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Everything You Need to Know About AAT's New Syllabus in 2024

The Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) is the UK’s leading professional body offering globally recognised skills-based accountancy and finance qualifications.

You might be just starting out on your accountancy career, or you might even be looking to develop your existing skills and climb the career ladder. Whatever your career situation, AAT qualifications will help you to achieve your goals. And guess what? It's now even easier to get AAT qualified thanks to the fact that you can study entirely online, giving you the flexibility to study at your own pace and whenever you want. With AAT you really can shape your studies to fit your life. 

If you’re considering enrolling on an AAT course, you’ll probably have lots of questions before you make your decision, so we’ve put together an overview of everything you need to know about the AAT syllabus in 2024 to help you out. 

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Which AAT courses can I study?

AAT offer a number of courses in accounting and bookkeeping across three levels - Level 2, Level 3 and Level 4. Which course you study will depend entirely on your current accountancy skills and knowledge and your ultimate career plans.

Here’s a quick breakdown of AAT's current qualifications:

AAT Level 2 Certificate in Accounting

This is a Level 2 qualification that gives you a thorough introduction to accounting practices including essential knowledge such as the principles of bookkeeping controls, how costing works and the general business environment that accounting sits within. 

It’s ideal if you have no previous accounting or finance experience and are looking to get your first role in the industry.

You’ll study 4 units and have 4 computer-based exams which you’ll sit at an approved AAT exam centre.

AAT Level 3 Diploma in Accounting

This is a Level 3 qualification and is best suited to those who have completed the Level 2 Certificate or have significant practical experience in accountancy and a strong understanding of double-entry bookkeeping.

If you’re already working in accountancy and are looking to progress your career to the next stage, then this is the course for you.

You’ll study 4 units covering complex accounting practices like management accounting techniques, preparing financial statements, tax processes for business and general business awareness. 

You'll sit 4 in-person, computer-based assessments at an AAT exam centre. 

AAT Level 4 Diploma in Professional Accounting

This is a Level 4 qualification and is the highest level of AAT you can study. Very few people begin their AAT studies with this course as you need to be comfortable with everything that is covered in both the Level 2 Certificate and the Level 3 Diploma.

This is the course you’ll want to study if you plan on taking on a senior accounting role, setting up your own accountancy practice, or fast-tracking your qualification to become a Chartered Accountant. 

You’ll study 3 core units including skills and knowledge like drafting and interpreting financial statements, using applied management accounting and using internal accounting systems and controls. 

Then you'll choose 2 optional units to study from a selection that includes topics like business tax, personal tax, audit and assurance, credit and debit management, and cash and financial management. Once again all your units will be assessed via exams which must be sat at an AAT approved exam centre.

When you finish your course, you’ll automatically become an affiliate member of AAT and can apply to become a full AAT member (MAAT) or AAT Fellow (FMAAT) once you build up the required work experience. 

AAT also offer shorter bookkeeping qualifications if you’re looking to develop or master that particular skill, the two most popular being: 

If you’re still unsure which AAT course is right for you, try taking the AAT Skillcheck test
It’s a quick online multiple-choice test that only takes about 30 minutes to complete and will give you the results instantly.

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Can I study AAT at any age?

You have to be aged 19 or over to study AAT qualifications with ICS Learn, but there’s no age limit with other organisations so it’s never too early - or too late - to make the change if you dream of a career in accounting and finance.

What are the AAT exams?

At each level of AAT, you’ll have a set number of computer-based exams you'll take. The exact number depends on the type of qualification you're taking and its modules. 

Exams will generally be a mixture of short-form questions, like multiple-choice and drag/drop, and longer-form questions, requiring calculations or a written response. 

Again, the format of the exam will depend in large part on the module that you're studying. 

To give you some further insight, here’s a breakdown of how each unit is assessed at each level: 

AAT Level 2 Certificate in Accounting exams

The Level 2 Certificate has 4 unit assessments. 

Mandatory unit assessments:

  • Introduction to Bookkeeping (90 minutes)
  • Principles of Bookkeeping Controls (90 minutes)
  • Principles of Costing (90 minutes)
  • The Business Environment (2 hours)

AAT Level 3 Diploma in Accounting exams

The Level 3 Diploma has 4 unit assessments. 

Mandatory unit assessments:

  • Preparing Financial Statements (2.5 hours)
  • Management Accounting Techniques (2.5 hours)
  • Tax Processes for Businesses (1.5 hours)
  • Business Awareness (2.5 hours)

AAT Level 4 Diploma in Professional Accounting exams

The Level 4 Diploma has 3 mandatory unit assessments, 2 unit assessments for elective units and 1 synoptic exam.

