Here we’ll go over a full review of the FAR exam including exam content, format, questions, scoring, and how to study for the FAR CPA exam to pass on your first try.

FAR CPA Exam Quick Facts

  • FAR stands for Financial Accounting and Reporting.
  • The FAR exam covers 4 main areas: conceptual framework, standard-setting and financial reporting, select financial statement accounts and select transactions, and state and local governments.
  • The FAR CPA exam is 4 hours long.
  • There are 66 multiple-choice questions and 8 task-based simulations on the CPA FAR exam.
  • FAR is the most comprehensive section of the CPA exam.
  • The FAR CPA exam pass rate is around 45%.
  • The FAR exam has the lowest pass rate of all 4 CPA exam parts.

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How to Pass the FAR CPA Exam

The FAR exam is the most comprehensive CPA exam and requires a lot of number-crunching. Sticking to a solid study plan is the way to pass this exam, so let’s talk about the best way to study for FAR.

Best Way to Study for the FAR CPA Exam

The best way to study for the FAR exam is to create a study plan and stick to it! This will help you see a clear path to success and alleviate anxiety surrounding the exam. A good study plan will include:

  • Reviewing the CPA Exam Blueprints and making a study schedule
  • Practice exams
  • Journal entries and number-crunching
  • Practicing time management (for question types, testlets, and the exam overall)

You can also always take the guess work out of studying for the FAR exam by using a CPA Review Course. Most CPA exam test prep providers, like Wiley CPA, will give you a customized study plan and access to a lot of helpful study materials like video lessons, practice exams, and quizzes with practice questions.

Tips for Passing the FAR CPA Exam

In addition to creating a study plan, there are a few more FAR CPA exam tips you can use to pass the exam.

Take FAR as Soon as Possible

Taking the FAR exam ASAP is a good idea if you’re a recent college graduate because the accounting classes you took in the last few years of school will have helped prepare you for this part of the CPA exam (and the information is still fresh in your mind). You are also a test-taking pro while in college so taking FAR ASAP will ensure a high level of test-taking proficiency.

Master Microsoft Excel

One of the biggest challenges of the FAR exam is all of the number-crunching, so mastering Microsoft Excel can really come to your aid on exam day. You can use a simple calculator or scratch paper to work your equations, but using Excel is a much more efficient way to get through math problems.

Spend More Time on Governmental and Non-Profit Accounting

You likely didn’t spend much time in college covering governmental and not-for-profit accounting, which is why you should spend more time covering these topics in your study plan to pass the CPA FAR exam. But don’t get overwhelmed, focus on memorizing the different terminology and reviewing the material several times as needed.

Take CPA FAR Exam Practice Exams

Practice exams are one of the most important tools you can use to prepare for the FAR exam.

Practice exams help you test your knowledge, apply your skills, build endurance, practice your time management, and more. And mock exams that mimic the exam interface will help you become familiar with the look and feel of the real CPA exam.

This will help ease your anxiety on test day as the look and feel of the exam will be familiar to you.

Study with the most popular CPA FAR Test Bank on the market with full CPA practice exams, 6,000+ sample CPA questions, and much more.

Set Yourself up for Success for the CPA FAR Exam

Intense studying sessions need to be supported by an intense self-care routine. Taking care of yourself is critical to setting yourself up for success on the FAR exam. This means staying hydrated, exercising, eating nutritious meals, and getting enough sleep.

You will have to make some short-term sacrifices in order to earn your CPA license, but that doesn’t mean you stop taking care of yourself. It will all be worth it in the end—you’ve got this!

FAR CPA Exam Content

Here we’ll go over a breakdown of the FAR CPA exam content.

There are 4 main content areas tested on the FAR exam and each subject is tested to varying degrees.

  • Area I: Conceptual Framework, Standard-Setting, and Financial Reporting 25-35%
  • Area II: Select Financial Statement Accounts 30-40%
  • Area III: Select Transactions 20-30%
  • Area IV: State and Local Governments 5-15%

These topics are meant to cover the number-crunching that Certified Public Accountants will be doing, especially as they start their career. Test takers will need to understand accounts and the recording of transactions, master accrual basis accounting, and use formulas to complete day-to-day accounting tasks.

Within these topics, the FAR exam tests on:

Candidates will be graded on their ability to demonstrate their skill level in remembering and understanding, application, and analysis in the following percentages.

  • Level I: Remembering and Understanding 10-20%
  • Level II: Application 50-60%
  • Level III: Analysis 25-35%

FAR CPA Exam Format

The FAR CPA exam format will start with a welcome message followed by confidentiality and section information. You will then be able to continue into the actual exam that is divided into 5 testlets.

Pre-Exam:

  • Section 1: Welcome and Launch Code
  • Section 2: Confidentiality and Section Information

Exam:

  • Testlet 1: 33 Multiple-Choice Questions
  • Testlet 2: 33 Multiple-Choice Questions
  • Testlet 3: 2 Task-Based Simulations
  • Testlet 4: 3 Task-Based Simulations
  • Testlet 5: 3 Task-Based Simulations

Post Exam:

  • Survey

Between the third and fourth testlet, there is a 15-minute break that does not count towards your 4 hours of total testing time.

Boost your review with detailed text that helps you identify and master specific topics that you may need additional reinforcement on to pass the FAR exam.

MCQ (Multiple-Choice Questions)

MCQs will be presented as one sentence or a short paragraph that poses a question with 4 subsequent answers to choose from.

