Which Cpa Exam To Take First
Scheduling each section of the CPA exam is a personal choice that will largely depend on your study timeline and process. Here are some tips based on the personal experiences of other CPA exam candidates:
- AUD and FAR contain similar information. Some people feel study time is reduced by taking AUD right after FAR, because the material may overlap.
- Schedule as your first exam the one that you think youll need to study for the most.
- Use a CPA review course that gives you test readiness scores, so you know when your knowledge for specific sections is thorough enough for the real test.
The Toughest Exam First Strategy
This very well might be the most popular strategy out there and happens to be the one I used during my own exam prep. The logic behind this strategy is based on the AICPAs 18 month rule, which says that you need to pass all four sections of the exam within an 18 month window. By taking the toughest exam right out of the gate, youll be able to take your time on that first one and more thoroughly prepare without having the added stress about using up your 18-month shot-clock, since the 18 month window doesnt technically start until youve passed your first section.
If you pass your toughest exam first, youll give yourself the biggest possible confidence boost for the rest of your journey. Knowing that youve already tackled the toughest section will serve as great motivation for the remaining sections and remind you that you really can do this thing!
I think this approach works great for people who are natural self-starters, tend to be more organized and/or are easily able to lock in and focus when preparing for exams. Its also a nice approach for folks who are able and willing to invest a little extra time studying for their first exam to make sure you have a solid grasp of the material and can develop a solid, dependable study routine.
Everything You Need To Know About The Cpa Exam
To become a licensed CPA, you must pass the CPA Exam, a four-section, 16-hour assessment.
CPA Exam Overview
To become a licensed Certified Public Accountant , you must meet the education, examination, and experience requirements. All candidates must pass the Uniform CPA Examination ® , which comprises four sections: Auditing and Attestation , Business Environment and Concepts , Financial Accounting and Reporting , and Regulation . While the CPA Exam is the same for all candidates, other requirements may differ by jurisdiction. You should check with your specific Board of Accountancy for details.
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Cpa Exam Section Format & Structure
Each of the four CPA exam parts are structured into different testing blocks known as testlets.
AUD, FAR, and REG section consist of multiple choice questions and task-based simulations while BEC has MCQs, TBSs, and written communications in the weighted score.
Heres a chart showing the CPA exam structure and distribution of task-based simulations and MCQs on each exam section.
|CPA Exam Section|
Lets look at each testlet in detail, so you know what to expect on your exam day.
What Is The Hardest Section Of The Cpa Exam
Based on student feedback, many candidates felt that FAR was the most difficult section of the CPA exam. It covers a huge quantity of information and subtopics. On the other end of the spectrum, BEC is often reported as being the easiest.
Keep in mind that the entire CPA exam is very hard, so ease is relative. If you take a practice exam, you will be able to determine the section that might present the highest challenge for you personally.
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Its Like Having Your Own Personal Cpa Coach
Studying for the CPA Exam can be daunting with two question types, task-based simulations and multiple choice each accounting for 50% of the exam. Mastering each of them is critically important to passing the CPA Exam. We’re here to help! With Beckers SkillBuilder videos and ExamSolver videos our expert instructor show you how to work both the task-based simulations and multiple choice questions while offering problem-solving strategies and time-saving techniques.
Next Step In The Cpa Exam Process
Before you get overwhelmed by the massive amount of information tested on the CPA exam, let’s discuss what the CPA exam can do for your career.
There are approximately 646,000 active CPA in the United States, so by passing the CPA exam you are part of an elite group of accountants.
The CPA exam is also a universally recognized certificate which will make transitioning to a different career or industry much easier than if you were not a CPA.
There are other non-tangible benefits to becoming a CPA but the biggest tangible result is the monetary advantage you will have over your peers.
It has been shown that CPA’s typically make $1,000,000+ over their careers than their non-CPA counterpart.
If you want to be the best accountant you can be, then passing the CPA exam is a no brainer.
Your next step needs to be find the best CPA review course for you.
This is going to be a significant investment and the last thing you want to do is “cheap” out on a course that doesn’t give you the tools you need to pass the CPA exam on your first try.
You can visit our Top CPA Review Courses Comparison page to determine all your options.
Once you have found a CPA review course then it’s time to sign up for the CPA exam and start learning HOW to study for the CPA exam.
