Written By Guest Blogger Christine L.
For the last few days I’ve been deep into REG. My first goal was to estimate how many hours it would take me to work through it and divide that number by the days remaining before August 31. Mercifully, it looks doable. It’s some serious cramming, but I’ve been cramming my way through accounting courses for two years now.
That led me to think about how hard the four exams are (or aren’t). There’s much talk about the CPA exams being worse than everything from medical boards to a barber’s practical but I have to say that aside from sheer volume it compares favorably to some of the nastier physics tests I took long long ago. The CPA exams are really no stickier than the accounting tests you take for years but what makes them worse is that the exams will cover everything you’ve ever learned and a whole lot you’ve never learned.
I mixed all this in with my attempts to figure out why I am not finding the four parts of the CPA exam equally difficult, why several people told me BEC was easiest and FAR was hardest, yet all four parts have roughly the same (low) pass rates, and why two candidates can rank the four exams exactly opposite in difficulty.
I think for me it’s about the ways we humans create our complicated things. Business and economics are about the world. How do we model the effect of government spending on the economy? What’s the best cost driver for the tax intern’s hours? Models like this aren’t perfect but the lifetime of a government’s dollar in the economy is the same formula as the one for the lifetime of some stray anti-matter in the world of mundane matter. Only you know, without the radiation. And I used to work with anti-matter! Bring on the formulas!
Regulation is laws. Lots of laws. When I first studied tax I thought it was the strangest thing ever. But after doing about fifty tax returns (And doesn’t every future accountant have a stint doing tax returns?) tax started making sense. The same sorts of deductions and credits pop up over and over and if you look long enough you can imagine an earnest politician trying to encourage the nascent duck-farming industry his district. The Statute of Frauds goes back to 1677. Three-hundred and fifty years of human drama tends to pare things down to the basics. Think human nature and you can guess a lot of it. Contrast this to auditing and financial accounting, which are constantly changing, constantly being outsmarted and constantly being improved.
All this poetic imagery may or may not be useful to you, but it is helping me. Remember that all this stuff was created by earnest people who were trying to accomplish something good. Even if it doesn’t help you memorize all the rules, it might make it a bit more fun.