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How to Know You are Ready for the CPA Exam

When are you ready for the CPA exam? Some people are ready when they know they’ve fully absorbed all of the training material, but this isn’t always enough. In fact, you are not going to remember all of the material that was covered, but you can remember enough to pass the test.

Did You Study Enough?

People that have successfully passed the exam state that they took 2 ½ months to study each section before passing. This means you’ll need to study the FAR, AUD, REG and BEC portions of the exam for 2 ½ months each. In total, you’ll need 10 months of studying to pass.

If you spend more than 3 months studying, statistically you’re less likely to pass the exam.

Why? You are overdoing it.

The best course of action is to study and make sure that you follow a review course to see if you’re ready to take the exam. If you study for just a month and expect to pass, you have a very low chance of success.

You Pass All of the Review Material

Reviews are meant to help you pass the test. Using a proven review system, you’ll be able to:

  • Judge your current level of knowledge.
  • Judge which areas of the test you need to improve on.
  • Take practice tests to see your results.

Students that take our exams have a higher chance, statistically, to pass the exam on the first try. This allows for a real-world example of how the test will be laid out and what questions will appear on your respective test.

If you haven’t followed all of the available review material, you’re not ready to take the exam.

There is no concrete way to know with a 100% certainty that you’ll pass your CPA exam on the first try. The best you can do is study, follow a review course and take the test for yourself. A lot of people fail their first time and pass their second time because they are familiar with the test. So when you feel ready, give the CPA exam a try.

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What Percent of People Pass the CPA Exam?

If you’re ready to take the CPA exam or have already taken the exam and failed, it’s important to know that a lot of people fail the exam. You are able to retake the exam and only have to ensure that you pass all 4 parts of the exam within an 18-month period.

Statistics from the Minnesota Society of Certified Public Accountants provide us with a good outline of how many people passed their exam in 2014 based on the 4 available exam times.

AUDIT Section

The AUDIT section is one of the hardest sections to pass with a cumulative pass rate of just 46% in 2014. Broken down into months, the following percentages are seen:

  • January – February: 47% of exams were passed.
  • April May: 49% of exams were passed.
  • July – August: 47% of exams were passed.
  • October – November: 42% of exams were passed.

Statistically, you should aim to take the AUDIT exam between April and May for best results.

FAR Section

The FAR section is the second hardest section of the exam with a cumulative pass rate of 48%. Broken down into months, the FAR test pass rates are:

  • January – February: 44% of exams were passed.
  • April May: 48% of exams were passed.
  • July – August: 51% of exams were passed.
  • October – November: 46% of exams were passed.

Students that take the FAR section are more likely to pass the test between the months of July and August.

REG Section

The REG section has a cumulative pass rate of 49% and is the third hardest portion of the CPA exam. The REG section statistics are as follows:

  • January – February: 49% of exams were passed.
  • April May: 52% of exams were passed.
  • July – August: 44% of exams were passed.
  • October – November: 49% of exams were passed.

Students will want to take this test between the months of April and May.

BEC Section

The final section is the BEC section that has a cumulative pass rate of 55%. This is the easiest section of the exam and should be taken first. The results are as follows:

  • January – February: 53% of exams were passed.
  • April May: 58% of exams were passed.
  • July – August: 58% of exams were passed.
  • October – November: 52% of exams were passed.

Students should take this test between the months of April and August.

One figure that stands out based on all of the data is that students should not take any section of the exam during the months of January and February or October and November to boost their chances of a passing grade.

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4 Tips to Improve Study Session Success

Working through your CPA exam review will help prepare you for success. But there are a few extra things you can do to maximize the program’s results. Effective study sessions don’t happen by chance, so taking steps to prepare for each session will help you get the most of your review.
Here are some tips from ExamMatrix to boost your study session success.

1. Create and Keep a Study Schedule

It’s important to make studying a priority. The best way to do this is to schedule it into your day. If you haven’t already done so, take the time to create a study schedule and stick to it. Be sure to give yourself a realistic amount of time to study each day.

2. Make Sure You Have Everything You Need

Make sure that you have everything you need before you start each session. Aside from your exam review program, you may also want to have pencil and paper on hand to jot down notes, snacks and drinks, and any other supplies you might need. Having everything you need on hand will minimize interruptions, so you can stay focused on the material.

3. Create a Designated Study Space

Ideally, you want to study in the same space at the same time each day. Creating a designated space for studying will help you mentally prepare for each session. Choose a space with limited distractions, such as a room without a TV. Turn your cell phone off or leave it in another room. Studying in a quiet space will help you stay focused and make it easier to absorb the information you’re learning.

4. Don’t Rely on Inspiration to Stay Motivated

It takes time and effort to study for an exam. If you rely on inspiration to stay motivated, you may find that days or weeks pass by before you open your review. To succeed, you’ll need to study daily whether you want to or not. Your effort will be rewarded in the end when you successfully pass your exam.

Purchase the CPA exam review from ExamMatrix today!

