Level 3 Synoptic Exam

Hi all :)

In less than two weeks I am sitting my level 3 synoptic exam. If anyone has already done this exam, could you give me any tips/advice that you have or a heads up on what kind of questions I should expect in both the first and second sections?

Yesterday I did a mock exam for just the Spreadsheets section and really struggled time-wise (only an hour and a half long) :anguished: Our tutor told us that we had only 30 mins for each task, but I found with that much time, I couldn't fully finish the tasks. I think if we had another 15-30 minutes, or were allowed to carry across the time from the first section it would be a lot easier. Does anyone have any time-management and study tips for this?

Also, did anyone find the written questions in the exam difficult? How did you prepare/study for them?

Any help and advice would be appreciated :) Thank you :)
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Comments

  • IrrorateIrrorate Registered Posts: 87
    Hi Beth

    I don't have any tips unfortunately as I never sat the synoptic for level 3, I had the AQ2013 syllabus.

    However, at the 2017 AAT Training Providers conference feedback was given to AAT from all training providers that the synoptic is so time-restrictive and everyone appears to be struggling with the time constraints surrounding the spreadsheets aspect. With this in mind, you may find that your exam is reviewed (similar to L4 MDCL).

    While it's not help, it may be a silver lining.
    bethany
  • bethanybethany Registered Posts: 10
    Thank you Irrorate, this gives me some hope! :) How long do you think it would take AAT to review the time limit for the exam? Might they possibly change it before my exam on the 24th May? Or would it take them longer than that? I'm just wondering if I should postpone my synoptic exam until this July as maybe by then the exam time limit might be changed.
  • IrrorateIrrorate Registered Posts: 87
    I'd probably still sit it just to get a feel for the questions and the format, there's still every chance you can pass! I have no idea if a formal review is taking place but the feedback was definitely negative from the providers.

    Don't forget if a review is done then any changes will result in your grade being revised (upwards only, they can't revise downward) so, similar to L4 MDCL you may get a percentage increase on your score.
    bethany
  • JayKalleeJayKallee Registered, Tutor Posts: 45
    edited May 13
    Yes indeed AAT has now added 15 minutes extra to AVSY section 2. It's still very tight for some students.
  • bethanybethany Registered Posts: 10
    So AAT have now increased the time for the spreadsheets section in the synoptic by 15 mins? That's great news! Agreed, it will still be tight time-wise, but every little helps! Thank you for letting me know JayKallee! :)
    JayKallee
  • bethanybethany Registered Posts: 10
    I sat my level 3 synoptic exam yesterday evening. The first section went well except for a multiple choice question and a written question which I wasn't completely sure of. My tutor had told me to use time given in the first section as she said it was obviously crucial to get as many marks as possible.

    With this in mind once I'd finished all the questions I quickly scanned over my answers to section 1 until the timer ran out and a pop up window came up to say the time was up and I should move onto the 2nd section. As soon as I moved onto the 2nd section, the question from the 1st section carried across to my screen in the 2nd section! I knew from then I had a dodgy exam... so I moved straight away to Task 2.3 as Task 2.1 wasn't responding. After saving the spreadsheet task to my memory stick with the correct filename, I closed the spreadsheet so I could open it again using the windows key on the keyboard. Only pressing that key didn't work, so I couldn't re-open my file! I asked the invigilator to come over and after turning the computer off and moving onto a different computer, I managed to start the task.

    But, the spreadsheet just kept freezing, like, 4 times. After swapping to about 4 different computers, I'd had enough. All I could do was keep on saving, pretty much every 30 seconds. I noticed the spreadsheet seemed to close whenever I had to do some sort of formatting, but I'm not completely sure of the cause of the freezing. Mercifully once I got onto this one computer and started to save regularly, the spreadsheets didn't freeze again. Somehow I managed to complete all my tasks in the time limit. I think if I didn't have the 15 mins AAT added, I wouldn't have finished. I know they weren't perfect, as there were some things I wasn't sure of, but I did my best!

