Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Becker Classes Completed

14 days remaining (adjusted to final test date - saved 9 days over October 2009 estimate)
Mood - Tired
Study Time – 4.0 hours (366.0 total - FAR: 86.0 - BEC: 74.5 - REG: 118.0 - AUD: 89.5)
Scores:  AUD-94, REG-97, BEC-93

 I have now completed all the Becker classes for all sections.  Tomorrow I'll do the homework questions.  Friday I may still take off per the normal schedule, but may go on and start my overall review.  It feels good to be so close to finishing up finally.  It is depressing to think of all the crap I've got to get done in the next two weeks though.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Not a Bad Showing

15 days remaining (adjusted to final test date - saved 9 days over October 2009 estimate)
Mood - Tired
Study Time – 4.0 hours (362.0 total - FAR: 82.0 - BEC: 74.5 - REG: 118.0 - AUD: 89.5)
Scores:  AUD-94, REG-97, BEC-93

Well, I made it through the FAR-8 questions.  I felt great about the material and did ok on the questions.  I scored 81% on the questions and 80% on the supplementals (yes, I got through all 123 of the darn things).  The supplemental questions were very painful and annoying.  They were very calculation-intensive and I don't expect I'd see many questions like that on the actual exam (thankfully).  Overall I am happy with the results.  If it had been any other section I would have expected 7-10% more.  I think I gave away about 4-5% in stupid RTCDQ issues.  

I feel guilty about this "good enough to pass" mentality I seem to be developing.  On one hand it is an excuse for why I'm not doing as well as I have in other sections.  On the other hand, this section is painfully long and has a ton of material.  I would tend towards the excuse explanation, but I've actually managed to stay pretty dedicated to this hellish test over the past 5.5 months so far (gah, I hate the word far).  If I had to take the test tomorrow I think I'd be in the mid-60's.  That isn't a horrible place to be with two weeks to go.  I've probably got another 40-50 hours of study time to go for this section.  After Thursday's pass through the FAR-9 questions I'll be on my own to pull the whole thing together.  All the "I'll nail that part down later" items are getting ready to hit me with the "its time to actually learn this part" side of the coin.  Can I just leave my body for the next two weeks and come back when it is all over?


I am committed now.  The good news is that I even get to shave 9 days off my schedule.  The bad news is I only have 15 days including today to prepare.  I will be taking my hopefully last section of FAR on April 14th.  I am scheduled for noon, but I'll show up and hopefully get started around 10 am like I have on my other sections.  I wanted April 15th, but they only had an 8 am time slot and I hate mornings, let alone trying to fight traffic from north Austin to south Austin.  The next available non-8am time slot wasn't until the 21st.  My time is locked in and I've got a ton to do between now and then.

Monday, March 29, 2010

FAR-8 Fun with Fund Accounting

24 days remaining
Mood - Tired
Study Time – 4.0 hours (358.0 total - FAR: 78.0 - BEC: 74.5 - REG: 118.0 - AUD: 89.5)
Scores:  AUD-94, REG-97, BEC-93

I made it through the first chunk of the governmental accounting section.  There is still the consolidation part to go over in the last FAR class on Wednesday.  Overall it wasn't bad at all.  Hopefully I can pick us some easy points on the exam for this topic.  Undoubtedly  I'll be humbled in my questions tomorrow, but for tonight I've got it down!

I think I am going to try and schedule my test for April 15th as I planned.  I've been putting it off, but I think having the set date will help me focus.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Phantom > Study Time

25 days remaining
Mood - Relaxing Weekend
Study Time – 2.0 hours (354.0 total - FAR: 74.0 - BEC: 74.5 - REG: 118.0 - AUD: 89.5)
Scores:  AUD-94, REG-97, BEC-93

I read through the FAR-9 materials today.  I didn't get a good study day in.  My wife bought tickets to see a live version of Phantom of the Opera.  It was much better than studying....although I've still got to get the study time in more sooner than later.  Tomorrow is the last week of the FAR classes.  After that a couple of focused weeks and I'll hopefully be done.

It Looks Like English....but its not...

26 days remaining
Mood - Let Down
Study Time – 2.0 hours (352.0 total - FAR: 72.0 - BEC: 74.5 - REG: 118.0 - AUD: 89.5)
Scores:  AUD-94, REG-97, BEC-93

I was lost today.  I got up and read through the FAR-8 material.  It didn't seem as bad as I thought.  I then got distracted by friends and went off to see a movie.  I came back and read about a third of FAR-9 when I realized I really didn't have a clue what any of it said.  I tried to start over but was beat on it for the day.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Was Going Good Until the End

27 days remaining
Mood - Let Down
Study Time – 3.0 hours (352.0 total - FAR: 70.0 - BEC: 74.5 - REG: 118.0 - AUD: 89.5)
Scores:  AUD-94, REG-97, BEC-93

I almost had it.  I was doing good (85%-ish) until I got to the cash flows where I only got 71%, dragging my overall for FAR-7 down to 79%.  Outside the cash flow section, most of my misses were minor RTCDQ issues or minor misses that I'll be good on next time.  Overall I don't feel bad, but I am a bit disappointed that I was doing well and then had to end on the downer.

