Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Becker AUD Class Review

< < per my post on another71.com > >

I took the live class of Becker Audit in October 2009. I sat for the exam in November and passed with a 94. I had no working audit experience and it had been 8-ish years since I had my audit classes. One of the big questions I’ve seen people asking in the short time I’ve been reading is how to study and which review materials to use. I can’t speak towards the other materials, but thought I’d share my thoughts on the Audit portion of the Becker materials.

Overall the Becker Audit materials are a fair representation of the AUD test. There may have been 3-5 questions that I can say were not covered directly in my study materials and those could very well have been the pre-test questions. The simulations given in the Becker software gave a good mechanical feel to the types of simulations I saw in the exam. There are so many possible topics and/or ways the simulations can test I don’t know that it is possible to cover everything in the practice simulations. That being said, the Becker materials had about 2 simulations per class (5 class X 2 = 10 simulations) plus two simulations in each of the practice exams (total around 14 simulations). Given that Becker has been around for ages I am not sure why they couldn’t have an extra 10-25 simulations available. I did download an update that put one of the AICPA released simulations into the Becker software. The same thing applies to the written as the simulations. I would love to have just had questions and answers to read through. Reading through the good solid answers in the ones available was helpful, I just wanted more of them.

I questioned the style of the lectures after my first couple of classes. The lectures mostly revolve around the lecturer reading chunks out of the book and telling you to highlight and/or underline certain parts and other notes in the margin. At times I was busy highlighting or writing and missed parts of what was said. I would have preferred the book already have the arrows, notes, and highlights/underlines, but I understand having me (the students) do it is part of the learning process. I still think I got more out of the examples and explanations of things moreso than the mechanically highlighting, but each person learns differently.

There is a question people ask that I haven’t seen a good answer on is “how do I study?” People spend a lot of time telling people how much they studied, but I didn’t see many answers detailing the how. This was important to me as I never really had to study much in college to get good grades (I was lucky). So, how did I study using the Becker AUD? I read the material and answered the multiple choice questions prior to going to the class (shot for 70-80%)%). I then went to the class. The day after the class I would work all the multiple choice questions (including supplemental) (shot for 90% but often got 85-90%). I would also work the prior class’ multiple choice questions (here is where I was firmly in the low-90%s).

Maybe less confusing version:
Saturday: read the following Monday’s class material and work prior week’s simulations
Sunday: read the following Wednesday’s class material and work MC questions for upcoming Mon/Wed class
Monday: class
Tuesday: work Monday’s MC questions and previous Wednesday’s MC questions
Wednesday: class
Thursday work Wednesday’s MC questions and that week’s Monday MC questions
Friday: night off

Basically I was constantly doing the current class and previous class questions as I moved through the material. The weekend would do the prior week’s simulations and answer the upcoming week’s MC questions.

When doing the MC questions I might get the answer extremely quickly (especially after seeing the questions a ton). I didn’t stop with getting the right answer. Before I would look at the answer I would try to explain why the other answers were incorrect. This is important as the actual exam might ask a question on the specific content from a different angle or slightly different situation. By explaining why the incorrect answers are incorrect it allows you to think through things so when you see the same type, yet different facts it is just like what you studied.

This process basically means I went through the material twice; once before class and once in class. I went through the MC questions three times; once before class, once right after class, and once a couple of days after class. The simulations each got one pass through them. During my final review I went through each class’ MC questions in their entirety yet again as well as read through all the simulations. I then took 4 or 5 practice MC sets (100 questions each pulled from the homework MC questions weighted by content). I finally finished up with the two practice final exams. By time I took the exam I had seen every MC question 4 times plus whichever pulled into the weighted exams and every simulation at least twice.

I almost feel like I could have ignored the book. I didn’t memorize the standard audit report verbatim (as recommended). I actually only briefly skimmed the book during my final review. I didn’t learn all the mnemonics listed. I did pick out 4 or 5 of the ones I thought were most important (internal controls, modifying previously issued opinion, and a couple of others). Mnemonics are good, but when you have a dozen of them they start to run together and remembering which goes with which concept can get confusing.

Becker AUD Flashcards: I did purchase the flashcards. I figured if I was already spending $3,000 I probably shouldn’t be cheap on the last $200 for the flashcards. I found them to be both good and bad. There were some things that were split onto three flashcards that really was a single concept and could have been on one card. Some cards had minor points that was either extremely basic knowledge after listening to the lectures and not worthy of a flashcard. Ultimately I removed many of the cards and kept a core group of flashcards I thought were the most important or areas I felt weak in. I kept about a third of the cards in the set I carried with me to review and the other two-thirds went back in the box. The cards I used were great. If the other classes are of similar quality then they will be worth the $200. On a side note, I did find one incorrect card that had the same answer as the previous card on it. This was somewhat irrelevant since that material had changed due to a recent update anyhow. It was actually a good learning tool for me since I identified the incorrect answer and then thought out and looked up what the correct answer was.

