Saturday, November 28, 2009

REG-2 Questions

139 days remaining
Mood – Good
Study Time – 1.5 hours (98.0 total - REG: 8.5 - AUD: 89.5)
Sections Taken/Passed:  AUD/none

I got through the questions for REG-2.  I got a bit over 80% on my first pass through.  I'm beginning to get a good feeling on what types of information I need to memorize in order to have a solid understanding of the questions.  I'm also beginning to have my head swim between the different items in the different categories.  I think the flash cards for the REG section will be more valuable in studying than they were for AUD.  I also went through the questions again for REG-1.  I got in the high 80s for those.

Friday, November 27, 2009

REG-2 Lecture

140 days remaining
Mood – Good
Study Time – 3 hours (96.5 total - REG: 7.0 - AUD: 89.5)
Sections Taken/Passed:  AUD/none

 I decided to get a jump start on the REG lecture for this week.  I got up around 8 this morning and had the lecture knocked out by noon.  So far it doesn't seem too bad.  I imagine the trick will be remembering all the tiny details, but there isn't anything that comes across as really odd while going through the lecture.  Tomorrow I'll do the questions (and probably the REG-1 questions again as well since there are so few questions relative to the AUD multiple choice).

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Light Day

145 days remaining
Mood – Good
Study Time – 1 hours (93.5 total - REG: 4.0 - AUD: 89.5)
Sections Taken/Passed:  AUD/none

There are not hundreds of questions to the REG classes.  I worked through the MC questions for REG-1 and got just over 80%.  I'll re-read through the parts I missed questions from this week sometime.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

REG Starts

146 days remaining
Mood – Good
Study Time – 3 hours (92.5 total - REG: 3.0 - AUD: 89.5)
Sections Taken/Passed:  AUD/none

It has been a nice relaxing week.  Work was nuts and annoying, but my time after was my time.  This morning I got up and went through the 1st of 7 lectures for REG.  I'll go through the questions and such tomorrow.  My plan is to do 1 lecture per week between now and the end of the year.  This will let me get through 6 or maybe 7 of the lectures before class begins. I'm hoping this will be enough of a lead to be comfortable taking the test in the small window between classes. 

Monday, November 16, 2009

AUD Test Taken

151 days remaining
Mood – Hmmm
Study Time – 0 hours (89.5 total - REG: 0.0 - AUD: 89.5)
Sections Taken/Passed:  AUD/none

I took the AUD section of the CPA exam today.  The test still sucks as it did 8 years ago.  The one benefit is the chair was more comfy and my wrist doesn't hurt from writing this time.  I got to the testing center an hour and a half early.  I was expecting it to take longer to get there than it took.  The good news is they had room in the testing center (wish the parking lot could say the same thing) so I got started over an hour before I was scheduled.  The exam and interface was just like the practice tests in the Becker software except that the mouse scroll wheel worked better in the actual test.  The testing center was decent.  The chair was comfy and it didn't take long from the time I walked in before I was into the exam.  The room was pretty full when I got seated but was empty by time I left (including people that showed up hours after me).  The room was freezing by time I left.

The exam itself was exhausting.  I took just over 4 hours to take it.  I had to really slow myself down during the multiple choice.  I forced myself to take much longer than I felt I needed to.  As it stands, I still finished the multiple choice questions in just over an hour and a half (1 minute per question).  I could have done the MC parts in half of that time.  I felt really good about the first testlet.  The second testlet was pretty tough (good sign).  I am pretty sure my second testlet was one of the hard ones.  The thrird testlet was tough, but not as bad as the second.  I'm pretty sure my third testlet was also the hard level.  The simulations ended up being pretty spiffy.  The first simulation I blew through the first parts.  I had trouble tracking down the research question, but I think I finally found it.  The written part on that one struck me as really odd, but I think I did well on it.  The second simulation had fewer items and had the type that was in the review that I knew the concepts but had trouble nailing down the specific answer.  All in I still think I did alright on it.  The research question here was less problematic, but I'm less confident in that answer than on Sim 1.  The written portion of Sim 2 struck me as typical yet kindof kicked my butt.  I finally got something 90% finished and then basically reworked it.  I think my final product was much, much better than my first go, but still weak.

So, did I pass?  I kept track of the multiple choice progression.  If I missed every single question I wasn't 100% positive about I'd miss 19 (79%).  Many of those that I wasn't 100% on I had a really good feeling about my answer (half of those).  Most of the rest I had down to 2 answers.  There were only a couple of questions where I didn't have it down to 2 answers.  I could have done as well as 94% or as bad as 79%.  I imagine I'll end up in the mid-80s like I did during my studies.  This gives me between 55 and 65 points on the multiple choice section on a raw numerical basis.  I'm pretty sure I nailed almost all of simulation 1 (90-95%).  Simulation 2 I got between 75-85%.  Using a low end overall of say 15 points out of the 20 for the simulations (not counting written).  That puts my low end around 70 and my high end at 80 before the written.  That means I might not need any points on the written to 50% of the 10 points.

