AQ2022: what you need to know

April 2021

We spoke to First Intuition’s Nick Craggs about the latest announcements on AAT’s new syllabus – AQ2022.

AAT PQs will now have until 30 June 2023 to complete any outstanding level under AQ2016, First Institution’s Nick Craggs revealed in a recent Facebook post. AQ2022 is due to be launched on 1 February 2022, and AAT had previously said that students would have until 28 February 2023 to complete AQ2016. So PQs have now been given an extra four months.

Under AQ2022, the AAT is reintroducing levels. Gone are the foundation, advanced and professional stages, and back come Level 2, 3 and 4.

AAT is also trying to end duplication in the new syllabus, and students will be pleased to hear that there will be fewer exams and no synoptics. “I cannot stress how good that is, it’s like the promised land,” said Craggs. The only proviso to this is for apprentices – they will still have to sit a synoptic.

He said four themes that run throughout the new syllabus are technology, communication, ethics and sustainability. “There will a lot more focus on technology,” explained Craggs. And rightly so, he said.

Level 2 AQ2022 will change with the Introduction to Bookkeeping (effectively Bookkeeping Transactions, and a like-for-like swap), which will now test digital bookkeeping systems. You won’t have to use Xero or Sage 1, but students need to be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of bookkeeping systems.

The next unit is Principles of Bookkeeping Controls – pretty much a straight replacement for Bookkeeping Controls. Elements of Costing will become Introduction to Costing.

The Foundation Synoptics has been replaced with a unit called The Business Environment.

This is looking at real-life business issues such as contract law, the economic environment (think interest rates here), the government, tax and business structure. So, just four exams for Level 2 – gone is Using Accounting Software.

You also have to wait six weeks for the results of The Business Environment exam, and Craggs advice is not to do this one last as you can sit another unit while you are waiting for that result.

At Level 3 there will be big changes.

Advanced Bookkeeping and Final Accounts Preparation have not really changed. However, under AQ2022 they become one huge unit and one huge exam!

The new Management Accounting Costing unit will have spreadsheets in it, and as there is an element of human marking you will again have to wait six weeks for the results. The new Principles of Taxation will include payroll.

The synoptic at this level is replaced by a Business Awareness paper. It will look at the business environment: the internal versus external environment, types of business, legal framework and risk management. The major change in this paper, however, is the technology content. We are talking block chain, AI machine learning, data analytics, cloud accounting and real-time data.

Again, you can sit papers in any order.

At Level 4 there isn’t so much change, suggested Craggs. You have got the same units and content. However, Budgeting and Decision Controls are now one unit – which might cause some problems. Financial Statements has no change whatsoever, and Internal Controls is the new big unit here (replacing the synoptic).

Craggs said the option units are pretty much the same, too. He explained BTAX will have no R&D and any duplication with PTAX will go.

With PTAX there will be no IHT calculations, and Audit will now include internal and external auditing.

AQ2016 PQs need to be aware of the transitional rules. Those who pass BTRN, BKCL and ELCO at Level 2 will get the equivalent papers under AQ2022. The complications come if you have not passed the Synoptic and Using Accounting Software unit.

If by 30 June 2023 you have not completed these you will need to sit the new Business Environment paper. You will also have to sit the Business Environment paper if you have passed every paper except the Using Accounting Software unit. The nightmare scenario is if you passed BTRN, BKCL, FYSA and UACS, but failed ELCO. In this case you would have to sit the Introduction to Costing and the Business Environment paper.

Craggs said Level 3 is complicated. As two units are being put together you need to pass both AVBK and FSAPR to get the new, bigger paper exemption.

Level 3 students also have to have passed MMAC and the AVSY to get the exemption from the new Costing unit.

Level 4 is a more straightforward, but you will need to pass MABU and MDCL to get an exemption to the new bigger unit.

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