    For anyone sitting their synoptic exam, my advice to you would be, first, use all the time you have in the 1st section. It will never hurt having a second glance over your answers if you have the time, especially the written ones, as there may be spelling mistakes. Once you're in the second section, hopefully you won't have an exam like me where the spreadsheet window keeps freezing. But, if it does, don't waste time trying to unfreeze it by clicking different parts of the screen. Hopefully you will have saved before the screen froze, but if not press CTRL+S (save shortcut) although there's no guarantee this will save your work, get the attention of your invigilator and get them to turn off your computer. Before your invigilator turns the computer off, though, check the time on your secure assess. As soon as your invigilator turns on the computer again and logs you back into your exam, the time should be exactly the same so you won't have lost any time!

    Keep pressing the save button as you do your work.

    Also, if you are unsure of how to do something, don't spend too long trying to work it out. If you're really stuck move on and try and get as many marks as possible. Every time I finished something I would highlight it on the spreadsheet, but if I came across something I really couldn't do, I just moved on and did as much as I could to earn the marks.

    I do have a question. If, like me, your computer does keep freezing, is there any extra time allowance? I was just wondering as my invigilator didn't allow me have any extra time and I was just wondering if that's fair.

    I hope this advice helps! I am worried about my result but I am hoping that I did enough to pass, and also that the AAT would lower the pass rate or something.

    Beth :)
    bolingbrokeNicolaPerry
  • DeapigaDeapiga Registered Posts: 3
    edited May 30
    [removed]
  • AATBIKERAATBIKER Registered Posts: 3
    Well if like me you sat the level 3 synoptic today , I'm pretty sure it was a waste of three hours of my time and i will be resitting in July.
    As an analyst I use spreadsheets every day to what I thought a reasonable level but some of the things that come up were either very extreme or the wording of the question made it almost impossible to work out what was needed. Those with no experience didn't stand a chance, I had to leave large sections just to through it - just how much do the AAT think can be done in less that 2 hours?
    KN10OlgaLbolingbrokebethany
  • bolingbrokebolingbroke Registered Posts: 3
    I don't know if this will reassure you or not but I also sat it today and feel like a rant.

    The first section on ethics was fine, plenty of time. As for the second on spreadsheets, I had absolutely no problem with any question which was asked and still managed to run out of time. I had to upload a largely unfinished spreadsheet for the third part. This wasn't help by the fact that initially the software wouldn't let me switch to excel, the examiner had to freeze my session and move me to another computer, I lost almost ten minutes because of that. As well as that the text on the printouts is tiny, flicking back to page one and finding the direction there takes even longer. My tutor told me that other people had problems too so hopefully something happens. My lowest grade so far at level 3 is 94%, I was hoping for a distinction and I'll be more than annoyed if I don't get it after the work I've put in.
    bethanyOlgaL
  • OlgaLOlgaL Registered Posts: 1
    edited May 25
    I would just add that for me also it was a waste of three hours of my time and i will be resitting in July I am sure. The part of excel tasks seems to be just a joke with the students. It is not possible to complete all the tasks on time, jumping from the worksheet with the tasks and to other worksheets, downloading and saving the files. With part 2.2 I had a problem - part of my work wasn't saved while I was switching to aat assessment main page in order to check the time remaining. After that I started to press button save after every significant change I made.

