CPA Exam Advice: Make an Educated Guess

cpa exam advice

With all of the accounting information the CPA Exam covers, there are countless possibilities for the exam questions you will encounter. You may come across a question that is very difficult or that you have never seen before. Studying with plenty of practice CPA test questions will help you prepare for these questions, but there is another tactic you should have on hand just in case. To be ready for anything the CPA Exam might throw at you, take this CPA Exam advice: learn how to make an educated guess.


CPA Exam Advice: Making an Educated Guess is Important

There is no way to know exactly which questions you’ll see on the CPA Exam before you sit for it, but educated guessing is the best way to ensure that you answer every question the exam serves you.

When you answer practice questions during your CPA Exam studies, you shouldn’t memorize those questions. The exam expects you to demonstrate higher levels of knowledge than simple memorization, and memorization will leave you lacking the skills you need to answer particularly challenging questions. You should work on becoming extremely familiar with the exam content instead and practice educated guessing on tricky questions until then.

Educated guessing does not free you from having to know anything about the content of the question. Instead, educated guessing combines basic reasoning with a solid understanding of the material to discover answers that don’t immediately come to mind. Making educated guesses on practice questions during your studies allows you to not only refine your ability to make educated guesses but to also learn from your mistakes. If you use educated guessing and then get the question wrong, you can use the answer explanations to improve your understanding of the subject matter and correct the line of reasoning you took with your educated guess.

CPA Exam Advice: Making an Educated Guess is Simple

Studying effectively and consistently increases the number of CPA Exam questions you’ll know the answers to on exam day. However, the CPA Exam sometimes includes questions in the multiple-choice question (MCQ) or Task-Based Simulation (TBS) testlets that are poorly worded or confusing, so you might encounter one or two questions that leave you stumped. When that happens, you’ll be able to make an educated guess by following these steps.

  1. Don’t freeze up.
  2. If you made it through every study unit of your CPA review and completed hundreds of practice quizzes, then you have a lot of experience with CPA Exam questions, and you should trust your experience. Don’t let the weight of the CPA Exam immobilize you mentally or physically. If you come to a question you don’t know, you must relax; tensing up will only render you unable to answer the question successfully. If you start to get nervous, just take a few seconds to compose yourself. Remember that all of your preparation has made you a pro at answering CPA Exam questions, then move on with answering the question in a professional manner.

  3. Eliminate incorrect answer choices.
  4. Only one answer option is the best; the other three are just distractors. While you have a 25% chance of answering correctly with a blind guess, for many MCQs and certain questions within the TBS, you can eliminate two answer choices with minimal effort and boost your odds to 50/50. You should consider all of the answer options at first because the question is looking for the best answer. You should then clear away the obviously incorrect answers by treating each answer choice like a true/false question as you analyze it. If an answer feels wrong but you’re not as sure as you’d like to be, go with your gut because your first instinct is usually the most intuitive.

  5. Infer what the exam wants.
  6. Understanding the purpose of the CPA Exam can actually help you answer exam questions. The CPA Exam intends to measure your professional competence in auditing, business concepts, business law, taxation, and accounting with questions and tasks that accurately represent the responsibilities of a newly licensed CPA. The exam uses a variety of question types and difficulty levels to evaluate your knowledge, skill, and good judgment. Therefore, you need to learn to think like a CPA to pass the CPA Exam. The CPA certification serves as reasonable assurance to the state boards of accountancy that CPAs will use their abilities to protect the public interest. Knowing that the exam wants you to have a thorough understanding of professional obligations and ethics should help you deduce what the AICPA is looking for or the rational behind the question. Just ask yourself, “What does the AICPA want me to know?”

  7. Choose the best answer remaining.
  8. Once you’ve narrowed down the answer options and surmised the goal of the question, you can select the best answer remaining or one of any equally appealing options. You may still feel uncertain, but you should make your choice because the AICPA does not penalize you for wrong answers. You have the chance to get it right, so you should take that chance. Even if you don’t have time to ponder the options extensively, you should read the question and each answer, then pick the best or most intuitive answer.

  9. Don’t change your answer.
  10. Unless you make an obvious mistake or computational error, try to avoid changing your answer. Your first answer is usually, and most likely, correct. Make your selection, ensure that you’ve entered your answer properly, then move on to the next question. If it’s your best guess, then you’ve done your best.

CPA Exam Advice: Using Gleim CPA Review is Key

Educated guessing is an excellent CPA Exam strategy, but it works best when combined with deep knowledge of the exam content. The only way you can reach this amount of knowledge is with CPA Exam prep that covers the exam content more than anything else. Gleim CPA achieves exceptional content coverage by offering a variety of expertly authored CPA self-study materials and leading you through them with our adaptive CPA review. With comprehensive books, video lectures, audio lectures, and the largest test bank on the market, Gleim CPA Review gives you everything you need to pass the CPA Exam. Explore our exceptional content coverage by accessing our free CPA course demo today.