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The Benefits of Adaptive Learning

Adaptive learning takes an individualized approach to learning. While this concept isn’t exactly new (teachers have been doing this for decades), incorporating it into technology-based tools allows you to maximize the benefits of this learning method. ExamMatrix uses adaptive learning software with each exam review to help students succeed.

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits this learning method offers.

Adapts to Your Abilities

Learning is not “one-size-fits all”. Every student learns differently, and every student has his or her own unique abilities. Whether you’re studying for an exam or taking a traditional classroom course, the learning method used should be in line with your abilities. This is difficult to achieve in a typical classroom.

With adaptive learning, the software adjusts to your own abilities and pinpoints areas where you might be struggling. As you continue using the program, you’ll learn what your strengths and weaknesses are, so you can focus on core areas you don’t quite understand. In a nutshell, adaptive learning programs ensure that you master concepts before moving onto new material.

Allows You to Work at Your Own Pace

If a concept is difficult to understand, it might take you longer than anticipated to fully grasp the subject. In a traditional classroom setting (and even in online classrooms), this can be problematic for students who are left behind. With adaptive learning, you can move at your own pace. As you progress through the program, your answers are analyzed in real-time, and the software adjusts your instruction to match your abilities.

Adaptive learning gives you more control over your learning, and in our case, over your exam review. If you don’t understand a concept, you can take all the time you need to master it before moving on. This is something that cannot be achieved in classrooms (virtual and physical) as students are forced to progress at the same pace regardless of whether or not they understand the material.

Sets You Up For Success

Why does ExamMatrix use adaptive learning software for its reviews? Because it sets students up for success. When you’re able to work at your own pace and stay focused on a concept until you master it, you’re far more likely to pass whichever exam you’re preparing for. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses ensures that your study sessions are laser-focused on areas that will improve your scores.

Classrooms all over the country are adopting adaptive learning programs, but this same concept can help students in higher learning prepare for exams in an efficient and effective way.

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RPO Preparer Directory Released

The IRS has finally released the RPO Preparer Directory at http://irs.treasury.gov/rpo/rpo.jsf.

The list is broken down by:

  • Attorney (27,479)
  • CPA (202,092)
  • Enrolled Agent (49,052))
  • Enrolled Actuary (365)
  • Enrolled Retirement Plan Agent (652)
  • Annual Filing Season Program Participant (42,179)

Taxpayers searching for a preparer can click on the type of preparer, enter a zip code and then a radius, and the directory will generate a report of tax preparers that meet that criteria.  If you are looking for a specific tax preparer, you can even enter the first three letters of the tax preparer’s last name to narrow your search.

If you are a tax preparer and are curious to see how many other tax preparers are within 5 to 250  miles of you, this directory is one way to accomplish that.

If your curiosity gets the better of you and you decide to, oh, I don’t know, see how many Annual Filing Season Program Participants are within 5 miles of zip code 60606 in Chicago, Illinois, enter the criteria and hit search, then run to Starbucks for a venti skinny vanilla latte or do a load of laundry as you wait for the results.  If you did not get a Gateway Server Timeout error message, you are one of the lucky ones and can now view the names and address of each tax preparer who meets that criteria.

The IRS said 1,123,967 PTINS have been issued, so 457,065, or, over 90% of Non-Enrolled tax preparers, did not see the merit of doing the voluntary AFSP, or did not sign the Circular 230 statement despite numerous emails from the IRS asking that they do so.

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Studying for Two Exams in One CPA Testing Window

There is only one thing to factor when deciding whether to study for one or two CPA Exam sections in a single testing window is time.  How much time can you commit. Studying for two exam sections at the same time can be problematic, but studying for the first exam in the early part of the testing window,  and then taking your second exam late in the same testing window can be done if can make the required study time work. With the CPA exam review studying for a single exam section for the first time can take over 100 hours to complete, so if you are studying for two sections you are looking at least 200 hours of study. 

If you were wanting to sit for both of the exam sections, say, in July and August of a testing window, you would need to plan to start studying June 1, and sit for the Exam on or near July 15.  That is a little over two hours of study per day, seven days per week.  Take July 16 off to decompress, then start studying again for the second exam section, taking the exam August 30 or 31.  If you don’t mind giving up a summer, you can spend it with the ExamMatrix CPA Review and knock out two exam sections!

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Failed CPA Exam Section – Now What?

Failing a CPA Exam can be a lot like walking from Los Angeles to San Francisco:  Just as you are about to finish the trek, you are told you have to start all over.  The thought of having to start over with your studying and test review process can be overwhelming.

What do you do with a most reviews except just start all over, right?  If you switch to ExamMatrix, that won’t be the case.  Instead, our adaptive learning will isolate your problem areas and create study sessions that are focused on those areas.  In other words, we make you study more in the areas that you scored low in on the actual exam.  And instead of just starting all over and doing the exact same with the CPA Review course that did not work for you the first time, we will help you find those missing points you need to pass the exam.  An instead of studying again like you are walking from Los Angeles to San Francisco, we will start you off in, say, Daly City instead.