Now that I'm done studying I can get started on the refinance paperwork I need to get done.  It is just a 'tiny' stack of stuff.  That can then be followed by digging through a ton of folders looking for our W-2s for the last two years (I'm not as organized with that stuff as I should be).

Becker BEC Class Review

I took the live class of Becker BEC in February 2010.  I sat for that section of the exam at the end of February and passed with a 93.  I put in a total of 75 hours of study time into the section.  This post will be my review and experiences with the Becker program for this section of the CPA exam. 
Just as a reminder for those that haven’t followed any of my other posts, I have been out of college since 2001 and haven’t seen any of the materials covered on the exam in 10 years.  I worked a normal 40-45 hour week while taking the live classes and studying.  I took off one day of work to study during this class (and one day to actually take the test).

Overall the Becker materials were a good representation of what I saw on my actual exam.  This section was a bit odd compared to the AUD and REG sections that I have already taken.  My initial thoughts on this section were that it would be easier than AUD or REG as well as being short.  Once I got into the material I found that I struggled with it more than I had with the other sections.  Going into the test I was nervous (vs feeling good going in for AUD and REG) and felt great coming out of the exam (vs very nervous coming out of AUD and REG).  I can explain the good feeling coming out of the exam as BEC is not adaptive; hence it did not get more difficult the better I was doing.  My nervousness going in was due to my letting the exam mentally beat me before even taking it.

BEC is different from the other sections of the CPA exam in many ways.  The exam itself is different in that it does not get harder or easier depending on how well you are doing on it.  Through the end of 2010 it also is the only section comprised solely of multiple choice questions.   There are a variety of topics covered in the five classes that do not really relate to each other or build on each other.  It is like a completely different course each week.

BEC-1:  The first class covers entities (sole proprietorships, corps, s corp, partnerships, LP, LLP, and LLC).  This section was pretty easy.  I had never known the differences between the L** entities, so that was all new to me.  Much of the other stuff was still fresh in my mind from the materials in REG.  This section helped fuel my “this section is going to be cake” mentality.  I scored 95% on the multiple choice questions my first pass through them.  Listening to the lecture once was plenty to grasp everything I needed to know for this section.  I listened to the lecture, did the multiple choice questions once, and reviewed the great summary table for 3 minutes.  If you are planning out your study time for BEC, this section shouldn’t require nearly the time commitment the other sections will require.

BEC-2:  The second class covers basic economics.  I try and read the materials before class.  Reading this section put me to sleep (literally…..I had to stop reading the book on the couch and move to the kitchen table).  The wording also didn’t click with me for some reason.  The good news is the lecturer really brings it together so that it made a ton of sense easily.  I would go as far to say to not read this section until after listening to the lecture.  The lecturer for this section was not one of the two usual guys.  He was not as humorous as Tim or Peter, but he got the job done, which is really the important part.  This lecture covers material only worth 10% of the BEC section and several people I know ignored it more or less.  It is worth the time to go through it in detail though since the homework and supplemental questions manage to find a way to twist simple concepts into questions that make baby Jesus weep.  Once you feel comfortable with the questions though the material isn’t overly difficult to grasp or get.

BEC-3:  The middle class covers financial management.  I was really hoping for an easy pass on this section since it is close to what I do in my day job.  The material covered here comes mostly from the basic finance class with a few items from later finance classes thrown in to keep you on your toes.  I felt great coming out of the lectures.  Then the brick wall that was the multiple choice questions humbled me greatly.  I felt like the village idiot after I got through the questions on this section.  Ultimately, I re-watched this lecture one topic at a time stopping after each lecture topic and re-worked the multiple choice questions.  This topic by topic approach took me 10-11 hours to get through (on a Friday I took off from work expecting to relax on).  This was probably the best 10-11 hours of study time I had in BEC.  The topic by topic approach really helped me understand the material and piece together my shattered ego.  Even after the day of hell I spent on this topic, much of my study time was spent reviewing this class.  There are various ratios and such between this section (and some in BEC-5?).  They are worth knowing.  Don’t kill yourself trying to know them, but they are worth a couple of points on the exam, so don’t blow them off.

BEC-4:  The fourth section is the dreaded IT section.  I’m a computer geek.  I love computers and am a techy.  I was expecting this section to be a joke.  I was going to go to the lecture and listen and then blow through the questions once.  I was humbled a little, but it wasn’t as bad as people thought.  The main thing to focus on this section is the separation of duties between the various computer job titles.  This is less techy in nature and more old fashion memorization.  Being a computer person definitely gave me an edge in this section, but everything in this section can be memorized by a non-techy without too much effort.  If you can memorize the terminology of BEC-1 you can get through this one the same way.  This section is known for having really random and detailed questions being thrown at you in the actual exam.  I saw two really random, out of left field types of questions on my actual exam.  There is no way that any material is going to be able to prepare you for those things without completely overwhelming you.  Learn what is presented in the chapter and it will be enough to get you through this section.  I did read the 40-ish page addendum provided.  I found a few tidbits interesting as a computer nerd, but by and large it was boring and more detailed than anyone would ever want/need to know.  I am a fan of Linux but I really could care less what programming language was used to program and compile it.  Know the basics of what a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, & 4th generation programming language features are but keep it simple overall.  All but two of my IT related questions were basic concepts covered in the Becker material.  Of the two questions that were not, one was logically deductible; the other was just so random to even worry about it.