    I did well all other tests and I am confident about my knowledge, I am just disappointed with AAT.
    It shows a lack of the professionalism from the AAT side. I am sure many students will not go ahead to level 4, it is preferable to go to CIMA or ACCA.
    bolingbrokebethanyRenata42annvboys
  • salma1011salma1011 Registered Posts: 8
    Just done ass today. We had so many problems, PC crashing/freezing. Assessment too long no printing and very difficult. Mock assessment on AAT are very easy. You dream of having something like mock assessment! Some of us could not even access part 2 spreadsheets! Part1 is much harder than mock assessment. And unfortunatly questions are linked so if you get the 1st wrong then you will get everything wrong. So very unfair. We have been told we ll have 15 minutes break but did not happen so 3h15 non stop. Excel
    Is a very old version. I only use 2017 and 2016 ( college has 2016) so very different again waste of time. All recourses we had are full of mistakes unbelievable. Very desapointed with AAT. And we all failed for sure. We have worked so hard for it.
    OlgaL
  • salma1011salma1011 Registered Posts: 8
    Problem is even if we resit we will not pass as there is too many issues.
    OlgaL
  • bethanybethany Registered Posts: 10
    Can I just say for anyone who did the synoptic exam and their computer kept crashing/freezing, you can ask your invigilator to fill out and submit an Incident Report to the AAT on behalf of you, stating the computer issues in the exam resulting in loss of time. I rang the AAT yesterday to complain about the computer issues in the level 3 synoptic and the lady said that they have had loads of learners/colleges ringing about the same thing. She said to ask my invigilator, if I haven't already, to fill out one of those Incident Reports, and send it to them straight away. She said they normally like them in within 24 hours of you sitting your exam, but they do make allowances. This report will mean they will give special considerations to you (ie. mark your exam less harshly)! Well worth getting your invigilator to fill one in and send it to them!!!

    I didn't know about this Incident report, and so didn't get my invigilator to fill one out straight after my exam. But I asked my tutor at college the next day to get the invigilator to fill one out, which she did, and now I'm feeling a bit better about my result!

    Hope this helps!
  • bethanybethany Registered Posts: 10
    Deapiga said:

    You seemed to have done well !I'm scared about the spreadsheet part :( how did you find the exam?

    The exam was tough... especially annoying since I have put LOADS of hours studying into it! Very discouraging... Especially in the 1st section on the 3rd task where, if you didn't get the first question right, the rest of your answer to the task would be incorrect as well. But I just gave it my best shot. All I can say, Deapiga, is answer as much as you can with each question, utilising all your knowledge you've gained over Level 3. Even if you're not completely sure, answer the question as best you can. The examiner cannot give you minus marks! Be positive as you go in and do the exam and do your best! :)

    Hopefully the AAT will make the exam easier ie lower the pass rate or extend the time limit! Then anyone who's sat the exam before the changes should get their percentages increased!

  • IrrorateIrrorate Registered Posts: 87
    @bethany "if you didn't get the first question right, the rest of your answer to the task would be incorrect as well." - they should offer continuation marks if you did the rest of the question right but used a wrong figure so I wouldn't worry too much about it (provided it's numerical, never sat L3 synoptic).
    bethany
  • HayleybubsHayleybubs Registered Posts: 19
    My first section task 3 was difficult it was something that I had not covered in my revision, I had to then compile an email showing workings and reasons however when u don't know how to do the initial equation this is difficult. So I feel I dropped lots of marks don't see how it can be marked in a continuation format
    OlgaL
  • AATBIKERAATBIKER Registered Posts: 3
    edited May 30
    Comment removed

    [A Contribution must not disclose any material from live assessments, AAT-produced or otherwise]
  • bethanybethany Registered Posts: 10

    I don't know if this will reassure you or not but I also sat it today and feel like a rant.

    The first section on ethics was fine, plenty of time. As for the second on spreadsheets, I had absolutely no problem with any question which was asked and still managed to run out of time. I had to upload a largely unfinished spreadsheet for the third part. This wasn't help by the fact that initially the software wouldn't let me switch to excel, the examiner had to freeze my session and move me to another computer, I lost almost ten minutes because of that. As well as that the text on the printouts is tiny, flicking back to page one and finding the direction there takes even longer. My tutor told me that other people had problems too so hopefully something happens. My lowest grade so far at level 3 is 94%, I was hoping for a distinction and I'll be more than annoyed if I don't get it after the work I've put in.

