, which are unavoidable, plus the cost of an online study course including materials which is £625.

    Am I wondering if I can skirt this £625 course fee by just purchasing the materials myself and registering to take the exams in line with BenFarrer's idea above. Being totally new to AAT, I am not sure how it will work.
  • zebra246
    zebra246 Registered Posts: 57
    Another thought, the college that is offering the online course suggested I take several assessments / exams in a short time space of 2 or 3 weeks. This is because I work in a remote location and would have to attend the assessment centre during my trips home.

    I would like to know

    1. How long does each assessment / exam take?
    2. There are 6 units so am I right in thinking there are 6 exams?
    3. How many exams would a sane person take in a week, presuming the examination slots were available?
    4. Do you think, if I was well-prepared, it would be a good idea and possible to try and fit all six exams into a 3-week period?

    All help is greatly appreciated.
  • ariadne
    ariadne Registered Posts: 218
    If you've never done accoutancy work before you will struggle with the financial accounting modules as L3 doesn't recap this, the rest of the modules can be done from scratch. To get up to the right level for the accounts prep modules just buy the basic accounting books from L2 - this is the double entry stuff which is built on at L3 so a thorough understanding is essential. There are other materials but this is a quick option with AAT language (there are differences in ACCA materials for example) and you can buy them off ebay cheaply as little has changed - any big changes should be announced and the materials on the AAT website updated.

    Then you can buy the books, there are some modules changes as of September 2013 if you buy second hand and sit the exams as a external student. When you register with AAT use your nearest exam centre as your 'provider'.

    You can get it done quickly but it's really dependent on your natural appitude, prior knowledge (eg maths skills) and motivation. I only ever had two modules on the go at most and wouldn't take more than two exams in one day - I did an evening sitting for one and was so tired it was difficult to think straight by the end so I don't recommend that. The exams last two or three hours and I found most I finished with an hour to spare, but others use all the available time. Some modules match up nicely with others too or are so different it won't qet confusing. I'm not sure about doing it all in three weeks, it depends on how much time you have or other distractions. I suspect it's more realistic to give yourself a week per module but really just see how you get on and don't book exams before you are sure of a pass as you'll just waste money on resits. Perhaps study one module and see how long it takes and leave a similar time for a second module when you book both exams.

    There are six modules and exams - two are marked physically so you may have to arrange this marking and pay an extra fee or you may have to buy the module from a distance provider - this should come with books etc so check before you buy books yourself.

    This is the L3 breakdown of modules -


    You'll get access to practice material and detailed syllabus outline once you join AAT.
  • zebra246
    zebra246 Registered Posts: 57

    Thanks for taking the time to reply. I do have an A-level in Accounting from years ago and I have revised regularly. However A-level and AAT Level 3 are not the same though there is a lot of overlap. The latter seems much more vocational, the former (when I took it) more theoretical.

    I am currently leaning towards paying the £625 online learning fee rather than going down a complete self-study route. Having never taken AAT courses and exams before, I could be caught out. I might not know the way assessments are marked, the way exams are structured, etc.

    I only come home for a month every 6 months, so I was thinking of taking 3 exams in that month and then a further 3 exams, six months later. I wouldn't want to take longer than a year to attain level 3. It seems you feel six exams squeezed into 3 weeks would probably be too much. You are the second person to tell me that.
  • ariadne
    ariadne Registered Posts: 218
    I started without any background at all and AAT is prefect for that. I suspect L3 is easier than an A level, well it was much easier than my non accounting a levels. It's just the double entry you really need to have a good grasp of before starting L3, if you don't have that then the L2 basic accounting books start off without needing any prior understanding and can be quickly worked through.

    I did four exams in four weeks with a few weeks studying before that, I may have been able to squeeze in another small module but six may have been too much, more to do with learning and retaining so much knowledge In such a small period. It's probably doable if you work in accounting and understand it well already. But you don't need to decide before you start, order your books and get stuck in, you may find it all easier than you thought and decide it is possible.

    In terms of preparing for the exams, I'm not convinced distance learning will provide much more than buying the textbooks plus a work book (BPP question books have the most practice questions and tests) and then using the AAT resources - these include tutorials on interactive slides, video lectures for some subjects (more are available on YouTube etc), practice tests and questions, outlines of the syllabus and feedback from exam performance - this outlines the format of the exam, which type of question/topic is covered in each section. An online provider will have one or two more practice tests and a some practice questions. You can also use this forum and others if you get stuck on anything - usually someone already has asked the same question so you can search online. There is some cross over with ACCA so those resources and videos may be helpful, ACCA starts off expecting little prior knowledge too but AAT is more gentle in pace.

    Do look into how you get ethics and spreadsheets marked as if you need a provider anyway you may find the saving is much lower. Ask about whether your provider sends books too and whether there arrangements suit your learning style. I only have experience of Kaplan for spreadsheets and didn't use the tutor support but I did use their online practice tests which are available if you buy their books anyway (I think BPP may have something similar).
  • zebra246
    zebra246 Registered Posts: 57

    Thanks again for taking the time to reply.

    In terms of course difficulty and content covered at level 2, I am not daunted (don't want to sound arrogant). I am familiar with double-entry.

