All that really matters is that you score a 75 on your exam. Adding 2 or 3 points to your score could mean the difference between failing, and spending another 2 months studying, or passing, and feeling a boost of confidence as you go into the next exam.
Below are 5 simple ways to increase your CPA exam scores.
#1 Monday = Gameday
If at all possible take your exam on Monday. This gives you three full days to do your final review and cram as much information as possible.
Many of the exam questions have a short-term memory aspect to them and having a fresh 25-30 hours of studying in your brain is a HUGE advantage. This is especially true for the BEC and Audit sections where much of the exam is about memorization rather than concepts.
#2 Cheat Sheets ARE allowed
As soon as you get your
scratch paper “noteboards” and the clock starts, write down as much important information and mnemonics you may have created before you answer any questions. Also, be sure to jot down any of the basic formulas or ratios you may need (notice how I said basic, you do not need to remember all 30 ratios given in your textbook!) This will shield you from any brain farts or “my mind went blank” moments later on and gives you an entire resource of information to refer back to. If you’re not currently using mnemonics then I would highly recommend creating some since this is an easy way to add a few points to your test score.
NASBA Update: “Effective January 1, 2013, in lieu of scratch paper and pencils, exam candidates will be provided with two double-sided, laminated, colored sheets called “noteboards,” as well as a fine point marker for making notations.” This may effect your ability to use the new noteboards as a cheat sheet compared to the old scratch paper method. I would love to hear someone’s opinion about this new rule with regards to what is allowed and what is not. If you have a quick second, and have personally used the new noteboards in 2013, please leave a comment below and fill us in! For more information about this please see NASBA’s posting http://www.nasba.org/exams/news/noteboards-used-for-cpa-exam/
#3 Short Term Memory Boost
Bring your notes to the exam site and arrive 30 minutes early to review them. This is also a great way to refresh any vital information you want to copy down on your “noteboards” as discussed in tip #2. If it’s not in your mind at the last minute, you may not remember it in the exam room.
Another great way to retain information is to do a ton of CPA exam practice questions in the days prior to your exam. Check out Wiley CPAexcel Test bank for extra help on the sections you need a boost on!
#4 Find the Odd Man Out
When doing the multiple-choice questions, usually three of the answers will all have something in common. The fourth is the odd man out, always pick this one if you come across a question that you are unsure of.
#5 Don’t Jump the Gun
Completely read through each of the A,B,C, and D answers before selecting one. Often times you will come across a question where there seem to be multiple correct answers so do not just pick the first one that sounds right and move on. There are questions that actually DO have multiple correct answers, an example of this would be an answer like “D: Both A and B are correct”. Tricky, tricky.
One last piece of advice I don’t want to leave out is to be sure and budget your time beforehand for all 3 MCQ sections and the SIMS. Write down how much time you have planned for each part on your
scratch paper “noteboard” and stick to your schedule!
These simple tips, if implemented, will have a positive impact on your exam scores and could easily be the difference between receiving a failing or passing grade. Have any tips, strategies, or clever tactics of your own that helped you score higher on your CPA exams?? Helping other CPA candidates is what this site is all about so please share your thoughts in the comment section below!
Bryce Welker is a regular contributor to Forbes, Inc.com, and Business Insider. After graduating from San Diego State University he went on to earn his Certified Public Accountant license and created CrushTheCPAexam.com to share his knowledge and experience to help other accountants become CPAs too. As Seen On Forbes