Over time, the Financial Accounting and Reporting section of the CPA Exam has received a lot of qualifiers: it has been called the hardest, the easiest, the longest, and the most inclusive exam section. With such varying opinions about the FAR CPA Exam section, the best route by which to come to your own conclusions about FAR before you actually take it is by learning the facts for yourself. To properly prepare to pass the CPA Exam, you need to know the characteristics of the current and coming versions of the FAR CPA Exam section.
Of the four sections of the CPA Exam, the FAR CPA Exam section boasts the broadest coverage of accounting information. On the 2017 CPA Exam, FAR covers fewer topics than on previous exam versions, but it delves deeper into these areas of accounting.
FAR CPA Exam Section Content
|Conceptual Framework, Standard-Setting, and Financial Reporting||
|Select Financial Statement Accounts||
|State and Local Governments||
FAR also features an increased emphasis on the higher order skill of analysis, with 25-35% of FAR questions testing at the analysis level. Excluding State and Local Governments, the predominant skill required for the remaining areas covered is analysis, which involves examining and studying interrelationships between separate ideas in order to identify cause and find evidence to support inferences.
FAR Structure and Format
The FAR CPA Exam section consists of 5 testlets: 2 testlets of multiple-choice questions (MCQ) and 3 testlets of Task-Based Simulations (TBS). Each MCQ testlet contains 33 questions for a total of 66. The first TBS testlet presents 2 TBSs, while the second and third TBS testlets include 3 TBSs each for a total of 8.
All of the FAR testlets hold a mixture of pre-test and operational questions. The operational questions count toward your total exam score, while the pretest questions do not. However, the FAR CPA Exam section presents both types of questions at the same time and in the same way, so you will not be able to tell the difference.
The scoring weight of both the MCQ and TBS testlets in the FAR CPA Exam section is 50%.
FAR Testing Process
While the FAR CPA Exam section is the most comprehensive of the four exam sections, it lasts for the same amount of time as the other three, encompassing 4 hours of total testing time.
When testing time begins, you will be served the first MCQ testlet. The difficulty level of this first MCQ testlet will be medium. The difficulty levels of the next two testlets will be determined by your performance on the preceding testlet. If you answer the medium difficulty level questions well, you will receive more difficult questions in the next testlet as well as the next after that should your success continue. If you do not perform well with the medium difficulty testlet, you receive another medium difficulty testlet, a pattern that will also repeat if your performance does not improve.
The difficulty level of the testlet denotes the average difficulty level of the questions in the testlet. You will receive more credit for correctly answering a more difficult question than you do for a less difficult question. This quality of the MCQs doesn’t penalize you for receiving harder questions, nor does it benefit you for receiving easier questions. Therefore, you shouldn’t worry about the difficulty level of questions on the exam because there are no real advantages to receiving medium or more difficult questions. Just answer each question as best you can and do not focus on whether the difficulty levels on your exam are changing.
Your performance on the MCQ testlets does not impact the difficulty level of your TBS testlet. The TBS testlets are pre-selected, and their difficulty levels do not change based on prior performances.
FAR Grading Process
Scoring for the CPA Exam is fully automated, so computers grade both the FAR MCQ and TBS testlets. As with every CPA Exam section, candidates must score a minimum of 75 to pass.
FAR CPA Exam Section Review
In the last few years, the FAR CPA Exam section pass rates have hovered around 47%, rising or falling slightly from year to year. But as FAR sustained the lowest cumulative pass rate of 2016, it has maintained its reputation as the hardest section of the CPA Exam. Wrapping your mind around its expansive range of accounting topics can be quite a mental stretch, but the best FAR study practices and a CPA review course with an equally thorough scope can equip you to make the connections and pass FAR the first time you sit for it. By digging deep into the foundational concepts of accounting and offering detailed answer explanations for every practice question, Gleim CPA Review incorporates everything you need to know to overcome the FAR CPA Exam section.