FAR Study Tips

By Elizabeth Kolar, MBA, CPA, CGMA

The Financial Accounting and Reporting section of the CPA Exam is one of the more robust exams in terms of content, and having a few tricks up your sleeves to maximize your study time will give you the advantage you need to pass. Check out these 6 FAR study tips you can utilize today to increase your chances of passing the FAR section of the CPA Exam on the first try.

1. Consider Taking FAR Soon After Finishing Your Degree

Of the four sections of the CPA Exam, FAR has the most content in general, and it has the most content related to your accounting degree. A bachelor’s of accounting typically contains two intro to accounting classes and two intermediate accounting classes. These classes all relate to the content in FAR. Many of your accounting electives, such as classes related to International Financial Reporting Standards, government, or non-profit reporting will be seen on the FAR section of the CPA Exam as well. By taking FAR soon after you finish either your Bachelor’s or Master’s degree, you can leverage that fresh college knowledge to your advantage.

The breadth and depth of the information you need to learn on FAR will also give you advantages when you take other exams. Some of the information you see on the FAR exam will be presented on one of the other three exams as well. If you take FAR first, you’ll already have a good grasp of these concepts on other exams.

FAR also takes the longest to study for. Surgent’s average number of study hours for FAR is 54. This is significantly below the average recommendation of 80-100 hours, which means you’ll pass the exam in less time, but is the highest in terms of Surgent’s study hours to pass the other three exams (AUD – 43 hours, BEC – 42 hours, and REG – 45 hours). Your 18 month window to pass all four parts of the CPA Exam begins when you pass your first exam. If you spend 54 hours studying for FAR before that window starts, you’ll have knocked out the largest chunk of your study hours and won’t have to use those hours within your window.

2. Consistently Review Previous Topics You Have Trouble With

Since there is so much content on the FAR Exam, it’s important to consistently go back and review topics you’re having trouble with. It’s easy to get several weeks into your review and forget what you learned in the first week if you aren’t reviewing older topics as much as possible. We know it isn’t easy to review while also studying new material, and we know it isn’t easy to decide which topics you’re doing really well on as opposed to topics you’re struggling with. Surgent’s A.S.A.P. Technology™ was specifically created with these hurdles in mind, and helps CPA Exam candidates consistently practice their weak areas and review older topics as a part of their every day study. Your Daily Surge will recommend specific study material in a variety of formats to fill in your knowledge gaps and keep you consistently improving in all content areas.

You can also review your ReadySCORE™ which gives you a relative idea of what your exam score would be if you were to sit for the exam that day. Your ReadySCORE also conveniently tracks your performance in each content area, and these content areas are weighted based on the AICPA’s blueprints. This makes it easy to see where you’re doing well and where you’re struggling. All you have to do is show up to your scheduled study sessions and work through the materials provided.

3. Give Practice SIMS Your Best Efforts

50% of your score on the FAR Exam comes from the 8 Task-Based Simulations. Gone are the days of focusing mostly on multiple choice questions – you’ll need to do well on the SIMS to pass the entire exam. It’s easy when you’re studying to simply look at the answers to simulations instead of trying to work through them as best you can before looking at answers. But if you really want to pass the FAR Exam, you’ll need to put your best foot forward when studying for SIMS. It’s also a good idea to get familiar with the simulation formatting, and the best way to do that is to practice.

Surgent’s FAR CPA Review Course introduces SIMS after you’ve had some time to work through several multiple choice sections so you’re prepared before you try your first simulation. Each SIM also includes extensive explanations (for after you’ve given the SIMs your best shot) so you can really dig into any missed questions. It also simulates how SIMs will be on the actual exam so you’ll be completely prepared come test day.

4. Practice Multiple Choice Strategies on Practice Exams

There is more to passing the FAR Exam than just learning all of the content and being able to apply it (although that’s a huge part). Learning how to strategize and get through all 66 of the multiple choice questions and all 8 of the SIMs during the 4 hour exam will also help you have the best chance of passing. For multiple choice questions, you’ll need to learn when to answer a question, when to skip it and come back to it later, and when to guess. You also need to learn that you should always answer a question as opposed to leaving it blank to maximize your score. Again, FAR covers an extensive number of topics, so there may be several questions you don’t know the answer to. Always remember, that’s okay. If you studied with Surgent and your ReadySCORE shows you’re ready to pass, you can feel confident guessing on a few questions.

5. Keep An Eye On Your Performance In Heavily Weighted Topics

The FAR Exam consists of four content areas with related percentages: Conceptual Framework, Standard-Setting, and Financial Reporting (25-35%), Select Financial Statement Accounts (30-40%), Select Transactions (20-30%), State and Local Governments (5-15%). Since topics areas one and two take up most of the weighting, you’ll want to make sure you have a strong showing in these topics. CPA Candidates studying with Surgent can use their broken down ReadySCORE to evaluate which areas they are doing well in and which need more work. Surgent’s algorithm does most of this work for you, presenting topics and concepts you’re weak in as you study to help you improve. But it doesn’t hurt to know how you’re doing based on topic weighting so you can ensure you’re spending more time on those areas.

6. Find A Review Course With Data to Back It Up

Lastly, you should always look for a CPA Review Course that has good statistics, as well as data to back up those statistics. FAR is a difficult exam, and you’ll want a review course that helps you walk into Prometric on exam day feeling confident and ready to pass. You’ll need the right resources and the right data to show you you’re ready to sit for the exam and earn that magical 75.

Luckily, you can rest easy knowing candidates who study with Surgent have an 85% pass rate on FAR compared to the national pass rate of 48%. That’s with significantly fewer hours of study (52 hours for FAR as opposed to the recommended range of 80-100 hours). Your ReadySCORE when you study with Surgent is also 99% accurate. So if your ReadySCORE says you’ll earn a passing score if you sit that day, you’re ready to sit and pass the FAR Exam. The data backing up Surgent’s courses speaks for itself, and it can give you confidence you need to dive into studying for the FAR Exam.

Using these 6 tips to study for the FAR Exam, you can give yourself a greater chance of passing the exam on the first try and getting on your way to earning your CPA License.