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Don’t Leave Your AAT Studies To The Last Moment!

A stitch in time saves nine!

(…..don’t leave your AAT studies to the last moment)



The other evening, I popped my head in to ask a tutor if she had sent off an email to a supplier that we had discussed earlier in the day.

“Arrgghh. I was doing it” she said, looking very stressed, and added “but I had some marking to do for one of my students who is doing a synoptic exam tomorrow”

“Well, why should that take so long?” I thought to myself.

She continued…….

“In fact she sent me SIX Practice Assessments to mark…

  • FSLC x 2
  • MABU x 2
  • MDCL x 2

Oh yes – and she plans to send me her 2nd Practice Assessment for the synoptic itself later on this evening.”

Note – this is on the 15th August prior to her synoptic on the 16th!!!!!!

I was beginning to appreciate why she was looking stressed and my letter to the supplier seemed slightly less important than before.

As it turned out, the Practice Assessments were done pretty well and so weren’t too much of a killer to mark. However, if they hadn’t been (and we do get awful ones at times), it would have taken considerably longer to mark and feedback. If another student had then innocently sent in some work for marking and feedback, stress would have turned to meltdown.

Although somewhat biased, I do think our team our brilliant, but they are still only human and there are only so many hours in a day. They regularly perform miracles but we do have to impose a quota on these!?!

Please, please, please do try to get your practice assessments over to us for marking and feedback with somewhat more than 18 hours before your exam. Apart from the pressures this puts on tutors, if the feedback does indicate that you are still pretty iffy on some topics, you won’t have much time to get to grips with them – or send in yet another Practice Assessment for marking and the reassurance you have now sussed it.

The synoptic exams are not easy. At Level 3 there is a lot of exam technique involved to make sure you cover both parts in the allotted time including loading your spreadsheet answers – and there is a lot to get through. At Level 4, there is a lot of writing – and incorporating the calculation of ratios and results, to analyse and write about. This takes a fair bit of practice. As a marker, it takes a fair bit of time to mark and provide constructive feedback. This then will take students quite a bit of time to assimilate, apply to another question and submit for further marking and feedback. This can’t be done overnight. Hence the plea to get your practice assessments over with lots of time to spare.

Should you take a gamble and sit the exam if you’re not too sure? Will it be all right on the day?

The simple answer is “NO”!

Although the AAT statistics for 2017 showed our own Level 4 exam pass rates to be 91%, the National Average was only 59%. Within these rates, the unit exam pass rates would generally be higher than the synoptic, pulling up the average rates. You shouldn’t sit the exam until you (and we) “know” you will pass. You should be aiming at above 85% marks in your practice assessments to give you a margin of error in the real thing. It is not just the cost of the resit that is the problem, it is the timing.

At Levels 3 and 4, the synoptic windows are roughly every two months. Even though the results of one will come out before the next one is sat, will you be prepared for that sitting. Have you really been revising that subject ever since you sat it? This is most unlikely, and really, really hard to do. It is more likely that you will have been waiting for the exam results to come through first. You might also have been studying one of your optional units and will want to focus on that.

For example:

  • the recent Professional Synoptic window was the week commencing 13th August;
  • the results will be published on Friday 28th September
  • the next Professional Synoptic window is the week commencing 1st October – i.e. the following week

Will you really be ready and prepared to take your resit then? Probably not. Not successfully.

  • the results of that October Synoptic are released on 16th November
  • the next Professional Synoptic window is the week commencing 26th November with the results out on 11th January.

So – if you are not really ready for the August Synoptic, you have a choice of:

  1. risking sitting it in August, failing, resitting in November and getting your results in January, or
  2. deferring the exam and sitting it in October, really cracking it and getting  your results in November.

Failing is miserable. Passing with flying colours feels great. And it looks much better on your CV.

If you are studying under your own steam, then taking your time and passing well is the best option.

However, if your employer is paying, or is involved in your training, they may well have set an expectation of you passing your exams at the times originally planned.

Deferring may not be an option.

Which means working your socks off from the outset……….and not leaving it to the last moment.

As I said…….Grrrrr!!

PS I’m just back off to the tutor room to deliver some TLC!!??!