    I am more concerned about 2 issues or risks which pull in different directions. They are 1. spending £625 of my own money when I could successfully do it myself for a far lower price. and 2. Being surprised or "ambushed" by not fully comprehending the exam format, the exam software, the course requirements, the complete course syllabus, exam technique for AAT etc. These are principally administrative requirements in assessing a student's capability. I have previously worked as a trainer (not in accounting) and know not understanding how a course or exam is marked can ruin a good student's score.

    So, I think I will fork out the £625 to avoid the pitfalls I have listed under 2 even though you suggest it is probably not strictly necessary.

    Your last paragraph is a good example of my ignorance. Ethics and Spreadsheets must be modules 3 and 5 of the 6 modules. But I have no idea of what the assessments are and how they are marked.

    I am sure I will (have to) learn the ropes once I get the materials.
  • Sharon123
    Sharon123 FMAAT Posts: 80
    Having passed A Level Accounting I am of the opinion that the level 3 exams are much easier, partly because you can space them out to suit your circumstances.

    I did all my AAT qualification as a distance learning student though having years of work experience helps. I enrolled with tutorial support for my first exam but found I didn't need it so carried on alone just using textbooks, revision books and online resources. A younger colleague of mine did the same and neither of us had any problem passing exams. I sat mine at a Kaplan centre where they welcomed me as an external candidate.
  • zebra246
    zebra246 Registered Posts: 57
    I just thought I would post an update, 2 months further down the line.

    I paid the £625 for the online course in the end.

    I am finding Level 3 not too challenging. I have passed the sample assessments on the AAT website for the first 2 modules. I will have to wait until later in this year before being able to attend a test centre in the UK where I will take a minimum of 4 assessments in 4 weeks. This is because I spend months overseas in a non-AAT location.

    Level 3 is slightly easier than A-level but more wide-ranging and definitely more time-consuming. In order to complete 4 modules in 4 months (my initial goal), I am committing around 10-15 hours a week for online lectures, practice questions and emailing to the course tutor. These are intensive study hours, not watching the telly at the same time!

    I have found the course tutor very good and would recommend the college I use (if you want to know - PM me). Also the resources on the AAT website are useful and I keep discovering more.
  • ChristianB
    ChristianB Registered Posts: 197 💫 🐯 💫
    Hi @zebra246

    Good to hear how you're progressing. Fascinating to hear how you fit in your AAT studies when you spend a lot of time abroad. Thank you for the feedback, it's useful for us to know how members how finding the qualification from a time-management point of view.

    I have now left AAT. If you require any assistance with the forums, please contact membership support: https://www.aat.org.uk/contact-us
  • paresh_bhosle
    paresh_bhosle Registered Posts: 1
    edited August 2015
    Hi there,

    I need your advice as I am in dilemma whether to spend £2000 for tuitions or should I go for self study/distance learning option. As I have already enrolled myself for Level 3 in nearest college and intend to start my course this Sep’15. Since I have 5-7 years experience of working in Finance as Finance Assistant, Purchase/Sales Ledger and Asst. Accountant and also completed my academic and university in Accountancy, that gives me good understanding of basic accountancy, double entry, inter company and up to trial balance & P&L account.

    Since there are 6 papers in Level 3 and it’s mixture of intermediate accountancy including taxation, spreadsheet software, accounts preparation and all. If I would choose for self study option, do you think would be trouble-free going forward. I have read in this forum you have discussed about some physical test which I am not sure.
    Is anyone who has completed Level 3 or being persuade, can you please shed some light and clear all doubts. Also if you can share your contact details enabling me to speak with you in detail.

  • zebra246
    zebra246 Registered Posts: 57
    Another update - 6 months in.

    I have now passed the first 4 modules of Level 3. I took the exams at a test centre in the UK in an 8-day blitz.

    I estimate that I put in over 200 - 300 hours of solid study to achieve that. That consisted of online lectures, homework (lots and lots of homework), revision kits and as many mock assessments as I could lay my hands on.

    I am now doing the last 2 modules, ethics and spreadsheets, which I should finish by December. Then I will have to wait till April 2016 till I am next in the UK to take the final 2 exams.

    Could I have achieved what I have achieved without spending £625 on online tuition and tutor support? Probably yes. But it would have involved a lot of stumbling around not knowing where to go next so I do not regret my decision to spend the money.

    As proof of my lack of regret (in paying for online tuition), I have signed up for Level 4, which costs considerably more.
  • zebra246
    zebra246 Registered Posts: 57
    In answer to my question 6 months ago, I now feel it would have been possible to take 6 exams in 3 consecutive weeks (2 a week).

    However the difficulty or impossibility of this idea is that to study the complete 6 syllabuses so as to be ready for the exams would take me around 8 months. Since I return to the UK every 6 months, I may as well do as many as I can each time I return.
  • BU982T
    BU982T Registered Posts: 40
    edited October 2015
    I'm currently doing Level 3 in about 1.5 months and that's with a full time job and only studying in the morning/evenings and weekends - that's self study by the way. I wrote ACPR and FSTP exams yesterday (having started these units on the 12th of October) and passed both. I will be doing the other 4 exams near the end of November. My pace is essentially a chapter every evening and I don't find the material difficult, but it's just a lot of reading and it can be tiring especially with a full time job. I plan on starting Level 4 in December and finishing it by the end of February. I think the difficult part of it is being able to manage your time well and realizing that even a few minutes here and there add up.
    MOHAMMAD Registered Posts: 1
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