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Mental Requirements for the CPA Exam

Posted on 2nd Apr 2012 @ 4:46 AM

Contributed by Lambers CPA ReviewBrain.jpg

The CPA exam is a test of your overall technical competency, a test to measure judgment and intelligence in the application of accounting principles, auditing standards, and procedures to practical problems, and to evaluate professional ethics. You are being tested on a basic level of knowledge in a broad spectrum of areas.

Your preparation should be geared to obtaining three things:

  • A Basic Technical Knowledge in All Areas. The emphasis here is on basics. You don’t need to know all the intricacies involved in any particular subject. What you do need to know are the major issues involved and you need to have a solid understanding of the underlying principles and concepts so you can respond to different types of questions and unfamiliar fact patterns.
  • Exam-Taking Skills. You need weapons. You need exam-taking skills and techniques for each subject area. These will allow you to win the maximum amount of points in the shortest amount of time. The only way you can develop your skill is to PRACTICE by working hundreds of exam questions in each topic area so that answering them correctly becomes second nature. Also, don’t forget to demonstrate good writing skills on all essay responses.
  • Confidence. When you walk into that exam, you must be confident. This confidence will come as a by-product of the above two elements. To quote a former successful Lambers student, “Study the material,…solve as many multiple-choice questions as your schedule permits. Although this is a very difficult exam, do not get discouraged. If you are prepared...you will pass this exam.”

Strategies for Answering Objective Questions

1) Cover (or do not look) at the answers. They are sometimes misleading and may confuse you before you have worked the question. Covering the answers keeps you from turning one simple question into four true or false questions. Also, in many cases, two or more choices may look plausible (and in fact, both may be technically correct), but you are asked to pick the best answer. For these reasons, it is critical that you cover the answers so you can think and formulate your own response first.

2) Read the last sentence first. Generally, this will tell you the requirements. 

3) Decide on your answer or perform the appropriate calculations if a numerical response is required--still not looking at the answers.

Read the alternatives. If one agrees with yours, select it and move on. If your answer is close, see if it is due to a procedural error. If your answer is totally out of line, reread the requirements and body to see what was missed. If all else fails, try to eliminate any answer choices and make your best guess.

Lambers is a regular contributor to www.cpareviewmaterials.com.  You can learn more about Lambers products here.

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