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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.)

Choosing a CPA Exam Review Course

September 13th, 2011
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A lot of people who are currently doing their studies to become a CPA – Certified Public Accountant will use a CPA review course that will make preparing for the exam a lot easier. There are good reasons for that: a quality review course is going to reduce the amount of time spent studying and also increase the candidate’s chances of succeeding in the CPA exam. While there are plenty of different CPA review courses available right now it can sometimes be quite hard to select one that will allow you to do both these things. Here are some things that you need to take under consideration when you are selecting a CPA exam review course:

The Materials of the Course

Even if all of the courses will go through the same accounting concepts, each instructor will have a different way of providing the explanations. The best review courses are the ones that are taught by instructors that are able to explain difficult topics in a way that will be easy for everyone to understand. In order to increase the efficiency of the whole course, a good instructor is one which will focus more attention on concepts that are difficult while just lightly reviewing the ones that are pretty easy to understand. Some of the best CPA review courses are going to have samples of lectures available that you can listen to before you make a decision as to whether you will buy the course or not. There are some other ways that you can check out the quality of a CPA review course: take a look at discussion forums that deal with CPA exam preparation and also sites that review products. You will then be able to read the opinion of various people and read what they have to say about a certain course.

The lectures themselves can come in various formats and media like DVDs, a USB drive, recorded webcasts or live presentations. When you evaluate the course, you should consider the media that it comes in to determine whether it would be practical for you.

When you are thinking of buying a review course, you need to check whether there is any expiry date for the course materials. In some courses, there will be parts that will only be available for a limited amount of time after you activate the course. To avoid this, you should look for software which does not require you to be connected to the internet and will therefore not expire. If you do purchase an online course and it has an expiration date, be sure that you are given enough time for you to go through all the course materials before the expiry date.

The Practice Questions

Once you are done studying the materials required for the course, very often you are provided with some practice questions that allow you to put in practice what you have learned in specific case scenarios.

There are plenty of approaches when it comes to practice questions and they will differ depending on which CPA review course you use. Some will take an approach that is more complete and will ask you to answer every question that has a possibility of being found on the CPA exam. While this will give you ample amounts of practice, it will also be quite time consuming. There are plenty of students who do not have enough time to go through all the questions and never actually finish them, which will leave them poorly prepared when the actual exam comes around.

Conversely there are certain review courses which just don’t give you a sufficient amount of practice questions to correctly prepare yourself for the CPA exam. Now this is obviously a situation that you would not want to be in either.

The best CPA review course will be one which only has the questions that are more likely to be on the actual exam. Course creators will analyze past exam questions and then include the ones that are the most frequently found on the exam in their course. That way, you will optimize the time that you spend preparing for the exam as you will be focusing on the questions which will be the most important for the exam.

Support For Students

The amount of support that you will be provided with will depend on the course that you buy. If you are someone that would like to ask questions to an instructor over the phone, you will need to select a course that offers it. There are various levels of support provided by courses, some will only give you very minimal support, some let you email questions to instructors while others have full level support that allows you to call an instructor. Certain courses make a message board available where students can share information with others and talk to instructors. Before you select a specific course, ensure that the support level provided is adequate for your needs.

How Often the Course is Updated

There are sometimes changes to regulations and laws regarding the accounting profession. Therefore, CPA exam review courses will need to be updated often to reflect these changes. Make sure that the course that you are buying is complete and up to date.

Of course, there is always the price factor. But when selecting a course, you are much better off buying a quality course rather than a cheap one. The results will pay off when you get your CPA certification. Remember that the pass rate for the CPA exam is less than 50% and you do not want to lose time having to study again and re do the exam because the course you were using was inadequate.

If you’re looking for a cpa review course that satisfies all of these criteria and more, do check out Yaeger CPA Review. You can find out more about this course here.