AAT L4 PDSY Strategy


AAT L4 PDSY Synoptic Exam Strategy – we all have different approaches to taking exams but you may like to consider the following strategy for this professional level AAT exam:

This strategy assumes that you prefer doing calculations rather than writing about those calculations.  The strategy for the AAT L4 PDSY synoptic exam also assumes that you want to maximise your marks per minute towards the beginning of the exam allowing you to take some more time towards the end to earn marks on some of the areas that you may find a little more difficult.

Start with task 1.

Task 1 tests controls and ethics plus some other knowledge as multiple-choice/drop-down questions.  Assuming that your level of knowledge and memory are good, then you should be able to complete task 1 in 15-20 minutes and aim to score around 18/20.

Move to task 5.

Task 5 tests ratio analysis from FSLC which you have already passed.  You need to calculate some ratios and answer multiple-choice questions that show your ability to interpret those ratios as well as the absolute numbers.  Task 5 is computer marked.  As you have passed FSLC already you should aim to complete this in 15-20 minutes scoring around 18/20.

Back to task 3.

This tests accounting systems and controls.  Go straight to the requirements without reading the scenario so that when you do go through the scenario you know what you are looking for.  Look out for words like, “should”, “sometimes” and “however” which may suggest that control does not always happen.  Be aware of controls that you would expect to happen but are not described in the scenario – that would be a weakness.  Explain the impact on various stakeholders.

This task may take a little longer, perhaps 25 minutes and you should be aiming for 9-12 out of 15.

Jump to task 6.

This task may test either controls or a SWOT analysis.  Avoid writing vanilla recommendations or sitting on the fence.  We need to see clear answers using information from the scenario.  Who should do what, when, how often and how?  Be specific.  This task will take more time so spend 30 minutes and aim for 9-12 out of 15.

Back to task 4.

The last two tasks require essay style answers and may need even more time for you to analyse the scenario, do some calculations and then write meaningful points about them.  Hopefully, by now you have scored a good number of marks from the first four questions and as you have done those questions relatively quickly, you may now spend a little more time on the final two questions.

Task 4 tests MDCL which you have passed already.  There are some calculations but most of the marks are for narrative answers.  Make sure that you make your answers relevant by referring to the task requirements frequently before writing anything.  It’s easy when you are in your flow of writing to start to deviate away from what the task actually wants you to do.  Spend no more than 45 minutes on task 4 and aim to achieve at least 8/15.

Finally, do task 2.

Task 2 tests budgeting which you have passed already.  Start with the requirements so you know why you are reading the rest of the scenario and you know what to look for.  You may generate lots of ideas and it’s important that you allocate your ideas to the correct requirement.  A shotgun answer with ideas all over the place will not score well.  Re-read the requirement after you have written your answer to make sure that you have really satisfied it.  Make sure that you use the scenario and do not write generic answers which may not be relevant.  Like task 4 spend no more than 45 minutes and aim for at least 8/15 which will give you your pass overall.

Pre-release material

Make sure that you are familiar with the AAT L4 PDSY pre-release material and that you have already identified the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  The business is assumed to operate in the real world so make use of your knowledge of current affairs too which can help to make your answer stand out.  You should have calculated every ratio you can on the financial statements provided.


You have worked hard to get this far and the AAT L4 PDSY synoptic exam will be the final one for many of you.  So keep up your good work.  You should have passed FSLC, MABU and MDCL before you reached this point so the questions should be quite achievable for you.

Good luck.

N.B. Don’t forget to make full use of the AAT’s online resources too – you can access these via the AAT Lifelong Learning portal here.


Written by Pat Leahy