BEC-5:  The last class covers cost accounting.  This section floored me as well.  I spent a great deal of time on my own in this section.  Like BEC-3 I ended up re-watching these lectures topic by topic.  The overhead variance stuff I watched more times that I would care to admit to.  There is a ton of material covered and it can be calculation intensive.  The homework for this section is brutal.  I thought the wall that hit me in BEC-3 was bad…..nooooooo.  The BEC-5 homework made BEC-3 look like reciting your ABCs.  I was especially amused by the answer explanation that looked like the chalk-board drawings of a football play.  Do not fear though.  The homework questions were much, much harder than what I ultimately saw on the exam.  This section had me in a panic prior to my test.  The actual was not as insane.  A slightly side note, the video lecture sortof skips over their S-A-D and PURE mnemonic.  I didn’t fully get what they were doing with it until I drew it on the whiteboard.  Nailing this bit down saved me tons of time on the actual exam.  My regret is that I didn’t nail this down until almost the end of my studying.  I could have saved lots of study time getting this down earlier.

Overall this section spun me around and I ended up using it differently than I had on the previous classes.  After BEC-2 I did not read the book materials prior to going to the live class to watch the lectures.  This explains my lower overall study time for this section compared to AUD. 

Again let me say that the Becker class prepared me well for this section.  The homework questions in the Becker software were much harder than what I ultimately saw on the exam.  If you can survive (and it is a fight at times) the homework questions the actual exam should be no problem.  That does not mean you shouldn’t work hard at getting through the homework with good percentages though.  Struggling through the homework questions will pound into your brain how to do the problems.

This section was the first section that I was worried about the time limit.  This exam has a 2.5 hour time limit in which to get through 90 questions (1.67 minutes per problem).  In the homework I was averaging a bit over 2 minutes the day before my exam.  This really worried me and I was committed to spending no more than 50 minutes on any one testlet.  When I got going on the actual exam I was churning through it at a pace that was not going to leave me any time problems at all.  I was able to go back and really think through the couple of questions I wasn’t sure on.  I moved onto my last testlet with about an hour to go and finished it in under 25 minutes.  I felt almost guilty how easy that last testlet was to me so I reviewed every question and still finished up with time to spare.  Again, the homework was a ton harder for calculation type of problems compared to what I saw on the actual exam.

The keys to this section is know where to put your study time.  You need to spend time going through all of the material, but don’t waste time in areas that are simpler.  Don’t skimp on study time for BEC-3 and BEC-5.  They are complicated in places and you just have to spend the time working through it over and over until you just get it.

DO NOT SKIP THE HOMEWORK READINGS in the Becker materials.  Just about every homework reading was worth at least one question on the exam.  They may not have time to cover it in the video lecture, but don’t skip it.  Read it through once and have a basic understanding of it.  If you pass with a 90+ it may not make a difference.  It could make a difference between a 72-73 and a 75+.

I did not even look at the flashcards for this section so I have no basis to comment on them.  As per my usual, I prefer a blue pen for taking notes in the book as it stands out better against the black type.  I still love the Becker highlighters, I just wish their comfy pens were blue as my finger cramps up after a couple of hours of writing with my cheap 15 cent pen.

This section is different from the others.  Don’t get over-confident and try to blow it off.  Don’t become the puddle of mush that my nerves were over BEC-3 & BEC-5.  They take a chunk of time and patience to get through, but if you do it will give you the ability you need to pass this section.  I spent over half of my total study time on those two sections (and most of that was just on BEC-5).  Get a white board and work through the variance problems until you understand it.  Note I didn’t say until you get the right answer… it repeatedly until you UNDERSTAND it.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

FAR-7 Class

28 days remaining
Mood - Decent but Tired
Study Time – 4.0 hours (349.0 total - FAR: 67.0 - BEC: 74.5 - REG: 118.0 - AUD: 89.5)
Scores:  AUD-94, REG-97, BEC-93,

I'm sorry for the slow responses to emails and comments the last couple of days.  I usually have access to my email and such during the day but I haven't this week.  I feel naked when I don't have access to my email now days.  Email sure can pile up on you if you aren't watching it.

Tonight's class went better than my initial reading.  Some of the cash flows stuff is still a bit odd, but I recall it being that way even back in college.  I've had too many experiences now to say I expect to do well on the questions tomorrow.  Instead I'll just leave it with "we'll see how I do on them tomorrow."  

It is hard to believe, but I am down to only two more classes to go.  I've got a week of classes and then a couple of weeks of self-study/review and I could be done with this.  I might be able to go back to my nice, quiet, boring life soon.

