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CPA Exam Writing Tips – Tips For the Day of the Exam

March 13th, 2012

The day has finally arrived when you will be writing the CPA Exam and you’re probably racking your brain with a million things about what you should do. Don’t fret, here are some last minute tips that will make everything run smoothly.

1.Arrive early
It’s best to arrive at the testing centre at least 30 minutes before your scheduled appointment. If you’re late, you may forfeit your appointment and run the risk of losing your spot to write the exam. You might not be eligible to get your examination fees refunded.

2.Store your personal belongings
Once you’re at the testing centre you must put away your personal belongings, such as your bag or cellular phone, in the storage lockers. You will receive a key to your locker which has to be returned to the test centre staff when you finish your exam. Be sure to leave expensive valuables such as jewellery, IPods, and laptops at home because the test center staff is not responsible for lost or stolen items.

3.Remember your identification
You have to sign in when you arrive at the testing centre, so be sure to have two pieces of identification with you (one photo identification, and both with your signature). You are required to keep your identification card on you at all times. If you leave the testing room to use the washroom, you are required to show your identification to be readmitted into examination room.

4.Remember to smile
All CPA exam takes will have their picture taken for administration purposes. So be sure to look your best and smile!

5.Remember to sign in
Before entering the exam room, you are required to sign the test centre log book. Each time you leave and re-enter the testing room, you need to sign the log book along with showing your identification.

6.Stay seated
After signing the log book, a test centre staff member will escort you to a workstation. You are required to remain seated in the same spot during the examination, except when asked to leave the testing room.

7.Pencils and paper will be provided
Don’t worry about bringing extra paper and pens as they will be provided by the test centre staff. You will be asked to enter your examination password on the scratch paper, and then you will return the piece of paper with your password to the test center staff when you complete the exam. If you need extra scratch paper, all you need to do is ask the test center staff for some. But in order to get a new supply of scratch paper, you need to give back the original stack of paper to the test center staff. You are not allowed to bring outside paper or pencils into the work station in the testing room.

8.Time Management
It is imperative that when you start writing the CPA exam, that you manage your time efficiently. Use this guideline for managing your time for each of the four exams.

You have 2.5 hours to complete the BEC section. It consists of multiple choice questions, but do not miscalculate the time. Just because it is a shorter section, it doesn’t mean that you should spend too much time on each question. Give yourself 1.5 minutes to answer each question.

The Audit section is 4.5 hours long. According to recent candidate polls, it is the second hardest section next to the BEC section. For each multiple choice question give yourself 2 minutes as a benchmark. All together you will have 45 minutes per simulation (60 minutes per testlet.)

Probably the most difficult section from the CPA exam, FAR tests a large amount of knowledge. For many, the additional calculations add to the difficulty. Many candidates find that the 4 hours is not enough time to finish everything. So you should allow yourself 90 seconds to answer each multiple choice question and 45 minutes per simulation.

The Regulation section is the shortest part of the exam containing only 24 multiple choice questions per testlet. The other sections contain 30 multiple choice questions per testlet. So in the REG you’ll have 18 fewer questions to answer, but it doesn’t mean you should pay less attention to it. The Regulation section lasts 3 hours. To get through it, give yourself 75 seconds per multiple choice question and 45 minutes per simulation.

9.Review and Relax
When you finish writing the exam, leave the testing room quietly, hand in your scratch paper and sign out of the test center log book. Now you can relax and pat yourself on the back for a job well done.

10.Some final tips
During the exam, take some mental breaks, stretch in your seat, drink some water and take a deep breath. Bring some chocolates or hard candies to munch on. The sugar helps to maintain energy levels. If you get stuck on a question, skip it, and do your best on the rest of the exam. Go back to it and just guess!

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How Hard is the CPA Exam?

March 13th, 2012

It’s no secret that the CPA exam is one the most difficult professional licensing tests to pass. Even though candidates are permitted to take just one section at a time, the CPA Exam is so complex that nearly 50% of candidates receive a failing score for each section. But have no fear, if you follow a rigorous study schedule, you can successfully pass the CPA exam.