Finally, if you have a fear of failure here are my best strategies you can steal to help you overcome failing the CPA exam.
More Help For The Cpa Exam
The CPA license is the most prestigious and respected title in the world of accounting. So, dont let the exam prevent you from pursuing the license and making a real difference in your career. I can help you prepare for the CPA Exam and pass on your first try. If youre new to the CPA world, I suggest you check out my free e-course. And in any case, take some time to look around this site and review the many resources for CPA candidates.
Of course, feel free to reach out to me with any questions about the CPA Exam or process.
Audit Cpa Exam Scoring
The four content areas of AUD are weighted and will contribute to your final score according to the percentages listed below.
Area 1: Ethics, Professional Responsibilities and General Principles for 15-25%
Area 2: Assessing Risk and Developing a Planned Response for 20-30%
Area 3: Performing Further Procedures and Obtaining Evidence for 30-40%
Area 4: Forming Conclusions and Reporting for 15-25%
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Cpa Exam Review Courses
As I mentioned, the CPA Exam pass rate hovers around 50%. The time you spend studying for the exam is instrumental to your success. To help candidates, the AICPA releases new CPA Exam Blueprints either once or twice a year, depending on the year. These Blueprints are designed to aid in your exam preparation. However, the AICPA recommend you use the Blueprints in conjunction with an exam review course.
As you may have guessed, you have your pick of CPA Exam review course providers. However, to narrow down the field, I provide a detailed overview of many of these courses along with a list of the pros and cons of each. Use the list to help you find the best course for you. Then, be sure to check out my CPA review course discounts to save on your preferred course.
What Is The Best Order For The Cpa Exam Sections
The CPA Exam section order will vary for CPA candidates. However, I highly recommend taking FAR first because the content overlaps with the other 3 sections. Additionally, I recommend taking BEC last because the content is all over the map and doesnt really build on the other 3 sections. Finally, I would advise taking either AUD or REG second, based on which one feels more comfortable to you.
Here are some guidelines to help you do that:
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Eligibility To Sit For The Exam
In order to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam, a person must be declared eligible to do so by one of the 55 state boards of accountancy in the United States. Requirements of state boards vary, but almost always include a U.S. bachelor’s degree and a certain amount of accounting course credits. Additionally, some states require that candidates have completed an additional year of study before sitting for the exam and almost every state requires that the additional year of study be completed before awarding certification. The educational requirement equivalent to five years of full-time study is known as the “150-hour rule” .
Cpa Exam Section : Reg
REG CPA Exam Section analyses your competence in understanding and applying the concepts of federal taxation, business law, and ethics. This section tests your abilities and ethics while performing taxation and advisory services.
The section includes five content areas. The following table lists these areas along with the percentage of the content tested from each one of them.
REG pass rate has been the highest in the Q2 2020 with an impressive 76%. Though it suffered a tiny setback in 2017, there has been a significant improvement in the succeeding years.
The overall pass rate of REG surged 13%, from 49% in 2015 to 62% in 2020. Even the onset of Q1 2021 was promising for the REG section. It witnessed a 59% pass rate.
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How Is The Cpa Exam Structured
The CPA Exam is designed to measure professional competence in auditing, business law, taxation, and accounting. The AICPAs goal is for every candidate who passes the exam with the minimum passing score of 75 to reflect positively on the profession.
To that end, the exam also tests related business skills, the ability to conduct oneself skillfully and with good judgment, and understanding of professional responsibilities and ethics. Passing this exam confirms you have the competence to practice in a highly specialized field. To gauge this, the CPA Exam sections test on the following major topics using specific types of questions.
Cpa Exam Sections Ranked Hardest To Easiest
According to the AICPA published CPA exam pass rates, the four CPA exam sections ranked from hardest to easiest are as follows:
Most CPA candidates consider FAR to be the hardest CPA exam section while BEC is the easiest. This is partly to do with the length and vast amount of content that FAR covers. FAR is the longest exam section and covers the most topics. Its difficult for candidates to memorize this many facts and topics for a single exam.
Likewise, BEC is the shortest exam that covers the least amount of specialized topics. BEC also includes a written simulation that doesnt involved memorizing facts or studying. It merely tests your ability to write and communicate clearly.
REG consistently ranks as the second easiest exam while AUD ranks the second hardest CPA exam. These rankings show that candidates struggle more with auditing procedural topics than law and taxation concepts. Since auditing is vary specialized, it does make sense that candidates would struggle with that more.
