First of all, I want to welcome aboard the newest members of the crew – Christine, Michael, Elias, and Kevin. It’s great to see some new faces and with some very insightful perspectives already. I wish you all the best of luck on your exam preparations!
I have been asked by a few friends and followers of the blog to discuss some of the pitfalls I found when studying for BEC, as well as any tips and tricks I used to overcome them.
(1) Concentrate on memorizing AND understanding all of the formulas presented in the review materials. Unlike AUD, where most of the material is “textbook-type”, in BEC you are going to be asked to recollect any given formula and apply to a given fact pattern. It’s not as difficult as you may think, but it will require you to focus more. If you know the formula AND understand what the formula is doing, then you should have no problem adapting it to any set of facts.
(2) Do not force yourself to know everything about COST accounting.Cost accounting is not the biggest portion of this exam, so stop letting former exam candidates scare you into thinking that you need to be a cost accountant to answer those questions correctly. With the 2011 changes, the percentage of cost accounting has decreased, so work hard to understand what the cost information means and you will do fine.
(3) Don’t rush your way through the materials. BEC is an equal part of the CPA exam, regardless of what the overall perception of the exam is. When I walked into the exam I thought it would be a walk in the park because I had studied a lot of those materials in college and frankly it all appeared easy on paper. WRONG ASSUMPTION! BEC is a hodgepodge of material – 6 different topics each equally lengthy and equally important. Do not underestimate the sheer amount of material. Just because most of the review courses allot 5 “classes” to it, doesn’t mean that it contains 4 hours of material. A LOT of the material that you will need to know comes from understanding, not from pure memorization.
(4) If you have been saving BEC for last, do not barrel through it. BEC was my final part, and by the time I reached the exam I was utterly exhausted. I had already started working full-time and coming home after a 12-hour day was torture. If there’s anything I could have done differently, maybe I would have extended my preparation time. For me, 5 weeks was certainly not enough given my particular fact pattern.
Some final tips!
(1) Put all of the formulas you come across on flash cards and review, review, review.
(2) Take your time through cost accounting. Even though it’s not a large part of the exam, it’s definitely a struggle; so take your time.
(3) If you find yourself studying while working full-time, take time in the morning and/or afternoon to do a little studying. I found my commutes to/from NYC gave me ample time to review the “textbook” information so that when I got home I could just bang out some multiple choice questions and get to bed!
I hope some of my insights help you with this section of the exam. Good luck with all of your studying!