The CPA ExamPublish Date: Apr 23, 2010
Preparing for any professional exam can be difficult and even downright traumatic. Every student realizes that their years of study and hard work come down to these few hours, and even those that have done very well in their courses may feel extreme amounts of stress at the prospect of facing that exam.
While some nervousness and tension is to be expected, there's really no reason to become overwhelmed. If you've done well over the course of your studies then you should do well on your exam. To help you prepare, consider some quick tips and pointers.
Take the information from your test exam and use that as a guide for any sections you may need to review again. If possible, study with a friend that can quiz you appropriately. And most of all, remember to relax!
Understand the Exam
There are four sections to the exam, as follows:
- Auditing and Attestation (AUD). This section of the exam covers auditing standards and procedures, and tests the skills needed to apply these standards. Business Environment and Concepts (BEC). There are reasons why businesses use accounting and accountants, and this section covers general knowledge of a typical business environment. It is meant to test your knowledge of the reasons for accounting to be used in a business setting, and the basic skills needed for accounting in a business setting.
- Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR). In this section, you are tested as to your knowledge of accounting principles for businesses as well as for nonprofit organizations, for government agencies, and other such entities. Your ability to apply that knowledge to different settings is also tested in this section.
- Regulation (REG). The Regulation section covers your knowledge of areas of federal taxation, ethics, legal responsibilities of an accountant, business law, and your ability to apply this knowledge to practical settings.
Taking Sample Tests
In many instances you're required to take sample tests before taking the actual CPA exam. This is because you need to be properly prepared and need to follow directions in order to handle the actual exam. A sample test will make sure that you are as prepared as you can be for the actual exam, and also measures your ability to follow those instructions carefully.
Failure to follow instructions or to receive a passing score on a sample test often means that you are not allowed to take the CPA exam until such time as you can reschedule the test exam and pass it with an acceptable score. This means that it is imperative that you take the sample test very seriously, just as you would the actual exam.
Scheduling the Exam
It's typically good to schedule the exam in the state in which you plan to practice so that you know your license will be valid. You also should plan ahead as much as possible to schedule the exam.
The exam is typically offered five (and sometimes six) days per week during two months of every quarter of the year. These times are called "testing windows," and they include January and February, April and May, July and August, and October and November. Typically testing is not available during the months of March, June, September, and December. Keep this in mind when preparing for the exam and scheduling testing.
To prepare yourself for the exam, remember the good study habits you've developed during your course of study. Avoid staying up late to "cram" as of course a good night's sleep can be more helpful than any last minute studying. Take the information from your test exam and use that as a guide for any sections you may need to review again. If possible, study with a friend that can quiz you appropriately. And most of all, remember to relax! Anxiety can be one of the major causes of forgetting the information you have already learned, so set that aside and simply concentrate on the exam itself.