The first MCQ testlet on the FAR exam is ‘medium’ difficulty. If you do well on this first testlet, your second MCQ testlet will have harder questions.

But if you don’t do well on the first MCQ testlet, the second testlet will remain at the same difficulty level.

It is not a disadvantage to get the harder second MCQ testlet because correct answers to difficult questions are worth more than correct answers to easier questions. And you are not penalized for wrong answers.

TBS (Task-Based Simulations)

TBSs present you with a scenario that you must answer by typing out or selecting a response. The answer format varies and might include fill-in-the-blank, matching, research, journal entries, or another answer format. Taking advantage of practice quizzes with TBS type questions will help you become comfortable with the variety of answer formats.

FAR CPA Exam Time

How long is the FAR CPA exam?

You will have 4 hours total to complete each part of the CPA exam, including FAR, AUD, BEC, and REG.

There are 66 MCQs and 8 TBSs on the FAR exam that you will need to get through within the allotted time. These 74 FAR CPA exam questions are divided into 5 testlets, so it’s a good idea to have a personal time management goal for each testlet.

You can time yourself with practice exams to make sure you’ll keep up a good pace on exam day.

On the FAR exam, your first 2 testlets will have 33 MCQs each, your third testlet will have 2 TBSs and your last 2 testlets will have 3 TBSs each. A good starting place to time yourself on these sections is giving yourself around 40 minutes for each MCQ testlet, 35 minutes for the third testlet, and just under an hour for each of the last two testlets with 3 TBSs each.

This plan only gives you about 5 minutes of wiggle room, so practice timing yourself and add or subtract time to your plan based on how quickly you get through the different question types.

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FAR CPA Exam Scoring

Each section of the CPA exam has a possible score of 0 to 99. And the minimum score to pass is 75. This score is not a percentage, and it is not curved. You can still pass if you get less than 75% of the questions right.

For FAR, your score is based on a weighted combination of your MCQ and TBS scores with MCQs making up 50% of your exam score and TBSs making up the other 50%.

FAR Exam Scoring by Question Type

Question TypeNumber of QuestionsQuestion Score
Multiple-Choice Questions (MCQs)6650%
Task-Based Simulations (TBSs)850%

When to Take the FAR CPA Exam

It’s almost always a good idea to make FAR the first section of the CPA exam you take on.

If you’re a recent college graduate, you should take FAR as soon as possible while everything you learned in your accounting classes is still fresh. And on the flipside, if you’ve been out of school for a while, it’s still a good idea to take FAR first because of the 18-month window you have to pass all 4 sections of the exam.

Because the 18-month timeframe doesn’t start until you pass your first exam (and FAR is considered the hardest exam), the clock won’t be ticking yet if you take it first and don’t pass right away.

Beyond that, FAR is the most comprehensive section of the CPA exam, so mastering it first means you have a head start on mastering concepts tested in the other 3 exams.

Still, choosing when to take each section of the CPA exam is a personal decision and is completely up to you!

What Are the Average FAR Exam Pass Rates?

FAR has an average pass rate of about 45%. In 2021 the average pass rate was 44.7%, and in 2020 and 2019 the pass rate was 49.98% and 46.31% respectively.

FAR consistently has the lowest pass rates of all 4 CPA exam sections. This could be because it’s the most comprehensive of the 4 exams and it requires quite a lot of mental stamina due to the number of accounting math problems it contains.

2019 – 2021 FAR Exam Pass Rates

YearCumulative Pass Rate
202144.7%*
202049.98%
201946.31%

*based on Q1 & Q2 of 2021

Wiley CPA Review Course

FAR has the lowest pass rate of the 4 CPA exam sections, so you really need to pull out all the stops to be one of the 45% that pass. Taking the guesswork out of studying is as easy as using a high-quality CPA exam review course.

Wiley’s course is specifically designed to help you gain a deep understanding of the material all while fitting into your busy schedule. Time management tools that you get in your Wiley CPA course include:

  • customized exam planner
  • bite-sized lessons
  • adaptive review

These resources help you stay motivated, avoid procrastination, and save time by making your study plan manageable and efficient. So, stay ahead of any FAR CPA exam changes, reduce your stress and anxiety surrounding preparing for FAR, and enlist the help of the best CPA test prep provider on the market.

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CPA FAR Exam – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the FAR section of the CPA exam.

  • The FAR exam has the lowest pass rate and is considered the hardest of the 4 CPA exam sections. It typically requires the most study time because it is the most comprehensive of the 4 exam parts, and it takes a lot of mental endurance to get through all of the questions that require accounting and math to be performed.

  • Pretest questions help the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) improve future CPA exams. Including them in the current FAR exam allows the AICPA to evaluate the difficulty level of the pretest questions and decide whether they are suitable for upcoming exams.
  • Yes, partial credit is available on task-based simulations. If you answer part of the question right, but not all of it, you will get partial credit for the correct parts of your answer.
  • The FAR exam is graded with a weighted combination of your MCQ score and your TBS score. 50% of your FAR score comes from the multiple-choice questions and the other 50% comes from task-based simulations.
  • FAR usually takes the longest to study for, and experts recommend clocking about 190 hours to be prepared. Everyone is different though, so adjust your study time based on your strengths and weaknesses.
  • The pass rate for FAR hovers around 45%.
  • There are 74 total questions on the FAR exam. 66 questions are multiple-choice and 8 are task-based simulations.