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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

3 Ways to Study for the CPA Exam during the Holidays

December's “Dear Roger” question comes from Heather S. of Belfast, Maine:


Heather: As the holidays are approaching, I'm trying to figure out how to work my CPA Exam studies into time spent with my family, holiday dinners and work. Any suggestions on how to study during the holidays?


Roger:

Heather,

There are many people who find it difficult to balance their studies with the holidays. Time off during the holidays allows you a great opportunity to study for the CPA Exam since you have fewer work and/or school obligations.  It's important to be productive during the holidays, but necessary to set realistic expectations.

My advice to you is:
  1. Don't study at home. Find a place with few distractions so that you can utilize your study time in the best possible way. If you're sitting at home trying to study while family is visiting, you might find it difficult to concentrate on the task ahead. A library, office or coffee shop would be better alternatives for places to really focus. 
  2. Plan ahead and set the proper expectations. Your study time during the holidays may need to be altered to fit in time with family and friends. Go into your study session with the expectation that you might not study as long as you normally do. Instead of your normal schedule, you might need to consider studying for shorter periods of time.  The best way to plan ahead is to consider how much time you can set aside for family and how much time to set aside to prepare for your exams.  Then, stick to your schedule!
  3. Ask for your family's support. Let your family know that you need their support to study during the holidays.  Let them know your study schedule and then ask that they support you during the allotted time you must be away.  Also, consider getting them involved in your studies. Have them quiz you over material thereby making them an active and integral part of your success.  This allows you to "kill two birds with one stone," so to speak. 
Most of all, have fun! The holidays are a special time to enjoy your friends and family, relax and celebrate!

Happy Holidays!

Roger


Do you want to be part of our "Dear Roger" blog series that features your questions answered by Roger? Submit your question here and be featured in our blog and newsletter next month!

Past "Dear Roger" Questions:
November 2014
October 2014


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Friday, November 21, 2014

3 CPA Exam Tips I Used to Pass FAR, BEC and REG with a Score of 90+

The score for my FAR exam was finally released. A solid 93! That’s the third subject in which I received a score of 90+ (BEC was 94, REG was 90). I have only one more to go, AUD.

One of my friends asked me to share some “tricks” for taking the CPA exam but she said “don’t just tell me to work hard”.  Are there really any tricks? Possibly.

After sleeping over this question for a few days, I decided to summarize things I did when taking each part of the CPA Exam.  Hopefully, these tips might be helpful to other CPA Exam students: 
  1. Have caffeine before taking the CPA Exam. I consumed something with caffeine before every exam session. It may be a placebo.  Or the effect may be real. In my case, it makes me feel more alert and energetic than normal. Of course I'm not a doctor, so don't drink it if you think it will have adverse effects on your abilities to perform on the exam.
  2. During the CPA Exam, immediately flag the MCQs that you don’t know. In the past three exams, I came across many questions that I absolutely didn’t know or understand. I would usually make a quick guess and flag it.  After finishing all the questions that I knew, I would double back to the flagged questions taking a second look.  Usually, I put the answer I had selected into the question reading it quickly to see if it sounded right.  If it did, I would un-flag the question and move to the next flagged question. 

    After all of the flagged questions had been reviewed, I would record how many flagged questions that I had for that session moving then to the next session. Usually I would have around 3-7 flagged questions left for one MCQ session.  This let me know the possible number for the next section so I could closely monitor my time.  One session usually was finished within 35-45 minutes on average.
  3. Try to enjoy simulation questions. I enjoyed simulation questions more than multiple choice questions when I took the CPA Exam. Some people may be afraid of simulation questions but my opinion is that simulation questions have higher weight in scores and are usually not very difficult.  Spend a little more time on them. For instance, in FAR, there are 90 multiple choice questions and only seven simulation questions. The weight of multiple choice questions is only 60% while simulations are 40%.

