How to avoid common exam mistakes

The Examiner’s Reports reveal what areas of assessments students are performing well in, and the areas they are struggling with. We outline some results from a selection of the reports to help you focus your studies.

Each year, AAT publishes Examiner’s Reports for all assessments. These reports provide helpful information on student performance in assessment tasks, which can be used to prepare for future assessments. The reports are intended to be constructive and informative and promote a better understanding of the assessment requirements. Full reports can be viewed here on the AAT Lifelong Learning Portal. 

Foundation  – Bookkeeping Transactions 

Common mistake: Incorrectly calculating net and VAT amounts 

  • On average, students completed the assessment in 73% of the 90 minutes available, with the most time spent on Tasks 1 and 3. 
  • Even the most successful students often fail to recognise simple calculation errors, so any remaining time should be used to review responses. 
  • The most common error in this assessment was incorrectly calculating net and VAT amounts from a total amount. 

Students should focus on improving their skills in: 

  1. Extracting net and VAT amounts from a total amount. 
  2. Balancing T accounts. 
  3. Transferring amounts from the cash book to the general ledger. 

Foundation  – Elements of Costing 

Common mistake: Not reading the questions properly 

  • On average, students completed the assessment in 72% of the 90 minutes available, with the most time spent on Tasks 3, 4 and 8. 
  • There is sufficient time available for students to spend longer on tasks and to take their time to properly read the questions. 
  • A key area of strength for students was in completing inventory records and completing basic pay calculations. 

To prepare for the types of questions in this assessment, students should complete the: 

  1. Real-life scenario. 
  2. e-learning modules. 
  3. Green Light Test. 
  4. Practice assessments. 

Foundation  – Using Accounting Software 

Common mistake: Not providing enough evidence 

  • On average, students complete this assessment with around 20 minutes to spare, so they should take time to check that the correct evidence is uploaded. 
  • Students need to ensure that they are familiar with the reports that their specific accounting software produces. 
  • Students that are not yet competent are neglecting to sufficiently evidence the completion of tasks. 

Common errors across tasks are: 

  1. Failing to enter transactions using the general ledger code provided in Task 3. 
  2. Failing to accurately enter information provided in the task – in particular, dates and references. 
  3. Failing to upload evidence in accordance with the assessment requirements. 

Advanced  – Management Accounting: Costing 

Common mistake: Not double checking answers 

  • On average, students completed this assessment in 69% of the 150 minutes that they had available. 
  • Students should spend more time re-reading the questions and checking their answers. 
  • Over 70% of students achieved minimum requirements in most tasks. Tasks 5, 7 and 8 showed the weakest performance. 
  • Key strength areas demonstrated by students are understanding inventory valuation methods and overhead allocation, apportionment and/or absorption. 

To prepare for this assessment, visit the AAT Lifelong Learning Portal to complete the: 

  1. Real-life scenario. 
  2. e-learning modules. 
  3. Green Light Test. 
  4. Practice assessments. 

Advanced  – Indirect Tax 

Common mistake: Struggling with VAT practice 

  • On average, students completed this assessment in 68% of the 90 minutes available. Some tasks, such as Task 7, could benefit from more time and attention. 
  • Performance in this assessment has improved when compared to previous years, but it seems that students still struggle with certain areas of VAT practice. 
  • Students were either very good at the calculations or very poor, with very few cases in between. 

Students would benefit from: 

  1. Making use of the e-learning material on the AAT Lifelong Learning Portal. 
  2. More practice with calculation tasks. 

Further reading:

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