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Easy CPA Exam Answers

Sometimes, the answers come easy:

Hello. I am taking the REG and AUD sections of the CPA exam during the latter part of the Oct/Nov testing window. In your opinion, how much “rote memorization” is required to successfully pass the two sections referenced above.

Thank you for your assistance.


Simple. Zero.

For every hour of CPA review lecture video you watch, you should do 2 – 3 hours of homework for that section. If you rewatch a lecture, I would still do an additional 2 – 3 hours homework (MCQ or practice simulations) for each subsequent viewing. There is no such thing as practicing too much but don’t tell that to people who have scored in the mid to upper 90s.

Rote memorization? I wouldn’t call the effort you put into studying for these sections “rote memorization,” though you will be engaging in repetition (to the point of nausea) to really indoctrinate the concepts into your head.

In order to actually learn the concepts you need to pass, you will need to know why the answers are right and wrong, not just what the answers are. That’s why you don’t hear about people smuggling answers out of Prometric (they could if they really wanted to), it wouldn’t do anyone any good.

You will need to memorize certain concepts (don’t bother remembering every single tax form and SAS) but generally speaking, your most effective strategy is going to be to get in as much practice as you can. That means plowing through questions but thinking about the answers as you do so. Use the guide above to figure out just how many hours you need to put into each section but the “magic number” varies wildly for each candidate, you may need more or you may need less.

What to Do If You’re Stumped on One Section of the CPA Exam

I’m assuming not all of you are going to have great news as CPA exam scores trickle out, so maybe the following reader question can help you, too.


Hi I’m looking for some advice regarding the Audit section. I have passed FAR, BEC, and Regulation thus far. However, I can’t wrap my brain around auditing.

The first time I took audit I got a 73 and I felt like I did not know any of the material. This was with three weeks of studying with Becker.

The second time I took audit, I got a 71 and I felt like I knew everything. This was with one month of studying with Becker and the computer Becker Final Review.

I just started working and I’m trying to determine the correct approach for studying audit again. I feel that it would be a waste to watch all of the Becker videos again unless I’m just absolutely confused on a section.

I plan on purchasing another study tool for more problems, etc, but I’m not sure which one to buy. I’m torn between the Gleim, Wiley, and Yaeger CRAM. The reasoning I have to purchase another tool is that I have a familiarity with the Becker questions already since I have tried them all twice.

Do you have any advice?

I absolutely have some advice, having seen a good chunk of our CPA review students go through this for a variety of reasons, none of which was related to the quality of the material or even the material itself.

Audit, of all the sections, can sometimes be the one that requires your brain to be the most bulimic (meaning learn it and barf it out at Prometric), mostly if you have no educational experience in that area and no affinity for the material covered. Auditors are – as we all know – unique, so it requires a different sort of thinking to truly thrive in that area.

You have the right idea. If you score between 70 – 74 (especially twice), you already have an excellent command of the information, so watching lectures you’ve already watched is a waste of time and won’t help you understand the concepts any better unless, as you said, you’re really lost on a particular part. You’re also doing the right thing by considering a supplement that will provide you with new problems, as memorization is not only a waste of time but also a detriment on exam day.

I have heard good things about Gleim’s MCQ, and some have had success using those alone. Since you already have the foundation of a full review, a cram is also a good option. But keep in mind crams involve videos and I don’t think it’s the basics you’re struggling with, it’s the tedious details. Crams usually cover the most heavily-tested material, which is probably not your issue at all.

Your best bet at this point will probably be to do as many practice questions as you can leading up to your exam retake. You have hopefully scheduled it soon while the information is still fresh in your mind.

I leave it to our readers who have undoubtedly been in a situation similar to yours to take it from here and tell you which they used to get over the hump as it were. Good luck!

Poli Sci Major Needs Help Picking a CPA Exam Starting Point

We swear we don’t mind answering the same question over and over and over, so if you have a question for us, please don’t hesitate to pound it out and get it to us.

Here’s our latest CPA exam quandary from the mailbag:

Hi Adrienne

I am just beginning to study for the CPA exams. I am in an MBA program and I will graduate in December. I was not an accounting major (poli sci) so I have also been taking the necessary required accounting classes in order to sit for the CPA exams, hopefully in January. I am taking an MBA-level auditing class in the Fall. I just finished a corporate income tax class this Spring, so I am a little confused as to which exam I should focus on now and take first, in January: REG as a lot of tax info is still fresh in my head or Auditing, as it will be most fresh by January?

Let’s all keep in mind that the CPA exam is not a test of your ability to be a good accountant, nor is it at all representative of the depth of your knowledge but the breadth. In other words, it’s a huge inch-tall puddle as opposed to a small, 9-ft deep pool. Your job is to jump across the puddle without getting your ankles wet, ya with me?

If it’s going to help your confidence, you can start with the section that will be easiest for you – in your case, that may be whatever you studied last. Keep in mind, however, that what you study in college and what you see on the CPA exam may not necessarily align. The CPA exam changes twice a year and with CBT-e changes, the AICPA Board of Examiners is now testing material that you are expected to know as a new CPA but may not have covered in school. Professors tend to favor the same material year after year, so unless your school is incredibly progressive and you’ve been learning IFRS (unlikely), it may not matter what you studied most recently.

That being said, I always tell candidates to start with the part that will be hardest for them simply because your 18 month timeframe starts from the time you sit for and pass your first part.

Here’s the deal: any review course will give you what you need to fill in the blanks in your education, even if you go the self-study route and pick up a set of CPA review textbooks from Amazon. In my professional experience, those who don’t have as rigorous an accounting background actually do better on the CPA exam as they come into it fresh instead of relying on what they were just taught in their accounting program that is no longer relevant for CPA exam purposes.

You’ll be fine either way, just pick one, study, and pass. It really is that simple. Or so I hear.

CPA Exam Dilemma: Do I Take Audit or FAR Before 2011?

Bypassing the pleasantries and getting straight into the reader question:

I passed BEC & REG on my first try, but I failed FAR & AUD. I need to take FAR or AUD before 2011. Which one do you suggest? FYI: I had 66 on FAR, 56 on AUD.

We’ve discussed what to do when you fail an exam section in the past and if you are familiar with the formula, you know that anything less than a 70 means you can pretty much go back to the drawing board. So the short answer here is that either FAR or AUD is fine but with a little over a month left before the end of 2010 testing, I am a little concerned that you may not have enough time to really prepare. Let’s be real here, you must not have put in much time or effort on either the first time around, am I right?

That being said, FAR looks like the more promising option though a 66 tells me that you’ve got a ways to go before you will be ready. It could be that you simply bombed one testlet and a simulation, in which case you don’t need to spend too much time going over all FAR topics in extensive detail but if you skimmed most of it the first time around, now might be the time to get serious and put in the work.

If you are asking which to take before 2011 because you are scared to death of the CBT-e changes, I would suggest taking AUD this year as the research will be harder next year while most of FAR will actually be easier (between removal of written communication, shorter “simlet” problems and fairly straight-forward IFRS vs GAAP content).

Regardless of which you choose, work on time management (perhaps that is your issue as it coincidentally tends to be a problem on both FAR and AUD) and use your score report to figure out where you need to focus for your second attempt.

Good luck!

Ed. note: Adrienne is currently trudging across this fine country, moving her life from not-so-fabulous-anymore San Francisco to an undisclosed location just outside of Washington DC. She’ll return to a full posting schedule next week after getting settled. As always, you are still welcome to get in touch with any CPA exam questions and/or post suggestions.