Does our reliance on technology hurt us on the CPA exam?

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  • #156657 Reply
    Anonymous
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    In my frustration of finding out a couple of days ago that I failed BEC once again, I began to think back on the exam and the areas I studied and I think I have come to a common problem. On the exam they expect us to be able to calculate all of this multiple ratios and formulas, however, in a real life situation we now normally have our computers right with us and we can research a formula that we do not understand and then build an excel spreadsheet to help us with our calculations and then save it and have it for future use.

    Now when we go and take our CPA exam they expect us to keep all these different formulas straight when they ask us a multiple choice question, however, if it is a section where there are simulations they will give us tabs that have all of the different formulas and we even have the research question, but for multiple choice they want you to have to pull everything from memory. I thought the exam was suppose to determine if we understand concepts, not if we can remember a formula.

    Does anyone else feel this way or am I alone on this?

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  • #204039 Reply
    Anonymous
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    I totally agree rshaneo!!!!!!!!!!!!! In reality we have research and reference materials, why can't we use these during the test?? We have to memorize these formulas for a stupid test when it really doesn't judge any more but our ability to memorize…

    #204040 Reply
    Anonymous
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    While I understand the frustration, following that logic, then people should never have to take tests in college and we should just pass out diplomas, because they really don't have to have any knowledge at all since they don't have a computer. You become a more effective accountant if you don't have to research everything. The formulas themselves didn't cause you to fail. Failure to understand the concept of the formula may have. I didn't memorize one formula. I memorized what the formula was trying to accomplish, which ultimately taught me how to use and manipulate the formula for multiple questions.

    #204041 Reply
    Anonymous
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    Totally agree. How about the use of Excel! What accountant uses the windows calculator for complex calculations?

    #204042 Reply
    Anonymous
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    How about the tax tables for REG? Why would you memorize something that changes every year. What's the point?

    #204043 Reply
    Anonymous
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    Hey guys,

    which CPA review are you using? It may be hard if you are just studying from the book by yourself, Wiley book, for example. It is good but too much information to remember, indeed.

    Becker, for example, tells you exactly which formulae you need to highlight, memorize, go over at least three times; and which you can just read through. This makes our lives so much easier.

    Best of luck,

    Anna

    #204044 Reply
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Sure, you can use excel to compute the ratios in real life, but ratios don't mean anything unless you understand the underlying information.

    It might make it easier to remember ratios if you sit down and tell yourself in words what the ratio is showing. For example, Asset Turnover Ratio tells you how much revenue a company can generate from its assets by showing how many dollars of sales the firm has per dollar invested in assets.

    Also, take a little time to ask yourself what would make the ratio increase or decrease. Spending some time really thinking about each ratio helps me remember the ratios without having to memorize, like SwissBliss said.

    #204045 Reply
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    I have agree with SwissBliss and MsA on this. You have to demonstate that you understand the concepts and how you get the numbers. Way back when I started college, my accounting professors wouldn't let us use spreadsheets or computer software. The purpose of this was to teach us the concepts and theory. If we had used Excel, we wouldn't have understood the fundamentals as thoroughly.

    I don't remember having to memorize any tax tables for the exam and I scored an 88 on REG. Becker recommended a few ratios/formulas that you needed to understand for all the sections. Most were finanical ratios that we use in everyday business. As accountants, we need to understand these numbers and their relationships and we have to be able to explain what they mean to non accountants that rely on our expertise and advise.

    rshaneo – for BEC, as soon as my exam started, I quickly wrote down the formulas that were difficult for me to remember. The others are really just an understanding of what information you need. I always ask myself, what is the question asking for and how can I get that information. Maybe if you study it like that, it will help.

    Good luck and hang in there – I failed AUD last time and understand your frustration. Now I am currently re-studying for BEC because my credit expired…no happy!

    #204046 Reply
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    I'm not saying that you should be able to use the excel functions but I do think you should be able to use a spreadsheet. Having to calculate the numerators and denominators separately and hope not to make a keying error is ridiculous.

    #204047 Reply
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Completely agree with ChrisL. After every exam my suggestion is to allow the spreadsheet function throughout the entire exam.

    #204048 Reply
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Maybe difference in opinion is between those who has accounting experience and are used to work with spreadsheets and calculators, and those who are out of college (like myself), or don't have accounting experience (maybe are auditors) and are used to memorizing formulas and writing everything on paper. I don't even know how to use spreadsheets for any of CPA exam questions I have studied.

    And I went through live course for each of them already. Just reviewing now.

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