    Secondly, simulation questions are not too difficult. Sometimes I felt they were much easier than some of the difficult multiple choices.  Usually,  more information is provided in simulation questions.  The questions are step-by-step, from easy to difficult.  Doing the simulation questions that I knew first and then flagging the ones that I didn’t know helped me complete them in the allotted time.  The logic I used is similar to what I discussed in tip number two. 
So, my top 3 CPA Exam Tips are:  (1) drink some caffeine for extra sharpness and energy before the exam;  (2) answer all the questions you know first and flag the ones you don’t know to review later and  (3) learn to not fear simulations because they are heavily weighted and aren’t as difficult as you would assume.

- Crystal, international guest blogger

Other articles by Crystal:
How to Study for the CPA Exam If English Is Your Second Language
4 Lessons to Learn about FAR Preparation

Taking the CPA Exam? Hug your Friends and Family!
Accounting Is a Beautiful Language
Why an International Student Should Take the US CPA Exam
»»  READ MORE
Thursday, November 20, 2014

The 12 Days of Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)

There are twelve days left until I sit for the BEC section of the CPA Exam. I'm feeling positive about this particular exam because I am finally understanding “activity-based accounting” well enough to answer whatever questions are given to me but still experiencing exam burnout.  I'm also making sure I stick with my study schedule even on days that I don't feel like answering even one more question!

I keep reminding myself that no matter what happens or how I currently feel, both physically and mentally, I can't give up after coming so far on the CPA Exam!   If it has been a bad day at work or if I’m just not reaching my study goals for a particular day, I make sure to wake up the next day with a positive attitude and begin my study routine again. 

Taking periodic breaks to clear my mind helps to renew my commitment and gives a fresh perspective on my ultimate goal of completing all phases of the CPA Exam.  The temptation to want to study non-stop, without a single break, for the last twelve days before the exam is definitely a thought.  However, I know that this leads to ineffective study sessions and low retention rates of the study material.  

It's almost over and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Good luck to everyone else who is taking their last part of the CPA Exam. Stay positive, focus and remember that you're almost done!


- Steven, guest blogger for Roger CPA Review


More Posts from Steven:
Breaking the CPA Exam MCQ Sound Barrier
The CPA Exam Is like a Rubik's Cube
Feeling CPA Exam Burnout? Consider This Tip! 
Taking the CPA Exam? Stay Positive!

Waiting for CPA Exam Scores
Studying for the CPA Exam Is like Running a Marathon
The Art of Studying for the CPA Exam
Creating a Plan for AUD
»»  READ MORE
Wednesday, November 19, 2014

3 Ways to Stay Calm before the CPA Exam

1. Have confidence in your abilities. You've prepared well for this day, so know that you're ready for exam day. Trust in yourself and what you've learned over the last several weeks.

"Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy." - Norman Vincent Peale

2. Stop worrying about the things that you can't control and start focusing on the things that you can. The amount of time and effort you've used to prepare for the CPA exam are all variables that you can control. You can't control what is asked on the CPA exam, so go into the exam with confidence and the knowledge that you are prepared and just do your very best.

"You must learn to let go. Release the stress. You were never in control anyway." - Steve Maraboli

3. Set realistic expectations for exam day.  Of course you want to pass the CPA Exam on the first try, but things happen. If you don't pass, it's not the end of the world. You can always take it again after a little more preparation.

"Winners make a habit of manufacturing their own positive expectations in advance of the event." - Brian Tracy


Other blog articles that might help you before you sit for the CPA Exam:
How to Cope with CPA Exam Anxiety before the Exam
How to Cope with CPA Exam Anxiety the Day of the Exam
»»  READ MORE
Thursday, November 13, 2014

Breaking the CPA Exam MCQ Sound Barrier

In today's blog article, Steven discusses how he uses multiple choice questions to study for the CPA Exam. 
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I’ve come up with an analogy to explain how quickly I can work through CPA Exam multiple choice questions (MCQs) during the last week before I take the CPA Exam – “breaking the MCQ sound barrier.”  Okay, maybe it’s a silly analogy, but it does seem like I’m at a much higher speed of working through the CPA Exam MCQs now that I’m getting closer to taking the CPA Exam, compared to where I was when I first started.

