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CPA Exam Review News Blog

Making the FAR Multiple Choice Questions Work for You - Part 1

Posted by Dr. Phil Yaeger on Apr 20, 2019 11:45 AM

Making the FAR Multiple Choice Questions Work for You - Part 1

Multiple choice questions (MCQs) are the bane of many a CPA candidate’s existence - they will drill them day in and day out, relying on scores from these practice tests as a measure of readiness.  But there is more than one way to study using MCQs, and this three-part series will give you a better way to utilize your test bank and get more bang for your buck when practicing.

Even though we just stated above that it’s not uncommon to drill MCQs for hours on end, they are still the easiest thing to put off until tomorrow, especially if you just put in a long study session on top of a long day of work. But please, don’t be lazy on your MCQ practice -  those pesky questions pay their dividends. Even if you are fatigued after a long video session, run through AT LEAST the minimum number you’ve set for yourself.

When utilized properly, MCQs help you to:

  1. Understand not only what the correct answer is, but also why the other answers were incorrect. By reading the descriptions that go along with the incorrect answers as well, you can better understand where you went wrong (if you answered incorrectly).
  2. Push you to think about all of the aspects of a topic on the exam. It doesn't matter if the question is just a level one (remembering and understanding), you can use critical and analytical thinking skills and ask yourself how this simple question turns into an application (level 2) question. How could that topic show up on a simulation (levels 3 & 4)?
  3. Practice your “topic switching” abilities. It is a MUST to be able to quickly move from topic to topic when sitting for the CPA exam. The MCQ quizzes are the perfect time to sit down with a timer and stick to that recommended 1.5 minutes per question until it is second nature, and you don’t need the timer. Remember, you won’t have the ding of a timer on exam day to tell you to move on to the next question… It will be up to you. Note: Don’t try to practice points two and three at the same time.
  4. Build stamina. Each exam is four hours long… it’s not uncommon for candidates to tell us that they left the exam with a pounding headache. By practicing MCQs, you can fight off that fatigue and get your brain prepped for a long exam.
Most often students struggle with point number two - how to look at a rather simple question and walk it all the way from a Level 1 (remembering and understanding) to a Level 4 (evaluation). The easiest way to think about how any given multiple choice question might be tested as a simulation is to put it in the context of the general accounting cycle:
  • Prepare journal entries.
  • Post transaction to the ledger.
  • Prepare a trial balance.
  • Determine adjustments.
  • Prepare and post adjusting journal entries to the ledger.
  • Prepare an adjusted trial balance.
  • Prepare financial statements.
  • Prepare and post-closing journal entries to the ledger.
  • Prepare a post-closing trial balance.

Because, with FAR, the questions are rooted in the financial statements and the general accounting cycle, pinpointing where you are in the cycle allows you to then know what the next steps are, and by anchoring in the accounting cycle you have a firm foundation to explore beyond that level one question.

In part two of our series, we will be discussing the next steps - what to do to analyze a multiple choice question after you have identified your place in the accounting cycle. In part three, our last of the series, we will work through an example of what we’ve been talking about.

Happy studying!

Part Two: click here to read

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