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Tips on taking the CPA Exam

Alex Kinsman ’21, our Employer Relations Career Intern, recently attended a “Overcoming the Top 4 CPA Exam Challenges presented by UWorld.

A statistic Alex found compelling was UWorld’s claim that the students who used their software passed at a 91% rate. This is highly impressive because the average rate to pass a section of the CPA Exam is around 49%.

Here are more of Alex’s tips and takeaways:

  • To apply for the CPA, complete the education requirement (graduate with a bachelor’s degree) and find your state’s NASBA site to see additional state requirements.
  • You will take the exam in a Prometric testing center. Currently masks are required so it is recommended that you practice taking the test with a mask on as you will need to keep it on the entire time. Additionally, you are not allowed to take any clothes on or off when you go into the testing center so be mindful of this. 
  • To get more into the actual exam contents, there are four parts of the exam:
    1. Financial (FAR)
    2. Regulation (REG)
    3. Audit (AUD)
    4. Business (BEC).
  • In each exam there are two multiple choice sections and three task based simulation sections, except for BEC, which also has a written communication section. You need to get a 75 on the exam to pass that part of the CPA exam. However, a 75 does not mean 75%, it means that you got 75 points over the course of the exam by answering questions correctly.
  • The weighting of the exam is the same for FAR, REG and AUD with the multiple choice questions being worth 50% and the task based simulations worth 50%. BEC is weighted with multiple choice questions worth 50%, task based simulations worth 35% and written communication worth 15%.
  • The exam is exactly four hours with a 15 minute break after the third section. 

A couple recommendations made during the presentation for studying:

  • Concentrate on one section at a time – This means that you should study for one section, pass it, then move on to the next. Here is the recommended order to take the exams:
    1. FAR
    2. AUD or REG
    3. AUD or REG
    4. BEC
  • This order allows you to study the most intensive exam – FAR – first and pass that while saving the least intensive exam – BEC – for last while you may be working.
  • The last piece of advice that I found to be helpful was to use the study planner within the program you are using to study for the exam. If you follow the study plan you should have no trouble passing all sections of the exam. 

Good luck to all those future CPAs!

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