To assess the professional competencies of CPA candidates, the CPA Exam includes many challenging case study simulations that very closely resemble real-life scenarios. On the BEC CPA Exam section, some of these simulations take the form of a writing skills exercise requiring candidates to write a memo or a letter in response to a hypothetical situation in which a practicing CPA might be placed. These simulations, called BEC Written Communication Tasks (WCs), only appear in the BEC section of the CPA Exam, and they only account for 15% of your BEC score. However, this type of simulation is unique and affords candidates who master it the chance to secure a significant portion of their score.
Our Gleim Personal Counselors have extensive experience helping candidates prepare for this part of the exam. Their advice: You should specifically prepare for the WCs, and you should do so by following these BEC Written Communication tips for studying.
BEC Written Communication Tips for Studying
- Know the content of the BEC section
As the majority of BEC consists of CPA Exam multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and Task-Based Simulations (TBS), you will be thoroughly tested on BEC content before you reach the WC testlet. Therefore, you will be well prepared for the MCQs, TBSs, and WCs if you build your foundation of knowledge on the BEC topics. With this knowledge supporting your WC response, you simply need to perfect the writing process and the format of your response.
- Know the content of the other CPA Exam sections
While the WCs only appear in BEC, the content they cover can come from BEC as well as AUD, FAR, and REG. Therefore, you should prepare to see WCs that expect you to discuss topics from any CPA Exam section. However, you shouldn’t panic about this possibility. The main goal of the WCs is to evaluate your writing ability, not your knowledge of the topic presented. Graders may overlook technical mistakes and focus on egregious factual errors, off-topic information, and unlawful or unethical advice. Our Personal Counselors advise that you focus your effort on the presentation of your response, not necessarily the information you include.
- Know the general writing criteria
According to the AICPA, you will only receive credit for your responses to BEC Written Communication Tasks if you stay on topic and do not offer any illegal advice. On-topic responses will be graded holistically, and your scores will be based on how well your responses satisfy the three general writing criteria of organization, development, and expression. Organization involves the structure of your response, order in which your ideas are presented, and the strength of the connections between your ideas. To display adequate development, you must bolster your response with ample supporting evidence and information that clarifies your points and proves your assertions. Finally, the level of expression must meet the conventional standards of business English by properly regarding grammar, punctuation, word usage, capitalization, and spelling. Rely on our free CPA Exam guide to learn more about the writing criteria as defined by the AICPA.
- Know your time limit
You will have four hours of total testing time for BEC, so to make the most of it, you should use a CPA Exam time management system and allot 75 minutes to the WC testlet. The five testlets of the BEC CPA Exam section are independent. There are no time limits on the individual testlets, so it is up to you to manage your time appropriately so that you can complete all five testlets before the exam ends. That 75 minutes gives you 25 minutes to spend on your responses to each of the 3 scenarios in the testlet (20 minutes to answer and 5 minutes to review and perfect your response). Our Personal Counselors suggest that when you practice WCs, stick to this time limit. It will help you focus your mind, practice your answering method, and be prepared for the time limit during the actual exam.
- Practice writing your responses
To maximize the amount of testing time you’ll have to complete the WC testlet, practice writing WC responses throughout your BEC study time. If you’re already familiar with the parts of a Written Communication Task and the process of answering one, you will be ahead of schedule on test day and will be able to commit more time and effort to refining your responses. You can practice writing your responses in the Gleim CPA BEC Review Course, which contains at least two unique practice WCs per study unit.
- Don’t stress too much
Completing a BEC Written Communication requires you to call on skills you’ve been developing since grade school, so don’t let it intimidate you. Remember, you’ve been handling essay exams for years. Gleim Personal Counselor Ryan Bergh encourages candidates to stay cool when it comes to the WCs. “I feel like many candidates seem to imply that the WCs were not something to stress about after the fact. Because of this, as candidates prepare, I always try to point out that most everyone with 150 hours of college coursework should have decent writing abilities. With that in mind, try not to over-analyze the BEC WC and just be familiar with the content. Practice within the review course will have you ready to do well on this portion.”
BEC Written Communication Tips for Review
In order to get in plenty of practice writing responses to BEC Written Communication Tasks, you’ll need a CPA review course that supplies you with those opportunities. The Gleim CPA BEC Review Course features the largest test bank of BEC Written Communication Tasks on the market and includes the full-length Exam Rehearsal by which you can simulate actual exam conditions before you sit for BEC. Plus, you’ll have access to our Personal Counselors to help you with your studies. With the Gleim CPA BEC Review Course, you can be prepared for every MCQ, TBS, and WC on the BEC CPA Exam section. See for yourself by accessing our free CPA demo today.