Professional Synoptic – tips to pass first time

The AAT level 4 syllabus is quite a step up from levels 2 & 3 and it involves a lot more writing in the assessments, and of the level 4 units, the Professional Level Synoptic is one of the hardest.  Too often we see students losing marks due to the smallest mistakes that can easily be avoided, marks that can be crucial to getting that magic 70%!

First Intuition | Professional Synoptic

Professional Synoptic – tips to pass first time

The AAT level 4 syllabus is quite a step up from levels 2 & 3 and it involves a lot more writing in the assessments, and of the level 4 units, the Professional Level Synoptic is one of the hardest.  Too often we see students losing marks due to the smallest mistakes that can easily be avoided, marks that can be crucial to getting that magic 70%!

Here are our tips on how to pass your Professional Synoptic assessment successfully:

Answering the question

It might sound obvious, but make sure you are actually answering the question in the professional synoptic exam. Too often we see students losing marks because they aren’t giving the marker what they have asked for.  For example, a common mistake we have come across is students writing about what a company should do to turn around the business’s performance to meet the budget.  When in fact, the question asked them to assess the validity of the budget and the assumption behind it!

Some tips on how to avoid this mistake are:

  • Repeat the question in your answer: If you have been given a blank box to fill and have been asked for different things, repeating the question in your answer will make sure you include all parts of the question in your answer, it also makes it clearer for the marker to see.

TIP: if you are asked the following, Identify an opportunity to improve the procedures. Explain how the procedure should be changed and how the business could benefit. 

Start each part of the answer with the following:
An opportunity to improve procedures is…
The procedure can be changed by…
The business will benefit because…

This will make your response very clear to the marker just by repeating the parts of the question in your answer.  This will also make sure you answer every part of the question, and answer exactly what is being asked of you. This is a great technique to gain a lot of marks in your assessment.

Time

Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get through the assessment. Budgeting for example, is a 160 mark exam where you get 2 1/2 hours. The Professional Synoptic is a 3 hour assessment where there are only 100 marks available, so you need to work harder to get these marks.

Key subject areas

Some key areas to focus on to prevent you from running out of time and potentially losing marks are:

  • Make sure you are comfortable calculating ratios and explaining what they show. Our ‘Don’t let ratios catch you out!’ blog might be a useful read for this one.
  • Give yourself plenty of time on task 3, this is all about spotting weaknesses in the accounting systems. As long as your ideas are sensible and you can justify them, you will get the marks.
  • Make sure you are comfortable with relevant costs.

TIP: if a cost is a future cash cost, which may or may not need to be paid depending on the decision you are making, then you need to consider it. Whereas if a cost has to be paid no matter what decision you make, there is no need to take it into account.

  • Remember SWOT analysis.

TIP: strengths & weaknesses should be internal, whereas opportunities & threats should be external to the business.  For example, a poor credit control procedure is an internal weakness, whereas, a falling exchange rate is external threat.

Hopefully these will help you pass your Professional synoptic exam first time.

You can see the synoptic exam windows here

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