Material that had changed or was being updated and possibly tested on was covered by handouts from the in-class facilitator. He covered the changes and how they might be tested. These updates were presented in the same format as the book. Some of my exam questions were covered by these updates. If you have updates be sure to read them and get the one or two points towards your 75. Do not ignore them.

All in I spent 89.5 hours studying for the AUD test including class time (tracked it on my blog). This time did not count minor 5-10 minute flashcard sessions I did occasionally during my lunch breaks at work (didn’t do as many of these as I would have liked, so really minor time investment overall). While taking the actual exam I felt that everything on the exam had been covered. Even the stuff I had issues with I knew and had seen the material.

I took the exam 12 days after the last class. Some people from the class told me I was crazy for taking it that soon, but I would have felt comfortable doing it a week after. I really did not spend much time studying the last 5-6 days before the exam. It was actually nice to do two classes worth of MC questions and be done for the evening instead of spending every waking moment after work studying. The last several days were actually very motivational as I would hop on, do the questions, and score in the 90s and still have 30-60 minutes of conscious spouse time.

On a rant note, half the challenge of the questions was figuring out what they were saying/asking. It was frustrating knowing what concept they were asking about and knowing that concept inside and out but trying to read through triple negatives in the questions and answers was annoying (which of the following does NOT include…..and then double negative in the answer choices).

I hope this write-up will help someone with the exam. The goal is to let people know that the Becker AUD material does adequately cover and give you practice relevant to the exam. I also included how I used the material to assist those trying to formulate their study plan.


  1. This was really helpful...After REG i am taking AUD and following your study strategy for that. Thanks a Lot.
    Quick Question, do you know of any updates for the REG Portion?

  2. I have not checked the Becker website yet. I've been reviewing since my AUD exam with the 2009 REG materials. I'll jump over to the 2010 materials in January when I start the class.

    AUD = do the MC questions until your eyes bled, then one more time through.

  3. I remember doing the MC on the first run. I thought those HW questions were pretty tricky. I couldn't really get 70%, it made me realize that I didn't memorize the material well so I spent extra time on the book rather than MC. What do you think?
    Also the explanations to the answers from the HW seemed pretty bad. Maybe it is because I didn't retain the material well?

  4. Retention may be the answer for you. I found the answer explanations tied into the book material well. Once reading why I got things wrong the answer reminded me of the lecture. 70% isn't bad though for a first pass through the questions. I found the material always seemed straight forward and logical. The questions then did evil things and twisted things in ways you can't imagine just to trick you. Overall I went through the book twice (once before class, once in class) and did the MC questions (including supplemental) probably 5 times in their entirety. The key on the MC questions is not only to get the right answer, but to understand why the wrong answers are incorrect to begin with. Also, after reading the question before looking at the answer, try to recall the relative concepts and nature/rules/exceptions before looking at the answer. That will tell you if you understand the underlying concepts.

    Let me know if I can explain further.

  5. Dale, did you just study for less than a month before taking AUD? I know you said 89.5 hours but if I count days instead of hours, you basically took the AUD exam less than a month after you started studying? And you felt like you have covered pretty much everything for you to get a whooping 94?! I don't/can't do that 30 hours a week, maybe 20 so I'm taking about 6 weeks. Should I shorten the weeks and lengthen the hours per day of study? Yes, my eyes bleed from reading even for 2 hours or the AUD material.

  6. I started around mid-October and finished in mid-November. I did almost no studying the last 4 days. I averaged only 20-25 hours a week for most of it. I like the shorter time vs longer time but less intense. Even on my compressed time I found myself getting fuzzy on the earlier classes by the end (especially true in FAR & REG that have more classes). If you can do a solid 20 hours a week you should be able to do AUD in less than 6 weeks, so if you plan on 6 weeks you should be good. Do progress tests in Becker as you go along to keep yourself fresh on the earlier material throughout your studying.

  7. Thanks, I really enjoyed your review. I am taking the auditing section of the exam on July 20, 2010.. I'm nervous to say the least! I have been studying, but I still don't think I am going to be prepared enough!! I find when I go to study that it all seems to be a jumbled mess in my mind. I will go to answer a question I know is 100% correct and get it wrong. Ugh. Sorry I'm venting, just stressed out right now. But again, thanks for your review... You give me hope!

  8. This exam can take the simplest thing and twist it in ways that make it hard. They could ask "Is the sky blue?" in such a way to make us doubt our own sanity. The exam excels in this. I could have studied for each section for 6 months and still not felt prepared. It is largely the nature of the beast though. If you can make it through the homework in Becker you should be relatively well prepared even if you don't feel like it.

  9. This is great, thanks for posting.


  10. Very interesting blog. Alot of blogs I see these days don't really provide anything that I'm interested in, but I'm most definately interested in this one. Just thought that I would post and let you know. stevenyson

  11. Thank you again for all the knowledge you distribute,Good post. I was very interested in the article, it's quite inspiring I should admit. I like visiting you site since I always come across interesting articles like this one.Great Job, I greatly appreciate that.Do Keep sharing! Regards, payroll Ottawa