CERTIFIED: FAR tougher than expected

Written on Apr 05, 2018

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA content manager

Certified follows a group of aspiring CPAs while they prepare for and take the various sections of the CPA exam. We started following our candidates in May 2016, and this is part three of Janeen Smith-Hughes’ story. Read part one and part two here.

Shortly after Janeen Smith-Hughes arrived home from a vacation cruise with her family, she took her first CPA exam section, Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR). She said it was harder than she expected, especially the task-based simulations, which were easier in her practice material than on the test.

janeen-smith-hughes“I told my husband if I don’t pass I won’t be surprised, and if I pass I won’t be surprised,” she said with a laugh.

She took the exam in Worthington, a suburb of Columbus. When she walked in, the applicants were wanded and administrators checked their pockets, ankles and wrists to make sure they weren’t bringing anything they could use to cheat. Exam-takers were also fingerprinted.

FAR section applicants received a block of four hours to take the exam, and breaks were only allowed between segments, which are called “testlets.” There were four testlets for FAR, and Smith-Hughes said after finishing three testlets in two hours she was feeling good about her progress… until the last one. The first three were multiple choice questions, and the last testlet was task-based simulations.

She took almost the entire four hours, and afterward treated herself to lunch before picking her daughter up from Girl Scouts. She thinks her score will hover around the 75 range, but isn’t stressed about the outcome.

Now she’s focused on prepping for Regulation (REG). But the experience of taking FAR has made her think differently about the studying process.

“So, REG is just a bunch of stuff that I don’t know,” she said. “That I literally have no idea (about) and have to learn and memorize. And I am not good at ‘learn-and-memorize.’”

She’s taking classes to help her with REG material for about a month, and when that’s finished she’ll sign up for the exam. If she hasn’t passed FAR, she’s confident she’ll figure out what to do for the next exam.

“I know enough to pass this test eventually, so if I don’t pass FAR this time I’ll figure out a way to pass it next time,” she said. “Everything that’s on FAR I learned at some time in an accounting class. So, the fact that it wasn’t that easy now makes me think now I really have to learn.”

Next time: The results of FAR and taking BEC

Sponsored by MDS CPA Review and Yaeger CPA Review.

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