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Why Adaptive Learning DOES matter in a CPA Review

The CPA Exam tests on topics taught in some 15-plus college classes.  To review every single topic by first watching a lecture, then reading a textbook, then doing practice questions and simulations in a test bank means potentially studying hundreds of hours for each exam section, regardless of whether or not  you even have some level of mastery in the topic.  

An adaptive Learning algorithm REDUCES your study time and increases your scoring by first having you take an assessment of study questions and problems to determine your baseline of knowledge within each topic tested on the CPA Exam.  From there, future study in textbooks or videos can be done based upon scoring history, with the topics showing the lowest scores given priority.  Why waste valuable time studying a topic where you possess a 95% mastery when that 44% in another topic is calling out to you?

If you’re interested in how taking an adaptive learning CPA review exam, don’t hesitate to contact ExamMatrix today for help on this process, and spend less time studying for the test!

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Why you need to consider a CMA

You have your accounting degree, right?  Now what?

Statistically speaking, many accounting majors will set their sights on the CPA Exam, but is that actually the best credential to earn?  Did you know that the Certified Management Accountant exam saw the number of candidates increase 34.6% from 2013 to 2014?  And the CPA Exam?  Little to no growth since 2011 (source:  AICPA).

So why the vastly different trends between CPA and CMA?  Well, the most obvious reason is the trend of accounting majors to either choose corporate accounting over public accounting upon graduating from college, or, leaving public accounting for corporate accounting before attempting to earn the CPA.  And the CMA Exam is only two parts vs. four for the CPA, has a slightly higher pass rate than the CPA Exam, and CMA Exam Review courses are usually far less expensive than CPA Exam Review courses (the complete ExamMatrix CMA Exam Review is only $695).  Is the CMA right for you?

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IRS Education News

Dear ExamMatrix Student,

After much speculation, the IRS formally announced a “new voluntary program designed to encourage education and filing season readiness for paid tax return preparers”.

Many of you have contacted us with questions on this new program, so we have put together a Q&A of the more common questions we are getting:

1. What is the new program?

The program calls for a voluntary Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) that will allow un-enrolled (non-exempt) return preparers to obtain a record of completion when they voluntarily complete 18 hours of continuing education (CE), including a course in basic tax filing issues and updates, ethics and other federal tax law courses, as follows:

  • 6 hours of federal tax filing season refresher course (with a required comprehension test at
  • completion)
  • 10 hours of federal tax law topics
  • 2 hours of ethics

For the first year, a transition rule will apply to prorate the required hours. For a return preparer to obtain a record of completion for the 2015 filing season, a total of 11 hours will need to be earned in 2014, including the six hour refresher course, three hours of other federal tax law topics and two hours of ethics.

2. What is the IRS Registry?

Unenrolled Return Preparers who complete this annual CE program will be included in an IRS Database of tax professionals who have completed the Annual Filing Season Program, along with CPAs, EAs, Attorneys, as well as Enrolled (Exempt) tax professionals identified by the IRS (state certified, tax preparers who have passed Part 1 of the Enrolled Agent Exam within the past two years, etc). More importantly, beginning in 2016, PTIN holders without an AFSP – Record of Completion or other professional credential will only be permitted to prepare tax returns. They will NOT be allowed to represent clients before the IRS.

3. Will ExamMatrix offer the Annual Filing Season Tax Refresher Course?

ExamMatrix WILL be offering the six-hour Annual Filing Season Tax Refresher Course. It will utilize much of the course functionality you saw with our RTRP and EA Exam prep, but also include a “linear” teaching component that will first update you on each of the 35 items required in the IRS Annual Refresher Course. We will release our course next month.

4. I purchased the ExamMatrix RTRP Exam Review Course but never got to sit for the Exam. Will I get a discount on the Annual Tax Refresher Course

ExamMatrix RTRP Students who did not have the opportunity to sit for the RTRP Exam prior to the court injunction will be eligible for a 35% discount on the Annual Tax Refresher Course for the next five years. In addition, since there is now greater incentive to become an Enrolled Agent, previous RTRP Exam Review Students will be eligible to upgrade to the ExamMatrix Enrolled Agent Exam Review at a 35% discount from our retail price.

5. In addition to the six-hour Annual Refresher Course, I will need 5 additional hours of CE this year and then 12 additional hours of CE each year beginning in 2016. Will ExamMatrix be offering other courses?  In addition to the six-hour IRS Annual Tax Refresher Course, ExamMatrix will be offering additional IRS Approved CE Course through our partnerships with The Income Tax School and CCH Small Firm Services. Please go to www.ExamMatrix.com/(CE Web page) for more information.

Should you have any additional questions on the new IRS voluntary Annual Filing Season Program, please contact us at 800-272-7277 (303-768-0929) with any questions.

Thank you,

ExamMatrix

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