You Can Pass the CPA Exam: Get Motivated (with CD-ROM)

You Can Pass the CPA Exam: Get Motivated (with CD-ROM)

by Debra R. Hopkins, Hopkins


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This Third Edition prepares you unlike any other prep guide,combining all of the aspects of the Exam—Research,Communications, Simulations, and Content Change—in oneconvenient reference source. With each chapter designed as aseparate informational unit, You Can Pass the CPA Exam: GetMotivated!, Third Edition will get you ready by test day totackle every type of question in top form—including makingthe best educated guess on a tough multiple-choice question andconfidently nailing complex simulation questions.

You'll also find complete guidance for customizing your ownstudy plan and detailed tips for tackling every question, withcoverage of essential topics including:

  • Updated discussion of the Simulations component as well as theResearch component

  • Scheduling and applying for the Exam

  • Assessing your strengths and weaknesses

  • The Multiple-Choice component

  • The Communications component, formerly called Essays

  • Developing your personal study plan

  • Coping with your family, friends, and coworkers

  • Time management and other mistakes to avoid


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780470450024
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 09/28/2009
Edition description: Original
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 1,147,432
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Debra R. Hopkins, CPA, is Director of the Northern Illinois University (NIU) CPA Exam Review and has more than twenty-five years of experience helping to prepare over 1,000 CPA candidates a year for the difficult CPA computer-based examination. Her NIU CPA Exam Review students have consistently achieved national ranking in exam pass rates and have also ranked in the top ten auditing pass rates more than any other CPA exam review.

Read an Excerpt

You Can Pass the CPA Exam

By Debra R. Hopkins

John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 0-471-45389-7

Chapter One


Passing the Uniform Certified Public Accountant (CPA) examination is not easy. Ever since 1917, the CPA exam has been challenging candidates. With a first-time passing rate of 12 to 18% on the pencil-based exam and a less than 50% per exam section passing rate on the computer-based test (CBT), it is assumed that most people will fail one or more sections on their first attempt. That's right, the odds are against you. Yet the only way to become a CPA is to keep on trying. Completing the exam is one of the greatest accomplishments an accountant can achieve. Completing a degreed accounting program is an accomplishment to be proud of, but passing all four sections of the CPA exam is the crowning glory. The old story goes, anyone can earn an accounting degree, but only the best accountants can pass the CPA exam. Without the three initials CPA, you are just another accountant. How could three initials mean so much?

Being a CPA sends certain signals. People know that you have achieved a very difficult goal-you have passed the Uniform Certified Public Accountant exam, one of the most difficult certification examinations in the nation. In the business world, the CPA designation instills confidence and trust. Compared to an accounting graduate who has not yet attained certification, CPAs command higher salaries, are in greater demand in the workforce, and aregiven greater respect by the general public. The recent accounting problems experienced by a few large corporations have made the CPA certificate more valuable, rather than less valuable. With the Securities and Exchange Commission and various oversight boards watching the profession, the CPA designation sends the signal of professional achievement. You have attained a minimum level of competence required to perform your work.

Who wouldn't want more money, more job choices, and more respect? The desire to become a CPA should be yours. You must believe that you have the skills and knowledge necessary to pass this exam. If you can look at yourself in the mirror and say, "I can pass the CPA exam," you are ready to proceed. Believing that you can pass the exam is the first step. Now, what's next?


In today's highly technological and informational age, it is amazing how many people take the CPA exam without knowing much about the process. Perhaps this is the reason why over half of the people taking the exam fail on their first attempt. To complete the CPA exam successfully, you must understand much more than the technical material. The three to four hours that it will take you to read this book will save you countless hours of study time, not to mention the stress and anxiety that goes along with a highstakes exam. Get Motivated is designed not only to keep you pumped throughout the study process, but also to help you

Increase your memory power

Design a personalized study plan that is customized to fit your busy lifestyle

Eliminate the fear of failure by understanding the exam process

Decrease test anxiety by increasing your overall knowledge of the exam process

Improve your study habits for the CPA exam, other professional certifications, and other study programs, such as graduate and certification programs

Maximize the efficiency and effectiveness with which you study

Taking the CPA exam is a costly venture. When you add up the cost of a review course, textbooks, software, the exam application and related fees, the time off work, and the cost of travel to and from review courses and the exam, the total investment can easily exceed $3,000. Yet many exam candidates have the attitude that they will just "go try the exam to see what I can learn." If you were running a business, would you waste time and money just to understand the process? I doubt it. You would hire a consultant who not only understands the process but who can quickly teach you how to make the most out of the experience. This book provides you with just such tips and strategies. For over twenty years I have assisted thousands of people from all over the world pass the CPA exam. I have witnessed firsthand what it takes to pass. I know why people fail. I know how the successful people proceed. Why take chances? Learn how to attack the CPA exam and beat the odds of failure. Learn from other people's mistakes. Learn from other people's successes. Why reinvent the wheel? Utilize a best practices management plan that has been developed, tested, and found to be successful. Use the tips in this book as if a CPA exam consultant personally developed them for you.

