Spreadsheets Exam - July 2015

So I've just done the spreadsheets exam and it really wasn't pretty.

Firstly the exam clearly stated that I had 3hrs +15 mins reading time. The invigilator was telling me to stop after 2hrs 30 mins and that the other 45 mins was "emergency time". There was no mention of this anywhere on the exam - why would they specify 15 mins was reading time if that was the case? I'm not sure if something has changed recently in the amount of time you're meant to take? In the end I persuaded him to let me carry on but if I've default failed because of that then I really would expect to get a re-sit for free in this instance. Obviously this whole thing affected my ability to concentrate for the rest of the exam anyway.

Question 1 was about Gizmo games and SLG and it was MASSIVE, nothing like the questions in the mock, Its not a good sign when you are 75 minutes into an exam and still on question 1, despite being able to do the mock 2 hrs. This alone had me flapping. Part of it was really difficult to understand, relating to a flat rate mark-up for next year based on the average of the range of 5 mark ups currently in use (there were 5 different mark up %s depending on cost), but it wasnt clear if it meant the average of last years mark ups in terms of actual use (eg weighted by how much each band was actually used -only 3 of the 5 mark up ranges were used at all) or if it meant the simple average when you sum the 5 bands together and divide by 5 giving them an equal weighting.

Has anyone else encountered this question and thought it was a bit too heavy going?
What is the deal with the amount of time you're meant to do the exam in? Has the been a change recently?

Sorry to vent but it's not an exam I was even stressing much to be honest.



  • SandyHood
    SandyHood Font Of All Knowledge Registered, Moderator Posts: 2,034
    Sorry to hear you had such a stressful time
    It appears to me that your invigilator was misinformed. Emergency time is not part of the official time.
    I recommend contacting your learning provider and drawing his or her attention to what happened. It may also help to let the exam venue know.

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  • TammyP
    TammyP Registered Posts: 2
    Dargumin - I have just sat mine this morning and I feel like I've been beaten about the head with the spreadsheet textbook !! - I too spent over an hour on Q1 and then from 3 onwards was in an absolute panic. I am not at all hopeful of passing but I know that I completed every task to the best of my ability - Hopefully should know sometime this week my provisional "in house" result. Good luck with yours
    Tammy - Leicester
  • Skinjam
    Skinjam Registered Posts: 1
    I sat the Assessment 2 Spreadsheets exam as well as my friend, sadly neither of us passed as it was tremendously difficult, I spent almost two hours just on the first question before I just had to move on. In my exam I was given 3 hours and 15mins, the exam invigilator had me down for 2 hours and 30mins I believe until I pointed out the wording on the exam paper on how long I really had. I'm not too sure why the Spreadsheets exam has to be so difficult, the questions you are asked are not worded well and it's just such a difficult exam, it's the exam most of my peers have failed when having passed all previous ones first time. The resit will be Assessment 1 which is identical to the mock assessment and is no where near as difficult as assessment 2.
  • RosieCarlisle
    RosieCarlisle Greater ManchesterRegistered Posts: 60
    Yikes - I'm planning to take my spreadsheets exam later this month, and this doesn't sound promising! Has anyone had an okay experience with this exam?
  • TammyP
    TammyP Registered Posts: 2
    Just to let you know that I actually passed believe it or not. Also, apparently my workbook didn't upload properly and I passed whilst not completing the multiple choice section 5.. I have sent an e-mail saying that I did them all and that I am not happy, but the response was that It wont effect my mark ? - I was told NO ERRORS in this exam but that's not true as my feedback suggests I have made the odd error, yet still deemed competent.. oh well its a pass hey - Onwards to level four and I think that is going to be culture shock !!
  • RosieCarlisle
    RosieCarlisle Greater ManchesterRegistered Posts: 60
    I took my spreadsheets exam yesterday, and I'm now in the same boat - the difficulty was off the charts!

    I really think the exam is much too difficult and in-depth. I was very well prepared and got almost full marks in both mocks I did, and I've used spreadsheets for years, so was familiar with at least 60% of the topics before I began studying. And yet when I went into the exam, I spent about 1 hour just on task 1 alone (which wasn't difficult, just long), whereas with all other exams I've been finished entirely within an hour. In the past, the time limit for exams has been very generous, giving you more than enough time to complete everything. There was no indication that the exam was going to be twice as long as the mock assessments. Why would the mock assessment be so much shorter and easier than the actual exam? It's supposed to be a realistic reflection of the exam in order to prepare students. Not trick them into thinking it's very manageable and then sending them into a panic on the day!

    I appreciate that this is level 3 and not a walk in the park, but I still think something is amiss here, and there's been too big of a jump in the level of difficulty.
  • aat_trainingcompany
    aat_trainingcompany Registered Posts: 20
    On the matter of the timing, the time offered depends on which case study you are given. But usually AAT guidance states about 2h30mins for the exam plus 15 minutes reading time plus 45 mins. for the centre to print everything and collate sheets, hand to students etc. We believe the invigilator knows what they are talking about but used the wrong terminology, 'emergency time'.

    In our experience the main issue with the exam appears to be that students are either too cautious in which case they run out of time or too hasty in which case silly errors are made.

    The main issue with spreadsheets is that you can fail for not paying attention to detail, if a task asks to align, bold and make it pink font colour (i.e. 3 requirements) and you forget to do the 'bolding' you likely to fail that task.

    The trick is to stay calm, and check as you go along - it is unlikely that you will have time to re-check the entire paper properly on completion.

    Time management is also key.

    On the spreadsheets unit you need to score 70% just like all other AAT papers – AAT have defined 70% as the competence mark.
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