By: Greg Thorpe
Until recently AAT qualifications were cut and dried. Either it was a pass or a fail. Employers had no idea whether a candidate with an AAT Qualification had just scrapped through, or was top of the class.
As of September 2016, this all changed with the introduction of a new grading system. Anyone who has taken or is studying for the new AQ2016 qualification will be graded as follows: unclassified, pass, merit or distinction. For line managers, Finance Directors, HR professionals and those responsible for talent acquisition, this could provide you with an additional way of shortlisting candidates for your finance and accountancy roles.
However, not all new qualified candidates or students currently studying towards AAT will be assessed using the new criteria. Until 31 December 2017 it is possible to continue to study the old AAT Accounting Qualifications 2013 (AQ2013) if already registered, and therefore be assessed as either a pass or a fail. All students that have registered since September 2016 will take the new AQ2016 qualification.
What Does This Mean To Your Business?
The AAT accounting qualifications have been updated to make them more relevant to business today. A key difference between AQ2013 and AQ2016 are ‘synoptic assessments’: linking together multiple connected topics and testing students on their understanding of the whole syllabus, not just each unit. Synoptic assessments have been developed to assess core accountancy skills and the student’s ability to apply them in the workplace.
Students will also have fewer opportunities to re-sit exams at levels 2 and 3, they will only be allowed to attempt each unit twice within 12 months. On average, it takes between 6 and 12 months to complete each level. It therefore follows that any candidate with a new AQ2016 qualification, as of March 2017, will have successfully passed each unit first time around.
Anyone who is interviewing candidates that are currently studying towards AAT, may find it a useful talking point to gauge how well it is going for them. Candidates that have failed a unit more than twice will have to wait for the next 12 month assessment period to open, and this may have an impact on their suitability for your role.
As mentioned above, the new grading system will also give employers a way of identifying more highly qualified candidates. A distinction represents a 90-100% success rate, combining all unit assessments and the synoptic assessment for the level.
For example, a Level 2 Foundation Certificate in Accounting has 4 unit assessments (Bookkeeping Transactions, Bookkeeping Controls, Elements of Costing, and Using Accounting Software), and a synoptic assessment that may also test students on the ‘Work Effectively in Finance’ unit, as well as other units. Each unit assessment counts to 16-22% of the overall grade; the synoptic assessment is 30% of a Level 2 grade.
Naturally, candidates with distinctions will be much sought after. However, academic achievements – whilst desirable – are not the only qualifications you should be looking for when shortlisting candidates. Cultural fit, motivation, interpersonal skills – amongst other personal attributes – are all important; so don’t overlook those candidates with just a pass or a merit if they are strong in these areas.
If you would like to discuss how to recruit AAT level candidates, or any other finance or accountancy roles, please get in touch with our finance division. Call 01252 718 777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking for interview tips?
100% again another well matched candidate. The whole accounts department now consists of HT candidates.Practice Manager Legal Company in Surrey
We have used Howett Thorpe for a number of roles. The relationship we have with the staff there is excellent and we know it's only a quick call and they will have everything in hand.Human Resources IT company in Surrey
Richard was fantastic - great quality CVs and a pleasure to work with, would definitely use Howett Thorpe again.Human Resources Catering Company in Middlesex
Excellent service as usual! Wouldn't use another agency - Howett Thorpe are the only agency that don't harass me every other week!Finance Manager Leisure Industry in Surrey
Julia is a joy to work with. Understands needs of role and company. Fourth recruitment done for me and has yet to provide a CV I wouldn't hire. She is the reason I use Howett Thorpe, a real asset you.Group Financial Controller IT company in Hampshire
Julia has saved me so much time and effort by ensuring that I get the right CV's. She has made sure that the process runs as smoothly as possible, and is a pleasure to work with. I cannot recommend Julia highly enough.Group Financial Controller IT company, Surrey
Laura was amazing and made me feel at ease the whole way through the whole interview process to getting the job. She really is one in a million.Group Financial Controller G Potts
We have worked with Laura for several years now and she always manages to understand our needs, she is a dream to work with.Finance Manager Import Company in Surrey
Very helpful and prompt in arranging suitable candidates.Processing Manager Business Services in Surrey