    @bolingbroke I am exactly the same, I was planning to get distinction overall for my level 3 (they show your overall grade, pass, merit, or distinction, on your final AAT certificate). My average mark over all the other 4 level 3 exams was a bit over 94%, so I was studying really really hard for the synoptic, so that I could get distinction for my level 3. Seems now I won't get that... :/ If I don't I'll be super annoyed as well!
    OlgaL
  • bethanybethany Registered Posts: 10

    My first section task 3 was difficult it was something that I had not covered in my revision, I had to then compile an email showing workings and reasons however when u don't know how to do the initial equation this is difficult. So I feel I dropped lots of marks don't see how it can be marked in a continuation format

    @Hayleybubs seems we got exactly the same question for task 3!!! Literally the same day of my synoptic I scanned through my Kaplan Management Accounting Costing book, as my tutor said they are VERY likely to give you a costing question in the synoptic. But even after all that revision, when I came to task 3, this costing question came up and I do not remember ever learning/reading it in my book! I'm not sure if it's the way they worded the question, but I just could not understand what they were asking for! I just tried something, I can only hope that it was the right answer!!!
  • molly_molly_ Registered Posts: 1
    I sat the Level 3 synoptic Exam on the 24th of May and I am only just getting over it. I felt so disheartened after all the work and continuous effort I put in over the last few months with what I felt, nothing to show for it. I use spreadsheets a lot and I am quite an advanced user; however, I felt the detail in the spreadsheet questions of the exam was far too much for the time given. I have read through and I know a lot of people have said the same and have had similar issues, I only managed to complete 2 out of the 3 spreadsheet tasks because of the time. I also agree that some of the content was not even covered in the syllabus, for both the first and second part of the exam, leaving me unable to explain my answers in a report or e-mail if I knew the answers were wrong, which was just frustrating given the effort I put in beforehand to lose marks on significant questions. I had several issues with my software crashing and failing to download the content from the exam. I was saving my work on regular intervals and I had tried to open the text to import from another file, only finding it had closed my spreadsheet I was working on (which I wasn't too worried about as I had saved it); but when I reopened it, it had none of my work on it so I had to start again. Overall, I was sat for about 40 minutes stopping and starting waiting for IT to fix the issues, which was disruptive and stressful. It really didn't put me in a good frame of mind; especially trying to pick up from where I was and continue with the exam only for it to freeze again after 10 minutes or so. For the majority of the class, what was supposed to be a 3 hour exam turned out to be a 5 nearly 6 hour exam with all the technical issues and everybody having to stop and start.

    I am glad to hear it was across the board and not just my provider, I really hope something is done!
    bethanyannvboys
  • piper123piper123 Registered Posts: 5
    I n Friday I sat the level 3 synoptic and Brighton met college. I've been learning level 2 there with a weekly tutor since September and in February I decided to self teach level 3 with Kaplan, to get into my university course they want me to pass level 3. So since February I have sat both level 2 and 3 exams, whilst working at Waitrose. I've been very driven and worked extremely hard to pass these exams, and my effort has paid off as I've received many distinctions in those exams. I had to sit the level 3 synoptic exam in May so that my grade would be back by the time A-level results would to guarantee myself a place on my course for September.
    I have spent the last 2 months working really hard for this exam for it to be a disaster. Part 1 of the exam went really well although there was 9 marks on something that has never ever come up in any of the books that I have read (overhead absorption rates). I felt very confident and prepared for the software part, even slightly looking forward to it. But I start 2.1 and the questions are horrendous, nothing like any of the mocks I have done. The computer freezes and I go back onto aat to get it start working again and it looses all of my work that I had been doing for 25 minutes!! With such little time I was very distressed, so I do some of it and move onto 2.2. My computer continuously freezes and plays up wasting my valuable time as the clocks still ticking. I upload what little I have for 2.2 and move on, half of the questions don't make sense and are so unreasonable. On my last few minutes I go to upload part 2.3 which is the question I answered the most on, and I see that it's not on the drive. I panic and ask the invigilators to pause my exam so I could try see where my file had gone (the file I had saved many times after 2.1 disappearing). We can't find it and unpause to see if it's there and the exam finishes without my file on there. My college call their IT department to try and find my file to email to AAT, you could see the file and click on it but it came up with error. I sat with the IT guys for a whole 1.5 hours while they tried for receive it, but they said they couldn't as it's different because the excel was through another software. This whole time I was crying my eyes out because my entire university offer relies on me passing that exam. I'm still very upset as now I imagine I won't get the chance to go to university this year. I'm only 19 years old and after sitting 9 exams in 3 months and being on course for a merit in level 3 and distinction in level 2 I'm devastated.
  • AbbyCarrAbbyCarr Registered Posts: 100
    That sounds like an awful experience :( I don't think the AAT realises the wider consequences of their mistakes e.g university offers and people's jobs. The first thing to do would be to ring the AAT tomorrow and write an email about your experience. The college should submit an incident report to them, I'd check with them that they are doing so or the AAT won't consider your problems. Although the issues are incredibly widespread. It's important for as many people to complain as possible so that it can hopefully be reviewed in time so that it does not affect people like yourself.
  • BertieBertie West Midlands Registered Posts: 376
    OAR is no longer within level 3? It was previously.

