USA CPA Exam Candidate - California


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Hello Forum members -

I received approval from the California Board of Accountancy (CBA) to proceed with taking the state Uniform CPA exam.

While I am very excited, I am also making an effort to carve-out my own plan/design of which exams to take first.

I will be signing up for the Becker prep courses/materials within the next week or so.

I was hoping to receive any input from members who currently are CPA's (in California), who are currently exam Candidates (like myself), or anyone else who feels they might have something helpful to contribute.

I appreciate your efforts in advance!

Thank you.

Andrew J. Titchenal
CPA Exam Candidate
 
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I should have been more specific in my previous post. Below is my (planned) strategy for taking each section of the Exam, along with some questions I have.

Early May (2020)
1. Take the FAR exam. Due to the fact that this section has the lowest passing percentage (40.57%) I want to allow 2.5 months of exclusively digesting the Becker materials/tests for FAR. On a positive note, the class I just ended with (in December 2019) was section 2 of Intermediate Accounting. As a class we reviewed all 24 chapters of the 16th version of the Kieso text. From viewing the AICPA exam blueprints there is an impressive amount of material that matches what we covered throughout the text. Lastly, I've heard FAR is the toughest of the 4 to pass the first time. Therefore, the "clock" factor is an added benefit because it would not officially start until I pass FAR.

Early August 2020
2. Take the AUD exam, or, if necessary, re-take the FAR exam. If it's AUD I'll be taking then (once again) use 2 solid months to prepare for AUD. On a side note, I did not take an Auditing class, however the Roger CPA site says that this should not be too concerning (there are apparently many candidates who went to schools in which Auditing may not have been offered). I am hoping a soley-focused 2 months of prep with the Becker materials should be enough to help me pass AUD the first time around.

Question - what are your thoughts on taking Auditing WITHOUT having taken a course previously? Aside from intensive focus on the Becker materials for this section, would you recommend any additional items/resources that would help me understand Auditing? Note, AUD has the 2nd lowest passing percentage (47.88%). So by eliminating this test earlier (rather than later) in the 18th month window would allow for re-take options that wouldn't cramp my ability to take the last 2 sections (REG and BEC).

Early November 2020
3. Take REG, or re-take AUD. Once again, 2 months of solid Becker prep would probably be best to help me pass this section the first time around, but, if necessary, the focus would remain on AUD and getting it passed the second time around.

Early February 2020
4. Take the BEC section, or re-take REG. 2 months of solid prep with Becker would again be my strategy.

Question: the schedule I've outlined above is the ideal scenario, however, I recognize that certain exam sections FAR and AUD (from what I've read) can take 2-3 times to pass. With that being said, what would you recommend I do to enhance my chances of passing all 4 sections the first time around?

Looking forward to hopefully receiving some good input!

Thank you for your time and effort!
 

Drmdcpa

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Becker should prepare you, and you should plan to, sit for all sections at once.
 
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Thank you for your feedback, very much a strategy I hadn't thought about. I've read a few examples of (extremely gifted) candidates that graduated in June and passed all 4 sections by September (just in time for starting their new job).

I've considered tackling FAR as it's own animal. I've heard that it's really twice as intense, twice the amount of detail/focus, etc. So, I think I'm heading into almost 100% certaintly I'll be exclusive on that one. Once it's passed, it may be a good idea to do a "3 for 3" in the same window.

Other factors to consider (obviously) are family life (my wife and 16mo old son) in addition to a rather low stress (part-time) job, ...let's not forget hobbies (when I'm not recording my guitar takes on jazz standards I'll sometimes try and write 4 part classical harmonies by avoiding parallel fifths, fourths, and octaves - yes, Bach is my secret hero).

I think I can dedicate 4 hours a day (M-F) and 6 hours (Sa) to FAR for say 2 months ...that puts me at about 200 hours total prep for FAR. That being said, I'll probably deliver 150 actual hours. Which should be enough to (hopefully) pass.

4-6 months for the other sections would be 400-600 with actual delivery of 450 hours. That may be enough to pass 2 out of 3 remaining and allow ample time for a re-take if needed.

Thank you again for your recommendation. I found it interesting and useful.
 
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Drmdcpa

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I should have been more specific in my previous post. Below is my (planned) strategy for taking each section of the Exam, along with some questions I have.

Early May (2020)
1. Take the FAR exam. Due to the fact that this section has the lowest passing percentage (40.57%) I want to allow 2.5 months of exclusively digesting the Becker materials/tests for FAR. On a positive note, the class I just ended with (in December 2019) was section 2 of Intermediate Accounting. As a class we reviewed all 24 chapters of the 16th version of the Kieso text. From viewing the AICPA exam blueprints there is an impressive amount of material that matches what we covered throughout the text. Lastly, I've heard FAR is the toughest of the 4 to pass the first time. Therefore, the "clock" factor is an added benefit because it would not officially start until I pass FAR.

Early August 2020
2. Take the AUD exam, or, if necessary, re-take the FAR exam. If it's AUD I'll be taking then (once again) use 2 solid months to prepare for AUD. On a side note, I did not take an Auditing class, however the Roger CPA site says that this should not be too concerning (there are apparently many candidates who went to schools in which Auditing may not have been offered). I am hoping a soley-focused 2 months of prep with the Becker materials should be enough to help me pass AUD the first time around.

Question - what are your thoughts on taking Auditing WITHOUT having taken a course previously? Aside from intensive focus on the Becker materials for this section, would you recommend any additional items/resources that would help me understand Auditing? Note, AUD has the 2nd lowest passing percentage (47.88%). So by eliminating this test earlier (rather than later) in the 18th month window would allow for re-take options that wouldn't cramp my ability to take the last 2 sections (REG and BEC).

Early November 2020
3. Take REG, or re-take AUD. Once again, 2 months of solid Becker prep would probably be best to help me pass this section the first time around, but, if necessary, the focus would remain on AUD and getting it passed the second time around.

Early February 2020
4. Take the BEC section, or re-take REG. 2 months of solid prep with Becker would again be my strategy.

Question: the schedule I've outlined above is the ideal scenario, however, I recognize that certain exam sections FAR and AUD (from what I've read) can take 2-3 times to pass. With that being said, what would you recommend I do to enhance my chances of passing all 4 sections the first time around?

Looking forward to hopefully receiving some good input!

Thank you for your time and effort!
Sit for all four sections. It is a grueling two days but worth it.

When I sat for them many many years ago, only about six percent nation wide passed all four parts at the same time. I was in that six percent, so I do not know what is required to condition. But it was easy to observe a lot of new faces at each section of the exam because so many had conditioned parts of the exam.

I believe the terms were if you passed two or more sections you conditioned those sections, and had three tries to pass the others. But you might want to check on the state's current requirements.

Becker saved me. I had one audit class taught mostly by TAs that were also working on their masters like I was. I was also not prepared for the other portion. I knew accounting including tax and business law, so basically half the exam.

They should schedule their course to coincide with the exam schedule. After their course keep studying their material until you know it cold and can easily pass the practice exams.

Also take a day or so before the exam to relax. A week before the exam try to eat well, exercise and rest.

And for all that may be holy, stop with the mentality that you need to take it in parts. Take it all. If you do not pass a section or two, if they are still held twice per year, you have six months to study that material.
 

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