3 study tips for Financial Statements…

Date: May 11, 2018

How to study for difficult exams!

The Financial Statements unit is known to be one of the most difficult exams to pass at AAT level 4. However we have had some exceptional passes for this unit recently, and we thought it would be useful to hear some of our student’s study tips when studying challenging units.

Meet Sarah Carter, one of our AAT distance learning students who achieved 100% in her Financial Statements exam! Here is her story.

“After hitting 31 I decided to go for it and return to learning after 15 years with the aim of changing career and bettering myself. I had procrastinated for several years beforehand and self-doubt and fear of failure had stopped me from trying. I am so happy I finally plucked up the courage to enroll and have since surprised and proven to myself that I can achieve whatever I put my mind to. The beauty with this qualification is that there are so many study options and I was able to study in my own time at home whilst working full time so I didn’t have to tell anyone either (just in case I failed!). Whilst studying level 2 and with no practical experience I revamped my CV, took the plunge and started applying for a new job. It took months and countless applications before a small business was willing to give me a chance and I have now been with them 20 months and couldn’t be happier. This qualification has opened up so many opportunities and done wonders for my confidence, I have even discovered a whole new enthusiasm for work as I am enjoying it and seeing my learning being put to good use. You can gain wonderful things from this course, it takes a lot of dedication and hard work but you get out of it what you put in to it!”

My personal top 3 study tips are:

1. Lay the foundations: I take my time reading through the unit, I am wanting to learn and use this knowledge in my career, not just pass an exam and forget it! I am a strong believer in if you understand the why and learn the how then it will be much easier to remember and help your overall knowledge and understanding. If I am struggling on a particular area I will search YouTube for tutorials until I find one that is explained in a way that clicks and then practice it until it comes naturally. This is especially important at level 2 as you are learning a whole new subject and laying the entire foundation to build upon in your future learning no matter how far you take it. I make sure I exhaust all of First Intuition’s invaluable materials, purchase extra workbooks for further variations and take full advantage of the AAT study support.

2. Make it stick: After reading and practicing the whole unit I go back and make additional notes of the most difficult or important criteria, in level 4 I have even entered this century and done it in Excel! I write it as if I am trying to explain it to myself in my own words to really help focus on the underlying reasoning. I have found you have to be disciplined and not leave long gaps between studying to keep the new information fresh and the flow of learning easy, I discovered after a 3 month gap between levels 3 and 4 that it’s tough to get back into the habit. This is really relevant at level 4 as there is so much to retain per unit that the only way to do this is to just keep going over it all. Once I have booked the exam I create index cards of the key information and read them in bed each night, apparently you retain information better straight before you go to sleep!

3. Passing the exam: I take my time to understand the material and never book the exam until I am confident I will pass, it’s not a race. In the week leading up to the exam I up my study time to weekday evenings in addition to the weekend days I normally study. I will have already reviewed the mapping document, qualification specification and examiner’s report to help focus on key areas, these are all available on the AAT website, use them! I always compare my written answers to the suggested answers and try and pick out the key points they are looking for and use them next time, asking for your tutor’s feedback on these questions is also very useful. On exam day I like to have the day off work and book in the afternoon so I am not rushing round and leave plenty of time to get there. I review my notes but don’t do any mocks as I don’t want to knock my confidence by getting something wrong or use up too much brain power! If there is a lot to remember, like ratios, I spill them onto the blank paper before I start the exam. I also take an energy drink in to avoid a dip, especially as the exams get longer throughout the qualification. I try to take a little sit back and deep breath between questions to stay calm and focused. Afterwards don’t forget to reward your achievements after all your hard work!