How I completed AAT Level 4 through distance learning

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Emma Abbey has recently completed her AAT qualification and successfully applied for full AAT membership. She started her MAAT application while she was still studying so as to reduce the wait once she was qualified. She currently works in Accounts Payable and is thinking about becoming an AAT member in practice (MIP) in the future.

Emma has achieved all of this with Kaplan Distance Learning and discusses the value of such a learning style here.

The thrill of learning something new and passing an exam is incredible. My two and a half years of studying via distance learning was full of highs and lows; but was well worth the effort. There are, of course, struggles to overcome that can be demotivating. However, my training provider – Kaplan Distance Learning – were always able to provide support when I didn’t understand the material and when I needed certain points explained further.

Use online communities to overcome loneliness

Distance learning can be a very lonely process, but it doesn’t need to be. I used a distance learning group on Facebook, created by AAT students, to keep my spirits up. It has been such a great help to me; I can honestly say I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support from the community there. I also used the AAT discussion forums throughout my earlier levels; this helped immensely as I was able to post specific screenshots of questions that I was struggling with. I was never afraid to ask ‘basic’ questions either like I might have been in a traditional classroom.

AAT Level 4 was certainly a step up from the previous levels. The workload was increased and the Internal Control and Accounting Systems (ICAS) project was a whole new challenge compared to what I was used to. The six week wait for results does feel like torture but you just have to put it out of your mind! I found Financial Statements the hardest module at Level 4. My skills naturally lie with the management side of accounts and it did take me two attempts to pass the assessment, but I kept at it. I had the backing of my employers who gave me time off to sit exams and they were also always happy to help if I had any questions. Colleagues and social media were the backbone of my learning!

AAT e-learning – a useful resource

In addition, the AAT e-learning and study support resources were a great tool at this time. I would refer to them immediately after I’d finished reading my revision material to confirm what I had learned and help tie up any loose ends.

Overall, here are my tips for passing AAT Level 4 via distance learning:

  • Practice, practice, practice! Keep working through questions and work on the weak points first. If you find that you’re struggling, it’s best to break things down into small sections to make it more bearable.
  • Try looking at difficult subjects another way or leave them for an hour and then go back. Often a clearer head can remedy problems.
  • Join social media groups, create study groups at work and contact your tutors if you need to. You don’t have to do it alone!
  • When you don’t have a strict timetable like you would get in a classroom, it can be very easy to say “I’ll start studying tomorrow”. Devise a study plan and stick to it!  If you need that extra push, get your friends, family and colleagues to ask you how diligent you are being.
  • Book exams a few months in advance. Knowing that I had a deadline was always a good motivator for me.
  • Finally, make sure you give yourself the occasional rest day away from the books!

There were times when I felt very close to giving up, especially when I failed exams. But I knew I wanted to have the qualification and the letters after my name. When you’re struggling, speak to those around you and ask for that little boost. Also speak to your employer if you can. You may not understand something now, but try and picture the satisfaction of how great it will be when you do get it!

Further reading:

Have you got a story to tell about your AAT journey? Do you have advice to give new student members? We’re always looking for user-submitted content. Please contact [email protected] for further information.

Emma Abbey is an accounting technician.

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