The Most Difficult Topic on BEC


BEC has the highest passing rate. A lot of candidates consider it the least difficult of the 4 sections. It’s one of the shorter exams: 3 hours long, with 3 MCQ testlets (24 questions each), and 3 written communication questions. BEC is the only exam that has the written communication questions.  The exam covers topics like economics, corporate governance, cost accounting, financial management, and information technology. These are broad areas and that is why this section has been called the “junk drawer” of the CPA exam. However, the questions usually require quick thinking application skills. This is to say that while many people pass it, many also fail it. So don’t underestimate the BEC section and not give it enough of your time and effort.

I find cost accounting to be the most challenging topic of all the BEC exam topics. The majority of candidates have learned cost accounting in college, but most of the accountants I know didn’t understand it well or didn’t like it at all. This topic covers cost classifications, flow of a cost system, variable and absorption costing, material and labor variances, overhead variances, job order costing, process costing, and joint product costing. 

My exam is only 2 weeks away and I’ve been struggling with this topic. My scores for the cost accounting topic are the lowest for the multiple choice questions and it takes me longer than it should to do the calculations and figure out the solution. Luckily, Roger does a wonderful job explaining the variance formulas. If you have trouble with cost accounting the way that I do, I highly recommend that you first get these variance formulas memorized. Afterward, try to understand the formulas within their given context. Memorizing the formulas alone will be helpful, but they won’t help you much on the exam if you don’t know why or how they’re being used. This is the most important part of studying for cost accounting. Once you really understand them, the variance analysis MCQs will be a piece of cake. 

It certainly helps to make flash cards of the formulas and some of the main definitions. My plan is to come back to this topic right before the exam and read the text one more time. Afterward, I will then re-do all the MCQs. I find this technique to be helpful so that it’s fresh in my mind when I’m taking the exam.

Keep calm and study on!

–Margo Pacific, Guest Blogger for Roger CPA Review 

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