FAR Exam Experience (October 2018)

I wanted to relay a FAR exam experience from one of our students who wrote the FAR exam in October 2018.

Here are the highlights of what she told me:

  • She used the Becker study program
  • She used the Becker MCQ’s in the weeks leading up to the exam
  • She used our FAR study guide to cram in the last week of the exam
  • Her total study time was 6 weeks
  • Testlet 2 was harder than Testlet 1
  • She thought that the MCQ’s on the actual exam were much easier than the Becker practice questions
  • She felt that the SIM questions were “almost impossible”
  • She feels that she probably failed the exam due to “bombing on the SIMS section”

This is a fairly common response that I get when I talk to students after the exam. You  rarely have a student confident that they passed. The exam is designed to feel that way. You just need to better than the next guy.  It is like the old joke, if you are being chased by a bear,  you don’t have to outrun the bear, you just have to outrun the other guy. In our case, the bear is the CPA exam:)

Here is my response to my distressed FAR exam student:

  1. I would estimate that 75% of my students that think they failed actually passed. Get used to that sinking feeling. The CPA exam is a different beast than what you experienced in college. It is massively graded on a curve. In other words, you just want to feel less dread than the next guy.
  2. No matter how bad you think you did on the SIMS, somebody else did worse. I’ve known students that could not even answer a single question on the SIMS.
  3. Practice questions are generally harder than what you will experience on exam day. This goes for Becker questions or our own CPA exam question bank. This is by design. We want our students to have a psychological edge when they are doing the MCQ’s. It is not because we are out of touch with how hard the CPA exam actually is.
  4. It is always a good sign if the 2nd Testlet is substantially difficult than the first testlet. You want the algorithm to change with your right answers. You should be able to feel it getting a bit harder.
  5. Okay, now you know the SIMS are hard. How would you have studied differently? That’s the problem with the SIMS. You can’t prepare for them.

Does this FAR exam experience sound familiar? I bet it does. I’d also be willing to bet that this distressed student probably scored between 75-80. I could never convince her of that of now. However, her response is so typical of our students that I’ve learned to spot a pattern.