I would like to share my preparation strategy for the Financial Reporting(FAR) section of the CPA exam.
My score of 94 has been the consequence of the study environment that has been fostered by you and your team, and I will ever be thankful for that.
- Disclaimer(for the students):
I have committed full time for my examination, and I do understand that working professionals may find it relatively challenging to pay heed to some of the following pointers in the background of the external work pressures.Still, I would like to reiterate the fact that neither the exam system nor the evaluator distinguishes between two sets of students. Thus, I would encourage everyone to consider the inputs and advice from the pass-outs and incorporate the most relevant of the elements into their own strategies that suit them the best.
FAR was my first section in the process, so I started off by going through the “CPA study strategy video” by Sripal sir, which clearly elucidates the ways and means to tackle the exam focussing on the time to be allocated to the individual subjects and order of studying the modules among other things.
I had listened to the success stories shared by a few of the CPA alumni, and the one piece of advice which struck a chord with me was from our FAR topper Akshay who mentioned that sometimes he had taken almost a month for a unit.
This emphasizes the fact that it is crucial to the finish syllabus for its sake and to retain the concepts effectively in the long run.
- The first round of preparation:
This stage seems to be extending for eternity given the voluminous nature of the subject, but it is very important to be patient. I had started off with F-1 and used to solve all MCQs and Sims only once I went through the entire chapter.I went through the lectures on the Simandhar portal for topics that I felt were a bit complex. I am not a big fan of notes, but I did make them this time due to such a vast syllabus and the constant need to revise the minute pointers and concepts like NFP and Governmental.
I would go through the Telegram groups for the doubts which were more or less already posted. I made sure that once I complete a unit, I revised all modules in it by taking the AdaptPersonalized Review Session in Becker and a Practice test to evaluate my retention of the concepts so far.
This helps identify the gaps and deficiencies that need more attention, thereby adopting a focused-based approach rather than starting from scratch. I would get back to those modules in which I have scored less to brush up on my concepts. Consequently, one should have done a bare minimum of 10 practice tests for each unit at the conclusion of this phase.
By this time, one seems to be drained out, but this is where the real challenge begins. It might have been easier to answer relevant questions after going through a chapter or giving that practice test that has related topics.But it is important to answer questions from random topics back-to-back, which can be enforced by more practice tests among all modules to make one exam ready.
I would go back to the book for topics for which I haven’t scored well, or my choice of the answer was way off among the options available. This back and forth is a continuous ongoing process and has to be kept up in terms of intensity until the D-day.
I attempted them once. I was absolutely sure that I was exam-ready but didn’t be disheartened if you scoreless. My scores were 77,83,92 in the sequential order of the exams.It clearly indicates an upward trend as I learned from my mistakes in the first mock and doubled my efforts to focus on the weak areas.
- Exam week:
I had gone through the entire syllabus once and solved all the marked MCQs and Sims. I had focused especially on NFP and Governmental accounting as they were new topics, and not familiar with them.Still, I suggest everyone not put undue importance on any one topic as the exam tests on a comprehensive basis.
- Important Pointers:
MCQs are meant to enhance one’s understanding and are not a substitute for reading the chapter.
- Go through the explanation of the wrong options as well; you might have got them by luck this time, but luck may not favour during the exam!
- Skill master videos sometimes mention new concepts, so do check them out and note them down as well.
- NFP and governmental accounting may seem to be overwhelming initially, but an optimal combination of lectures and skill master videos should do the trick.
- Document Review simulations contain a lot of information to go through, which requires swift reading, and I try to improve my reading by dedicating some time of the day to read the Hindu editorial. (if not daily, at least occasionally; the key is to develop a habit of reading quickly and grasp information at the same moment)Conclusion: It is very important to stay mentally and physically fit during such rigorous preparation, and one cannot let the stress take over. I had taken up Yoga and Cardio exercise for a total of 1 hr a day to stay fresh and ready for the grueling day. The journey was tough, but the result day vindicated the efforts and time spent.
On a personal note: I would like to share that during my CA days, I was told everyone who wants to clear the exam will do but eventually, in a period of time subject to their seriousness and dedication. So, it is incumbent on oneself to chart one’s own strategy, stick to it and ensure the journey is worthwhile when you look back at it from the finish line!
Note: The following is a snapshot of an excel tracker which I prepared at the start of my prep for a ready reckoner to highlight the challenging chapters and important points and note down MCQs.
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