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Memorizing Doesn't Work for the CPA Exam

Memorizing doesn't work for the CPA exam.
Memorizing doesn't work for the CPA exam.
Study to master concepts instead of memorizing to get a 75.

If you have ever said, “I read the chapter and watched the videos and I got all the practice questions wrong,” I’m talking to you in this next section about answering multiple choice questions. I take a simple approach to multiple choice questions:

My 3-step logic to answering CPA exam questions

  1. Read the last sentence first

    1. This is USUALLY where the question is that you have to answer or whatever you need to define or fill in the blank on. So start there.

  2. Determine what’s relevant vs. what’s not

    1. Next, figure out what information you need from the question - distractors are a thing, examiners like to add extra information to questions that you don’t need just to see if you’re paying attention. We’ll talk more about distractors in a second

    2. Spot the word play

  3. Figure out what you know - I know the formula or the definition. Or if you DON’T know, if it’s one of those questions on content you haven’t studied that much, make an informed decision. Eliminate the obvious wrong answer choices, then think logically through the ones that remain. Strategic guessing when you don’t know the answer. Follow the fact pattern to eliminate answers. From there you can select the answer based on what you know.

Notice I didn’t say select the right answer because if you don’t know what’s going on with the topic or if you don’t know enough to make an informed decision, this is a topic you need to study more.

Take notes. If you got it right and you understand it, great, move on. If you get the question wrong, make note of the topic and go back and study that so you get it right next time.

CPA exam points earned, not lost. Every question you answer gives you a 25% chance of getting it right. Even if you don't know, guess. If you're running out of time on a testlet and you have blank questions or ones you flagged to come back to, go back to those questions before time runs out and pick an answer - any answer.


Are you struggling with the CPA exam? I know the feeling. I created some tutorials and practice exams to show you a time-saving way to study. Check it out in The Winston CPA Exam Virtual Classroom right here.



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