The FAR CPA Exam has a pretty nasty reputation among most CPA students for being the hardest test given to budding CPAs. Between its length (as the longest section of the CPA exam) and the subject matter, largely revolving around “…the financial reporting framework used by business enterprises, not-for-profit organizations, and governmental entities”, many test takers consider the FAR to be the most difficult section and, accordingly, try to get it out of the way first.

If you’re facing down the FAR exam and you’re looking for some tips and advice before you go forth and conquer, we’ve compiled some things to keep in mind while you prepare:

Tip #1 – Plan Your Approach

As the longest part of the CPA exam, the FAR exam is going to be a pretty significant investment of your time, with around four hours devoted to just this section of the exam. Before you sit down to actually take the test, try to set a schedule and guidelines to adhere to so you never feel rushed or overwhelmed. Plot out how much time you’ll devote to each question (or section of the test), and then factor in some extra time to let you take bathroom breaks or just give yourself a moment to breathe. This will help keep you on task and give you a little extra breathing room through the entire exam.

Tip #2 – Understand the Specific Material

CPA exams consist of a few different sections, each consisting of different topics and areas of study. The FAR exam primarily covers governmental and organizational accounting such as account reconciliations and analysis, Securities and Exchange Commission reporting, general ledger (GL) entries, and more. No matter what field of accounting you’re hoping to get into, knowing you’ve brushed up on the material specifically being covered by the FAR exam is going to be an early step in the right direction towards passing the entire exam.

Tip #3 – Make Sure Your Study Materials Are Up To Date

CPA exams are known for changing their material to reflect the current laws, policies, and procedures surrounding the field of public accounting, and this goes double for the FAR exam due to the nature of its content. Before getting too deep into your studies, you might want to consider looking into some CPA review courses to ensure you’re taking a course that offers the most up-to-date and frequently-revised study materials. Otherwise you might find yourself working with outdated materials, which could spell disaster come test time.

Tip #4 – Don’t Just Recite the Information

Particularly if you don’t think the information will come up again for you once you pass, a good gauge of understanding the FAR is your ability to explain the topics in your own words. Make sure to get plenty of practice with basic accounting tasks such as MCQs, TBSs, and filling out journal entries and T-accounts to get a better handle on the actual workings of the CPA exam and allow you to express your answers in a way that shows you actually understand the topics being covered.

Tip #5 – Finally, Just Remember to Relax

It might sound like advice your parents would have given you before the SATs, but it’s still important to keep in mind. Don’t stress yourself out or you’ll make even more mistakes and wear yourself out too fast – pace yourself, take your time, and don’t psyche yourself out before you even finish the test.

With these tips in mind, hopefully the next time someone asks you if the FAR exam is as bad as they’ve heard, you’ll be able to tell them “nah” – and look a lot smarter in the process. (Just don’t take credit for any of our advice, though.)

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