10 Common Questions About FAR — And Their Answers

Questions in the young woman's head We recently hosted a free webinar on What You Need To Know For FAR . More than 350 people took part in the live session and they had a lot of great questions. Here are some of their most common questions–with expert answers from Wiley’s Director of Curriculum, Denise Probert, CPA, CGMA.

Is FAR the hardest section of the CPA Exam?

It may be, simply due to the huge amount of information that’s covered within this section. For me, AUD was the most difficult. Generally, each candidate finds one section surprisingly difficult. That is, they feel a bit surprised or caught off guard by the questions asked. The best way to avoid that feeling is to practice as many questions as possible.

What is the recommended sequence of tests?  Should I take FAR first?

Our recommended exam order is FAR then AUD then REG and BEC last. The reason for this recommendation is that an understanding of the FAR content is assumed in AUD and, to a lesser extent REG and BEC. For example, on the AUD Exam, you will be asked questions about audit procedures for the sales and accounts receivables transaction cycle. These questions make the assumption that you understand how to properly record, measure, and report sales and accounts receivables transactions.

You should consider deviating from the above recommended order if you are not able to complete all four parts before April 1, 2017. BEC and REG will change most on the “next” CPA Exam and we highly recommend completing those two sections before April 1, 2017.

Is the exam graded on a curve?

This was a very popular question. Although your score will show how your performance compares to that of other exam takers, the Exam is not graded on a curve.

What is the best way to tackle the Task-Based Simulations (TBS)?

You should read through all of the TBS completely first, taking mental notes on what’s being asked of you in each. Then go back on work on the ones you’re most comfortable with first. Use your time wisely as you shoule allow roughly 12-13 minutes to complete each TBS. Document review simulations (DRSs) could take up to 45 minutes to complete! The most common complaint we hear about TBSs is the candidate did not allow enough time.

Will the new 2017 exam format be easier?

It’s hard to tell but there’s no indication that the AICPA is interested in reducing the Exam pass rates any further. After the prior update, pass rates on some sections actually went up. Take the Exam as soon as you are eligible. Stay focused on your goal of finishing all four parts as quickly as possible. The great advice “focus your energy on those things you can control” applies perfectly to how to approach passing the Exam.

If you do not pass all  four sections by April 2017, will you have to start over again?

No. Those sections that you have remaining in/after April 2017 will be administered in the new format. You won’t lose credit for any of the sections you have already passed.

Will they call the statements by their names on the exam or do they call them by different names? For example, using “statement of financial position” in place of “balance sheet.”

The AICPA will use the terminology and names most commonly used in the pronouncement or other authoritative literature. Some account titles have multiple names (e.g., allowance for doubtful accounts and allowance for bad debt expense). When you study, replace the mindset “I must memorize this.” with “I need to understand this.” and you will find yourself more prepared to handle those questions that don’t present the content as you expected.

Do you get partial credit on research questions?

Yes you do, so filling in as much information as you can will help, especially if you are running out time. The research question is set up to have multiple parts and each part is graded separately. Never leave an Exam question, or any portion thereof, blank!

How much of IFRS is tested?

There will be IFRS on the exam. Expect to see 1 out of 10 questions (10%) on this topic.

How many hours should you study for FAR exam?

It depends on the student and their comfort with the material. We recommend 100-120 hours at least, but many people will need up to 150 hours of study time to fully grasp the material. Make sure you commit to creating an environment that results in high quality study time with no interruptions or distractions. While you may believe that you study better with the tv on or with music playing, cognitive research provides solid evidence that retrieval on exams is improved when the brain is not asked to be distracted while studying.

A Bonus BEC Question

Should I take BEC now before April changes?

Yes! If you can take BEC before April 2017, then you should as it will be the section changing the most. However, in general, we recommend taking BEC last as it will include information from the other three sections.

Want More? Get The Webinar Recording & Slides

Denise gave an in-depth presentation of what to expect on the FAR section of the CPA Exam, including several great problem examples. You can watch the 1-hour recording and download the slides for free.

Register here for access. 


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