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Are You Ready to Become a CPA?

     The uniform CPA exam is regarded as one of the most difficult professional exams, with a passing rate around 50% for all of the sections. However, attaining a CPA license will give you many opportunities in your career. The requirements for the CPA license vary by state, but they all include education (150 credit hours with basically a major in accounting), examination (it is the same exam for all states), and experience (1-2 years). You need the education (or at least a couple of months away from getting it) to sit for the exam, but you do not need the experience portion to sit for the exam. The sections of the CPA are: Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), Audit (AUD), Regulation (REG), and Business and Economic Concepts (BEC). Thankfully there are many CPA review courses that will be extremely helpful to you as you prepare. Becker is the standard in the industry (the one I used), but it also the most expensive ($3,400). There are a lot of similarities in CPA review courses: they all have lectures, a text (typically in outline format), homework problems released by the AICPA, task-based simulations released by the AICPA (longer problems which requires multiple entries), and practice tests (you will get a higher score on actual exam than the Becker final exam).
     One of the of the reasons why you will get a higher score on the actual exam than the practice exam (if you calculate an average percentage on the practice exam) is that the multiple choice questions on the actual exam will get be more difficult on the second and third testlet if you do well on the first testlet, however this does not put you at a disadvantage because the more difficult questions can allow you to miss more than 25% of the questions and still earn a passing score of 75 (this is not a percentage). However the exam is more than multiple choice questions as FAR, AUD, and REG have task-based simulations and BEC requires three written memos.
     My biggest advice I can give CPA candidates is to give yourself enough time to study. I think the biggest reason why the pass rates are low are because many people take the CPA exam while they are working full-time and have forgot many accounting concepts from college that they do not use in their jobs. How many weeks to prepare for an exam depends on which section you are taking. Under Becker, FAR has 10 chapters, AUD has 6 chapters, REG (tax and business law) has 8 chapters, and BEC has 6 chapters. Each chapter requires around 15 hours to study. Becker's online (note: not self-study) option schedules 2 chapters a week, however if you are working full-time one chapter a week may be more appropriate. Also give yourself at least a week to review before you take your exam so that you can catch up if you fall behind, take practice tests, and review the material. I would also recommend taking FAR first for many reasons including that the other sections of the CPA exam require a good understanding of financial accounting. The content is not more in-depth than what you covered in school, the most difficult part is that there is a lot of content that you must know, some of which you have not learned before.
     Studying for the CPA exam can be overwhelming, especially FAR. I listed my scores and the most current CPA exam candidate bulletin. I would be happy to help you through this process of becoming a CPA.


FAR: 90
REG: 91
AUD: 97
BEC: Awaiting results

A must-read for exam takers: https://nasba.org/files/2011/09/CandidateBulletin_October2015.pdf

$35p/h

Stephen W.

Accounting professional with graduate degree

20+ hours
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