I realized today I haven't done my Review Post on the Becker BEC course.  I'll try and get that done tomorrow, although I don't plan on it being as full as my AUD or REG (skipping the basic stuff that I put in both of the others).  

I answered several comments that have been left over the past couple of days.  If you left a comment, I responded in the comments under yours.  I also answered a couple of nice emails from various folks.  I got a bit long-winded on some of the answers, but the questions relating to "how much do I need to study" has many parts to it.  I don't know if I got the question answered, but hopefully I got it far enough.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


29 days remaining
Mood - Frustrated
Study Time – 5.0 hours (345.0 total - FAR: 63.0 - BEC: 74.5 - REG: 118.0 - AUD: 89.5)
Scores:  AUD-94, REG-97, BEC-93

The good news is that I got through all the FAR-6 questions, including supplementals.  I ended up with 83% overall and surprisingly that broke out as 83% on the regular questions and 83% on the supplementals.  I feel a ton better about pensions than I did at first.  I feel much worse on deferred taxes though.  Sadly, the supplemental questions did not have any deferred tax questions.

The bad news is I took the day off work expecting to knock out FAR-5 this morning and then get to do some overall review this afternoon.  I ended up not getting much done this morning due to 'Real Life' kicking in and it was a frustrating 5 hours this afternoon getting through FAR-5.  I suppose the good part of that means at least I'm not falling further behind.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Pensions & Deferred Taxes

30 days remaining
Mood - Sleepy
Study Time – 4.0 hours (340.0 total - FAR: 58.0 - BEC: 74.5 - REG: 118.0 - AUD: 89.5)
Scores:  AUD-94, REG-97, BEC-93

The class went better than my reading of the material on Sunday went.  I still think I am going to struggle on the questions, but we'll find out soon in any event.  I did well on the in-class questions at least.  Three classes left to go then a couple of weeks of study time and I can hopefully lay this insane test to rest.

The people in my Becker live class had a better ratio of passed to not passed compared to what they were for REG.  I feel bad for those that didn't pass since they are going to be redoing all the painful studying again.

I've taken the day off work tomorrow.  I need to spend a good chunk of the day studying.  Hopefully I won't sleep half the morning away.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

It Looks Like English....Is It?

31 days remaining (aka 25 days)
Mood - Head Swimming
Study Time – 4.0 hours (336.0 total - FAR: 54.0 - BEC: 74.5 - REG: 118.0 - AUD: 89.5)
Scores:  AUD-94, REG-97, BEC-93

The FAR-6 & FAR-7 reading was much more like FAR-2 & FAR-3.  At points I couldn't tell what I was reading, even after a 2nd or 3rd time through it.  These sections will probably require a ton of post-classes review.  My two weeks after classes end are going to be more intense than the in-class time I think.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

FAR-5 Questions

32 days remaining (aka 26 days)
Mood - Bleh
Study Time – 4.0 hours (332.0 total - FAR: 50.0 - BEC: 74.5 - REG: 118.0 - AUD: 89.5)
Scores:  AUD-94, REG-97, BEC-93

I finally got through all the FAR-5 questions today.  I ended up at 79%.  However, I lost almost 10% to some very basic RTCDQ issues.  I got excited that I knew what I was doing and then miss something stupid at the end.  Most of these were not calculating for half a year.  In other instances it was calculating on 6 months instead of 7.  I'm not as high as I'd like to be, but if I as I feel more confident in knowing how to solve the problems, the tiny missed details that caused me problems will be reduced further.

Friday, March 19, 2010

BEC Score Released

33 days remaining (aka 27 days)
Mood - Woot!
Study Time – 0.0 hours (328.0 total - FAR: 46.0 - BEC: 74.5 - REG: 118.0 - AUD: 89.5)
Scores:  AUD-94, REG-97, BEC-93

I passed BEC with a 93.  It was my lowest score so far and I am still happy as a pig in mud. This means I've got 3 of the 4 sections behind me now.  I've still got a lot of work ahead of me, but it is almost over now.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Just Can't Do It Tonight

I am going to be bad for the first time in my CPA exam studying schedule.  After spending half an hour at my computer tonight trying to get started I just can't bring myself to do it tonight.  I am pooped from work and studying.  I'm excited about the BEC score release (hopefully tomorrow morning).  I also plan on taking a day (or two) off work to study in the near future.  I need a couple of days to just recharge. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

FAR-5 Class and the Vigil for BEC Scores

35 days remaining (aka 29 days)
Mood - Good
Study Time – 4.0 hours (328.0 total - FAR: 46.0 - BEC: 74.5 - REG: 118.0 - AUD: 89.5)
Scores:  AUD-94, REG-97, BEC-??

FAR-5 lecture was tonight.  It went better than my reading on my own went for it.  I bet the questions challenge me tomorrow though.  I am not expecting to do as well as I did on the FAR-4 questions, but should do better than I did on last week's class' questions.  The lecture tonight was long and they skipped most of the examples in the material they covered in the last half hour.  

