Q and A Session: Answering 7 Commonly Asked Questions About the CPA Exam

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Taking, much less passing the CPA exam, is a monumental achievement. It stands to reason, therefore, that candidates usually have many questions about it and how to best study so they have the greatest chance of passing it. What follows are seven of the most commonly asked questions about the CPA exam.

  1. Q: After I take the CPA exam, is it best if I wait until I receive my exam score before I schedule to take it again?

A; No. Since a candidate has a 12-to 18-month time frame to pass the entire exam and assuming that you might fail one or more legs of the exam, you should schedule another exam immediately after taking it the first time.   This will give you more time to study with access to the CPA exam study materials, before running out of the allotted time.

  1. Q: Does having advanced knowledge of how the authoritative literature and how it is structured help in responding to the task-based simulations (SIMs)?

A: Yes. It is strongly recommended that CPA candidates make the most of the six months of free access to the authoritative literature on the AICPA website. This will go a long way toward helping improve a candidate’s scores on the SIMs.

  1. Q: Most candidates consider the SIMs the most challenging part of the CPA exam. Should a candidate consider allowing more time to them while taking the exam?

A; No. Candidates should always abide by the 60/40 split. Multiple choice questions (MCQs) account for 60 percent of the exam. SIMs account for 40 percent of the exam. A test taker’s time should be budgeted along these lines.

  1. Q: If there is no penalty for an incorrect answer, what harm is there in getting an answer wrong?

A: This is a misnomer since a score is not given for an incorrect answer, but there are no points given toward a passing score for the exam.

  1. Q: Is it recommended that a candidate takes the Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) section before they take the Auditing and Attestation (AUD) section?

A: Yes. This is because the FAR concepts build upon those in the AUD section. If a candidate does well on the FAR section, chances are good that they will do well on the AUD section.

  1. Q: Many CPA exam candidates work full time while they are preparing to take the exam. Are there specific study method recommendations for these candidates?

A: There are many CPA candidates who work full time and are able to study for the exam in time to beat the 18-month time window. The secret to this is to put together a plan and stick with it. If you have a family and/or friends, you should ask them to help by allowing you to study on schedule without interruptions.

  1. Q: Most CPA candidates spend the last week of their preparation before taking the exam going through MCQs. Is this approach recommended?

A: A CPA candidate should not allow themselves to focus on any one part of the exam, regardless of the section. Instead, a CPA candidate should spend their last week of preparation in a high-level overview of everything they will be tested on.

It’s been said many different ways, but it’s true that the best way to learn something is to teach it. Whether you have a study partner, a roommate, or a full-length mirror, try to teach the concepts of the CPA exam that you are struggling with. You might find yourself better prepared for the exam for the effort.