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Types Of Questions On The Cpa Exam:
Multiple Choice Questions: These are one sentence to paragraph length questions with four potential answers.
Task-Based Simulations: These are practical questions requiring candidates to type in answers, and may include a research question, journal entries, filling out a form with multiple questions, reconciling accounts, or filling out sections of reports.
Clearly and effectively communicating information is essential in the business environment, and these are questions that test a candidates ability to communicate through writing. Unlike task-based simulations, written communication tasks require candidates to give a written response to a question this might be in the form of a memo directed at a specific audience.
Task Based Simulations Testlets
The task-based simulation questions are designed to test your practical knowledge of different topics covered in specific CPA sections. Their formatting differs from MCQs and may require more time to answer them accurately.
They may involve matching concepts, document reviews, journal entries, or filling in blank spaces about real-life professional scenarios through critical thinking. You may also come across research-based questions requiring you to research and provide findings on specific topics in an exam.
You are likely to encounter about 6 or 7 task-based simulations questions for each of the four sections, and further broken down into three TBS testlets in REG, FAR, and AUD sections while BEC section has two TBS testlets. Simulations account for 50% of the exams AUD, FAR, and REG exams, and 35% of BEC.
The best way to pass TBS testlets is through extensive reading and revisions. You must understand the content of a typical CPA examination, practice with sample tests, understand the questions deeply, and know how to use supportive tools such as calculator, spreadsheets, and relevant literature.
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Cpa Exam Format Sections And Requirements
The CPA exam or the Uniform CPA Examination is recognized as one of the most difficult professional exams. Believe me. I know how difficult it is. Six months of studying and four sections later, I passed the entire CPA exam the first time. If you have sat for one section, you know this is no easy feat.
The CPA exam is developed and created by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants or the AICPA to be the primary licensure exam in the United States. Some state also require an additional ethics exam once the CPA exam has been completed.
What Is The Hardest Cpa Section
Financial Accounting and Reporting What is the Hardest Section of the CPA Exam? Students often report that Financial Accounting and Reporting is the most difficult part of the CPA Exam to pass, because it is the most comprehensive section.
Is the CPA Exam getting easier?
The CPA Exam will retain its four traditional sections, AUD, BEC, FAR and REG. FAR and REG appear to be getting significantly easier and AUD and BEC appear to be getting a little harder.
Will I ever pass the CPA Exam?
The CPA Exam average national pass rate is around 50%. That means that most candidates do not pass the CPA Exam the first time and must retake at least one section of the exam. The pass rate can be broken down by exam section, showing that FAR receives the lowest scores and BEC receives the highest.
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What Order To Take The Cpa Exam
The logical order of the CPA exam, from some a content perspective, is the following:
However, the most important element when deciding which CPA section to take first is your own strengths and abilities.
You will have 18 months to take all four parts. How you study will largely determine the order in which you should take the sections.
What Are The 4 Parts Of The Cpa Exam
The CPA exam consists of four separate sections, which candidates must pass to earn their certification. The four sections of the CPA are: Auditing and Attestation Business Environment and Concepts Financial Accounting and Reporting and Regulation . They are equally important for earning your CPA, so dont take either of them lightly.
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How Long Should I Study For Each Part Of The Cpa Exam
This is a matter of personal opinion and what content your find easiest to some extent, but for now we are going to focus on a more general approach based on what CPA students themselves recommend on various forums. Firstly, it is important to consider the difficulty of each exam section, as well as the allotted time frame for passing the exam parts. Here is a table showing the pass rates for each section during 2021, taken from the AICPAs website:
As you can see, FAR and AUD are consistently the sections that applicants struggle with, and therefore are likely to require more time and attention than the other two. Not that a 40% failure rate for BEC and REG isnt something to be concerned about, either. In general, the AIS-CPA recommends studying a total of 300-400 hours for the CPA exam. This equates to around 80-100 hours per section.
Should I Take Reg First
This is a good question. I would recommend REG as the first exam for people who have a lot of experience with federal taxation. For instance, if you work as a tax accountant, this exam should be fairly straightforward for you. You have a lot of the tough memorization already done.
If taxes are a difficult topic for you, on the other hand, I wouldnt recommend this as a first section. Heres which exam you should take first.
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