So you’ve decided to become a certified public accountant – that’s great! You’ve worked hard, took all the undergraduate and graduate-level courses for accounting and business law that you’re required to take and you’ve even managed to get some work experience in the field. With all this behind you, you feel that you’re now ready to take the CPA examination. Though it sounds like a simple exam, there’s a lot in it that is riding on you becoming a certified public accountant. So, let’s take a deep look into what you need to know about the CPA exam.
- It’s a heavy exam
Just because you completed all your courses, don’t think that the exam is going to be easy. In fact, it’s quite a bulky exam. The CPA exam has 324 multiple-choice questions, 20 task-based simulation questions and three writing portions. These are all divided into four main sections which are Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), Regulation (REG) and Business Environment and Concepts (BEC).
- Candidates have a choice
Now, after reading the sections you may be panicking – don’t worry. Each part of the exam is taken individually and candidates have the choice to select the order of the sections they’re going to write. You’re not going to be able to do all four sections in one examination block, but instead, space them out over a series of months. Once you complete one section, you have 18 months to complete and pass the remaining three.
- What score do you need to pass?
Good question. First of all, it’s important to know how the examination is graded. The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) grade exams on a scale from zero to 99. In order for you to pass the examination, you must receive 75 on each section. The Multiple-choice questions cunt for 70% of the exam, simulations count for 20% and written questions count for 10%. Though, the written questions are weighted differently than the multiple-choice, so, just because you scored 100% on the multiple-choice section doesn’t mean you’re going to pass the exam.
- You’re not alone
You may be sweating in your chair right now after reading this, but don’t. You have multiple avenues of support to help you study and pass the CPA exam. There are online forums, study groups and CPA review courses which all help you during the preparation period prior to the exam. For example, CPA review courses provide you with lectures, memorization tactics, practice multiple-choice questions, and some even offer a personalized learning system specifically for you to target your weak areas.
- Take your time
With each exam, you’re given 14 hours to complete it. This is an ample amount of time. What you need to do is relax and focus yourself, making sure that you allow yourself an appropriate amount of time per question. Through your practice exams, you’ll be able to see your weak areas, so give yourself more time during the exam for those questions.
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