CPA Exam Strategies: Multiple-Choice Questions

Answering techniques for the CPA multiple choice questions

While you’re studying the subject matter tested on the CPA Exam, you should also be developing effective test-taking strategies and procedures. To maximize your scoring potential for the MCQs in each CPA Exam section, apply the following suggestions.

CPA Exam MCQ Strategy

  1. Budget your time so you can finish before time expires.
    • Spend about 1.25 minutes on each MCQ.
    • Before beginning your MCQ testlet, prepare a CPA Exam time management system a table that will show you how much time to spend on each testlet. Then, as you work through the MCQ testlets, monitor your time based on this guidance.
  1. Answer questions in consecutive order.
    • Do not agonize over any one question. Stay within your time budget.
    • Never leave an MCQ unanswered. Your score is based on the number of correct responses and you will not be penalized for answering incorrectly. If you are unsure about a question,
      1. Make an educated guess.
      2. Flag it for review by clicking on the flag icon at the bottom of the screen.
      3. Return to it before you submit the testlet as time allows. Remember, once you have selected the Submit Testlet option, you will no longer be able to review or change any answers in the completed testlet.
  1. Ignore the answer choices so they do not affect your reading of the question.
    • Only one answer option is the best. In the MCQs, four answer choices are presented, and three of them are incorrect. The others are distractors that are meant to appear correct at first glance.
    • In computational MCQs, the distractors are carefully calculated to be the result of common mistakes. Be careful and double-check your computations if time permits.
  1. Read the question carefully to discover the precise requirement.
    • Focusing on what is required allows you to
      1. Reject extraneous information
      2. Concentrate on relevant facts
      3. Proceed directly to determining the best answer
    • Be careful! The requirement may be an exception that features negative words such as “not”, “never”, “always”, “least likely”, or “most likely”.
  1. Figure out the correct answer before looking at the answer choices.
  2. Read the answer choices, paying attention to small details.
    • Even if an answer choice appears to be correct, do not skip the remaining answer choices. Each choice requires consideration because you are looking for the best answer provided.
    • Treat each answer choice like a true/false question as you analyze it.
  1. Click on the best answer.
    • You have a 25% chance of answering correctly by guessing blindly, but you can improve your odds with an educated guess.
    • For many MCQs, you can eliminate two answer choices with minimal effort and increase your educated guess to a 50/50 proposition.
      1. Rule out answers that you think are incorrect.
      2. Speculate what the AICPA is looking for and/or why the question is being asked.
      3. Select the best answer or guess between equally appealing answers. Your first guess is usually the most intuitive.
  1. Do not click the Submit Testlet button until you have consulted the question status list at the bottom of each MCQ screen.
    • Return to flagged questions to finalize your answer choices if you have time.
    • Verify that you have answered every question.
    • Stay on schedule because time control is critical.

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