CPA Hot Topics 10/15/10 – Better Test Taker

Garrett Gleim sends CPA candidates bimonthly emails concerning different aspects of the CPA exam. Candidates can see the most recent email and all the archives here on the CPA Candidate Forum.

This is the last exam window before the CPA exam changes. I hope everyone has taken, or plans to take, BEC before November 30. In order to help each of you achieve the best results possible, this Hot Topic contains a couple of suggestions on study habits. It has come to my attention that a number of CPA candidates still do not comprehend the advantages of taking practice quizzes and/or tests to prepare for the CPA exam.

There is a strong possibility that when you take the actual exam, you will encounter questions that will either cover information or subject matter that you have forgotten or will be worded in a way that is confusing. The low pass rate of the CPA exam is an indication that there are many questions that stump candidates. Learning and understanding how to be a good “educated guesser” is nearly as important as learning and understanding the subject matter.

Consequently, taking numerous practice tests and/or quizzes in preparation for the exam can only enhance your success on the actual exam. The adage “Practice makes perfect” is certainly applicable here. While successfully answering questions is a confidence booster, the fact is that you will actually learn more from questions you answered incorrectly or were unsure of. In order to reap the benefits, however, you must review each of these questions when you finish a Gleim quiz or test and analyze why your answer was incorrect. This is an essential step that must never be skipped.

The ultimate goal is for you, the CPA candidate, to become a better test-taker, and Gleim’s approach is designed with that result in mind. For example, the Gleim study system suggests that you take one 20-question multiple-choice quiz before you study the Knowledge Transfer Outline for that study unit. This allows you to practice answering questions you may not be familiar with or comfortable answering. Furthermore, this process encourages you to start thinking about the concepts involved before ever looking at the outline. When you do get to the outline, it is natural to reflect back to the quiz.

In addition, if you have been scoring in the 70% range on most quizzes but encounter one where you cannot get higher than a 60%, there is no need to be overly concerned. You probably know the material well enough and should move on to the next study unit. If you do, however, find a particular study unit that gives you trouble, do not let a certain topic affect your study schedule. You should mark that study unit and come back to it at a later time. Oftentimes, a fresh look is all that is needed.

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