Overall I think I passed.  If I didn't pass it is going to be close.  There isn't much I can do about it other than wait.  It will be a month to month and a half before I know anything for sure.  I am actually fairly non-freaked about the score thing.  I can't do anything to make it get here faster and I haven't begun to worry about it yet.  I don't feel the compulsive need to go crazy trying to refresh the online page yet (I might though).  My co-workers would probably kill me if I start obsessing over the scores anyways.  Even if I didn't pass I can't really schedule another go at the AUD section until after I get through the next three classes anyhow.

I've got the REG book and lectures in my bag and my AUD materials put up.  I think I'm going to try and work on the REG lectures on Saturday/Sundays.  Saturday morning I can watch the lecture and Sunday morning take a look at the questions.  This would be one lecture a week.  If I do that I'll do 6 of the 7 lectures before the class starts.  That means the actual classes will be a portion of my review and hopefully I can get the test in the small window between the REG class ending and the BEC class starting.

My next post probably will not be until Saturday.  For tonight though, I'm pooped.  Bed and much needed sleep awaits.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Day Before AUD

152 days remaining
Mood – Good
Study Time – 2.0 hours (89.5 total)
Sections Taken/Passed:  none/none

I didn't do much today besides skim through the book.  I looked at most of the highlighted material again as well as a couple of the areas I've missed questions in the simulations on.  I also created a two page sheet with several of the more important mnemonics.   I've put in a lot of time into my studying in areas I think will best help me pass this section.  I've done good on the practice tests and improved my written portions lately as well.  If the test follows the material in the class and/or practice tests I should be in good shape.

Friday, November 13, 2009

2nd Practice Exam Completed

154 days remaining
Mood – Good
Study Time – 3.5 hours (87.5 total)
Sections Taken/Passed:  none/none

I took the second  practice exam this morning.  I did better on this one than the first.  Using the same methodology I'm coming up with a 79.6 before any consideration of the written.  Again, that is calculated on a numerically correct basis that isn't what is actually used to grade (as far as I know).  Anyhow, this is encouraging and motivating.  I've got several areas that I am going to re-read in depth tomorrow and Sunday as final preparation.  Outside of that I think I'm about as ready as I'm going to be.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Practice Test 1 completed

155 days remaining
Mood – Good
Study Time – 3.0 hours (84.0 total)
Sections Taken/Passed:  none/none

I took the first practice exam tonight.  Unsurprisingly, I still do not like the written part.  That being said, I did really good on one and slightly better than piss poor on the other.  Even on my bad one I could have gotten a couple of points at least.  I did really well on the simulation with the piss poor written part (93% by number of items) and decent on the other (86% by number of items).  I scored 84% on the multiple choice.  It isn't as good as I would have liked, but not horrible.  I was hoping for a stronger showing on the MC really.  Based on 70% of the test from MC and 10 points per simulation I came up with a score of 76.7.  It isn't how the grade would be determined, but that is the best I have to work with.  Throw in 3 or 8 points on the written depending on which got graded and I'd end up around 80.  It is encouraging, but a little scary.

Practice Test #2 is on the agenda for tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

1st Progressive Test

156 days remaining
Mood – Good
Study Time – 2.0 hours (81.0 total)
Sections Taken/Passed:  none/none

I took a progressive test tonight.  In the Becker software, this gives you 100 questions (assuming all 5 classes are selected), weighted by subject content.  This means subject matter that covers 35% of the tested material based on the exam guidelines would have 35 of the 100 questions.  This should simulate a population of questions similar to what should be seen in the exam.  I got 98 out of the 100 questions.  This is very motivating and is locking in my confidence for this section.  I'm still weaker on the simulations and especially the writing parts, but if I can get 95% on the MC on the exam then I really only have to come up with 10-15 out of the 30 points on the simulations.  After the progress test I went through the supplemental questions for AUD-4 that I missed.  I got most of them right today.  How much of that is just knowing that I got them wrong yesterday and choosing a different answer vs understanding it I am not sure yet.  I plan on going through all the AUD-4 MC questions again this weekend.