You are ready to proceed. You have the desire to pass the CPA exam. The next step is to understand why so many people fail; failure is what you want to avoid.


Failure is the act of nonperformance. Failure means you were not successful at this attempt. Failure is temporary. Failure does not last forever. If you did not pass the exam, you are not awful, stupid, or careless. You just did not perform in the manner that was required. There is no need to provide excuses as to why you did not or will not pass the CPA exam. Making excuses takes time, bores the person who is listening to you, and reminds you that you were not successful. Move on; failure is the wrong focus. Spend a brief amount of time analyzing why you or others before you have failed. Then use your knowledge to move on. Learn from other people's mistakes.

Why do so many candidates fail the exam? Less than half of the people taking each exam section pass. What makes this exam so difficult?

First, the exam probably is not similar to any other exam you have ever taken. The total exam time is fourteen hours; the longest section, Auditing and Attestation is four and one half hours. Most exams you took in college were much shorter in length, perhaps one to two hours. A four and one half-hour exam would be considered very long.

Next, the exam is given in a place and format that is unfamiliar to you. You are accustomed to taking your exams in a college classroom, not at a Prometric test center. Not only is the place unfamiliar to you, but the format of taking an exam on a computer is new to most CPA exam candidates. The exam is administered under the rules set by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Prometric test center using a welldefined navigational process. Most CPA candidates are not informed about the exact exam-taking rules or of how to navigate the computerized format.

Finally, the exam covers material you learned over four to five years during your college studies. Although you are permitted to schedule each exam section over several testing windows, you must successfully complete all four sections within an eighteen-month period. Learning about the exam process, the format, and then reviewing course content and material that you learned several months or years before is a daunting task. If you stack up your college textbooks and professional reference materials that support each of the four CPA exam sections, you will have a pile that is at least a foot high. Add the four piles together and you quickly see the tremendous amount of material that is tested. Dealing with such breadth of material is enough to destroy your confidence.

After the exam, you must wait for your scores. Unlike the timely feedback you received in college, receiving your CPA exam score may take as long as six to eight weeks. Your kind college professor will not be grading the exam. Accounting professionals and AICPA examinations staff, who do not personally know you, will be grading your responses using a predetermined grading guide. You will be expected to achieve at a certain level that has not been clearly demonstrated or defined for you. The passing level often is established well before the exam is given. When the scores are released, you will not see your answers. You will see only your overall score for each section and a brief summary of your performance called the "Uniform CPA Examination Performance Information" report. The uncertainty of the content, the exam format and environment, the grading process, and the sheer volume of material may make you want to give up. Don't give up! If you give up, you will never become a CPA. Read this book and learn how to develop a customized study plan to maximize your study effectiveness. Learn how to remain motivated and confident during both the study process and the exam-taking process. On exam day, learn how to attack and control the exam. Learn step-by-step how to remember concepts, apply exam strategy, and achieve a passing score section by section. Don't think about what you can't or don't know how to do. Believe and it can happen. Believe that you have what it takes to become a CPA. If you don't believe in yourself, who else will? You must convince the exam graders that you possess the necessary knowledge to have earned the right to call yourself a CPA. If you keep saying "I can't pass the CPA exam," you are probably correct. A successful candidate does not accept an "I can't" attitude. If you so easily discount your ability to perform, imagine what the exam graders will do! From now on, even when you are feeling low or doubtful about your abilities, remind yourself that you can pass the CPA exam. You will believe in yourself. Believing is your first step to becoming a CPA.

The CPA exam is not a new experience. Ever since 1917, people just like you have been passing the exam. You aren't the only person in the world who will struggle from time to time in your exam preparation. You are not the only person in the world who will have distractions, crises, and problems during your study process. You are not the only person in the world who is anxious, fearful, or worried about the exam. Remember, you are not alone. If you dwell on your doubts, you will become distracted and lose focus. Take a lesson from the people who have failed. Failure on the CPA exam occurs for a variety of reasons including

Fear of failure-not believing in yourself

Lack of technical knowledge

Lack of knowledge of the computer-based test format and navigational system

Lack of knowledge about the exam environment at the Prometric test center

Loss of focus on the task on hand

From this list, it's easy to see that people fail because of both a lack of knowledge about the exam and a lack of knowledge about themselves and their capabilities. Unfortunately, some people fail even after hours of studying. They study the wrong material. Using out-of-date study materials is one of the biggest mistakes a person can make. Material that is more than six months to one year old may be out of date. Currently the CPA exam is adjusted for professional changes every six months. If people spend hours studying old college textbooks, they probably are not only using out-of-date materials, but they also are studying material meant for a college course rather than material meant for a professional, computer-based exam. The CPA exam is written using a unique method. People can arrive at the testing center and find no correlation between the materials they studied and the material tested. Why study just to study? Your time is too valuable. Spend your time learning and using the concepts and the formats used on the real exam.

