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Scores Came Out: You Failed the Audit CPA Exam, Now What?

Yesterday morning a student interested in trying Universal CPA Review reached out and expressed concern with the fact that they just took the auditing CPA Exam for the fourth time and scored a 73%. 

The Audit section of the CPA exam is considered to be a lot of candidates’ “kryptonite”. We always say that studying for the Audit section of the CPA exam is sort of like skiing. It is easy to learn, yet extremely hard to master. I remember when I failed the audit exam for the third time with a 73%, I called my dad at 3 am telling him that I wanted to quit. He responded by saying “well, I guess you could always go work in insurance or something.” Nothing against selling insurance, but I realized after that call that quitting was not an option. So, with that said, just know that plenty of people have been in your position before and this is certainly not uncommon. If you find that you’re trying to memorize your way through the audit exam, it is critical that you invest in a CPA review course that helps you truly understand the material. For a more visual approach, try Universal CPA Review for free today!

How Many Hours to Study for the Audit CPA Exam?

It’s not about how many hours you study for the Audit section of the CPA exam. It’s about total quality and consistent studying for each and every CPA exam section.

How to Study for the Audit CPA Exam

At  73% you know the Audit and Attestation (AUD) CPA exam section, and you are probably thinking “I don’t even know what to study” because you have done everything already…Multiple times. So, now what’s going to be important is that instead of relearning and redoing the same old practice CPA exam questions over and over, you must find little ways to fine-tune your understanding of the miscellaneous auditing CPA exam concepts.

For example, some of the most important concepts for what to remember are related to component auditors, predecessor auditors, single statement audits, subsequent events, etc. This is what I mean when I say that studying for the audit section of the CPA exam is “easy to learn hard to master”. Yes, the details in these smaller content areas only make up 2-3 points, but the reality is, they take just as much time to truly master.

In other words, the miscellaneous areas within this CPA exam section only make up around 15-20% of your Audit CPA exam score, but it’s going to take you the same amount of time to really know that same 15-20% as it will for you to really understand that first 80-85%. Below are a couple of visuals of the referenced topics that you may see come exam day. If you know your mental maps, you will pick up a few points: 

Know the Transaction Cycles

Let’s be real, nobody gets a 73% because they MASTERED the transaction cycles, but still can’t understand the engagement letter, documentation, SSARS etc.  Don’t just memorize the transaction cycles, understand the “why”. I know, the transaction cycles are EXTREMELY gross to learn. There is just so much information, and let’s be real, who knows wtf a remittance advice is. This is 2021 but the exam still tests this like we are auditing in 1985. That’s just how it goes though so we must know it!

What I would say here is don’t just try to memorize what tests would be performed on certain management assertions, first understand the documentation being tested. Right, sure, everybody knows that you’re going to perform a tracing test when testing for completeness, but ask yourself, “what am I tracing”? In other words, what documents are relevant to this test? Would tracing a purchase order be relevant to revenue? No, absolutely not. POs are relevant to expenditures (aka buying inventory). So, moral of the story, focus on the documentation that is being tested, not the test itself. 

Also, when understanding internal controls, think about what documents are being generated by each department (e.g., shipping department = bill of lading, billing department = generates that invoice etc.) When studying for the transaction cycles (which is most heavily weighted), this is the part of the exam that is the audit itself so think about it intuitively. You’re playing detective here, if you’re testing for inventory balances, and you were at a warehouse, what documents would you look at to understand things like valuation, accuracy, completeness etc. 

Bottom Line:

I know this is a lot and try not to feel overwhelmed. At the end of the day, you are 2 points away, not 20. You can and you will get this done! 

How to Recover after Failing the Audit CPA Exam

CPA Exam Sections

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