Tomorrow and Friday I plan on taking the two simulated final exams (one each day).  Hopefully I'll do as good on those MC questions as I did tonight.  If I do, I'll be feeling really good about the exam.  I'm getting close to where throwing more study time isn't going to make much improvement.  Once I get the two final exams done and go through the AUD-4 material again I plan on mostly reviewing notes instead of just more mindless MC question repetition.  Reading the Simulation solutions and reading my notes (studying the mnemonics) will be the focus for my weekend studying.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Getting Closer

157 days remaining
Mood – Ok
Study Time – 3.0 hours (79.0 total)
Sections Taken/Passed:  none/none

I reviewed all the supplemental simulations today.  I also downloaded the additional AICPA released simulations that the Becker folks have converted into their software.  I am doing 85-90% on the content of those.  I would still mostly suck at the written part (I've got a mental block against the written part at this point I think).  I worked through the 137 supplemental questions  for AUD-4 today as well.  I got 84% correct.  I was split on my misses.  Half of them I had it down to one or two answers.  The other half I had a hard time figuring out what the question was asking or what the answers were saying.  It is sad when half the battle is just trying to figure out what they are saying. 

I suppose the CPA title wouldn't be as exclusive if they just asked questions in a clear, concise manner that tests knowledge rather the ability to translate intentionally crappy wording.  I am not being bitchy when I say this.  There is a distinct lack of consistency (hello GAAP principles!) in wording throughout the questions.  A specific example of this is in the use of the words Trace and Vouch.  This is  probably a function of different people writing the different questions, but there should be some sort of quality review process (internal control perhaps?) that should consider consistent use of terminology.  While I am on a soap box, there also seem to be many questions designed to test the differences between how thing use to be and how they are now.  I find these types of questions both pointless and relieving.  I find them pointless from the perspective of "I have no idea how things were done 3/5/7/10/more years ago" and putting questions in concerning specific wording (or how it has changed) is moot.  They would be good questions if you were testing people who already had their CPA and they needed to know the changes (CPE classes?).  I find them somewhat of a relief in that the answers to these questions tend to be easier than other questions.  I have four choices and three of them use wording or terms I've not seen in any example report.....duh!  I suppose this is a function of existing CPAs writing questions to test things they find interesting/compelling/important without regards to why they are asking it or who they are asking it of.

On another note, I managed to get a doctor's appointment in.  Unfortunately I don't have strep.  I looked at my doctor funny when he said that like he had gone crazy, but I understand his explanation.  If it was strep he would put me on antibiotics and I'd be good in 3-5 days.  Since it isn't strep, it could be the beginnings of something worse that will come up over the next week.  I suppose it would be just lovely to be coughing up a lung or drowning in snot while trying to take the CPA exam on Monday.  In any event, I've paid $250-ish already to take it, so it will be taken assuming I'm well enough to be conscious long enough to get into the test.

Monday, November 9, 2009

AUD-4 Within My Grasp

158 days remaining
Mood – Good
Study Time – 2.0 hours (76.0 total)
Sections Taken/Passed:  none/none

I didn't get a lot of time in tonight due to family stuffs (tm).  The time I did get in served as a good moral boost though.  I reworked the main multiple choice questions again for AUD-4.  I got 94%, which is a good, strong improvement over where I've been.  I am feeling much more confident in the questions.  I made improvements in every sub-section except the one I previously got 100% in (still got 100%).

Tomorrow I'll tackle the supplemental questions to see how I do there.  I'll also hopefully have time to take my first crack at a fully simulated MC test (gives 100 questions by content weight).  That leaves Wednesday for covering the supplemental simulations, Thursday/Friday for the simulated exams, and Saturday/Sunday for a final pass through the course material and reading of any other AICPA released material. 

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Murphy's Law

159 days remaining
Mood – Good
Study Time – 4.5 hours (74.0 total)
Sections Taken/Passed:  none/none

I spent today reviewing AUD-2 and 3.  I did all the MC questions for both sections.  I got 95% on AUD-2 and 99% on AUD-3 (missed 2 out of was a RTCDQ issue).  I then did the simulations.  I missed one minor item on each simulation.  I did better on the written parts on both, but still lacking in overall performance here.  I also went through my flashcards.

On another note, I might be getting sick.  My throat is scratchy and hurts a bit.  This would of course happen this week rather than after the exam.  The possible good news is if I am getting sick, hopefully I can be over it by next weekend (before test).

Tomorrow's plan is to do AUD-5's MC questions and simulation.  That shouldn't take up all my evening, so after that I'll look at a couple of the supplemental simulations.  That leaves me a couple of days to do AUD-4 and then 4 days to do the 2 practice exams and other simulated MC question sets.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Doing Better

160 days remaining
Mood – Ok
Study Time – 3.0 hours (69.5 total)
Sections Taken/Passed:  none/none

 I got a good chunk of stuff done today in the three hours I worked.  I did the simulations for AUD-4 & 5 and did well on most of it (85% or so) aside from the written part (seems usual for me).  I then did all the MC questions and simulation for AUD-1.  I got 97% on the MC and missed 2 bits on the simulation.  I did better on the written part, but not as good as I need to.

