CPA Studying: 4 Essential Study Tips

Executing an Efficient Study Session I know, I know, there’s nothing like the idea of studying for the CPA exam that gets you hyped for the weekend… (yes, don’t worry, that was sarcasm). Assuming you’re working full-time and/or managing a personal life/family, finding meaningful time to study for the CPA exam can actually become quite challenging. That’s why the weekends are so important! If you don’t have an opportunity to study 6-8 hours a day during the week, then this has to be your time to find time! Here are some helpful tips to optimizing your Saturday study day: #1) Wake up early “Wake up early on a Saturday?!” Yes, that’s right. Partying hard on a Friday night and studying for the CPA exam is mutually exclusive (unfortunately). So, try to get some rest, set the early alarm, make yourself a pot of coffee, and get after it. Once you get in a rhythm, you won’t ever regret this CPA study habit! #2) Make the weekend days for learning new information Studying for the CPA Exam is hard enough as it is. Saturday and Sunday might be your best opportunity to learn new information. Spend longer study days learning new information, and shorter study days (AKA the work week) learning a little bit of new info, but mostly refreshing what you previously covered. 3) Keep your technology away! It can take up to 20 minutes to reach peak focus. Once you are distracted, it can take another 20 minutes to build that same level of focus back up. So, while you study, block your tempting “go-to” websites, keep your phone in a cupboard in the kitchen, whatever you need to do to omit distractions. You will be amazed how much you get done! 4) Efficiency is key Universal CPA Review is the only review course to offer video explanations for every single multiple-choice question and task-based simulation. There is no need to do the same 10,000 practice questions over and over and memorizing the text in the solutions. Instead, if you get a question wrong, understand why you got it wrong and fix the mistake going forward. In depth video explanations for each question will allow you to do exactly that! Need some advice? If you need a kick start to studying, or a change to your approach, schedule a call to chat about our program. We’re great listeners. Schedule a Call Envision your future with Universal CPA. Schedule a free 15-minute call with our team! Schedule a Call Spilt Milk Program Did you already buy a review course that is failing you? Well, we designed the Spilt Milk program just for you! Spilt Milk Program Details

2021 Pass Rates for CPA Exam

The AICPA releases the number of candidates and the pass rates for each section of the CPA exam on a quarterly basis. The results for Q1 2021, Q2 2021, Q3 2021, and Q4 2021 are shown in the table below: Observations by Universal CPA AUD: AUD continued its downward trajectory from ~50% in Q2 to ~47% in Q3, to ~45% in Q4. Feedback from candidates who sat in Q4 suggests that the exam is becoming more analytical with a heavy focus on being able to evaluate the results of an audit. Candidates must be able to evaluate whether a misstatement is material and propose an adjusting journal entry if necessary. You should continue to focus heavily on evaluating misstatements and proposing adjusting journal entries. BEC: It is interesting to see that the pass rates for BEC remained above 60% with the new exam changes and the additions to IT. The sentiment by recent BEC test takers was that the exam was extremely challenging and they were being tested on a lot of IT topics and terms that had not been covered in their review course. Perhaps these IT topics were pre-test question, but expect an increase in IT related questions that will actually count towards your score. The Universal team continues to incorporate IT topics into the course that have been catching candidates by surprise. FAR: FAR tanked from ~48% in Q3 to ~41% in Q4. We saw an increase in Q3 after IFRS was eliminated, but it looks like FAR is back to being the most difficult exam in Q4 by a longshot. The pass rate was ~20% lower than BEC in Q4! REG: After increasing by 5% from Q2 to Q3, REG pass rates are now back in line with the first half of 2021. Basis continues to be a heavily tested topic and one that candidates need to know very well. Candidate Data Count Below is the candidate data count by quarter in 2021 (results are cumulative). How does this impact candidates? As a candidate, take note of the pass rate information, but use it to fuel your internal motivation to be one of the candidates that passes the exam. If you put in the time and effort, you will get this done! If you are looking for a different way to study for the CPA exam, give Universal CPA a try. We’re the only full review course that combines visual learning + video explanations for every question. This approach helps you learn a step-by-step approach that you can use on exam day when you are feeling the pressure! You can sign up for 7-day free trial here. Additionally, if you already have a review course and it isn’t working for you, ask about the steep discounts we offer through the Spilt Milk program. Learn more about the Universal CPA packages and pricing here. Universal CPA was created for the modern day CPA candidate. We are only successful if you find success, so let’s get this done together!

What is audit data analytics (ADA)?

According to the AICPA, “Audit data analytics (ADAs) are a technique that can help you leverage current technologies and move toward a more data-driven approach to planning or performing an audit”. This is basically saying that if you utilize the data and analytics tools that are currently on the market, then you’ll be able to better analyze data and spot anomalies in the data (i.e. potential misstatements or issues with the internal control environment). The most common tools available on the market include Alteryx, Tableau, Power BI, and Python. Some of the larger public accounting firms have designed their own data analytics tools. The biggest benefit of audit data analytics is that audit sampling doesn’t need to be used because we can audit the entire population (yeah that is right, the entire population). So if the company has 1,000,000 sales transactions, we can test the full 1,000,000 rather than the 100 transaction that we “haphazardly” selected. Now I know we have painted a beautiful sunset when it comes to data analytics in an audit, but the main issue is that most clients still don’t have quality data. To effectively use data analytics in an audit, the client needs to provide high quality data. That means that its accurate in the system, the data is complete, and it includes the necessary fields to be effectively used for audit procedures. Now, don’t assume that you’ll work less hours in busy season. Technology and data analytics in audit will allow audit teams and accountants to work smarter and more efficiently.

What is the difference between buy-side and sell-side M&A?

If you are on the sell-side in an M&A transaction, then you are representing the seller (acquiree). If you are on the buy-side, then you are representing the buyer (acquirer). Typically, the sell-side team will prepare the financial model to share with potential buyers. The sell-side team will essentially try to “sell” the business, so they may show a more favorable business case. The buy-side team will dig into the analysis prepared by the seller and perform diligence. They’ll try to find the holes or the weak spots in the business. The buy-side team might also focus on identifying synergies or potential cost savings.

What does it mean to “put the lipstick on the pig” in audit?

? This phrase is commonly used in connection with audit documentation. Your manager might tell you to “put the lipstick on the pig”, and this means that you should try to document an audit finding to seem not as bad as it is. For example, if you find an issue with the company’s controls, you might try to explain why its not a problem. You’ll do all of this work to make it sounds like a great situation!

Are all CPA’s tax experts?

Absolutely not! How many times has a family member assumed that you can answer a tax question for them? It has happened to me a million times! Tax accountants are out in left field, while every other accountant is off in right field!

Can I cry during busy season?

Absolutely, but only once per day! Busy season is a true test of your mental toughness. Everyone is stressed and sometimes a good cry is all that you need. As a senior, I remember that the Senior Manager openly criticized me during a status meeting in front of the whole team. I lost it and when I was taking a walk by myself, I let out a good solid cry. After your cry, you have to pull it together and get back after it! Busy season will end, and you will feel a huge sense of accomplishment!

What information should I review to learn more about my audit client’s business prior to arriving onsite?

The audit team should obtain and absorb as much information about their client prior to conducting the audit. When you have a baseline understanding of your client’s business practices and policies, it makes it much easier to have effective discussions with your audit client. Clients also appreciate it when you know what the business even does! This will help you be successful for the CPA exam and in your professional career! The visual below illustrates some common activities to perform to gain business knowledge of the client: