Wednesday, July 14, 2010

CPA Exam Prep Book And The CPA Test

By Eric Anderson

CPA Exam Review Book: The Uniform CPA Exam is a four part test which takes 14 hours to complete. The exam is given by a set of three organizations. Working together, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), Prometric Testing Services, and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) administer the Uniform CPA Exam for Certified Public Accountants (CPA).

Because the test is so long and complicated, there are a number of books which are available to assist you in studying for the CPA Exam.

1. Books which are part of a CPA Review Course. 2. Books which are not part of a CPA Review Course.

Selecting a CPA Exam Review Book should be based on these factors:

o How often is there a new edition and when the book is revised? CPAexcel brings out two printed editions of their CPA Review textbooks each year while Becker only brings out one edition per year. CPAexcel has an ongoing process of revising their online study texts (which are exact copies of their printed textbooks). As rules change or new information is available, CPAexcel's university professors write new content. New content is inserted into the online text within a few days of its being written and is highlighted in red so that you can find the information quickly. If you have already read that section, the new information is highlighted for your review and an email alert is sent to you. Prior to test day, you are emailed a reminder about the changed material so that you can review it.

Consider how quickly information changes. How up-to-date is your book?

o Don't get fooled by the publication date! According to editorial guidelines, any book published after September can have the next year's date on it, making it appear much more current than it actually is. Here is how to get a basic idea of how old a book is.

Take any book off your shelf. Open to the title page. Turn the title page and look at the back of it. This back side of the title page is called the verso, the left- handed page or the page of manuscript which is to be read second. AHA! You learned a new word! On the verso, you should see "Copyright (c) 2010" or whatever the date is. (Note: there won't be quotation marks around the words. This is simply for purposes of this passage.) That publication date means that this particular book was copyrighted (which occurs prior to the covers being put together) between September 2009 and August 2010. Caution: there a few publishers who are playing by a different set of rules and are actually marking books published as early as July as the next year!

A book published July 2010 might have a 2011 publication date but think about it: when was the book actually written? The author(s) have to write the material. The editor(s) edit the material. The production people set up the graphics and page layout. And then, the book is printed.

Even in the best of circumstances, this can take months.

So how old is your book? Know when the publisher goes to press and how often. A good publisher will tell you without you having to coerce the information out of them. A publisher who publishes only once per year may not make that information easily known.

o Who wrote the book? CPAexcel recruits professors who are actively teaching that specific topic. CPAexcel posts the biography of each author, video lecturer, and mentor on their website.

Wouldn't you like to know the credentials of the people writing your CPA review books?

Here are a few questions to ask:

Does the publisher tell you wrote the books? Can you easily find out the authors' credentials? If not, what is the publisher hiding? Are the authors teaching accounting or business ethics at a recognized university (such as the University of Texas) rather than a place you've never heard of (such as the fictional Whatsamatta U)? Google the university and make certain that the professor teaches there. Do these authors have recognition within their academic community? Does their biography list their publications or conferences at which they spoke? Are the authors specialists in this topic? It's wonderful to have a terrific author who writes intelligently but is this person an expert in this topic? Check their credentials. If the person has written on business ethics and teaches business ethics at Arizona State, then this person is credible as an author on business ethics but probably not on Slovakian Medieval History. Therefore, match the author to the section to verify their expertise.

o How is the book organized? CPAexcel's study texts are organized in Bite-Sized LessonsSM, which can be completed in about 30 minutes-study text, video lecture and diagnostic testing. In reading only 3 to 10 pages, you complete an entire lesson. By having short lessons, you retain more.

o Is the book supported by other study tools? CPAexcel offers an electronic test bank of 5,100 CPA Exam questions from past tests, video lectures by professors, online study groups, and a variety of diagnostic tests. Professor Mentoring can be added.

o Have the authors included every iota of information or weeded out what you won't see on the exam? There is nothing more frustrating than to spend your valuable time studying the machinations of the accounting of wacky widgets only to find that wacky widgets were not covered on the exam. There is enough available information on which subjects are tested that authors can delete what is not needed. This saves you time, consternation, and possibly a few gray hairs. Look for books which focus specifically on the exam, not the totality of CPA knowledge in the known universe. Look at online forums to see what others think of the materials.

o Does the book over prepare you? Because Wiley includes every iota of information, students on blogs have complained about being over prepared for the exam. The students were frustrated that they had spent time mastering information which was of no use to them on the exam.

o Does the book prepare you sufficiently to pass? CPAexcel students praise our books for preparing them for exactly what was on the exam and not wasting their time on minutiae.

o Is the book designed to be a stand-alone or is it one of a set of fully integrated study tools? At CPAexcel, the books are designed to support and be supported by the other study tools-diagnostic exams, professors' video lectures, flash cards, electronic test bank of 5,100 CPA Exam questions and mentoring by professors. At Wiley, the books are designed to stand-alone without any human interaction, whether it is professor mentoring or video lectures. It's just you and the book, day after day after day after day.

o Is the book interesting to read? Or is it as dull as reading a blog such as, "I'm going to have two boiled eggs, some carrots, a tomato, and a piece of cucumber for lunch now." It doesn't matter how inexpensive the book is if you are snoring and asleep long before Chapter 2. Unless you are using it as a less addictive alternative to copious amounts of sleeping pills

o Are you guided in your study or are you on your own? With CPAexcel, you have the other study tools which link together to support your learning: diagnostic tests alert you to the topics you need to study more, while the video lectures and the study text hone in on what you need to master. Using CPAexcel's Exam Planner, you can create a study plan which gives you specific goals in lesson completion which will keep you on target for your exam day. Your study plan can be adjusted at any time. With Wiley, you are completely on your own to make your own schedule. If you are very self-disciplined, you will be on target to sit for your exam. If not.

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