Tips From NASBA and the AICPA – 04/23/09

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.

On April 8, Dr. Gleim and I met with representatives of the AICPA and NASBA in New York regarding upcoming changes to the CPA Exam. As some of you may have read in the most recent Uniform CPA Examination Alert, there are new CSOs for the exam, but the date of their implementation has yet to be determined. While this means that the exam will remain basically the same for the foreseeable future in terms of CSO changes, it does not change the fact that such items as new FASB pronouncements, tax laws, auditing standards, etc. require all candidates to have the most current information available for study purposes. That is why Gleim continuously updates all of our materials, providing our customers with the most up-to-date information for the life of the edition.

At this meeting, all CPA review providers were asked to offer CPA candidates some tips for helping the entire CPA Exam run more efficiently. The main point I would like to make to all candidates can be summed up in two words – be prepared! By taking the necessary steps to ensure you are properly prepared for your exam experience, you can eliminate a host of potential problems and pitfalls, any of which could lead to a negative or disappointing testing experience for you.

I’ll recap the AICPA’s major points below, but I would like to suggest to every candidate that they read our CPA Review: A System for Success. (It can be downloaded at our website by clicking here) Almost all of the AICPA’s tips can be found in this booklet because Dr. Gleim’s experience of preparing CPA candidates for over 40 years has already made us aware of these potential issues, and we have already prepared our candidates for them.

Here’s a quick synopsis of tips that you should find very helpful:

1. Schedule your exam early. It is recommended that you schedule your exam with Prometric AT LEAST 45 DAYS before the date you plan to sit for the exam, especially if you are looking at one of the busier times (near the end of a window). According to the AICPA, the July-August and October-November windows are the busiest. Scheduling can be done either online at www.prometric.com, or by calling the national 800 number or your local Prometric test site.

2. Be ready when you arrive at the test center. On the day of your exam, you should be focused on one thing only – passing the exam. It is a good idea to read the AICPA’s Candidate Bulletin carefully in advance of your exam. It is available at www.cpa-exam.org. It covers such topics as how to apply, how and when to schedule the examination, what rules are in effect at test centers (including prohibited items), when to expect scores, and what topics are covered on the examination. It also includes information about the examination structure, the roles and responsibilities of CPA Examination partners (the AICPA, NASBA, and Prometric), and board of accountancy contact information.

3. Know the check-in process. Be prepared for what will be expected from you at check-in. The process includes presenting your Notice to Schedule (NTS), presenting two forms of government-issued identification (including one photo ID), completing an electronic fingerprinting process, having a digital photograph taken of yourself, and signing the sign-in log.

4. Take a test drive! On Tuesdays from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. (at most test sites), Prometric offers candidates the opportunity to experience the test center atmosphere and go through all of the testing procedures prior to test day. The content is NOT subject specific, and you will NOT experience questions related to your particular exam. However, this does provide you with the opportunity to experience other aspects of the testing related activities, including locating the site, parking, check-in, candidate identity procedures, locker storage, and security measures. The cost is $30. If a content-specific practice exam is what you’d prefer, Gleim offers a FREE Practice Exam on our website. Click here to access it now.

5. Don’t delay your launch code. When you are ready to start the exam, DO NOT DELAY entering your “launch code” (provided in your NTS). Before you officially begin the test, you will go through a series of four screens (a welcome screen, a confidentiality statement, a copyright information screen, and a directions screen). You have a maximum of 10 minutes to go through all four screens. This should be more than adequate, but make sure you keep close tabs on the time. At the bottom of the last screen is a “Continue” button. When 10 minutes have elapsed, if you have not clicked “Continue” and actually started the exam, the exam will automatically SHUT DOWN and is over. Your exam will be finished before you ever start.

6. Read all instructions carefully. Taking the time to thoroughly read and understand all directions for the exam is imperative! Also, if you encounter a pop-up message, READ IT. Ignoring messages can lead to problems with the exam that could cost you valuable time. We were told about some candidates who accidentally hit “Quit Exam” and then quickly clicked “Yes” on the pop up window that confirms them quitting the exam, so do NOT hastily click on windows without reading them!

7. Know your material. The best way to approach the actual exam is with confidence, and confidence comes from knowing your material. At Gleim, we offer a full array of products, from our CPA Review: A System for Success booklet to our CPA Review System, which includes books, Test Prep CD-Rom and Test Prep for Pocket PC (with over 7,500 updated CPA questions), Audio CDs, and CPA Gleim Online. All of these products are designed to guarantee your success on the CPA examination! Regardless of which CPA Review Course you use, however, there is no substitute for proper preparation and study.

8. Read and save all of the information and documentation provided on exam day. When you have completed the exam, make sure you get your “Confirmation of Attendance” that is printed out when you log off. Be sure to read this confirmation, as it contains some helpful information.

I hope that you find these tips helpful. For those of you just finishing tax season, after you have had some time to relax and recover, I hope you can find the time to study and take at least one section of the CPA exam (perhaps Regulation) by the end of May.

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