Practice is the best way for CPA candidates to hone their time management skills and succeed in case-writing. Developing this important skillset early in CPA PEP also maximizes a candidate’s chances of acing the Common Final Exam (CFE) and getting those three letters—CPA!
In this ongoing series, Jeff Herzog CPA (@jeffthecpa), Accounting Instructor at the University of Alberta, shares practical tips on how to manage your time wisely when writing a case. If you haven’t read part 1, click here, and stay tuned to this site for more tips and tricks from different recent successful CFE writers on a variety of topics.
Hot tip #2: stick to your time budget!
Learning to manage your time is like trying to diet and exercise. You need to stick with it if you want to see results. The same idea applies to writing a case within a time budget: you need to hold yourself accountable.
Attempt every AO within the budgeted time. If you cannot finish an AO within the time budget, stop and move on. For example, if I did not finish my audit planning memo in 17 minutes (assuming that is what I budgeted), I took a few seconds to finish my thought and moved on to the next AO.
Your response will never be perfect, and if you stay on one AO too long, you will never finish your response within the allotted time. You may even run into a scenario where you are only left with a couple of minutes to address your final AO, which will not be enough time to even get a “Reaching Competent” result.
If you finish an AO before the allotted time is up, move on. If you have additional time left over, you can go back and edit your responses. In particular, you could use this additional time on the AOs you struggled with or did not quite finish.
Bonus tip for weekly assignments: when working on weekly cases, use two different font colours or track your changes if you take more than the allotted time. Use one colour for the work you completed within the allocated time and another for the changes or additions you made after time was up. When you receive feedback on your case, see what feedback was given on your initial attempt and what was given on the modifications. This will help you understand where you need to improve when you are under a time constraint.
Jeff has more hot tips in store. Part 3 of his series of blog posts will focus on how to develop shortcuts and improve your efficiency in case writing. Don’t forget to check back.