How to pass Financial Accounting?
Part 1Knowing the Material
- Keep up with the lessons. Many of the lessons in an accounting class build on each other. Being sure that you are keeping up with concepts and how they relate to one another will help with your overall understanding of how each process works together.
- Review notes after each class to be sure you don’t have any questions about the lesson.
- Look back at any practice problems in the book.
- Don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. For example, if you are having trouble with debt-to-equity ratio, ask your professor for help.
- Understand why. Accounting terms and processes are set up to be as logical as possible. Understanding why certain things are done in certain ways will give you a stronger insight into what to do to tackle each individual problem.
- Create flashcards that define terms AND what circumstances you would use them or see them in.
- Answer any discussion questions in your text book and come prepared to ask questions in your class.
- It can also be helpful to talk problems out with a classmate or tutor to be sure you understand why it gets solved a certain way.
- The CPA exam in particular will have many simulations or case studies that will ask you to sort through terms to get to your answer.
- Work practice problems to understand how. Once you can see why things are done, it’s time to focus on learning how to do them.
- Review old homework assignments. Rework problems you may have missed or may not have fully understood at the time.
- Work through problems with a partner, discussing the methods you used to solve it to help each other understand more deeply how the process works.
- Familiarize yourself with key terms and what they mean.
- Be aware of terms like retained losses and accumulated deficits that can easily be confused.
- Organize your thoughts. Before you start to workout a problem, take a moment to think about how you will organizing the information to best help you come to a solution. Having a clear method for solving problems can help you keep things focused and relieve stress during an exam. Some longer task based questions are giving in long paragraphs and can have several sections. Practice identifying the relevant information and listing it in on a separate piece of paper.
- Make sure you understand all the parties involved, the length of time, the situation being described as well as contract or payment terms.
- Make a list of related facts or amounts.
- Some questions will contain information that is not needed and simply there to throw you off.
Part 2Preparing for the Exam
- Understand your own strengths and weaknesses. Most students and professors would agree that if you are taking the CPA exam that the Financial Accounting and Reporting section is by far the most difficult and that it requires a rigorous amount of studying to pass. Whatever the exam, it may be best to start with the problems and concepts you know will be challenging so that you can spend the appropriate amount of time on them.
- Have an understanding of key concepts. Questions on the exam may not be exact copies of the once from homework assignments. Making sure you have a clear understanding of key concepts will make you more confident when you come to questions that might approach the material from another angle than ones you’ve previously encountered.
- Try some practice questions from a source outside of your textbook.
- If you encounter any problems you can't work, this might help highlight areas where you may need additional practice or help from another student or your professor.
- Review each lesson before and after class. Giving the chapters in the book a thorough reading will allow you to walk into class with at least some understanding of the day’s lesson before the professor delivers her lecture. You’ll also be more aware of concepts you don’t fully understand, which will allow you to pay particular attention to those parts of the lesson as well as come ready with prepared questions to help you clarify anything you still don’t understand.
- Take notes on the chapter before you go into class.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. That’s what your professor is there for!
- Take time to review notes after class.
- Revisit anything you are still having trouble with by rereading sections in your textbook or going over notes from the day’s lesson.
- Take a practice test. Once you understand more about the how and the why, the best way to prepare for the test is to hone your skills by practicing what you have learned. Websites like offer modules covering all of the essential concepts in financial accounting.
- Keep track of your time.
- Multiple choice questions should only take you a couple of minutes to solve.
- If you are taking the CPA exam, task based questions can take anywhere from one to two hours.
- Try to mimic the testing environment. If the test will be on a computer, try taking your practice test online. If you'll have to write everything long hand, try and find a test out of your text book or print one out from a website.
- The American Institute of CPA's has an online sample tests.
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