The problem with FAR is the sheer size of information that requires mastery. People panic when they see how much they have to study, and in their quest to learn everything, they end up mastering about 70% of each topic. So if and when the examiners throw a slight curveball, that 30% they don’t know becomes very apparent.
I also incorporated the advice of my new CPA Buddy, Krystyna Morozova. She took FAR because her NTS was expiring. She thought she’d just familiarize herself with it, had little time to study and very little expectation of actually passing. But incredibly, was able to pass with a 75.
Devote sufficient time to study FAR:
I say “sufficient” because study time varies for each individual. I can’t tell you how many hours to study. I studied over 6 weeks for roughly 110 hours. I wasn’t working or going to school. So, I can’t tell someone who has a job, a spouse and two kids perhaps to study like I did.
I know someone who studied over a 4 month period for roughly 180 hours. I couldn’t possibly study that long or that much. But he passed too, so whatever works right? The goal is to gain enough knowledge to be successful on the exam.
Find your recipe.
Know what you know:
Don’t be a jack of all topics and master of none. Make a list of all the topics and subtopics you’re most proficient in and make sure you really are proficient in them. I’m talking enough proficiency to where you’re attempting the question before even looking at the MCQ choices.
Overlook Not for Profit & Governmental Accounting at your peril:
Just because they say it makes up roughly 10% of the exam doesn’t mean you should give it any less attention. In my experience, those areas that supposedly make up a small part of the exam can appear way more than they say it’s supposed to. So don’t take their word for it.
Krystyna: Because I didn’t have enough time to study the way my Review Course recommended, I had to prioritize. I skipped straight to Not for Profit & Governmental Accounting, which I did not know much about. I heard from other candidates that it was heavily tested, and so it was.
Take away: If you are short on time – study your weakest topics first.
All the ratios, i.e., Liquidity, Activity, Profitability ratios etc., are easy to master. You just have to write the formulae down with a pen and paper. It’s one of those things you can have somebody quiz you on as you do your final review. Ratios are easy points, don’t get them wrong.
Memorization of the ratios would suffice, as long as you don’t forget on Test-day. But I recommend you actually understand how it works.
For instance, know brief facts like:
- Most “Turnover” ratios i.e., AR Turnover, have “Net Sales” as the numerator.
- “Return” on Assets type of questions have “Net Income” as the numerator instead.
- The denominators are usually “Average” total assets or inventory, not just Total Assets or Inventory. You have to average the two provided years.
Earnings Per Share (Basic & Diluted et al):
This was one of those topics that I didn’t study because it seemed like a lot. I made my peace with it and said, “if it appears, then so be it.” I regretted that decision bigly. Lol In hindsight, it’s not even that hard. Don’t be like me.
You have to ace the research question in TBS:
FAR in all its monstrosity has the easiest Research Question of all the sections. All you have to do is plug the keyword from the question, and the answer would be staring you right in the face. It’s a gimme. It makes sense to tackle it first in whatever Testlet it appears in. I mean, if life were as easy as FAR research questions, I’d be a Brain Surgeon right now.
Lastly, when you do find the answer to the question, be mindful of transposition errors. I switched up “952” 360 24-5 with “925” 360 24-5 during my own test, and only realized it at second glance. That mistake could have cost me dearly.
The exam is split 50-50 between MCQ and TBS. So I allotted 2hours to MCQ and 2hours to TBS. If you finish MCQ in less than 2hours, that’s great….more time for TBS. But try not to go over, because remember that 18.2% of MCQs are pretest questions anyway. So you could technically be wasting your time on something that won’t even be graded.
Furthermore, TBS requires you to pause and think. Therefore, you need all the time you can afford.
Lastly, when you’ve attempted a TBS question, provided all the answers you can think of and can’t come up with anything else, move on to the next. Give each question your best shot and move on. You could be exhausting your time on a difficult and or pretest question in Testlet A, while an easier Testlet B that counts lies ahead.
Krystyna: Do as much as possible, but if time is running out – move on. Because chances are (as was true during FAR and AUD) that the hardest/longest simulations are in the last Testlet.