I have not made the time to go and do a progress test yet for FAR.  I can only imagine how much of FAR-1 I've forgotten.  FAR-2 & FAR-3 I was already scoring bad on and will have to re-watch those lectures probably, so they don't worry me as much.  I may just have to get through all the lectures and then do a more in-depth review than I've had to do for the other sections.

BEC scores were released to NASBA and the state boards late this afternoon.  Hopefully Texas will process them tomorrow and I'll have a score bright and early Friday morning.  Of course that won't stop me from obsessively checking 3 times tomorrow even though I know they only update the one time around 3am in Texas.

Good luck to all those going crazy waiting for score releases over the next several days through next week.  May your sleep be restful and your scores 75 or higher!

I was actually a bit surprised.  I hadn't gotten an email or question in comments in a week.  I typically answer any questions left in the comments in the comments section (ie yesterday's comment question).  I can usually give better answers in email (link on right navigation area of blog) depending on the question.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

FAR-4 Questions

36 days remaining (aka 30 days)
Mood - Good
Study Time – 2.5 hours (324.0 total - FAR: 42.0 - BEC: 74.5 - REG: 118.0 - AUD: 89.5)
Scores:  AUD-94, REG-97, BEC-??

I did good on the questions tonight (87%).  Many of my misses were RTCDQ issues where I just missed a minor fact in the question or answer.  I understood the concepts being asked.  Even the longer calculations like perpetual LIFO didn't take long.  The questions didn't hit on the retail costing items from the book, so I'll need to look at those as I thought those would give me trouble.  The only topic I didn't really get was the Dollar-Value LIFO.  I read that material on Sunday, but was fairly confused.  If I had read it prior to doing the homework tonight I would have done better.  Having worked through the 5 questions or so on it, I feel a lot better about it now.  The important thing here is that I feel like I'm back in the groove and not falling further behind.  I'll still need to go back and hit FAR-2 & FAR-3, but I feel good on FAR-4 at least.

BEC scores are expected to be released to NASBA and the state boards tomorrow, so I'm hopeful for a Friday score release (maybe Thursday if they release early tomorrow and I'm lucky).

Test Confirmation

It finally showed up on the Texas State Board website:

On 3/15/2010 the Board received notification that you tested on 2/26/2010 in Austin.

Now for scores this week I hope.

Monday, March 15, 2010

FAR-4 Lecture

37 days remaining
Mood - Better than this weekend at least
Study Time – 4.0 hours (321.5 total - FAR: 39.5 - BEC: 74.5 - REG: 118.0 - AUD: 89.5)
Scores:  AUD-94, REG-97, BEC-??

Class went well tonight.  I did fine on all the in-class questions except for the one where I apparently did not RTCDQ.  I'm hopeful that tomorrow's studying will not be as painful as last week's.  This would be good news as it would be one more class I don't have to stress over.
Still no word on the test confirmation.  Also, scores should be released sometime this week and BEC is typically the first section released.  There was alot of hope that it would be today, but that time has come and passed.  Maybe tomorrow the scores will get released to the state with a Thursday posting by Texas.

I need to look at my day count down.  If I take the test on April the 15th that is only 31 more days, not the 37 from my count down.  For consistency I'm keeping the count down as it stands now, especially since I might bump my test out a bit further.

On a side note, Wow!  56 votes on the poll?  I didn't think that many people stumbled across my blog, let alone bothered to look at it.  Not surprising is the heavy Becker votes.  I imagine most stumble across my blog via a search involving Becker. 

If I Were a Test Confirmation Where Would I Be?

If I were a test confirmation where would I be?  I'm not sure where they are, but I know where they are not.  Actually, the Texas State Board did tell me there was an issue with Prometric and NASBA, but that they did get a bunch of test confirmations in that should post around mid-week.  Hopefully this won't have any impact on score releases, which could start as early as Thursday or Friday (well, NASBA could release to the states starting Wednesday, with scores flowing through as early as Thursday). 

Sunday, March 14, 2010


38 days remaining
Mood - OK
Study Time – 4.0 hours (317.5 total - FAR: 35.5 - BEC: 74.5 - REG: 118.0 - AUD: 89.5)
Scores:  AUD-94, REG-97, BEC-??

I read through FAR-4 and FAR-5 for this coming week's lectures.  Monday's class doesn't seem like it will be too bad.  Wednesday seems like it might.   I feel cheated this weekend with my lost hour.

Still nadda on my BEC confirmation.  I'll have to call again tomorrow to see what in the world is going on.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Not Good

39 days remaining
Mood - Frustrated and Annoyed
Study Time – 2.5 hours (313.5 total - FAR: 31.5 - BEC: 74.5 - REG: 118.0 - AUD: 89.5)
Scores:  AUD-94, REG-97, BEC-??

I tried the supplemental questions for FAR-2 and FAR-3.  I managed a 72% and 65% on them.  That wouldn't be as bad if I could say I got most of it and just missed a small something that threw me off.  Instead I have to look at it as I didn't understand a good chunk of the questions or what they were asking.  In addition, the answer explanations didn't make much sense to me as well.  I am extremely frustrated and decided to just end the day rather than continue frustrated and make myself more upset.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

FAR-3 Questions Bleh!

