iStock_000054508596_SmallWe recently hosted a webinar on how to maximize your CPA Exam score (watch the recording for free here). Tons of people participated and there were some great questions asked of the host, Denise Probert, CPA, CGMA, Wiley’s Director of Curriculum for Accounting Exam Prep.

Here are the top 10 questions CPA candidates have ahead of the exam–with Denise’s answers. 

Top 10 Questions From CPA Candidates

Question #1: Should I wait to get my exam score before I schedule my next exam? 

No. You should make a plan to take all four CPA Exam sections within 12 to 18 months. Scheduling your exam sections in advance is a great way to commit yourself to studying.

Question #2: Does knowing how the authoritative literature is formatted help with answering Task-Based Simulations?

Yes. We highly recommend you make the most of your six months of free access to the authoritative literature on the AICPA website. It will really help you to improve your score and performance on the SIMs. Only candidates who have applied to take the CPA exam and been deemed eligible by their state board of accountancy can access the literature.

Learn more or request access here. 

Question #3: Task-Based Simulations are really hard for me. Should I spend more time on them during the exam? 

No. Remember the 60/40 split–60% of your score comes from the MCQ section and 40% from the SIMs. You should divide your time similarly, so budget 40% of your time for the SIMs.

Question#4: You said there was no penalty for answering a question wrong. Wouldn’t you get  “medium” or weaker questions if you answered things incorrectly? 

You don’t lose points for answering incorrectly. You only get no points. Therefore, you should ensure you always answer every question within a testlet before moving on. If you leave questions blank, you’ll be certain to remain on the “medium” track, which will hurt your score.

Question #5: Do you recommend taking the FAR section before the AUD section?

Yes. Many of the AUD topics are based on concepts you’ll be tested on in the FAR section. If you’re able to pass the test on FAR concepts, you’ll be more likely able to audit them on the AUD section.

Question #6: Any study suggestions for people who work full time? 

Even if you work full time, you should still be able to find time to prepare for and pass the exam over 18 months. You have to start with a plan and stick to it–and get your family and friends involved so you stay on track. For example, you can commit to studying two hours a night after work. If you miss a day, make it up another day that week. It will take some scheduling and effort but you can put in 10 to 15 hours of studying a week while working full time.

Question #7: What do you recommend for the last week leading up to test day? Should I just run MCQ drills? 

Don’t focus solely on MCQ. Instead, do a high-level overview of everything you’ll be tested on, including SIMs. Identify the areas where you’re weakest and do your best to focus on sharpening those skills in the last days of studying.

Question #8: If I don’t have enough time to complete Task-Based Simulations, can I just type in the keywords?

Yes, you can just type in the keywords from the question. You will get some points but not full points on the question. If you can, do you best to try to answer the question.

Question#9: If I fail a section, should I move to the next section or retake the one I failed?

You should retake the exam again, preferably in the next testing window. You cannot retake an exam in the same testing window as the one you failed. You’ll be able to recall the information better and focus on the areas where you were weak on the exam. It will improve your chances of passing.

Question #10: How are Task-Based Simulations scored? Are they each just 1/7 of the total 40% for the testlet? 

No, they’re not 1/7 of the 40%. Only six of the seven SIMs count toward your score, as one is a pre-test question. You don’t know which of the seven is a pre-test question and you don’t know how the other six are weighted to equal the 40% of your overall CPA Exam score. Therefore, do you best to answer all of the SIMs questions to the best of your ability.

BONUS QUESTION: How can I avoid memorization when studying MCQs? 

Try to teach the concept to someone, whether it is to your study parter, to your child or just to yourself in the mirror. The ability to clearly explain a concept or answer is the best way to ensure you actually know it rather than just remember it.

Want More?

To benefit from all of Denise’s great advice on maximizing your CPA Exam score, be sure to watch the free webinar on the topic. The last 30 minutes feature a lively Q&A session and Denise answers more than a dozen other questions from CPA candidates.

Be sure to also check out all of the available free webinars from Wiley CPAexcel.