AAT Student Stories: Finn Blair | AAT Level 2 Review
I had previously worked as a manager in the hospitality industry for three years. Despite enjoying my role of managing a team and dealing with stock management, I felt that something was missing from my career. I had graduated back in 2011, with a degree in Entrepreneurship with Management and felt that my current role was not pushing me far enough and not fully utilising my degree.
I decided to leave the hospitality industry behind in late 2019.
I spent a couple of months considering what my next career step would be, and how I could apply my business and numerical strengths into a position that would be intellectually challenging. I knew then that a career in accountancy would be my next step.
I consulted with a few friends and family members who are accountants and received mixed advice. Some suggested going straight in at Chartered level due to my degree, whilst others thought studying AAT would be more beneficial as the qualifications are quicker to complete and builds from the ground up the key fundamentals to accountancy - ultimately exposing me to the industry faster.
Another consideration was the fact that the Chartered qualifications are very expensive and would be best pursued through a funded position within an organisation.
The AAT qualifications, are however, much more affordable for those who are happy to self-fund as I was willing to do.
I then had the task of deciding where to study. Whether to go back to college or to study online? As I was not working at the time I wanted to enrol onto a course that allowed me to study as much as I liked and to manage my own time. Hence, an online course was my best option available. I researched a few training providers and eventually came across ICS Learn.
Immediately, the relatively cheaper course fees was something that appealed to me, with a great payment plan split over a ten month period.
After a good look through reviews where the student feedback was overwhelmingly positive I made contact with ICS Learn. Within a very short period of time I was contacted by a course representative who was extremely friendly and informative. We discussed the best level to start at, the kind of support I would receive as a student and how I could pick the date of each month that I would prefer to pay on. I never felt at any point that the sale was being overbearingly pushed on me, and was reassured that there was a two week cancellation period should I feel the need to reconsider.
After completing the enrolling process via the phone I was able to access my course almost instantly.
At first it was quite daunting as all of my previous education had been in the classroom or lecture hall environment. I think my main concerns initially were that there was going to be a lack of interaction with a teacher and also about how to keep my motivation levels high.
The interaction with a teacher was no issue at all. My tutor for the Level 2 qualification, Becky was superb. She would respond to my messages very quickly (within 24 hours) should I have any concerns over the material I had just learned.
Her responses were extremely informative and communicated in a way that was easy to process. This balance of being able to work through the modules quickly without the restraints of conventional classroom education but with the ability to consult with my tutor as and when needed is excellent, ultimately speeding up the course completion process, whilst never feeling alone.
Of course with online study there will always be an element of managing your own time and directing your way through the online course.
The student interface is extremely well laid out with clear headings to navigate your way round.
There is a course introduction page that highlights all of the key aspects of the interface, further to this there is a student forum page where your queries can be posted and answered quickly.
The structure of the course itself is detailed with plenty of resources to aid learning, including: in depth powerpoint slides covering the bulk of the material, along with live tutor presentations on a weekly basis where you can interact as a group, these sessions are then recorded and available to watch at your own leisure. Each powerpoint has its own quiz section and a further and much more detailed test section is available which relates to each powerpoint.
For me, the most constructive interaction was the tutor marked progress reviews.
Each module has two of these to complete. They are very detailed papers constructed by the ICS team and in my experience went above and beyond the difficulty of the real AAT exams. Each review was marked by my tutor giving excellent feedback on the questions that I had answered incorrectly. Being able to achieve a high grade on these progress reviews will mean that you are fully ready to sit your final examinations.
Unfortunately, the Coronavirus pandemic did slow my progress throughout the late Spring and Summer but I was able to fully complete my Level 2 in Accounting in September achieving a 98% Distinction. In many ways being able to study during lockdown was an extremely positive thing whereby my mind was kept active and maintained a positive attitude during a time where the world was not in a positive place.
The qualification during this time of uncertainty has also meant that I have used my time wisely in order to improve on my career prospects.
I thoroughly enjoyed my studies with ICS Learn, the course material is detailed, the tutor support is excellent and all at an extremely competitive price.
It made perfect sense for me to continue my studies with ICS Learn and have recently enrolled onto my Advanced Diploma in Accounting, having already sat two exams to an excellent standard. Despite the course being a considerable step up on the Foundation Level, the in depth resources and excellent responses from my new tutor (Louise) has meant that the increase in difficulty has not been a negative factor in achieving high grades. Once I have completed my Advanced Diploma I will certainly continue with ICS Learn to the Professional Level.
Although the current economic climate is tough at the moment, I remain positive about finding a job in the accounting and finance industry soon. I have found the studying experience inspiring and am weighing up the possibility of pursuing a career in tutoring.
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