41 days remaining
Mood - Frustrated
Study Time – 3.0 hours (311.0 total - FAR: 29.0 - BEC: 74.5 - REG: 118.0 - AUD: 89.5)
Scores:  AUD-94, REG-97, BEC-??

I pulled off a poor 77% on the questions tonight.  I shouldn't be surprised.  I felt a little less confident with FAR-3 than I did with FAR-2 and got 80% on FAR-2.  All in it isn't horrible horrible, but worth the time to look at a bit closer.  The good news is that I know the concepts and rules.  Most of my problems tonight were applying those rules to the questions.  That will come with practice.
Still nadda on the BEC confirmation with Texas.  I haven't taken any action as I'm waiting for Monday.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

FAR-2 Lecture

42 days remaining
Mood - Pooped
Study Time – 4.0 hours (308.0 total - FAR: 26.0 - BEC: 74.5 - REG: 118.0 - AUD: 89.5)
Scores:  AUD-94, REG-97, BEC-??

I spent my birthday the way any normal person would like to.....I sat through a 4 hour accounting lecture.  I hate my life right now.  Anyhow, the lecture came and went.  We'll see how I do on the questions tomorrow.  Some of this material started to get a bit confusing.

Still no word on the test confirmation issue.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

This Could Have Gone Better

43 days remaining
Mood - Still Tired
Study Time – 3.5 hours (304.0 total - FAR: 22.0 - BEC: 74.5 - REG: 118.0 - AUD: 89.5)
Scores:  AUD-94, REG-97, BEC-??

Based on last nights in-class questions and my understanding of the material I was expecting to blow through tonight's questions without issues.  I ended up at 80%.  The missed questions were a mixture of  RTCDQ and just plain missed a minor point issues.  There were very few that I just plain didn't know.  I found a couple of questions that even when linking to the part in the Becker book the software points you to I couldn't find the answer.  All in I don't feel bad about this part, but I'm not as far along as I thought I was.  The questions for FAR also take a long time to work.  It took me almost 4 hours (took out half an hour for a phone call and briefly talking to my wife) to get through the 143 questions.  That still works out to about 1.5 minutes per question, but with that many questions it just wears you out.  I now see the tricks the questions use to trip you up.  Hopefully I could get 85-90% if I were to work through the questions again.

Tomorrow will be an interesting day.  I get to sit through a four hour lecture on Goodwill and other items to celebrate my birthday instead of doing what normal people get to do like going out to eat and spending time with friends and family.  Isn't the CPA exam fun?  I told my wife we could do my birthday late next month.

I still have no word on my test not showing up as confirmed on the state board.  I spoke with a different person today and he said they had gotten several calls about it and they were looking into it.  The good news is it isn't just me.  The bad news is I still am no closer to an answer.  The Texas board person was nice and said to check over the next couple of days.  If it isn't up there by next week I'll call back again.

In theory Wave 2 BEC scores could be released late next week (17th-19th).  I'm not holding out for that since the testing window was extended into March due to the crazy weather we had in February across the country.  Still, I should hopefully have a score for BEC in 2-3 more weeks.

 On a blog note, I played around with some of the settings and was able to move my theme to a newer version.  There is some funky thing that can show the number of people following the blog that use some account thingy (not really sure, but its there).  I can also do polls.  I put up a poll to see who is using what study materials.  I might do another poll in a week or so asking what was the first section you took.  If you have other poll question suggestions you can leave them in the comments or email me.

Monday, March 8, 2010

FAR-2 Lecture

43 days remaining
Mood - Tired
Study Time – 4.0 hours (300.5 total - FAR: 18.5 - BEC: 74.5 - REG: 118.0 - AUD: 89.5)
Scores:  AUD-94, REG-97, BEC-??

The class made more sense than my reading gave me.  I did pretty good on the in-class questions.  I'm hoping to get through several classes doing as good as the first class has.  I guess I'm just hoping I don't hit a wall like I did with BEC where I have to break my flow.  Plus, no one likes to feel stupid and BEC hit me like that in parts.  Granted, once I got it down I had it down, but there was always that nagging in the back of mind.  Anyhow, FAR is so far so good.  

I was being obsessive today with the Texas State Board website and checking the status of my BEC exam.  They do not show the confirmation that I took the BEC exam a week and a half ago.  This is unusual as my other two section showed up within two days.  Apparently others have had this slow response from the Texas board before.  I called them and they are looking into it.

After Post Edit:   I also passed the 300 hour mark in total study time tonight.  What a milestone.  300 hours is the equivalent of 7.5 40-hour work weeks or 12.5 24-hour days.  Can you imagine studying every minute of every day for 2 weeks?  Ugh.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

FAR-1 Locked Down

44 days remaining
Mood - Good
Study Time – 3.5 hours (296.5 total - FAR: 15.5 - BEC: 74.5 - REG: 118.0 - AUD: 89.5)
Scores:  AUD-94, REG-97, BEC-??

