I finished taking my last section of the CPA exam this morning, regulation if it really matters. This is round two for me, and the first time around I score a horrific 74. I mean horrific because I could have passed with possibly one more right question. And I feel just as horrified… maybe worse. I studied just to get a little more of the information this time. I passed with a 74, I just needed 1 more point. But this exam was worse than AUD, worse than FAR, worse than BEC and worse than the first REG I took… COMBINED.
Three sets of multiple choice… nothing special. I probably did a 80% overall which doesn’t leave much room for error on the simulations. There were easy questions and there were hard ones, but you could easily limit the choices to two answers and make a guess. The second simulation was cake. I mean it. I thought I aced that section. But the first simulation gave me a panic attack. First they asked some question about an investment and asked to calculate it’s cash flow over several years and with different strategies. The problem was they worded it so vaguely with so little info it confused me. They said he would be paid a salary but they didn’t say how much, so you read it four times trying to see if you missed it. There they go trying to f*ck with me. These types of questions piss me off the most too because its like asking someone to calculate an implausible set of circumstances with limited data, no questions asked and when we don’t include info you must infer it from our leaving it out. Then there was a question on calculating a sole proprietor’s income and federal taxes. Sounds easy but they gave you a ton of info and no tax return to fill in. With that much info, no readily accessible calculator (the sh*t calculator they give is worthless) and just pencil and paper and limited time, you begin to sweet pretty quickly. My only hope at this point is those simulation pieces were part of new test materials and they won’t be graded.
You may be asking yourself, what question at this point. Well, obviously, “Did I pass?”
I received an email from NASBA this morning regarding the update to the CPA exam. In 2011, CPA candidates will be tested using the new Content and Skill Specification Outlines (CSOs/SSO). Which most candidates, including myself, already knew, but what is new is that the AICPA just released the sample exam on their website for this specific update. You can try out a sample of the new CSO/SSO’s and see how you like it. Just go to:
They have both the old and new sample tests up at the moment. I tried the AUD and REG. I didn’t see anything new on the AUD that was worth pointing out, but the REG portion had a sample tax return you needed to fill out. I think its a VAST improvement over filling in random questions. But despite the update I should remind people it looks like you may have to put up with the outdated software from the previous exams. You would think they would do a major overhaul of this exam when putting out an update like this.
If I do not receive a passing score on REG I might be subject to this, but at this point I am feeling pretty good about passing and I haven’t felt the need to continue to study. I also have another quarter to take the old exam before they release this update, so if I don’t pass I can try once more before the release.
I am a little behind on this post, but I took the BEC portion of the CPA exam last Thursday. It went ok… For starters I was on track for studying as of the prior weekend. I wanted to review one more full time before taking the exam. And I would have, except I caught the flu on Sunday. My head was completely stuffed up and my nose was running constantly for a full week. And, I still had to go to work. It is tax season after all. So by the time I got home from work I was running on E and I ended up passing out almost every night. I was still able to get through a lot of the material but it wasn’t as complete as I would have been had I been healthy.
Thursday morning I woke up just before 7 still sick from the flu, but now I also had a migraine. I had my exam at 9, so I did what anyone would do in that situation, I drugged myself with as much as cold and flu medicine, advil and power drinks as I could get my hands on to get myself through the exam (and work too). I got to the exam and nothing kicked in, I didn’t feel a wink better. I took the exam, my nose running the whole time and you can’t bring anything inside the exam with you, so here I am wiping my nose on my sleeves wishing this damn thing had un-timed break so I could blow my nose and not waste 10 minutes of precious time getting my fingerprints checked in and out.
So I finished the exam. I have no idea how well I did, but now I feel great. No migraine. No flu. No nothing. Just two more exams left to study for and a tax season.
I finished the REG self-study course last week. It was a great feeling. That was the last of it. I considered making myself a Becker CPA Review Course diploma, but my passing grades on the Exam will suffice.
Since then, I have been going through all of the questions a second time. This is my favorite part of studying because it goes much more smoothly than the first time around. The first time I spend a ridiculous amount of time on each question; sometimes up to five minutes. I refer back to the book if I need to and make notes to help understand and retain the information. The second time I fly through.
Last night I did 100 questions in less than 2 hours. Tonight I did 150 in about 2 hours. Not only does it take less time, but it’s less frustrating because I score higher. The first time I do the questions I average around 70%. So far, my second time around has been around 85%, which I consider to be an acceptable level of improvement considering that I went over half of the material in early June and then set it aside for the GMAT, vacations, etc.
