Written communication questions only appear on the BEC exam and they account for 15% of the grade. They are like Task-Based Simulations (TBS) on the other exams but a lot simpler. Unlike the TBS, written communication questions only come in one format. They ask you to write a memo about a certain topic.
According to the AICPA, the responses are graded for both technical content and writing skills.
Technical content is evaluated for information that is helpful for the relevant user and relevant to the issue. Writing skills are evaluated for development, organization, and the appropriate expression of ideas in professional correspondence. They ask you to use standard memo or letter format and not to use any tables or bullet points. They also advise that the memo or letter be in the standard business format with a clear beginning, middle and end.
In my opinion, if you are prepared for the BEC exam and have covered all the topics, you are also prepared for the written communication questions.
All you have left to do is work on getting down the format. Your first paragraph will always come from the question with the addition of the standard opening statement. You can copy and paste from the question to save time on retyping. The 2nd paragraph (there may be 2 middle paragraphs) will have the bulk of the writing and this is where you’ll need to get very technical! Throw in as many topic relevant key terms as you can. Most of the essays are computer graded, but there is always a possibility that your essay will be human graded, especially if your grade is close to passing. So try to still make complete sentences that make sense, just in case they end up getting reviewed by a human eye.
The last paragraph should be a summary of what you covered and a conclusion.
Punctuation, spelling, and grammar are still very important since they speak to your fluency in good writing. So don’t ignore those. In fact, if you have a couple minutes to spare or some time leftover, I highly recommend proofreading your answer. Sometimes, when you’re in the moment, your brain will think that you’re done an excellent job; it’s only when you go back to double check your work that you’ll find the missing commas, apostrophes, or even sentences that don’t make sense. You’d much rather take the time to proofread and correct any grammatical or spelling mistakes than allow those to cause you to lose points and potentially hold you back from passing BEC.
Remember, what you write doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be relevant and on topic.
Write something that is clear, understandable, and addresses the question in a professional manner. If you do these things, you should do well on the written communication questions on BEC.
“Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” --Winston Churchill
--Margo Pacific, Guest Blogger for Roger CPA Review