Nick Craggs looks at the best way to transition to the new AAT qualification – research is vital!

As I am sure every AAT student is aware, AAT are bringing in a new qualification, Qualification 22, in September. The other thing that students are aware of is that on Qualification 22 level 3 and level 4 no longer have synoptic exams.

The feedback that I have had is that students REALLY want to avoid the synoptic exams.

However, whilst on Qualification 22 you would avoid the synoptic exams, there are other considerations to consider before deciding to move over onto the new qualification. AAT are moving away from an annual subscription model to a one-off registration fee per level. So rather than pay £101 per year, someone starting level 3 on Qualification 22 for example will have to pay £225 to register.

The accountants among you will no doubt spot that if a student were only to take one year on level 3 it would be cheaper on the old annual membership model. Also, it was that if you moved over mid-level, any exam passes you have would carry over at 70%, irrespective of what the actual percentage you achieved.

Some units don’t carry over, so you need to be careful about losing passes you have previously obtained.

New announcement

However, AAT have made a couple of announcements which make it much more appealing to move over mid-level recently.

Firstly, if a student has sat one assessment on that level on the full AQ2016 accounting qualification, they can transfer onto the new qualification at a reduced cost of £50, £75 and £100 for level 2, 3 and 4 respectively, up to 23 September.

Secondly, if you have passed exams on AQ2016 some of them will carry the percentage that you achieved in the exam over. However, not all do, and then it gets more complicated for certain units where they are combined on Qualification 22.

Level 2 is the most straightforward in terms of transitional arrangements. Bookkeeping Transactions, Bookkeeping Controls and Elements of Costing carry their percentage over to their equivalent units on Qualification Foundation Synoptic and Using Accounting software do not, as there is no equivalent unit for them on the new standards.

Level 3 is where is starts to get a bit more complicated. Indirect Tax carries directly over onto the new standards and the percentage will carry over. As we knew previously, to get the exemption from the Qualification 22 Financial Accounting: Preparing Financial Statements you had to pass BOTH Advanced Bookkeeping and the Final Accounts Preparation unit. Only having passed one will mean you don’t get the exemption, and you have to sit the new unit which will test you on the knowledge from both Advanced Bookkeeping and Final Accounts preparation.

However, the change now is that you can carry across a percentage, but it is only your percentage in Advanced Bookkeeping.

You do still have to pass Final Accounts Preparation, but the percentage will have no bearing on the percentage carried over. The new Management Accounting Techniques unit is similar in that you must have passed Management Accounting Costing as well as either the old Advanced Synoptic or the new Spreadsheets unit to get the exemption.

However, the percentage you carry over will only be the percentage you gained on Management Accounting Costing. There is no equivalent unit on AQ2016 for the new Business Awareness paper, so everyone will have to sit this exam if they move over part way through level 3.

Finally, we have level 4 which is a bit more straight forward than level 3. All the optional units, Financial Statements Unit and the Professional synoptic unit carry directly over onto Qualification 22 and carry over their percentage. The only complication relates to Budgeting and Decision and Control. On Qualification 22 these are being amalgamated into the new, large, Applied Management Accounting unit. To get the exemption from this unit you need to have passed both Budgeting and Decision and Control units.

Only passing one will mean you won’t get the exemption.

However, due to the extra knowledge being assessed in the Applied Management Accounting unit, if you get the exemption, you will only get an exemption at 70% irrespective of what you achieved in Budgeting or Decision and Control.

What does it all mean?

So, what does this mean for AAT students? For level 2 not a great deal, as there is a synoptic on both AQ2016 and Qualification 22. However, for the later levels if you are careful, you can get the best of both worlds! You can make a ‘hybrid’ of the best bits of both qualifications.
At level 3 you could start level 3 now and take the Advanced Bookkeeping unit and Final Accounts unit, and avoid the large combined Final Accounts: Preparing Financial Statements units. You could sit the Indirect Tax as that carries over directly. This will keep you busy for a number of months, and then when Qualification 2022 launches in September 22, pay the reduced £75 fee to transfer over, and sit the Management Accounting Techniques paper and finish off with the new Business Awareness paper. This would mean you avoid the synoptic exam that students don’t like.

Likewise at level 4, you could avoid the large, combined Management Accounting unit by sitting Budgeting and Decision and Control on AQ2016. You could then transfer over to Qualification 22. You would only get a 70% for the exemption, when you transferred over but you would then avoid the tricky Professional Synoptic unit later on.

However, before you decide to do anything, I would advise you to do your research, or speak to your tutor, if possible, as you may need to get extra material, and remember you can’t register on Qualification 22 until September 22.

• Nick Craggs, AAT distance learning director, First Intuition