We are asked over and over again, what sections to take the CPA Exam in and why. Since CPA Review has been preparing CPA candidates to successfully pass the CPA Exam for over 37 years, our strategies work…and work well!
Today, the AICPA expects CPA Candidates to have in depth knowledge with topics tested on the CPA Exam. For this reason, it’s very important to know how each of the four sections of the CPA exam “flow” and work together. The simple strategy below of what sections to take first will increase your chances in passing the CPA Exam. And at the very bottom you will see my theory as to why BEC typically has the highest pass rates.
1. Financial Accounting and Reporting-(FAR) is the foundation for all accounting. By taking FAR first you will gain the foundational knowledge to understand accounting principles and financial statements. After all, CPAs use financial accounting data and related financial statements to make informed decisions in every facet of business.
The foundation learned in FAR will greatly help in the other three sections as you will see topics from FAR in Auditing, Regulation and Business Environment and Concepts.
2. Auditing and Attestation-(AUD) Remember, in Auditing you are auditing financial statements. And guess what, financial statements were mastered in the FAR section. You are ready for section 2. Auditing also covers Information Technology (covered again in BEC) and Professional Ethics (also covered in Regulation). Now you are ready to begin Regulation.
3. Regulation-(REG) Besides professional responsibilities, federal taxation and business law, this section also covers Ethics (oh yes, familiar again from Auditing…go figure) and then the partnership and corporation accounting rolls nicely into BEC (Business Structure section). Now time for BEC.
4. Business Environment and Concepts-(BEC) is last. Why? BEC is the catch all of everything else. But wait a minute, because you understand the accounting implications from FAR, it will help conquer BEC. And oh yea, Information Technology was covered in Auditing and, the Business Structure foundation was covered in Regulation. Now Finance and Economics are all alone, but conquerable. And then the managerial or cost accounting questions will contain familiar areas from FAR such as inventory.
The Written Communication, tested in BEC, can come from any of the four sections that you’ve already covered in the FAR, AUD and REG sections. You should already have a strong foundation in many concepts that may be on your BEC exam taken in the order we suggest – BEC last – you will find that much of what you need to know for BEC you’ve already studied in your preparation for FAR, AUD and REG and guess what, the information probably stuck! Anyway, that’s my reasoning for why BEC may have higher pass rates than the other sections.
So we suggest the following exam order, approximate number of study hours, and estimated preparation time per part, based on devoting about 20 hours a week to studying:
1. FAR = 200 hours, to be done in about a 3 month period.
2. AUD = 80 hours, to be done in about a 2 month period.
3. REG = 160 hours, to be done in about a 2.5 to 3 month period.
4. BEC = 100 hours to be done in about a 2 to 2.5 month period.
The average number of study hours includes watching the videos, taking notes, working questions and reviewing.