So, I guess, to turn this into useful advice I’d say, take adequate time to review the material the first time around. It lays the foundation for your final review, which is critical for success. The last thing you want to do is struggle with a concept the week before the Exam because you hadn’t taken the time to understand it when you first reviewed it. If you are able to obtain an understanding of everything as you first see it, the final review will be efficient.
Sorry for being gone for so long! I have had a crazy two weeks. I flew to Orlando for two days for work (3 hour plane ride…took 8 hours) and to my dismay when I got there, it was raining lol. The weather followed me down south. But since I spent a lot of time at the airport and on planes I got a good amount of studying done for FAR. That’s good because my test is on Friday :O. I am a little nervous since this is the first section of the exam I am attempting. I just want to get it over with so I know what it’s like. I am focusing my efforts this week on taking practice exams to prepare me for the big day! haha Wish me luck! The weather better stay nice until I after I take this exam!
I just finished watching a two and a half hour lecture on contract law. That’s it. I’m done. No more CPA Exam preparation until a week from Sunday. I started the CPA Exam and my career last September and have yet to take any time off. Next week I will be in a beach chair by a lake listening to Kokomo and sipping those fruity drinks with the colorful umbrellas.
I’d like to think my mind will be free of all accounting-related thoughts, but it won’t happen. I love the stuff. I’m a wild and crazy guy! I won’t bring my books, though. They will be here for me when I get back.
Good luck to everyone taking the Exam this testing window. I will be joining you in August to take REG. Happy Independence Day!
To piggy back on Seth’s post, I have a similar study habit, except for the best part of his posts “Being the Teacher” which I think is a brilliant idea! And I am stealing this one when I start studying for the remaining sections.
Here is how I approached AUD: My software throws random questions from every category. I answered them to the best of my ability. For every question I miss and/or had no clue what the question is asking for, I would write out definition/answer on my purple notebook. After a few days, I figured I’d save some time and few trees by typing instead of writing. So I started typing my notes on the MS word and named it Note1.doc. There were 37 pages in Note1.doc. When I was through answering each question at least once, I printed out my note and read/reviewed it thoroughly before attempting the questions again.
The purple Notebook.
My chances of missing the questions the second time around was much higher than (don’t laugh) the sun shining in MA. So, when I miss the questions this time, I would type it out in Note2.doc which contained 17 pages. Not bad! Then I read/reviewed Note 2, before attempting to answer the troubled questions. (Question missed more than once).
Next, were simulations. I did two simulations per day coupled with as many multiple choice questions as I could fit in, everyday, until two days before the test. I took a day before the test off from studying.
This was my methodology for AUD. While BEC has its own story. I will write about it in a separate post, when I get back from my guilty pleasure vacation.
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.
Less than a week from today, I will be sitting for test #2 (BEC). I don’t feel as confident, as I did for test #1 (AUD) even though I have been devoting the same, if not more, time and effort for this section. I could relate to every category of AUD section because that’s what I have been doing for almost 3 years now.
I must not retain much from the classes I took in college because most of the categories included in BEC seemed foreign to me at the beginning. I even postponed the test from the original date. I now feel somewhat ready to take the test, but let me tell you, it was a very slow process. The learning curve below should portray what I mean.
It is, what it is. Graph courtesy: R. Whitehouse
Right after the test, I am leaving for a mini vacation. I am super excited to get away from MA’s wet climate, but at the same time, I am thinking of test #3 (FARE). I am unsure of whether or not to lug my FARE book with me, so lets do a poll. (Note: This mini vacation was totally unplanned, one day a very good friend of mine called me and it seemed too good to pass. )
Hope everyone likes the slight design modifications I made tonight. I began working on the design back in February and gave up because I was very busy with work and studying. I still am, but the addition of two new writers emphasized the imperfections of the old navigation panel. I also had been disappointed with the header/banner from the start.
If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know. The design capabilities are fairly limited because this is based off WordPress.com, not WordPress.org. However, I am able to edit the CSS. Later during the summer I might get adventurous, scrap the base theme I’m working with, and build one from scratch. I can’t guarantee that though. Right now it’s hard to motivate myself to do anything that doesn’t involve work or the Exam.
I’ve been pretty motivated the past couple weeks. The GMAT went very well and I’ve been quite amused by the tax laws covered by Becker’s REG lectures. I’m looking forward to this weekend. On the weekends studying is the extent of my mental exertion so it’s more efficient than sessions during the week.