Preparing for your AAT foundation studies

When starting on your AAT journey it may seem intimidating learning a new course and balancing your studies with everyday life.

However, there are many people who can help, and some simple methods to help make studying easier.

Taking notes

Whether you have a tutor or you’re studying in your own time as a distance learner, you will want to make notes.

Don’t try to write everything, as you’ll lose the benefit of what you’re learning. A common method here is to use a mind map approach, linking keywords and maybe some thoughts, by arrows to a central topic.

Another option is if you’re studying in a classroom, ask your tutor if you can record the audio of your lecture. You might need to get the consent of others in the group, but so long as this is for personal use, there shouldn’t be any problems.

Also remember to take part in class, ask questions, engage in discussions, share your understanding.

Weekly Notes

Each week as part of your study plan, write up these notes into something more useful for revision. 

Many students find that colour coded postcards work well. On one side you have the term, for example ’Double Entry‘, on the reverse you have your pneumonic, for example ‘Dead Clic’ or ’Pearls’. You can then add notes to make these postcards personal to your learning. 

Top tip

Some students use different colours for different things for example, green for accounting terms, or red for techniques.

Each week practice questions. Make sure you understand clearly the principle and can use it. If not ask your tutor , no question is ever stupid if it helps clear up your understanding.

Active learning is proven to be the most successful way of learning, but it encompasses many methods.

A dog is man’s best friend

Some students explain to the dog an accounting principle while out walking in the park.

The dog has endless patience, a great way of getting a complex process or theory clear in your head, but don’t expect him to correct you so check against your books later!

Top tip

  • get active, ask questions
  • write notes
  • do questions
  • record your own revision notes to play back on your phone
  • there are many ways of active learning

Study Plan

Start your study plan immediately. 

A diary is useful, on sticky pads write a task such as:

  • Write up notes from Monday
  • Do question 1-4 in revision text
  • Revise Chapter 1

Make them small and achievable tasks.  Then stick them in days in your week, remembering you have a life outside accounting too.

When you achieve a task you remove the note, if you miss a task on a day you can move it to another, so it’s flexible and works with you.

In the diary you can write inflexible dates such as assessment dates and home study if given. Achieving a diary with no notes is heaven!

Use resources available to you

Don’t forget to use your MyAAT resources such as, AAT e-learning, also many book suppliers give you extra online resources which are great for more question practice.

Online student groups are another source of support and can help if a certain topic is not working for you. Sometimes we need things explained in a different way, if you have class colleagues ask them too.

The final piece of advice is to trust your tutor, although it may be overwhelming now, it will come right in the end.

Browse the full range of AAT study support resources here

Sam Perkin is an AAT tutor.

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