Exam Pass Rate
So is the CPA exam hard? According to the statistics, it’s really tough. Overall in 2011, the CPA exam cumulative rates for each section were relatively low (as follows). In order to pass, you need to get 75% or over.
45.26% – Auditing and Attestation (AUD)
47.13% – Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)
45.57% – Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)
44.22% – Regulation (REG)

Preparing for the CPA
Many candidates are asking those who have passed, “how hard is the CPA exam?” Since everyone learns differently, the only way to pass is to prepare and practice. So how long should you study? Typically, you should prepare a study schedule at least three months before your scheduled exam. During the three months, set aside blocks of time that you solely dedicate to studying. Keep in mind that there is only a 30% pass rate for each section of the CPA exam and most candidates don’t pass all four sections on their first try. But don’t feel discouraged, many candidates have to re-take sections of the CPA exam before passing it in the end.

Time Frame
The moment you take your first exam, you have an 18 month test window in which you have to pass all four sections of the CPA exam. So how hard is the CPA exam to pass within this time frame? It’s difficult if you don’t study consistently. If you don’t pass all four sections within 18 months, your credit will be lost for the first section you passed. But you get a renewal of another 18 months and the cycle continues until you pass all four parts of the exam. Keep in mind that if you take the exams at a slower pace you risk losing your credits and that means you will have to pay the fees again and retake passed exams.

Preparing with a CPA Review Course
With so much at stake, it is imperative to purchase a CPA exam review course. There are several types of CPA exam classes available, from participating in live seminars to studying online or using self-study text books. Choosing the right review course for you will mean less study time and a higher pass rate. If you need help on choosing a CPA exam review course, check out my reviews here.

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CPA Exam Cost – Are You Aware of the Total Cost?

March 13th, 2012

What’s the Total CPA Cost?
With the difficulty of the CPA exam in the foreground, most people forget to find out about the various costs that are associated with exam preparation and registration, and the costs of commuting to and sitting for the exam. Below is a list of the major costs that you should be aware of before starting on the journey of becoming a CPA. Be sure to put enough money aside so you don’t come up short later!

1.The Cost of a CPA Review Course
There are many CPA exam review courses to choose from, presented in different formats ranging from DVD courses to live courses to downloadable software programs to text books. The cost of CPA exam review materials will vary for each person, depending on how much studying you need to do (for example, if you’re fresh out of school you’ll get away with less studying and therefore less study materials) and also your preferences (e.g. some people prefer to buy a Wiley book for cheap and keep doing practice questions like a fiend; others may prefer a more well-rounded course such as Yaeger’s CPA review, which delivers full lectures via DVD and reinforces the knowledge with selective practice questions). If you need help on selecting a CPA review course, visit this site.

2.Initial Application Fees
First –time applicants are required to pay both an examination fee and application fee. The cost of the application fee varies from state to state. (To find out how much the application fee is for your state, see the NASBA website.)

3.Registration Fees
Before you take the exam you have to pay the exam fees. Exam fees are set up so that you pay the lowest fee per section if you decide to apply for all 4 sections at once. You do not have to apply for all 4 sections at one time. It is best to apply for as many sections as you feel comfortable taking over a 6-9 month period. The specific registration fee amounts for registering for different amounts of exam sections at a time varies from state to state. (To find out how much the registration fees are for your state, see the NASBA website.)

4.Examination Fees
After all the preparation, you are required to pay the examination fees for each part of the CPA exam. The price for each section is different, and again, they vary from state to state. (To find out what the exam fee is for your state, see the NASBA website.)

5.Additional Fees
Bear in mind that you may have to pay additional fees if you are planning to write the CPA exam in another city. So remember to factor in your transportation and accommodation costs in the case that you have to travel to write your CPA exam.

And, if unfortunately (knock-on-wood) you don’t pass all 4 sections the first time, you’ll need to pay additional money to re-register for and re-sit failed sections. Also, some people find out after failing one or more sections that the CPA review course they’ve been using hasn’t served them very well, and as a result have to buy another course. To avoid having to spend unnecessary time and money, you are advised to do plenty of research before getting the CPA review course that will work best for you. (Visit this site if you need help on selecting a CPA review course.)

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