I decided to review all the FAR-1 questions and do the simulation.  I did great on the main MC questions (over 96%).  I got 83% on the supplemental MC questions (they were rough).  This gives me a fully combined score of 90% for FAR-1.  I felt really good about almost all of the material.  I did pretty good on the simulations.  I missed 3 minor items, 2 of which I am confident I won't miss again.  I did decent on my written part and only missed one minor point from the sample answer.  The research tab was a lost cause.  Even using their suggested key words the correct choice was down at the bottom of the search list.  Reading the section they gave as the correct answer didn't really answer the question in my mind either.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Good Habits

45 days remaining
Mood - Bit Confused
Study Time – 5.0 hours (293.0 total - FAR: 12.0 - BEC: 74.5 - REG: 118.0 - AUD: 89.5)
Scores:  AUD-94, REG-97, BEC-??

 I reworked some of the FAR-1 sections that I did poorly in on Wednesday.  I did much, much better this time around.  It is amazing what actually reading the material not covered in class does for you.  I also read the FAR-2 and FAR-3 materials.  I grasped a good chunk out of FAR-2 and am somewhat confused with FAR-3.  I've seen this before and hopefully the actual lectures next week will resolve my confusion.  I'm not sure if I know enough to try the questions tomorrow for FAR-2 and FAR-3 or not.  I may take a crack at it but if it proves to be pointless I'll find something else to study.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Questions for FAR-1

47 days remaining
Mood - Tired
Study Time – 3.0 hours (288.0 total - FAR: 7.0 - BEC: 74.5 - REG: 118.0 - AUD: 89.5)
Scores:  AUD-94, REG-97, BEC-??

Sadly I don't recall what my start time was today.  I am pretty sure I put in 3.5 hours, but it might have only been 3 (went with the lower one).  I got about 80% on the questions before reading the homework reading.  I did really well in all but two areas.  I re-read those sections and should be in much better shape for those questions on my next attempt.  I already hate FAR and I'm barely into it.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

FAR Class 1, The Beginning of the Hopeful End

47 days remaining
Mood - Tired
Study Time – 4.0 hours (285.0 total - FAR: 4.0 - BEC: 74.5 - REG: 118.0 - AUD: 89.5)
Scores:  AUD-94, REG-97, BEC-??

I think the FAR classes and test are going to be as bad as I feared.  This is going to be a long month and a half.  The good news is I've finished the first of nine classes for this section.  I need to think out how I want to study for this section and find a way to keep to a good schedule.  Since I didn't read the material before class I feel like I am already behind.

I also got to speak with others that got their REG scores.  Someone else got a 97 like I did and others varied from passing to barely passing to not passing. 

Becker REG Class Review

I took the live class of Becker Regulation in January 2010.  I sat for the exam on the first of February and passed with a 97.  I put in a total of 118 hours of study time for this section.  40-ish of that was me reading the book in December and doing the multiple choice questions once before the classes started in January.  Without that I would have been about 75-80 hours in January which is similar to what I put into AUD and BEC each.  I do not work in tax and haven’t had any college classes in tax in about a decade.  This post will be my review and experiences with the Becker program as it relates to the Regulation section of the CPA Exam.

Overall the Becker materials were a good representation of what I saw on my actual exam.  Going into the test I felt really comfortable with the material.  There were a couple of questions that were not covered in my Becker materials, but those might have been pre-test questions.  The book presented the materials in a logical progression of topics and it flowed well.  The lecture style for REG was very similar to AUD.  In my AUD review I mentioned that I felt the lectures reading the book to us and having us make notes and highlights seemed odd.  I am use to it now and it does work and I didn’t question it this class.  I reviewed the book materials the weekend before my test and the notes and highlights were useful.  If you are using Becker for REG make sure you read all of each chapter and the homework reading.  I had questions on my exam covered in Becker’s material that was not in the lecture.  Be sure you’ve actually read the odd industry-specific exceptions on things.  Even reading it once should be enough to tickle your brain during the exam when they bring up the random oddities.  It got me a point on my actual exam.

I took my study style from AUD and actually increased it a bit.  Towards the end of AUD I was reading the materials before class once and trying the multiple choice questions before going to the live class.  For REG I did this for all classes.  It was extremely beneficial to me for REG.  I had a basic understanding of the materials and how the material would be presented in questions.  Listening to the lectures knowing that allowed it to sink in really well.  Any area I had trouble in was typically clarified by an example in the lecture not given in the book.  All in this means I went through all the material twice during the course of the month-long classes.  I think many underestimate the power of seeing the material in its entirety twice.  I did not go through all the multiple choice questions 4-5 times like I did with AUD, but I felt more comfortable with the material sooner in REG than I did in AUD. 

