The CPA Exam Hack: Simple Tweaks to Conquer the Exam


Roger CPA Review is delighted to once again to have Dana Jarvis, Operations and Planning Leader at Burr Pilger Mayer (BPM), as a guest blogger! Working for the largest California-based Accounting and Consulting firm, and an expert in all-things-CPA, Dana brings you the industry’s hottest topics! Tune in below and learn priceless habits to help you conquer the CPA Exam. 

“Experimenting with CPA Exam Hacks”
Life Hacking is a movement which focuses on finding tricks in everyday life to save time, get organized, and do more of the things you want to do.  Small tweaks are made to your daily routine in order to increase productivity and do more in less time.  This list focuses on tried and true measures that will get you extra points on the exam and are straightforward in nature.   These are simple yet important tweaks to make that will not greatly change the way you study, but will further refine it.

Study Hacking

1. Dont neglect missed questions: You know the drill, working your way through question after question can get tiresome and after awhile all questions seems to blend into each other.  The best advice I received from a prior colleague of mine was to note which questions you missed, print them out, and then review them, including the right answers for at least 2-3 days prior. You will need the most work on the concepts you are the least familiar with so it makes sense to single them out.

2. AICPA previously released questions: These questions are hidden gems not to be overlooked. Every year the AICPA releases a handful of questions that it is retiring to provide test takers with extra practice.  Although they are retired questions, the concepts and question types are generally not retired, so these are great practice problems. This is about as close as you will get to what the questions on test day will be.

3. Know the exam composition: All exam topics are not treated equally. Lets take FAR for example. Government and Not for Profit are tested more heavily than a number of other FAR concepts.  When studying, be sure to spend extra time on those topics more heavily tested, and dont forget the topics towards the end of the book!

4. Questions, questions, questions: Too often, students will spend too much time reading the review books and watching lectures, failing to allocate adequate time to answering questions and reviewing the solutions for each and every one.  Questions are a key component of passing the exam.

Exam Hacking

1. Memory Data Dump: After the exam, no matter how great (or discoursed you feel) take five minutes to write down every concept that you were not prepared for, was heavily tested, or was difficult for you.  With an overall average pass rate of 45%, 1 in every 2 people will have to retake an exam or two, so it helps to download your brain before you go ahead and relax.

2. Acronyms:  It happens to everyone, you get in the Prometric Testing Center, pressure mounting, and forget half of what you just spent the last month studying.  By jotting down key acronyms and formulas on your blank testlet sheets when you first sit down, you are giving yourself an insurance policy against forgetting concepts during hour one, two, or three. 

3. Dot your Is and cross your ts:  In the exams with free response questions, be sure at a minimum, to not only use a clear beginning intro, middle and end but also to spell check and use proper grammar. These are free points that you do not want to lose even if you are not sure of the proper answer.

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