Well-studied people can fail because they allowed themselves to be overcome with test anxiety. Taking a computer-based exam in an unfamiliar test center, next to strangers, under strict time conditions, all while being videotaped on camera can be very stressful. What a shame to have spent weeks preparing for a section and then to be overcome with fear just because the setting and format were not what you had expected.

If you have attempted the CPA exam and did not pass, you are not a failure. You have just hit a temporary setback. You have the power to turn failure into success. Once you have passed the CPA exam, no one will ask you how many times you sat for each section before you passed. The question is always: "Are you a CPA?"

What can you learn from other people's mistakes? It takes more than just technical knowledge to pass. The successful candidate will

Prepare an organized study plan

Use the proper study materials

Learn about the exam environment, the grading process, and the exam requirements

Remain motivated throughout the study process

Use knowledge about the exam process to control the exam

Remain confident that you are better prepared than the average candidate

Always believe that he or she can pass the CPA exam

Enough talk about failure. You must focus on obtaining positive results. Use your energies toward achieving a positive outcome. Believe that you are a successful person. Your focus is to pass the exam section by section. Your focus should never be failure, even if you learn that you have failed a section. Once you abandon the failure focus, you can begin to work on the steps to success. Success is easier to talk about than failure. However, success does not come easily or quickly. Wouldn't it be nice if someone could develop a CPA potion that you could purchase from a drive-up restaurant? You could drive through and order a burger with onions and one large CPA success drink. The inventor of the CPA success drink would be one very rich person. No, it is not that simple. There is no fast track to success. You must go one step at a time. Slowly, step-by-step, you learn the concepts. Slowly, step-by-step, you gain exam confidence by learning more about the exam process. Slowly, step-by-step, you understand the exam content, the grading process, the computer navigational format, and how to control the exam before it controls you. You are in command of the CPA exam.


Each chapter is designed as a separate informational unit. After you read Chapter 2, Content and Overall Exam Format, feel free to skip around. If at the moment family, friends, and coworkers seem to be your biggest problem, read Chapter 13, Coping with Family, Friends, and Coworkers. Closer to exam day, read the chapter that pertains to the section that you are taking and review Chapter 22, Time Management. As you read this book, tab and label certain pages to refer to frequently.

This book serves as a useful reference source to supplement your actual review materials. Often review materials cover the technical issues only. Who's going to help you with the emotional side of passing the exam? What should you wear to the exam? How do you apply to sit for the exam? Which section should you take first? How do you navigate the computer-based test? How can you practice simulation format questions? How can you improve your long-term memory? This book will walk you through the complete CPA exam journey step-by-step. The following chapters will guide you from the moment you think you want to be a CPA to the moment when you receive your final results and a letter that says: "Congratulations-you are a CPA!"

At the end of each chapter, you will find a section entitled "Personally Speaking." Here I speak frankly to you about former candidates' fears, mistakes, and successes. Let these real-world situations teach you how to be a successful exam taker.

Use the CD recording to motivate yourself. When you are feeling totally overwhelmed, listen to my friendly voice reminding you that passing the CPA exam is an achievable goal. Enjoy your preparation process. If you begin your studies with a positive outlook, you might be surprised. You actually could enjoy studying.

As you read, listen, and study, always keep the end result in mind. Picture yourself walking across a stage receiving a certificate that names you as successfully completing the Uniform Certified Public Accountant exam. You are now a CPA! Don't lose hope. Visualize yourself as a CPA. Believe that you can pass!


Excerpted from You Can Pass the CPA Exam by Debra R. Hopkins Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

1 Believe That You Can Pass!

2 Content and Overall Exam Format.

3 Scheduling and Applying for the Exam.

4 A Time and Place for Everything.

5 Assessing Your Strengths and Weaknesses.

6 The Multiple-Choice Component.

7 The Communications Component—Formerly Called Essays.

8 The Simulation Component: No Fear.

9 The Research Component: How Many Hits?

10 CPA Exam Grading.

11 Developing Your Personal Study Plan.

12 Study Strategies to Improve Your Memory.

13 Coping with Family, Friends, and Coworkers.

14 Revising Your Personal Study Plan.

15 How Will I Ever Pass? Practice Makes Perfect!

16 The Art of Auditing and Attestation.

17 Financial Accounting and Reporting: Tough It Out.

18 Regulation: The Rule-Oriented Section.

19 Business Environment and Concepts: It’s Different, It'sGeneral.

20 Surviving the Prometric Experience.

21 Nerves of Steel.

22 Time Management and Other Mistakes to Avoid.

23 It's Show Time.

24 The Waiting Game.

25 Regrouping after an Unsuccessful Attempt.

26 Congratulations—You Are a CPA!

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