The score for my FAR exam was finally released. A solid 93! That's the third subject in which I received a score of 90+ (BEC was 94, REG was 90). I have only one more to go, AUD.

One of my friends asked me to share some tricks for taking the CPA exam, but she said don't just tell me to work hard.  Are there really any tricks? Possibly.

After sleeping over this question for a few days, I decided to summarize things I did when taking each part of the CPA Exam.  Hopefully, these tips might be helpful to other CPA Exam students: 


1. Have caffeine before taking the CPA Exam.

I consumed something with caffeine before every exam session. It may be a placebo.  Or the effect may be real. In my case, it makes me feel more alert and energetic than normal. Of course I'm not a doctor, so don't drink it if you think it will have adverse effects on your abilities to perform on the exam.


2. During the CPA Exam, immediately flag the MCQs that you don't know.

In the past three exams, I came across many questions that I absolutely didn't know or understand. I would usually make a quick guess and flag it.  After finishing all the questions that I knew, I would double back to the flagged questions taking a second look.  Usually, I put the answer I had selected into the question reading it quickly to see if it sounded right.  If it did, I would un-flag the question and move to the next flagged question. 

After all of the flagged questions had been reviewed, I would record how many flagged questions that I had for that session moving then to the next session. Usually I would have around 3-7 flagged questions left for one MCQ session.  This let me know the possible number for the next section so I could closely monitor my time.  One session usually was finished within 35-45 minutes on average.


3. Try to enjoy simulation questions.

I enjoyed simulation questions more than multiple choice questions when I took the CPA Exam. Some people may be afraid of simulation questions but my opinion is that simulation questions have higher weight in scores and are usually not very difficult.  Spend a little more time on them. For instance, in FAR, there are 90 multiple choice questions and only seven simulation questions. The weight of multiple choice questions is only 60% while simulations are 40%.

Secondly, simulation questions are not too difficult. Sometimes I felt they were much easier than some of the difficult multiple choices.  Usually,  more information is provided in simulation questions.  The questions are step-by-step, from easy to difficult.  Doing the simulation questions that I knew first and then flagging the ones that I didn't know helped me complete them in the allotted time.  The logic I used is similar to what I discussed in tip number two. 

So, my top 3 CPA Exam Tips are:  (1) drink some caffeine for extra sharpness and energy before the exam;  (2) answer all the questions you know first and flag the ones you don't know to review later and  (3) learn to not fear simulations because they are heavily weighted and aren't as difficult as you would assume.

- Crystal, international guest blogger

Other articles by Crystal:
How to Study for the CPA Exam If English Is Your Second Language
4 Lessons to Learn about FAR Preparation

Taking the CPA Exam? Hug your Friends and Family!
Accounting Is a Beautiful Language
Why an International Student Should Take the US CPA Exam