Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) is a four-hour section of the CPA exam. The overall format is 80% financial accounting topics, 10% governmental accounting, and 10% accounting for not-for-profit entities. How do candidates manage the vast technical breadth of topics?
ⅠMANAGING THE VAST TECHNICAL BREADTH
FAR is the most diverse exam section. Preparing and following a study plan to guide you through the maze of numerous topics is almost a requirement for passing FAR. Studying some topics quite well and overlooking other subjects entirely is a common mistake. Here the top-ten list of all-important subject arrears for the FAR exam is
Investment and financial instruments
Multiple-step income statement
Classified balance sheet
Converting information from cash to accrual and vice versa
Statement of cash flows
Other comprehensive income
Deferred income taxes
Any of these topics can be tested. Of course, there are other areas, but this list identifies the key areas that remain the heart of the FAR exam. It is dangerous to ignore governmental accounting and accounting for not-for-profit entities.
It is not difficult to write about financial accounting topics. Recall that the exam is positively graded. Begin with a paragraph that clearly identifies a thesis statement. Use additional paragraphs to develop main ideas and support what you say. Watch for fragments and run-on sentences. Watch for missing or incorrect punctuation, especially your comma usage. Don’t forget to run spell check after each time you make a change in your answer. Proofread your memo after each change.
Save the Research tab for last. Don’t spin your wheels. Think about the key search term, put quote marks around the phrase, type it in and hit ENTER. Spelling counts—you must spell all words in the phrases correctly. If you need assistance, open the Communications tab, type the phrase, hit SPELL-CHECK, and see how the words are spelt. Usually you can use the words and phrases that are used in the question requirement.
Ⅳ LEARN STEP-BY-STEP
Avoid trying to study everything. Study only what is on the exam. When you work multiple-choice questions, study by covering up the answer choices.
Ⅴ GOVERNMENTAL AND NOT-FOR-PROFIT ACCOUNTING
Governmental accounting represents 10% of the total FAR points, as does not-for-profit accounting. Not-for-profit accounting is very similar to accounting for other financial statement issues. The focus is on accounting for donor contributions. Candidates must know how to prepare a statement of activities and a statement of cash flow for a not-for-profile entity.
There’s no simple solution—learn the concepts, practice the concepts, and you will prevail!
GoPro advice: If you don’t use the material everyday, you may lose it. Use it or risk losing it!