You know there are 4 parts to the CPA Exam, but did you know that each part should be approached differently? Below, we’ve broken down each exam section and provided some expert tips so you know how to prepare and what to expect. This is our inside scoop on the CPA Exam.
FAR Financial Accounting and Reporting Our recommendation? Definitely don’t try to study this with another part; its the longest section of our course and the most material! Just think: this part includes all your Intermediate Accounting 1 and 2, and not to mention Government/Non-Profit, which your campus may not even offer as an elective! Most importantly, what Intermediate Accounting professor gets through the entire book? They skip chapters and you’re relieved because they aren’t on your professors exams, but that doesn’t mean the CPA Exam is going to skip those chapters as well.
FARtakes a lot of study time, so just be prepared. We tell our students to get this section done first and out of the way because it tends to be the most intimidating. Once you’re done with FAR, you need to decide what section to take next. It helps to think about what you’re gearing towards: Audit or Tax? Go for the topic you have the most passion for.
REG – Regulation Out of all the exams, students run out of time on this section the most. Its a lot of material all lumped into one 3 hour section. We tell students that for this exam, they really need to listen to Roger and run a smart race with their time. Hell not only teach them the material, but also how to successfully beat the clock and get a great score. We recommend that you practice timing yourself when you study for this part.
BEC Business Environment and Concepts Don’t let the shortest exam fool you; there are no simulations in this part, and if you’re taking our course, it has the shortest amount of review with Roger. However, this part of the CPA exam does have a lot of material you haven’t seen before like Economics (supply/demand curves) and IT. You may not have seen that kind of material since your lower division classes. Cost accounting sneaks up on the BEC as well, and because you have written communication in this section, you could be writing on Cost Accounting principles. Take the time to review this unfamiliar territory! Given its length, you can pair up BEC with another exam if you’re looking to take two parts at once.
AUD Auditing and Attestation First off, do NOT worry if you’ve never taken an Audit class before. Depending on your campus, an audit class is either an elective or a required course. If youre taking a prep course, the course should teach you the material. Here, at Roger CPA Review, its Rogers job to teach everyone at the same level, whether they’ve seen audit material before or not.
One question we frequently get asked is: Which section should I take first?
Our general recommendation is FAR, because it requires the most hours of study. Since the 18 month window to complete all four sections begins after the first exam part is passed, this recommendation will prevent students from having to dedicate any of their crunch time towards the massive FAR section.
Here’s our pro tip: If you’re aiming to finish in 9 months, do FAR in the first window. Then, do AUD or REG in the second quarter paired with BEC (based on your strengths: tax or audit). Finally, in the third window, aim for the remaining part, AUD or REG. Our course comes with efficient study planners that help you chart your course; its always a good idea to have a game plan given the 18 month window. With all of this said, the bottom line is to make a plan, and play to your strengths.
We can only make recommendations, but it’s ultimately up to you, the student, to find out what works best for you.
If you have any questions about the CPA Exam, either leave your questions in the comments below OR tweet your question to us @RogerCPAReview. Good luck to everyone!