Mandatory unit assessments:

  • Drafting and Interpreting Financial Statements (2.5 hours)
  • Applied Management Accounting (3 hours)
  • Internal Accounting Systems and Control (2.5 hours)

Unit assessments for elective choices:

  • Business Tax (2 hours)
  • Personal Tax (2 hours)
  • Audit and Assurance (2.5 hours)
  • Credit and Debt Management (2 hours)
  • Cash and Financial Management (2 hours)
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Where and when can I sit my AAT exams?

You’ll sit your AAT exams at an AAT-approved exam centre.

You'll take your unit assessments once you’ve finished studying each unit, and towards the end of your qualification.

If you’re studying AAT in a classroom setting, you’ll sit your exam at the college or learning centre where you attend classes. If you’ve chosen to study AAT online, you can find your nearest exam centre using this search tool.

Unit assessment exams are scheduled frequently, so you can contact your nearest AAT exam centre to find out their timetable. 

How much do AAT exams cost?

You can typically expect to pay between £120 and £315 for each AAT exam depending on which qualification you’re studying.

AAT exam fees are often an additional cost on top of your course fees, but some course providers may include them, so be sure to check this when you enrol! 

What are the AAT grade boundaries?

Your final result will be graded as either Pass, Merit, or Distinction. The AAT grade boundaries are as follows:

  • Distinction: 90–100%
  • Merit: 80–89%
  • Pass: 70–79%
  • Unclassified: 0–69% (Or failure to pass one or more assessments)
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Can I resit my AAT assessments if I fail?

Yes, you are entitled to resit any assessment that you fail.

However, there are some restrictions that apply to the number of resits you can take per year if you’re aged 16-19, are not an apprentice, and live in England and Wales. If this applies to you, you’ll only have 2 attempts to pass each assessment at Level 2 and Level 3.

If you feel like you need extra help from your tutor in order to resit, check that you’re still within the support period granted by your course provider - you may have to pay an additional fee to extend it.

Can I become a member of AAT?

Of course! In fact, in order to study AAT accounting qualifications and sit your assessments, you need to join AAT as a student member. You’ll also be able to access additional AAT resources and support to help you with your studies, which can be a huge help when preparing for your exams.

Once you’ve completed the Level 4 Diploma, you’ll automatically become an affiliate member of AAT which grants you access to advice and support from AAT as well as technical resources and exclusive discounts.

If you’ve already gained work experience in accounting/finance and have completed the Level 4 Diploma, you apply to become a full member of AAT (MAAT). This allows you to use the designatory letters MAAT after your name on your CV, business cards, emails and letters.

Your next step in progressing your membership would be to apply for fellow membership (FMAAT), which is the highest level of membership AAT offers and allows you to upgrade those designatory letters to FMAAT. You’ll be eligible to apply for fellow membership when you have been a full member for 5 years or more. 

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Which jobs can I do after completing an AAT qualification?

Studying AAT qualifications will help you begin or accelerate your accountancy career, as each level prepares you for the next stage of your development.

Here’s a quick guide to where each level can take you and which jobs you'll be able to apply for at each AAT level:

AAT Level 2 Certificate
 in Accounting jobs

Studying this course will enable you to begin your finance career and apply for entry-level roles such as:

  • Clerical Assistant
  • Trainee Bookkeeper
  • Accounts Clerk
  • Finance Assistant
  • Accounts Administrator

AAT Level 3 Diploma in Accounting jobs

This course prepares you to make the jump to a wide variety of more advanced roles, including:

  • Accounts Assistant
  • Accounts Payable & Expenses Supervisor
  • Assistant Accountant
  • Audit Trainee
  • Credit Controller
  • Finance Assistant
  • Finance Officer
  • Payroll Supervisor
  • Senior Bookkeeper
  • Tax Assistant

AAT Level 4 Diploma in Professional Accounting jobs

After studying this course you can set up your own accountancy practice or apply for senior roles such as:

  • Professional Accounting Technician
  • Assistant Auditor
  • Assistant Management Accountant
  • Commercial Analyst
  • Payroll Manager
  • Indirect Tax Manager
  • Senior Bookkeeper
  • Senior Financial Officer
  • Accounts Payable and Expenses Supervisor
  • Assistant Financial Accountant
  • Cost Accountant
  • Fixed Asset Accountant
  • Indirect Tax Manager
  • Payments and Billing Manager
  • Senior Fund Accountant
  • Senior Insolvency Administrator
  • Tax Supervisor
  • VAT Accountant
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After completing the AAT Level 4 Diploma, you can also fast-track your Chartered Accountancy qualification with all the UK Chartered Accountancy bodies, including:

  • ACCA: Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
  • CIMA: Chartered Institute of Management Accountants
  • CIPFA: Chartered Institute of Public and Finance Accountancy
  • ICAEW: Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales
  • ICAS: Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland

We hope after reading this that you've now learned everything you need to know about the AAT syllabus in 2023. With so many career routes available, AAT is the ideal way to launch your lucrative finance career.

Ready to study an AAT qualification? Find out more about our flexible and 100% online AAT courses.

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