I feel a bit unfocused on how to proceed at this point.  I've got a ton of material to cover and am weak in two areas (AUD-4 and written parts).  I've got a week and a day left to bring it all together.  I think I can do it, but I've got to be more focused than I was able to be today.

Friday, November 6, 2009

10 Days Until AUD Test

161 days remaining
Mood – Ok
Study Time – 7.0 hours (66.5 total)
Sections Taken/Passed:  none/none

I took the day off from work today to relax and study.  Well, I got one of the two goals done.  I put in eight hours today with small interruptions for laundry, a couple of phone calls, and to eat a sandwich.  I re-watched the AUD-4 lecture and did the main MC questions again.  I improved my score from 73% to 85%.  That is a good jump, but still not where I need to be.  I am still struggling with many questions.  There are many questions though where I am down to two choices, which is much better than my first pass through them.   There were several questions that after I answered them wrong I couldn't believe I selected the answer I did over the correct choice.  Hopefully the next pass through the questions will push me up into the 90% mark. 

Tomorrow I'll do the simulations for the AUD-4 & 5 class and go through the questions for AUD-4 again.  I'm trying to hold off on the supplemental questions to AUD-4 until I can hit the 90% mark in the regular questions.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Light Night

162 days remaining
Mood – Good
Study Time – 2.0 hours (59.5 total)
Sections Taken/Passed:  none/none

I didn't do a lot of studying tonight (only 2 hours).  I went through the AUD-5 class MC questions.  I did pretty well (88%).  I was 3 questions short of of 90% and had 5 RTCDQ misses.  A couple of the questions I missed were related to changes in the material.  There were 30 pages of the book material that has changed.  There are several questions that are effected by the change, so keeping track of which set of material I'm working off of is a tad confusing.  Anyhow, I should be up over the 90% mark on my next pass through them.

I've taken the day off work tomorrow.  Work has been crazy and the AUD class on top of that has been rough.  I do plan on going through the AUD-4 lecture again tomorrow and then doing the questions again.  I'm hoping another pass through the material will help a great deal.  If not I'll have to come up with another plan.

I'm also working on some of the testing on my computer.  So far I'm not getting the results I was actually hoping for.  I've swapped the memory out and so far it hasn't frozen again.  This is pointing towards a motherboard problem, which is worse than the memory problem I was hoping for.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

AUD Class Completed

163 days remaining
Mood – Tired
Study Time – 4.0 hours (57.5 total)
Sections Taken/Passed:  none/none

I finished the final in class lecture tonight.  I did good on the in class questions tonight, so I feel good about the 5th class material.  I'll find out tomorrow when I rework those questions.  The hard part of self-study now begins.  I've got 11 days to get ready for the my first go at the AUD test.  For now, I am pretty pooped and ready for a shower and good nights sleep.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Thunder Rolls

164 days remaining
Mood – upset
Study Time – 3.5 hours (53.5 total)
Sections Taken/Passed:  none/none

I only put in 3.5 hours, although I was really only 10 minutes from hitting the 4 hour mark.  Today's studying did not go as planned.  I did the AUD-4 (Monday's class) MC questions (but not the 137 supplemental ones) and only got 73%.  This is around or a little lower than I've done on questions prior to watching the lecture, although it is in-line with my other first pass through the questions.  The down side, I didn't have a clue on many of the questions.  These questions are more application of principles rather than more direct questions that have been given so far.  I didn't feel that I missed anything in the lecture, although there were many ratio questions that the lecture did not cover.  I will probably need to re-read and re-watch this lecture. 

I actually felt better about the AUD-5 questions, even if I did score slightly lower on them (70%).  Many of the questions in this section that I got wrong I had eliminated 2 of the 3 incorrect answers (was down to 2 choices).  I'm sure after the lecture and another pass through the questions I'll be doing good on this section.

No one likes to do what makes them feel stupid.  AUD-4 made me feel pretty dumb.  I can't just ignore it though.  I'll have to find some spare motivation lying around and push through it.  This has probably been my most demoralizing study session so far.  It was pretty sad that answering the questions for the material I haven't covered left me with a better feeling than the stuff I should have done better on.  This is really only my second "bad" day in the process, so I suppose it could be a lot worse.  It doesn't make it any easier to deal with though.

