AAT Diploma in Accounting (QCF) Tech level (interim-reformed)

Qualification code

The Department for Education (DfE) describe Tech level qualifications as follows:

Tech levels are rigorous advanced (level 3) technical qualifications on a par with A Levels and recognised by employers. They are for students aged 16 plus who want to specialise in a specific industry or prepare for a particular job. They cover jobs and careers where employers recruit people at this level or where a level 3 qualification is needed before students can progress to a related higher education course. Tech levels give students an opportunity to develop specialist knowledge and skills to help them get an apprenticeship or job, for example in engineering, IT, accounting or professional cookery, or progress to a higher level qualification. In some cases, a tech level qualification is a ‘licence to practise’ or can exempt someone holding the qualification from a professional exam. Tech levels are recognised by trade or professional bodies or at least five employers. Alternatively, the qualification may be accepted by a national licensed professional registration scheme.

This qualification is listed on the DfE 16 – 19 performance tables for 2016 and 2017 in the Tech level category.

The qualification has been supported by a number of industry employers and professional bodies, including CIPFA and ICAEW.


Unit assessments and the overall qualification is graded Pass or Fail.


Training providers wishing to deliver this qualification require approval from AAT.

Assessments are taken by students through a secure online assessment platform. Computer marked assessments include:

  • Accounts preparation
  • Preparation of final accounts for sole traders and partnerships
  • Cost and revenues
  • Indirect tax

The following assessments are marked by training providers and quality assured externally by AAT:

  • Professional ethics
  • Spreadsheet software

Note: Where Recognition of prior learning (RPL) or work place evidence (WPE) is accepted in lieu of an assessment, this is assessed and internally verified by qualified staff at the training provider and quality assured externally by AAT.

Further information

Tech level qualifications are advanced (Level 3) qualifications, mainly taken by 16-19 year old students who want to specialise in a specific industry, occupation, or occupational group. They equip students with specialist knowledge and skills.

There are a number of key considerations for HEPs when reviewing Tech level qualifications that do not meet the full DfE criteria from 2018:

  • Applicants holding interim-reformed Tech level qualifications may not have had experience of external or synoptic assessment.
  • The reformed and unreformed qualifications will be delivered by schools and colleges at the same time (see ‘Education context’). Therefore, HEPs may wish to consider their approach to setting and listing entry requirements for the specific qualifications.
  • The dual running of the qualification may result in applicants declaring the incorrect version within their application. UCAS will be working to support applicants and advisers in this area.
  • These qualifications are fundamentally different to the reformed versions and likely to result in students developing different skills and aptitudes. HEPs should review their understanding of these qualifications to ensure it remains up to date. HEPs may also wish to consider their approach to setting and listing entry requirements for the specific qualifications, and any differences should be clearly articulated.

Tech Levels are designed to support progression to employment, an apprenticeship, or to higher education.

Progression to higher education is generally within the vocational area of the Tech Level, and may be to a foundation degree.

The exact curriculum studied may depend on the choice of optional units taken.

As this qualification is on interim measures, the majority of students achieving this qualification would have completed in 2016 or 2017, however assessments will continue in to 2018.

View DfE's technical guidance

Qualification specification