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Which order should I sit for the CPA exam sections?

Posted Dec. 4, 2020
By Surgent CPA Review

First and foremost, there is no right answer to this question. You are free to sit for these sections in any order you wish. You will likely hear many different opinions on this, but here is the order we recommend at Surgent CPA Review: Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR); Auditing and Attestation (AUD); Regulation (REG); and Business Environment and Concepts (BEC).

FAR is the most difficult section of the exam; it encompasses the most amount of material, it will take you the longest to study for and CPA candidates fail FAR at a higher rate than the other three sections. So, why do we recommend you start here? As you know, once you pass your first section of the CPA exam, you have an 18-month window to pass the other three sections. The last thing you want to do is have FAR looming over you while you’re acing other sections of the exam. Plus, if you happen to fail this section, scheduling a retake can really throw a monkey wrench into your plans. Simply put, get FAR out of the way first! Plus, there are certain concepts on this section that will help you prepare for the other three.

Next, move on to AUD. If you are a recent college graduate, most of the material on AUD, such as audits, reviews, compilations, and ethics, will all be fresh on your mind. Plus, coming out of FAR, you’re in good shape to study for this section. We hear a lot of professors and counselors advising recent graduates to start with AUD because of how much this section aligns with recent study, and that’s fine. We still recommend that you take AUD second so you can get FAR out of the way first.

REG deals with federal taxation of properties, individuals and entities, and law. Take that third because you really want to end with BEC. BEC is completely unique because it includes three written communications questions, which will account of a full 15% of your score for this section. Written communication tasks require candidates to give written responses to questions which may be in the form of a memo directed at a specific audience. You will be graded on your writing for this section and because you won’t need to review grammar and spelling for any other section, we strongly suggest saving BEC for last.

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Thank you to our partners at Surgent CPA Review for providing this month's Student eNews article.