I took the Regulation (REG) section of the CPA exams today. I think I had a rougher time than I had with AUD. I don’t know if my “complaints” that the exam was tough are “dependable” any more, since I have had something to say about the earlier 3 exams and luckily, I passed them. But I had said AUD was rough, and I barely passed it with a 77. I would be surprised if I hit 70. Well, I may score 65, or 90. I overstudied this past week (and yes, up to today) and I confused myself along the way. At times during the exam, I had to dig deep. I closed my eyes with my hands to focus and try to remember some things a few times … and I came out blank one too many times! I am attempted to look up the things I was not sure of, but I think I will not. As I came out of the exam and I was talking to one of the ladies at prometric, I mentioned to her that I would start studying for REG again tonight so that I can be ready to retake it. She said, “no, just wait, it will be okay.” Well, I thought, she could be right. I worried about AUD, and it came out okay. May be this will come out okay. Like Auditing and Attestation, there were times when I was mad at myself for not being sure about what to do. I knew I had read the stuff, I had worked on a multiple choice question similar to that question, but I could not remember the concept/idea. When I study, I almost always go for the idea. I don’t care about the figures, rates, etc. I can “back into” the rates or figures if I know what needs to be done and I have only forgotten what percentage or rate of something. Anyway, this time around, I think I stuffed my brain with too many concepts in a short time than it had to process them and come in handy. I did my best during the exam. I cannot say I did my best in the preparation, except for the last 10 days or so.
I did not like the fact that I waited almost 30 minutes before I could start the exam, but that’s okay. It was a busy day for the people at the site, and they were nice as usual. Anyway, after the fingerprinting, picture, emptying pockets, … came exam time. I logged in, and clicked through the first couple of screens, and then I stopped just before the last screen (before the exam starts) to write up how much time I would spend on each testlet and the start times. According to the Gleim Audios, the recommended start times were 3hs 0 min, 2hr 25 min, 1hr 50 min, 1hr 15min, and 0hr 40 minutes. I was two minutes behind on the first testlet, and that carried through to the second testlet. I think by the time I finished the third multiple choice testlet, I was 5 minutes behind schedule, which was okay. It was okay because I had 5 extra minutes (overall). I spent quite a bit of time on the research tab of the first simulation, may 20 minutes, which was not smart at all. I had planned to spend 7 minutes on each tab, and then move on to the next tab. So, I spent 8 minutes on the written part. That’s writing and reviewing. I spent may 2minutes, 4 minutes and 5 minutes on the other tabs… and then a huge amount of time on researching something, that I am sure I got wrong. I actually went back to it after completing the other tabs and researched some more! Urrghh! I was smart enough to just choose something and move on. I had may be 25 minutes for the other simulation. So, I guess I spent more than 20 minutes on the research, which is more time than I have spent on any exam question through all these exams. I think I was frustrated that I had spent sometime on the Wiley 14.0 simulations last night (or this morning between 1am and 4am) and I was able to find all the required IRC sections being asked. Anyway, I was lucky to find my research response within a minute on the second simulation, so I made up for some of the minutes lost earlier (6). The other tabs were as okay as the multiple choice testlets – which means, not great. I did what I could. The essays were the easiest part of the whole exam for.
Know the fundamentals
I was going over the notes that I wrote in my trusty moleskin notebook after FAR, BEC, and AUD exams – and a constant theme is KNOW THE FUNDAMENTALS. I think my problem is that I get the gist of the matter, but I also want to know the details so that I end up “being lost” in the details. So, if I am going to retake this section, I will focus on the fundamentals. What are fundamentals? Well, my definition of it is, it is something on which everything else seems to rest. The foundation, the common them. If you are reading a study unit, you can see that almost 80% of the questions are addressing a particular theme in one way or the other. Once you get that, everything thing that comes your way, has to be looked at from that point of view. Similar to a frame of reference. Ethics for example, the theme may be Google’s motto – “Do no evil” – of course, you can add a phrase or two, for example, “Do no evil, in reality or in appearance”. If you are talking about Property, you have to understand Basis, Adjusted Basis, and how everything else flows from there (gains and losses). All the exceptions and limitations are just details. If you are talking about Gross Income, knowing some of the definition may help… “from whatever source derived” etc. Well, that’s what I think. That’s what I think will work for me if I have to retake the exam. I think it worked enough today. We just have to wait another month to find out.
Last minute preparation helps, but it also sucks!
I got a few points from the work I did last night and this morning and up to an hour before the exam. I think that even if I had prepared well all along, I would still have put in some more hours of work yesterday, last night, and this morning. There was nothing more important to me to do in the last couple of days, up to the time of the exam, than study and prepare for the exam. So, if I have time, why not use that to study something or take another 20 multiple choice study session?
The part that sucks is that if you see something that you have not seen all along and it looks important, on the one hand, you are glad you have seen it. On the other hand, you are wondering what else is out there that you don’t know about, and may show up on your exam! It can demoralize you. I want to say it can also mess up your memory, for example, if what you are seeing contradicts what you studied and believed you understood. Should you change a month’s or a week’s work because of a moment’s glance?
What can I say? I need to spread things out. The problem is not that I do things last minute. It is that when I start doing something, I go all the way, intensely, and then when I burn out or decide to give myself a break, I take a big break as if I am done with the thing. Of course, sometimes I am actually done with it! Whatever the case, the intensity is not sustainable for long periods of time. So, going forward, on my next big goal, I will spread my effort around.
Do it all
The exam tests a lot of material at the same time. You cannot study it all at the same time, even if you have a 10 day plan like I did. You have to “do it all” just like the exam does. What I mean by that is that every day or every other day, you have to do, say, a total 30 questions from all the chapters. That is about a question or two from each chapter. This keeps part of you on the whole picture and you don’t forget the things you studied a couple of days ago.
In the exam, I noticed that I had an easier time with the third testlet which had more business law questions that tax questions. I only had 3 items that I really needed to review, and I think I totally guessed on just one of those. I think part of the reason is that I had done most of the business law when I started studying for REG, and then I stopped for a couple of weeks, and then went back to it and the rest of the stuff. So, I went over business law (obviously, excluding tax) a couple of times. This was not smart, considering that tax is (over) 60% of the exam! What can I say? [Hopefully, the third testlet was not “easier” because I blew the first two! Well, you know what I think about those “myths”.]
Summary (What next?)
Overall, it has been a nice experience taking the CPA exams. I hope I will not have to retake REG. If I do, I am confident that I will do much better. I will try to do it the way I am proposing here and I think it will work.
I have a few other posts that I intend to post up regarding the CPA exam, and those will come when I am done with it all.
I think next week I will study for the Ethics exams so that if I have passed REG, then I can just go ahead and apply for the license.
Sweetheart, Chess, family, friends, books, blogs, dreams, success, happiness, righteousness, … all ye, here I cometh! 1+2+3+4+5+6+7+6 =?
It is a wonderful life!