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Guest Blog: Taking Studying a Step FARther

Taking Studying a step farther

Everyone knows that FAR is the hardest exam. For many, it becomes their white whale of the CPA. I have countless friends who have taken it, only to fail. And yet, after my success with REG, I kept hoping that things would be different for me.

I’d wanted to give myself a study break after passing REG in September, and I also started a new job the week after my exam. Since I knew the holidays were coming and that I would go into busy season afterwards, I figured it was better to delay FAR until after April. This way, I could take my time studying. While I had crammed my REG studying into a month, I felt that it was not a sustainable method, especially for an exam as comprehensive as FAR. In addition, I tried studying for a few weeks right after I started work and hadn’t realized how mentally taxing it was to do both.

However, the rising COVID cases and second lockdown, coupled with firm shutdowns for the holidays, convinced me that it may be worth trying to take FAR before busy season begins. My company gave me almost two full weeks off and, realistically speaking, I’m not sure when else I would have that kind of time. I contemplated taking BEC instead, due to the short time frame, but wanted to be mindful of when my NTS was expiring.
I found that starting with REG really helped, as it allowed me to hammer down my study technique on material that came a little more naturally to me. I may yet decide to delay the exam, but I am glad to have a much needed kick-start to my studying.

FAR has been significantly harder than I anticipated, though I’m not sure if REG was easier for me because the material was easier or because I have a genuine interest in tax (there’s a reason I decided to go into it after all). Regardless, the material for FAR has been on a completely different level. There is both a larger quantity of material to cover, and it’s a lot less relevant to what I do for work. When I was studying for REG, I was able to draw comparisons to things I had seen at work, which allowed me to apply what I was learning. The material for FAR is much more about what governs accounting at a higher level.

Thankfully, the Gleim adaptive quizzes have been a huge help in this area. There’s so much material, and it’s often hard to tell what I am and am not understanding, but the quiz results break down what sections of the material I’m weaker in. A lot of the material is vaguely familiar from my college accounting days, so the adaptive testing saves me time and allows me to target the sections where I’m clearly struggling.

While this may vary from person to person, I’ve also found that I have a hard time absorbing the material by just reading it. I skim over a lot of it, and I can tell I’m not actually learning it. But with the adaptive quizzes, the breakdowns at the end let me know where my weak sections are, so I go back to those sections to take notes on the problem areas.

For the chapters I am particularly weak in, sometimes I’ll take a quiz using my notes to see if the issue is my ability to memorize the material or if I completely misunderstood it. Then, I can tell where I need to refresh my notes and also where I may need to go back and watch a lecture instead.

Some people seem to learn simply from reading the chapter, but I know that in my personal experience, I have an easier time learning when I can apply the material to some extent. Because of this, I definitely utilize the quizzes and Task-Based Simulations much more heavily than the reading and lectures.

While things are starting to make sense, I can definitely tell I’ll need to have a lot more patience with myself in order to get through the material. But the rainy weather has always made me want to curl up with a good book, and this season that book will just be my FAR test prep instead.