    That being said, it seems like you have a reasonable case.

    Request a resit. Sit the next exam at a Kaplan centre if you can.



  • madformusicmadformusic Registered Posts: 18
    edited May 29
    OAR is in level 3 still in there. Next set of dates 10-16 July
  • piper123piper123 Registered Posts: 5
    My college sent off an incident report, I've emailed AAT and I'm calling them tomorrow.

    OAR came up in the 1.3 section. The next resit is in 6 weeks as it's a specific scheduled exam but I'm on holiday in another country. The follow 6 weeks brings me too late for the universities.
  • AbbyCarrAbbyCarr Registered Posts: 100
    For most people, the windows are not far enough apart. The results are taking 6 weeks plus a few extra days, meaning there isn't enough time for most people to book their resit in the window. Or you provisionally book a resit and may not get your money back depending on where it's booked.
  • salma1011salma1011 Registered Posts: 8
    My college send off an incident report too on Friday. We have been told that if we have to resit we won t have to pay the fees as we had so many issues. I am not happy that AAT have used me as a guinea pig. So far AAT is quiet about it! Why?
  • BertieBertie West Midlands Registered Posts: 376
    All awarding bodies have issues when they transition to a new exam method.

    The issues will be addressed. At present all you can do is to continue to offer feedback to the AAT.
  • AbbyCarrAbbyCarr Registered Posts: 100
    The AAT are receiving a lot of issues. It's taken me 10 days to receive an email back to my complaint saying they are looking into it. Just have to be patient.
  • Higaara_NakamuraHigaara_Nakamura Registered Posts: 3
    edited May 30
    I was completely disappointed.

    Having passed all other exams I wasn't expecting this one to be as difficult as it was. I will summarize my difficulties as follow:

    1 - The first part of the exam was generally speaking fairly easy. There was an exercise on the costings part of the exam that was either really badly worded or that was not in the syllabus at all. I wasn't able to resolve that exercise so I skipped it.

    2 - I didn't have time to do one of the spreadsheets exercises. I did half of it and then I could not upload it as the time expired. I really don't see the point in having 3 spreadsheet exercises to do in such a reduced period of time when 2 well designed exercises are certainly enough to assess the students knowledge in a more reasonable time. On top of that the level of difficulty of the questions was not easy even for a fluent user of spreadsheets.

    3 - I saved time in the first half and it doesn't seem logical not to be able to use it in the second part. They shouldn't be calling it a 3 hour exam if it is split this way.


    I am sure that I will not be able to get the 70% mark and I wonder how many of us will. It was certainly humanly impossible for someone to do this test at a 100% mark which seems totally unfair.

    Could anybody tell me what is the AAT email for this kind of complains/feedback? I don't know where I can find it.
    KN10
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