The best Christmas present I could ask for this year was passing my final exam….and I did it!! I got my score for BEC on Thursday night and left for a long ski weekend Friday morning. It was nice to finally relax and not have to think about the CPA exam anymore!
The best advice I can give everyone about taking the exam is to make a schedule and stick to it. It will be horrible to study for six months straight, but when you are finished you will realize it was well worth it. If you use Becker I highly recommend the schedule function where you can put in your exam dates and it will set up a study schedule for you. Very helpful.
Now on to the application process….haha
Good luck everyone and happy studying!
While studying flash cards tonight I looked at my stack of notes and wondered how many pages there were. There were 121 pages (front AND back) for FAR, 42 for BEC, and 48 for AUD. Can you guess which section I took first?
The reason I have 121 pages for FAR is because I almost never read my notes. Some concepts are probably in those notes three or four times. If I write something three times in one week it would be more challenging to forget than to retain.
While watching the Becker lectures, if something strikes me as new and potentially difficult, I write it out. Once I’ve finished watching a lecture, I do all of the questions once. Next, I copy all of the flashcards in my notes. Once I’ve worked through all the lectures of a section, I answer all of the questions for every lecture a second time. This time if I get a question wrong, I write out my own explanation of the concept as if I were an instructor trying to explain it to a student. That way I know I’m actually comprehending the concept and not just nodding at the displayed solution provided by the software.
After I’ve gone through all the questions a second time, I hone in on my weaknesses. For about a week before the Exam, I do 100 (or more) random questions a night. Anytime I get a question wrong I write out my own explanation of the concept. By the time I go into the Exam I’m not just ready to take it, I’m ready to teach it. If you can do that, you can pass.
We each have our own strengths and weaknesses. Mentors and coaches often try to encourage focusing on and enhancing our strengths. That strategy will not work on the CPA Exam. It is a mile wide and an inch deep. Candidates need to be slightly familiar with a TON of material. This means getting remotely comfortable with one subject area and moving on. Being an expert on a narrow subject matter will not be very beneficial in terms of the Exam.
If you are using Becker CPA Review, try the progress test option and include all lectures in the question bank. This will give you questions from each lecture weighted similar to the Exam. At the end of the progress test your results will be broken out by lecture. Find your Achille’s Heel. If you are consistently scoring the lowest in one lecture then review it to hone in on your weaknesses.
For the Exam, don’t rely on your strengths. Get rid of your weaknesses one at a time. Before you know it, you won’t have any. Don’t go into the Exam vulnerable. Be prepared and ready for action!
This weekend I finished the questions and flashcards for the final lecture of Becker’s Audit Review. I’ve watched all the videos. I’ve looked at all the flashcards. I’ve answered every question at least once.
In my opinion, the process of going through all of that the first time is only between 50 and 75% of the studying process. That first run-through lays the foundation for the deeper and more thorough understanding that follows through repetition.
For the next couple of weeks I will be answering about 100 questions a day focusing on one lecture at a time until I hit a constant 90% rate. Then I will move on to the next lecture. Once I have gone through all of the lectures at a 90% rate, I do 100 random questions pulling from all of the lectures. I’ll know that I am ready for the exam when I am consistently getting 90% on questions from all of the lectures.
If you are using Becker and are struggling, I suggest giving the above strategy an honest attempt. Work one lecture at a time until you have a 90% understanding. Before you go into the exam you should be able to get 90% on a quiz of 100 questions from all lectures. This repetition allows you to pinpoint your weaknesses, patch them up, identify remaining weaknesses, patch them up, etc.
Of course, you could substitute the 90% success rate with 85% or 80%. I use 90% and it has provided me with my desired level of confidence and success.
Last time I wrote about a great free resource, CPAReviewForFree.com. This time I will write about the Becker CPA Review course that is probably the most expensive. However, the price tag is somewhat justified, which I’ll touch on throughout the next couple entries.
I applied for the Becker CPA Review course sometime in July. I wasn’t doing any serious work over the summer and I wanted to get a head start so that I could be done with the exam before my second busy season. I had no idea what to expect from the course.
Once I had decided that I would use Becker CPA Review I was faced with yet another decision. Which format did I want? Live classes, online, or self-study?
Like I said before, it’s all about knowing who you are. I chose the self-study approach and I am loving it. I don’t think the other formats would have worked for me. Take the time to think about it. Everyone has their own style which is why there are three to pick from. Choosing a format is a very important decision that will impact your studying experience.
Here is how I broke the categories down for my decision-making purposes:
+ instructor to ask questions
+ meet others and share the experience
+ be forced to stick to a strict schedule
- committed to a set time and place on a periodic basis
- you could fall behind
- little to no flexibility if significant work/life events transpire
+ instructor to ask questions via email
+ meet others and share the experience online
+ forced to stick to a set timeline
+ no time and place commitment
- requires reliable internet connection
- you could fall behind
+ what you want to study
+ WHEN you want to study
+ HOW you want to study
+ if you want to study
- might be harder to get answers to questions (I haven’t tried)
- permits slacking off
I hope that information is helpful.
Last week I received a question from a reader but I didn’t visit the blog for a few days because I was busy. If anyone has any questions for me, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org