The written communication of the CPA Exam has undergone many changes in recent years. From a pen and paper exam graded by humans, to an online version graded by a computer, we’ll walk you through exactly how to ace this portion of the exam.
Currently, there are 3 written communication questions which are only found in BEC (Business Environment and Concepts). These 3 questions are testing to see how well you can communicate your knowledge to those around you. Here are the key points to the written communication section:
Graded by a computer – It’s important to first note that this portion is graded by a computer, which is why the following sections are the way they are. Note: if your grade is on the borderline (74, 75, 76) a human will review it.
Multiple paragraphs –The grading software looks for your answer in multiple paragraph formats. There should be an introduction, body, and closing. Also, be sure to avoid bullets – the grader doesn’t like bullets.
Stay on Topic – We’re going to let you in on a little secret – your answer doesn’t necessarily have to be right, but it does need to be relevant! You must stay on topic and be sure to repeat key words because it is graded by a computer.
Spelling/Grammar – You will be graded on your spelling and grammar, so be sure to read and re-read your answers to make sure everything looks good. Also, the AICPA decided to give you guys a break in 2011 when they added that little red squiggly spell check line, letting you know your spelling is off – use this! However, there is no green squiggly for grammar so be extra careful.
Grading – Only 2 of the 3 questions asked will actually be graded. This is because they are “pre-testing” questions to see how people score and possibly use them on future exams. However, you won’t know which question is thrown out so be sure to do your best on them all! The written communication portion will account for 15% of your total BEC score.
Can you please describe the difference between the following depreciation methods: Straight Line, Double Declining Balance, Sum-of- Years-Digits.
- Intro Paragraph – “I would be happy to help…
- Body Paragraphs – “Straight
line depreciation is…” “Double declining balance is…” “Sum-of-Years-Digits is…”
- Closing Paragraph – “Thank you for your question…”
Here is a screen shot of an actual Written Communication
question released by the AICPA.
If you follow those basic steps (and learn the material of course) you are bound to ace the written communication portion of the exam.