How did you prepare for each of the CPA subjects? Any specific strategy for each of the parts?
Well, each of the four subjects has a combination of easy, moderate, and difficult topics. Because I come from a CA background and I had to unlearn a lot of things and relearn a whole lot of new things. Also, The process of going from the phase of writing extensive theory in CA to MCQs and simulations in CPA was a change. Overall I found REG a little tricky. The audit was more or less similar compared to the CA curriculum.
FAR on the other hand was very lengthy. In fact, I took more time to prepare for FAR and BEC as compared to REG and Audit. With this strategy, I was able to take two subjects together, FAR & BEC and REG & AUG.
Amongst all the topics, any specific one you found difficult? And how did you tackle that?
I particularly had a tough time with journal entries. Also, the pension topic was quite confusing. So I spent more time on these topics. I also wrote down the entries over and over again – that really helped me memorize. In BEC – the IT portion is something I studied just before the exam since it’s full theory. That helped me retain the topic even more. REG’s first section is pretty lengthy and certain partnership portions were difficult to grasp coz they were not available in our printed material. One set of simulations came from the above topic and since I didn’t have a strong base I couldn’t attempt the question.
What I figured out (and it’s not something new) is that – we really need to be good with our concepts and set a strong foundation – else it can get daunting trying to remember so much.
What are your Tips and Mantra for future CPA aspirants?
1) Go through the difficult topics at least 2 to 3 times. It really helps set the foundation to a strong base.
2)You need good time management in simulations, therefore before attempting the simulations – do a quick run-through of all the simulations and allot time to each of them.
3) Solve as many MCQs and simulations – The MCQ of Miles is on par with the actual MCQ of the exam. FAR is considered the toughest subject for CPA, but in the FR exam, I felt as if I was giving a mock test. This was only possible because I practiced the OTBs well. For simulations – Miles OTB was way above the actual exam level. So if you do well in your mock tests, chances are you will ace the actual exams for sure. You should know how to proceed with the simulations – one needs to be clear on how to link concepts for simulations.
Tell us something about your India Prometric center experience?
I gave 2 exams in Dubai and 2 exams in India. The centers here are on par with the Dubai exam center. The only drawback here was that they gave me a pocket calculator, which was not very user friendly. Other than that, both are pretty much similar.
Any personal experience of the exam you want to share?
Yes – the second set of testlet in BEC was a little difficult, so I ended up spending a lot of time on it. So I had a feeling that I may not be able to finish off the rest on time. It created a lot of anxiety. But thankfully, was able to complete all in the given timeline. So yes, I learned time management from the BEC exam and applied that in the rest of the 3 papers.
How did you prepare for each of the different interviews that you appeared for after your CPA?
I had prior audit experience – so that really helped. The technical rounds are more or less theory-based. So we have to be technically sound when it comes to answering. They look for additional value add that you bring to the table after passing your CPA.
The behavioral questions are very similar to what is asked for any given field, such as – How will you handle certain issues at work, an example of how they were able to contribute in an individual capacity in their current role, etc. So yes – we need to prepare thoroughly for the interviews.