Everyone knows by now that the CPA exam is changing beginning January 1, 2011 and if you have been keeping up with the news (hopefully by subscribing to our blog!) you should be more than prepared for the upcoming changes.
That being said, we have a few suggestions for those of you dragging your heels or wondering where to turn next with only 6 more weeks left in the final testing window of 2010.
1. If you haven't already, now is the time to get in your application to sit for the exam if you plan to start the process in early 2011. For those of you who wanted to get in for 2010 it is, unfortunately, too late to get all the way through the process in time to sit before this final window closes in December. If you qualify to sit now and are planning to begin sitting for exams as soon as CBT-e hits in January, get all of your paperwork in order and start the application process soon. Otherwise you could end up sitting on your application, getting caught up in the excitement of the holidays and behind on your plan! Remember some states take up to 10 weeks to process applications and many are experiencing heavy applicant volume due to so many potential candidates wishing to get in before the 2011 changes so processing times may be increased. Don't bank on information you have gotten from friends or colleagues about how long to expect to wait as everyone's experience is different. Check with your state board or CPAES depending on your jurisdiction and get the correct information straight from the source.
2. If you do NOT qualify to sit now but are planning to apply early next year, make sure you will meet the CPA Exam requirements to sit by the time you plan on applying. For some of you, you may not be ready to sit just yet but are preparing for the process and trying to get your educational and/or experience in order ahead of the new exam. Remember that state requirements aren't changing because of CBT-e, only exam content is changing. So if you're sitting around until you're ready to sit, now is the time to make sure you meet your jurisdiction's requirements. If you need to take a few extra courses it's a good idea to know that in advance so you don't get rejected and end up wasting more time later making up units that you are short in. So get your transcripts in order NOW and you'll be that much more prepared come next year!
3. Don't stop studying! Keep in mind a large percentage of current exam content will still be tested next year it is simply that new international standards will be added to existing content. For FAR, candidates are not expected to be experts in IFRS but instead will be tested on their understanding of the differences between GAAP and IFRS. This means that you CAN use 2010 CPA Review materials as your base of knowledge and simply supplement those with updated 2011 material when that is available. For current Roger students, simply contact the office in a few weeks to request free PDF updates to your materials, which are always available free of charge to our students upon request. That way will you have the most current information to add to your foundation.
4. Stop panicking! Many candidates are confused and bewildered by the 2011 CPA exam changes and are making the mistake of listening to friends or colleagues who are spreading false or misleading information. Do your own research, read through our previous blog posts on the subject or contact our office if you are unsure or unclear on what the 2011 changes mean to you. An informed candidate is a successful candidate and it is your responsibility to understand what is and isn't changing in 2011. Overall the changes will be minimal when it comes to the core of the CPA exam and if anything some areas will actually be easier in 2011 compared to 2010.
5. Give yourself a break! The end of the year can be a stressful time to balance work, the exam and your life due to the extended holiday season between Thanksgiving and New Year's so don't let the 2011 changes make you feel as though you can't take a well-deserved break from studying if your schedule allows for it. Our experience has been that candidates who allow themselves the opportunity to enjoy their lives (within reason!) during the CPA exam process actually do better and come out of the exam feeling less stressed. You aren't doing yourself any favors by locking yourself in your apartment and studying non-stop until January so make some room in your study schedule for normal activities with friends and family so you don't feel isolated and left out.