Throughout REG I also continued to take progress tests.  Progress tests in the Becker software allow you to select which classes you want questions to come from.  It then gives you up to 100 questions (if all classes are selected) weighted by the same weights the actual exam uses (ie. more tax than law questions).  This helped keep what I had already done fresh in my mind.  This was an important part of keeping the tax stuff in my head during the two weeks of business law lectures.  If I had not done those I would not have been in good shape to take the test so quickly after the last class (I took the exam a week after the last class).

I have the Becker flashcards for REG (and other sections).  I figured there was no point in going cheap on the $200 after dropping almost $3,000 for the classes.  Like AUD, I did not use the REG flashcards after looking at them early in my course.  They would probably be beneficial for those that learn well in short sessions.  I was always doing multi-hour study sessions so I got more benefit out of working multiple choice questions.  I probably would not buy the flashcards knowing what I know now, but they would be great for someone that has used flashcards before.  If you are going to make your own consider buying the pre-made ones.  I am just not a big flashcard person in general.

I do have a couple of criticisms towards the Becker REG program though.  The quality control for this section was noticeably bad in several places.  In many questions there were inconsistencies in the question answers and explanations.  Most of these were due to deduction, phase-outs, and other changed values not reflecting the current amounts.  Most of these were fairly trivial and most occurred solely in the answer explanations.  There were a couple of questions where the problem’s answer choices did not have the correct answer as an option though.  All in Becker dropped the ball on their quality control for the 2010 REG materials.  It was still very useful, but the number of simple issues was a bit distracting and embarrassing given the price point of their classes.  Most of these issues were published in a correcting document on the Becker site after being brought to their attention, so they get good points on making correcting information available to those that check regularly for the updates.

Another item I’d like to note is the same thing I mentioned with the AUD review.  I really wish there were more simulations to work through in the software.  They did have several additional simulations in the REG software than they did in AUD, but I still wanted more.  I would have loved to have 15-20 or more.  With the written parts I would have loved to have a whole addendum with example questions and suggested answers just to read through.  The written part is a bit pointless to mention since starting next year there will not be any written parts to REG though.  Basically though I wish there were a ton more simulations available to work through.  The topics that can be covered in the exam and how they are tested are so random it is hard to say that working just a few is good enough to make you feel comfortable with them.

While I doubt anyone associated with Becker will actually be reading this, the following could be helpful for those doing the self-study versions of the program.  I really wish they would cover the law/ethics/professional responsibility part of the course first and then move on to the tax topics rather than doing the tax stuff first.  The tax parts account for a larger portion of the exam and it would be beneficial to have those topics fresher in your mind.  I worked around this shortcoming by doing progress tests constantly to keep it fresh.

One last general recommendation for Becker.  At the start of the live classes they give you these really high quality highlighters (for highlighting along with the lecturer) and ink pens.  I prefer blue ink for stuff like this as it stands out against the black print better.  This is a really minor suggestion, but might be logical.

Overall Becker is great for REG.  If you follow their material and put in the time it takes you will have the knowledge needed to pass this section of the exam.  I have no basis to compare Becker to other programs as I only used Becker.  However, if you use Becker you will be able to get through it just fine.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Email Response That I Couldn't Email

I've been really good about replying to every email I get.  I received an email today that I have tried to respond to twice.  Each time it has bounced back as undeliverable address.  The email ended with  So in the interest of responding, if that was you that sent the email, here is the response:

Thanks.  The blog has been my stress relief outlet.  That anyone else reads it amazes me, let alone anyone finds it useful.

Join Jeff’s Club 75 on his website for at least a month.  It costs $20 per month.  You get his handwritten notes he used for REG which are awesome.  The only thing is you need to change the $100 to $500 for the casualty loss amount on them.  Those notes looked great and I wish I had them when I was working on REG.

Don’t bother trying to memorize threshold amounts.  In the exam the amount you are working with will either be grossly above or below the threshold if you see any questions testing that at all.  There are two exceptions.  Know the current amounts and phase outs for section 179 deductions.  Also know the $25000 allowed expensing (and related phase outs) for passive activity losses for mom & pop allowance.

Don’t skimp on the law stuff.  The MC questions seemed split about 50/50 between tax and law/ethics.  The sims were tax (it is possible, although unlikely, to get a law/ethics sim). 

Nothing in REG was hard or difficult.  There are just so many different topics to cover.  If you hit all topics once and are familiar with them you should be in good shape.  Nothing seemed to go very deep into any one topic, just the basics on a variety of things.

I have been a big fan of Becker so far.  It is ungodly expensive, especially if you don’t do all 4 courses.  It has been awesome though for format and presentation.  Yaegar is suppose to be amazing as well at a third of the price.  There are even bigger discounts if you are part of Jeff’s Club 75 thing.  There are others like you that have used the CPAexcel to good results as well.

REG Score Released Finally

49 days remaining
Mood - Fantastic
Study Time – 0 hours (281.0 total - BEC - 74.5 - REG: 118.0 - AUD: 89.5)
Scores:  AUD-94, REG-97, BEC-??

 Holy Cow!  How in the world did I pull off a 97?  I performed like crap on the two simulations.  I am in shock right now over this one.  That means I've passed two of the four sections, have taken the third, and am down to only one section to go.