Corey Cines
 
 
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Corey Cines

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Assurance Associate

PwC

D.C. Metro Area

Exam Diary
 

Acing the Exam

Q&A with a soon-to-be-minted CPA 

When it comes to conquering that ever-looming exam, you can learn a lot from a pass master. Corey Cines, recent CPA-exam success story and current associate at PwC, shares his secrets and insights into all things BEC, FAR, AUD and REG. So use his test-nailing know-how as your test-prep salvation.


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This Way to CPA :  Hello everyone. Corey Cines, Assurance Associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers will be with us shortly. