Top 10 AUD CPA Exam Tips
Auditing and Attestation (AUD) is one of the four Uniform Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Exam sections to be passed for CPA licensure. With a complex exam format, tricky questions, and an exhaustive list of topics to study, you will benefit from some quick tips on the art of preparing for the AUD CPA exam section.
This section includes five testlets with 72 Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) and 8 Task-based Simulations (TBSs). This four-hour exam section assesses your competency in performing auditing, attestation, and accounting services. It tests not only your conceptual knowledge but also its application in real-life client situations.
The Uniform CPA exam is conducted by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) in association with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and all State Boards of Accountancy.
You need to score at least 75 out of 99 to pass this section. For more information on the exam content, structure, format, weightage, and pass rates, kindly check the AICPA and NASBA websites.
Whether you take up this section at the beginning, middle, or at last, there are specific tips to keep in mind for better results. This article discusses the top ten AUD CPA exam tips for aspiring students and accounting professionals.
Each of these below-mentioned AUD CPA Exam tips will assist you to avoid stress and ace the examination with flying scores. So, let’s dive in!
1. Develop a personalized study plan
To reach any destination, you should first have a road map. A study plan is the road map that would lead you to your dream of passing the AUD exam. So, start with a comprehensive yet personalized study plan. To make a study plan, do the following:
- Write down the entire AUD exam syllabus and divide it into smaller chunks or topics.
- Calculate the time (days/months) you have before the examination date.
- Set aside some days for revision and divide the remaining days with the number of topics. You will get the number of topics you have to study each day.
- List all your daily activities and identify the time slots where you can study each day.
- Once you have identified the number of topics to be covered each day and the available time slots, allocate the topics to the time slots.
- Always leave aside a few hours in a week to review previously studied material. You can also use your commuting time for the same.
Be realistic while creating the plan. Factor in emergencies and make some allowance for family time. However, follow the study plan religiously. Weekly monitor your progress. Create a checklist of all topics and check them off after completing.
Keep in mind the age-old adage ‘Practice makes Perfect.’ Try to solve as many sample papers and online mock tests as you can. It will help you in getting an idea of the nature of questions and the structure and format of the AUD CPA exam. Moreover, it will hone your time management skills.
Taking an exam is fretting at any age. Practicing online sample papers gives you the real-time experience of attending an exam. This hands-on approach to learning will reduce your anxiety and help you focus on the test.
Let’s understand how to attempt the AUD CPA exam questions.
Multiple choice questions
Audit MCQs are considered the toughest of all exam sections as they are mostly subjective and not numerical. The trap here is that one or more answer choices may be correct.
So, the challenge here is to use your judgment to select the best and correct answer for the given situation. Therefore, don’t rush through the answer choices. Instead, read all answer choices carefully, narrow them down to the correct ones, and select the most appropriate response.
Task based simulations
The TBS testlets also offer answer choices. You do not have to draft answers. The testlets have a work tab (directions for completing the tasks) and an information tab (reference guide to help you solve the tasks).
Start with understanding the question from the work tab. Then, proceed to the information tab, go through the necessary resources, draw a conclusion, and choose the correct answer response in the work tab.
Practicing sample papers will help you master the best approach to each type of question. Moreover, they also test whether you can apply what you have learned. In addition, you can identify your learning gaps and work on them.
3. Gain experience or take help from experienced auditors
The AUD exam requires candidates to understand and apply the concepts learned to real-life auditing situations and use reasoning to arrive at a conclusion. So, practical experience in accounting or auditing plays a crucial role in scoring well in this exam section.
If possible, try to take the AUDIT exam after gaining some work experience in public accounting. This will make a world of difference in your approach to the AUD questions.
However, if not possible, you can take the help of experienced auditors to understand their approach to auditing. They can explain to you even the most complicated auditing concepts with ease through real-life examples.
Not only do you get the required information but a lot of other industry-specific best practices as well, which can assist you as a future CPA. So, feel free to take assistance from an online expert, family, or a friend. A few topics an auditor can help you with are:
- Risk evaluation
- Procedures to obtain evidence
- Planned response development
- Professional skepticism
4. Get a good grasp of the Internal Control topic
Internal control (manual and automated) covers a broad area of the AUD CPA Exam section. Hence, make sure you have a good understanding of this topic and everything related to it.
Internal controls are a vital part of a company’s operation and risk management processes. A company puts them in place to identify, assess, and manage the risks it faces.
It is the responsibility of a CPA to ensure the effectiveness of such internal controls. Always remember that internal control is something that will remain valuable beyond your exam throughout your CPA career. So, try to cover every aspect of this topic.
Some of the important aspects of internal control are:
- Design, usage, and limitations of the internal controls
- Principles, components, and application of COSO internal control framework
- Provisions of Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002
- Audit of internal control
- Operating effectiveness of internal controls
For more information on the Internal Controls topic, kindly go through the AUD Blueprints by AICPA.
5. Know everything about the audit report or audit opinion letter
This is undoubtedly a universally relevant tip. The significance of an audit report or audit opinion letter in the AUD CPA Exam Section is undeniable. Hence, learning every minute detail about it will come in handy.
An audit report may state a qualified (with issues) or unqualified (no issues) opinion of the audited financial statements. First, try to memorize everything possible about the unqualified audit report. Then, compare both qualified and unqualified ones to note the differences in their respective language.
If possible, take the help of an experienced auditor to identify and understand the keywords that highlight the language differences in different reports. Though you may not be asked to create an audit report from scratch in the exam, you may be asked to identify an audit report’s appropriate form or alter its content. So, make sure you know even the most basic detail.
6. Memorize (not cram)!
The AUD exam section tests your remembering, understanding, application, analysis, and evaluation skills. The AICPA has allotted 25-35% weightage to remembering and understanding skills in this section. So use strategies to improve your memory.
However, the idea here is not to mug up everything but to understand concepts by associating them to real-life situations. But keep in mind important topics like audit opinion letters, internal controls, etc., and keep revising them daily.
Memorizing can help reduce the scope of confusion and save your time and effort while taking the exam. Some tips for memorizing are as follows:
- Use mnemonics to remember lists
- Use examples to retain information
- Draw diagrams to understand the bigger picture
- Break topics into subtopics and study in small chunks
- Make notes and use a highlighter to mark important points
- Read aloud while studying
7. Use only updated study materials
AUD deals with the auditing and attestation-related matters of a company. Now, it is normal for the Auditing Standard Board (ASB) to change its regulations from time to time. These changes to the auditing and attestation standards get reflected in the AUD syllabus.
There is no use in preparing for AUD CPA Exam 2021 from study materials dated back to 2017 regulations. Hence, always use updated study guides for better preparation.
Saving a few bucks by preparing using old study material will cost you dearly later. Don’t start with a disadvantage. Invest in the proper up-to-date resources.
This will ensure that you never miss a new topic and learn what is required as of now. Besides, keep yourself updated on changes to the CPA exam section syllabus by checking the AICPA and NASBA websites.
8. Take it one day at a time
It may seem overwhelming but remember to breathe and follow your study plan. Pick a topic, study hard, take a break, and revise. Also, reward yourself weekly for sticking to your study plan.
Remember there is enough time to finish all the topics, provided that you practice effective time management. As per your personal preferences, you can start either from the trickiest topic or the easiest one.
Working professionals must plan and apply for leaves well in advance to prepare for the exam. This will offer you a flexible study schedule, peace of mind, and a perfect work-life balance.
9. Review course
Review Courses equip you with the right tools to prepare you for that moment of truth. They include a range of video lectures, questions, simulations, and a lot more. This way, you get the study material and confidence required to get to the finish line.
The format of these courses varies according to your desired learning method. For instance, you can opt for printed material/book, classroom, CD/DVD, one-on-one instruction, online, or USB mode of learning.
Are you wondering how to pick the right one? Well, the AICPA offers the rating of several CPA Review Courses to choose from as per your preferences and affordability.
10. Time for Revision!
Now that you have learned everything, it’s time for a re-take. Once you finish studying every topic for the AUD section, take a breather of 1-2 days. Then, start from the very beginning and take it forward step-by-step.
Meanwhile, also keep solving online mock tests at the end of the day. Make a note of all the topics you still find hard to grasp and take the help of an experienced CPA or auditor to smoothen the road.
You must have understood by now that AUD demands a stronghold over everything related to auditing engagements and professional responsibilities. Moreover, the tips mentioned above will be beneficial for CPA aspirants to strengthen these topics and ace the examination.
Lastly, go easy on yourself and remember this is just an exam (that you will pass)!
This has been a guide to AUD CPA Exam Tips. In this article, we provide you with the the top ten Audit CPA exam tips for aspiring students and accounting professionals. You may also have a look at the following articles –