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

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The QIP covers the AAT Diploma in Accounting (QCF) Tech level (interim-reformed) qualifications that do not meet the full requirements set by the Department for Education (DfE) and do not contribute towards performance measures for 2018.

This qualification meets the interim-reformed requirements for 2016 and 2017 performance tables.

  • England
  • Northern Ireland
  • Scotland
  • Wales
  • International

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.

Education context

Some vocational qualifications offered at Level 3 have been reformed as a result of changes to school performance tables. Vocational qualifications must meet the criteria set by the Department for Education (DfE) in order to count towards school performance tables. These reforms mean that 91% of the Level 3 qualifications that previously counted towards school performance tables were removed from performance tables in 2016.

For accountability purposes, vocational qualifications are now be classified as:

  • Tech level qualifications: The purpose of these qualifications is to lead to a ‘recognised occupation’. Examples provided by the DfE include engineering, accounting, construction, manufacturing, agriculture and IT. These qualifications must meet a number of criteria, including the endorsement of five employers registered at Companies House.
  • Applied General qualifications: The purpose of these qualifications is to provide a broader vocational education. They ‘are designed for students wanting to continue their education through applied learning.’ These qualifications must meet a number of criteria, including endorsement by at least three universities and colleges.

The reform to vocational qualifications is being conducted in two stages: an interim stage and full stage. Each of these stages introduced new criteria for vocational qualifications to meet in order to count towards school performance tables.

The first teaching of the qualifications reformed on an interim basis was from 2014 and these counted towards school performance tables in 2016. Only qualifications that meet the full criteria count towards performance tables from 2018. The qualifications listed in this QIP are classified as Tech level qualifications however do not meet the full criteria to count towards performance tables from 2018 in respect of content, assessment and grading. Schools and colleges may offer qualifications that are not included in the performance tables, if the qualifications are approved for teaching by the Secretary of State under Section 96.

Read Section 96.

The AAT Diploma in Accounting (QCF) meets the interim requirements set by the DfE and therefore may be offered in schools and colleges alongside the 2018 fully reformed version:


Interim Requirement (for qualifications counting in 2016 performance tables)

Full Requirement (for qualifications counting in 2018 performance tables)

A. Declared Purpose



B. Size



C. Recognition



D. Synoptic Assessment



E. External Assessment



F. Grading



G. Employer involvement (Technical Level Qualifications only)



H. Progression



I. Proven Track Record




As noted in the table above, the 2016 and 2018 versions of Tech level qualifications are fundamentally different.

For more information on the specific changes to 2018 Tech levels, please refer to a reformed QIP. Please also see ‘Key issues for UK HE admissions’ for some additional considerations when assessing these qualifications.

Further information about Tech level qualifications, and the range of qualifications that meet the 2018 requirements, can be found on the DfE website.

Regulation of Tech level and Applied General qualifications

The regulation of Tech level and Applied General qualifications delivered in England is the responsibility of Ofqual.

The regulatory approach undertaken for Tech level and Applied General qualifications differs to A levels. This is because there are no specific qualification-level criteria for Tech levels, as there are for GCSEs, AS and A levels currently.  Applied Generals is a category introduced by the Department for Education for accountability purposes rather than a specific type of regulated qualification.  To be included in the Tech level category, qualifications have to demonstrate particular features outlined in the table above.

Tech levels must comply with Ofqual’s general rules, as is the case with all regulated qualification.

Awarding organisation
  • AAT
Qualification code

The AAT Level 3 Diploma in Accounting is the intermediate level of the overarching AAT Accounting qualification. It offers technical training in accounting, and its main purpose is to provide students with specialist knowledge and skills to gain employment in an accounting role, the opportunity to progress to further qualifications in accountancy or a related field.

At this level, students will master complex financial processes, including final accounts for sole traders and partnerships, reports and returns, and professional ethics.

This qualification is credit-based and contains six mandatory units:

  • Accounts preparation
  • Prepare final accounts for sole traders and partnerships
  • Cost and revenues
  • Professional ethics
  • Indirect tax
  • Spreadsheet software
Subject areas

Accounting and finance

  • Level 3

This is a Level 3 qualification regulated to the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF).¹

Level 3 is broadly aligned to the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) Level 6 / 7.

¹ The QCF was a credit-based transfer system which recognised qualifications and units by awarding credits. It has now been withdrawn for all new qualifications and replaced by the RQF. The RQF is the new system for cataloguing all qualifications regulated by Ofqual, indexing them by level and size.


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.

Contribution of assessment components to overall grade

Students must achieve a pass in all assessments to gain this qualification.

Resit arrangements


Guided/notional learning hours
305 hours
UCAS Tariff points

AAT Diploma in Accounting (QCF)

Grade Points
P 56


Key issues for UK HE admissions

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.

Timing of assessments/results for learners

There are no set windows for sitting assessments, which are scheduled by training providers throughout the students’ programme of study.

Provisional results for assessments that are computer marked are available to training providers immediately on completion of the assessment, and are confirmed within one week.

Results for assessments that are marked by training providers should be available within six weeks, following quality assurance by AAT.

Certificates are issued on a rolling two-week basis to students who have successfully achieved the qualification in accordance with the rules of combination.

AAT submits achievements of results directly to UCAS in accordance with UCAS requirements and timelines.

Qualification date
Until 31 Aug 2016
Qualification dates notes

The last registration date for this qualification was 31 August 2016. Students will not be able to take any outstanding assessments for this qualification later than 31 December 2017. Marking of all assessments must be completed by 31 March 2018.

Reporting and certification information

The results of the AAT Diploma in Accounting (QCF) are reported to UCAS through Awarding Body Linkage (ABL).

View the results available through ABL.

AAT does not currently publish the number of certifications for this qualification.

Progression information

Tech level qualifications differ in size; some may meet the entry requirements for higher education in their own right in a related area and some may need to be offered in conjunction with other Level 3 qualifications, for instance A levels. In addition, some higher education courses may require specific levels of achievement in particular units or ask for additional qualifications to satisfy subject knowledge requirements.

These qualifications offer progression to higher education, an apprenticeship, or employment.

Progression to HE will probably be in the vocational area of the qualification, and may be to a foundation degree or a Higher National qualification (HNC/HND).

Tech level qualifications are supported by at least five employers from the job sector the qualification is related to. All students have to take part in meaningful activity involving employers in the course of their study. Examples are work placements, taking part in projects, or some of the course being taught by someone who works in the industry.

Students wishing to progress to higher education will generally do so within the relevant vocational area, and may also progress to a foundation degree.