Hi Everyone, I’m Rishika. Here, I’d like to share my study strategy for the CPA-FAR section.
As I walked out of the exam center, I felt an immense sense of relief, I looked at my parents and told them that I knew I was passing FAR. This was totally different from what I had heard people say after they gave their exams.
Most of the feedback I got back from people giving FAR was negative and I looked forward to the impending doom I felt when I left the exam hall, but strangely I never felt it.
I realized then, that on the release of my score report I was going to make a comprehensive guide to help as many people as I can with FAR so no one has to feel anything but the relief after walking out of their exams.
FAR is a beast that is a mile long and an inch deep. I started with FAR first because I have seen a lot of people struggle with it and I would rather struggle at the beginning of my 18-month window than towards the end of it.
- Mock 1 score – 64
- Mock 2 score – 75
- Actual exam score – 87
What was my study strategy?
I started studying for my exam in the second week of August and when I decided I was going to study for it, I made sure I had a disciplined schedule set in place so I wouldn’t feel guilty if I didn’t follow it.
I treated studying for the exam as a full-time job. I would wake up and get ready for class, take notes in class and often eat breakfast after. After breakfast, I would study for three hours before lunch and take an hour-long lunch and TV break. I would end my day by studying for four more hours and then head to the gym.
I feel that by focusing on my health and exercising, I was able to concentrate better on the subject and felt more productive. I think a lot of people forget to focus on their mental health and it is very important to take a couple of breaks, step back and breathe.
On days that I didn’t have class, I would take the extra hours to revise everything I had learnt and revisit my weak points and write them down. I bought a huge pin-up board and would make summary sheets of topics I felt I was learning for the first time and stick them on the board. This way, I could glance at them if I ever got stuck.
I spent four weeks listening to Becker lectures and solving all the MCQs, and I took an additional two weeks for my final review before the test.
A comprehensive guide on FAR:
During the four weeks of listening to Becker lectures, I would use page tabs to mark pages that had one or more conditions that I would have to repeat and revise. This helped me a lot to quickly navigate the textbook during the final review week.
While studying for FAR, I would listen to the lecture and make my own notes and then use those notes to answer the MCQs. While doing the MCQs I marked the questions that I got wrong and then even marked questions I was a little bit unsure about. Then I kept answering the MCQs till I got a 100% score on it.
Marking the MCQs helped me identify my weak points and was also a great help during the final review.
I cannot tell what on the exam would be heavily tested because according to my understanding, everything on the CPA is fair game to be tested on.
My weakest areas were Chapters 4, 5 and 6. So I did all the MCQs, I read these chapters in and out over four times and wrote down points that I thought were important. I felt that the acronyms provided by Becker really helped me remember things.
I started my final review week by reading all the modules in a chapter and then doing the MCQs that I had marked during the first time I went through them.
This helped me focus on things that my mind had not retained yet. I took eight days to complete reading the book and answering the marked questions.
I took my first mock one week before I wanted to schedule the exam. I felt extremely dejected on getting a score of 64, but from what I had heard from people, Becker’s mock tests are supposed to be harder than the actual exams, and so I consulted Sripal sir because I felt at a crossroads of sorts.
On one hand, I felt like I had worked really hard to study FAR, I wanted to schedule the exam and sit for it in September, but on the other hand, I had seven days to sit for my first exam and I had scored a 64. Sripal sir gave me the confidence I needed to schedule the exam and I set it for the 29th of September.
I was even more determined to complete FAR because at this point I was mentally exhausted and did not want to drag this exam out till December. I slept for two hours and made corrections to the answers I had gotten wrong. This is very important to do.
I did not simply look through what I had gotten wrong, but opened the exam and wrote out and solved the questions I got wrong and why I got them wrong. Once I understood that I knew what my weak points were and decided to read through them again and hash out those specific MCQs.
I did so for two days. With three days to go, I decided to do another exam and see where I stood. This time I got a 75. I was happy but realized I still had a lot of work to do. But in FAR, three days is a lot of time to make all the difference in your score.
I got to work again and solved MCQs like there was no tomorrow. Becker has unlimited practice tests, and I would do 33 MCQs in a row. I would usually end up doing 300-350 MCQs in a day. This gave me the confidence to never be scared of facing an MCQ on the exam head-on.
The next day I took the AICPA mock test and the most important takeaway from that was the SIMS section. The SIMS on the AICPA mock test is very close to what you might see on the real exam. Getting the SIMS right gave me that extra set of confidence, I needed to feel prepared for this exam.
The day before the exam, I took the time to read through the pages I had marked in my first revision using the page tabs. This was extremely helpful in looking at how much I remembered vs what I need to look at more. Plus this provided an overview of what was in each chapter and how I felt in each chapter. Any chapter I felt shaky on, I would open the module and read through every line. I did not do any MCQs before test day and took the time to relax as much as I could. At this point, I had read through the textbook four times, and done all the MCQs over and over again, especially the ones I kept getting wrong.
In the evening before the test day, I took the time to visit the Prometric center, to see where it was and be acquainted with the area. I also had a good dinner and was able to fall asleep as I felt secure in everything I had learnt.
On test day, I looked at a journal entry sheet I custom made and ate breakfast and arrived at the exam centre 45 mins before my test time.
You get a break for 15 minutes after your third testlet and I highly recommend everyone take the time to walk out and breathe and pace yourself. The exam is long and exhausting, and it is important to tear yourself from the computer screen even if it is for a period of five minutes.
In the end, I took 90 minutes to finish my MCQs and still ended up finishing the exam 30 minutes early.
I hope this helps anyone who is planning to take the CPA-FAR exam in the future.