I'm trying to come up with my study plan for after the last AUD class.  I have 11 days to study after the last class assuming I take no study days off.  Half of one of those days has to be the simulations for AUD-4 & 5.  It will take another day and a half to do the AUD-4 & 5 questions again.  2 days have to be the practice tests.  I really need to re-watch the AUD-3 & 4 lectures and re-read the material.  So, that is 2 days to finish off homework for AUD-4 & 5, 3 days to re-read/watch AUD-3 & 4, and 2 days to do the practice exams.  That is 7 of my 11 days, leaving 4 days to cover the other stuff (and assuming I pick up the deficiencies in my AUD-3 & 4 material).  It is doable, but the lack of class isn't going to make it any less hard.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Four Down, One to Go

165 days remaining
Mood –head swimming

Study Time – 4.0 hours (50.0 total)
Sections Taken/Passed:  none/none

I made it through the 4th class tonight.  Like the last class, I missed several of the in-class questions.  This section is like the AUD-3 class in that I'm just going to have to get through the questions several times before I begin to feel comfortable with it.  This is the first class where I didn't get through the questions once before class.  I really don't like it, but the computer issues this past weekend took up too much time.  The material was pretty detailed and counts towards a good chunk of the overall AUD test.  We'll see how I do tomorrow on my first pass through the questions.  If I were a betting man, I'd say 75%-80%, but I'm hoping to do better.

On the computer side of things, my machine has been running for almost 29 hours now without locking up or freezing.  I need to do some trial and error to pin down if it is a memory issue or an issue with a memory slot on the motherboard.  I could do this tomorrow, but it would distract from my studying.  I am hoping to get some more computer-fix time in on Friday, but I've got it stable enough now to make it through to my AUD test.

On a next class note, I got a copy of the REG book and the first 3 lecture discs for that section.  I'm hoping to start working through that material in December to get a head start on the January class.  I really need to be pretty far ahead in that class if I have any chance at taking the REG section in the seven day window between the last REG class (Jan 27) and the first BEC class (Feb 3).

I got more information from others taking the class.  They are saying if I've got the AUD stuff down that the BEC class should be much easier.  This makes me feel good.  I've basically got 2 sections I feel good about and 2 I think I'll have to worry about. 

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Some Witty Title Here

165 days remaining
Mood – Annoyed
Study Time – 4.0 hours (46.0 total)
Sections Taken/Passed:  none/none

I read through the materials for the final AUD class (AUD-5) this morning.  It is pretty long, so it took a while.  I am still fighting with my computer, so I didn't do all the AUD-3 and AUD-4 questions like I had hoped to.  Actually, the amount of time it took to read AUD-5 would have stopped me from doing both anyhow (sounds like an excuse to me though).  Anyhow, I took the weighted practice test covering AUD 1-3.  This populates a 59 question test with a timer.  I was on number 52 when my computer froze (I screamed).  I know I had all the answers with the possible exceptions of one correct.  I restarted and started the test again (different set of questions this time).  I got 59 out of 59 for 100% on those.  I've got the MC questions down really well at this point.  Hopefully I'll find some time tomorrow to get through most of the AUD-4 questions before class.

I'm getting a bit excited and nervous now that the first exam is actually coming up.  I've got the MC questions down really well so far and I have no doubt with a couple of times through the AUD-4 and AUD-5 questions I'll be in good shape for those.  I'm pretty comfortable with the simulations so far as well EXCEPT FOR the written part.  I've got to come up with some way of "studying" for that part.  I'm not sure how yet, but I've got a week to figure it out.

On the computer front, I think I've finally made some progress on identifying the source of the problem.  For those that are of a computer mind, I've basically eliminated software, cooling, hard drive, and power supply from the list of possible issues.  I ran a memory test for 4.5-5 hours today after I studies and it came back clean.  However, I removed one of my two sticks of memory and I haven't had any issues since.  This either means the memory is bad or the slot on the motherboard is bad.  The memory is an easy fix, although I can actually survive without it for now anyhow.  The motherboard is a bigger issue, but if it is just the one memory slot that is bad I can work fine with the other 3.

I'm still not sure how I'll make it through my January to April stretch.  The last three weeks have been a killer.  If this were January I'd barely be halfway through the classes.

And on a final blog-ish note, I got another comment.  The fact that anyone besides me is reading this is pretty spiffy.  The comment asked if Texas required you to take all 4 sections in 90 days.  The thought of that is just ucky.  Thankfully, we have 18 months, which is somewhat standard.  I believe several/many states actually give 24 months.  Personally, if I have gotten it done in the 18 month window I doubt the extra 6 months would really make a big difference to me.  By that point I'll already be in the crazy house.