CPA Hot topics 11/23/09 – Stay Focused

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.

The Thanksgiving holiday is fast approaching, which also means the fourth quarter of CPA testing is coming to an end. For those of you who are still studying for an exam section, stay on track and try to keep the distraction of family and friends to a minimum. I found it important to find ways to maintain my study schedule during the holidays, and so should you. Whenever a friend or family member wanted me to procrastinate, I would remind myself, and seek their support, to stay focused. I was then able to give myself the best possible holiday present, one less section to take.

Recently, a CPA candidate noticed that some of our simulations cover material from more than one study unit. It is very challenging to find complete simulations of appropriate difficulty covering just one study unit. While we try to include simulations that test only the topics in that study unit, we inevitably have to include other topics. Keep in mind that our books are review products. In theory, every candidate has taken the subject matter in college classes, so everyone should be familiar with every topic. Covering some material that a candidate has not seen since college is useful because it prepares candidates for dealing with topics that are out of their “comfort zone.” We feel these types of questions best represent the exam environment, as many FIN simulations test multiple aspects of financial accounting. Our best advice is to become accustomed to dealing with unfamiliar topics and answering those questions as best you can, as opposed to becoming apprehensive or frustrated. Learning to expect the unexpected will help you maintain composure and prepare you to pass.

Additionally, keep in mind that the CPA is not graded like a typical exam. Do NOT expect to get a 90%, or even 80%, or you will get frustrated. The AICPA claims that it is not a curved exam, but when you dive into the details, for all intents and purposes, it is a curved exam with an approximate pass rate of 50%. Therefore, you cannot expect to answer every question correctly, but instead you can learn how to deal with questions you are less confident in answering correctly. This is the basis of the Gleim system and one of the reasons candidates who complete a 20-question multiple-choice quiz before studying the outlines are successful.

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