To elaborate, when I first started working through MCQs, I had a pretty difficult time getting through just a few - ten questions might take an hour to complete. Once I made it past the initial learning curve, I began to pick up steam and eventually started working through twenty-five to thirty MCQs in an hour.  Finally, a few weeks before the CPA Exam, I’m able to get through hundreds of questions on the weekend and at least fifty a day during work breaks, so suddenly it isn’t an impossible feat.
  
If my MCQ progress was mapped on a graph, the slope would be steadily increasing as the change in progress increased, relative to the change in time.

Initially, when I started to work through these questions, I would feel a sense of foreboding and become emotionally drained because the questions were so difficult. I would say to myself, “Wow, it just took me an hour to do ten questions. I’ll never pass at this rate.” However, the longer I worked through the questions, I started to realize that answering them became easier. Effort, perseverance and a positive attitude will help you to accomplish amazing things. So now I say to myself, “These question will soon be so easy that I’ll be able to answer them within ten seconds.”

I usually begin with new questions first thing in the morning and then after work or when I’m tired I’ll review old material. It also helps for me to take minimal notes while studying new questions that I come across. I usually write down the most important words associated with certain terms to expedite my ability to understand the terminology.

During this last week before the CPA Exam, along with working through questions, I’ve decided to purchase Roger CPA Review’s audio course. I think being able to listen to the course when I’m not working through questions will give me a much needed break and a new way to study. I’m close to sitting for my exam and I’m feeling the pressure, but am staying positive and working through my study material as quickly as possible.


-Steven

More Posts from Steven:
The CPA Exam Is like a Rubik's Cube
Feeling CPA Exam Burnout? Consider This Tip! 
Taking the CPA Exam? Stay Positive!

Waiting for CPA Exam Scores
Studying for the CPA Exam Is like Running a Marathon
The Art of Studying for the CPA Exam
Creating a Plan for AUD
»»  READ MORE
Wednesday, November 12, 2014

How to Study for the CPA Exam If English Is Your Second Language

For international students, one big question that always comes up about studying or specifically taking notes while studying is about which language to use: English or your native language. Many people have different views. Some say that English is better because it pushes you to “think in English,” while others argue that your native language is better because it is more natural for the note taker and easier for later review.

Today I’m sharing how I take notes when I am studying. My emphasis is on studying for the CPA Exam, but my advice may also be relevant to note-taking for anyone studying in the US using English as a second language.

My recommendation is to use a “mixed” note-taking method. By “mixed” method I mean writing the English terminology while using your native language to supplement an understanding of the terminology. I think this method helps to avoid the disadvantages of using either language alone.
Using one’s native language to take notes forces one to understand what is being written down. Sometimes when we take a class, whether live or online, the lecturers will ask the class to write down “very important points.” Although it is very natural for native English speakers to write down and understand the notes simultaneously, for international students, sometimes simply “writing down” is not enough for instant comprehension. A lot of us are still thinking in our native language to some extent.

According to my own experience, the more complicated the context is, the more likely I will think in my native language. Therefore, taking notes in our native language forces us to “comprehend” what we are writing down first, and thus allows us to really absorb what the lecturers ask us to “write down” (which are usually key points or heavily tested areas). Also, I don’t know if it applies to others or not, but I write faster in my native language than I write in English. It is always faster for me to review notes in my native language, because I read my native language faster too.   

Ultimately we will take our exams in English. If we don’t remember the terminologies in English, we will be completely lost when we take the exams. So I think the “mixed method” is a solution. Write down terminologies in English and take notes in your native language with the ability to transcribe your notes in English during the exam.

-Crystal

Other articles by Crystal:
4 Lessons to Learn about FAR Preparation
Taking the CPA Exam? Hug your Friends and Family!
Accounting Is a Beautiful Language
Why an International Student Should Take the US CPA Exam 

»»  READ MORE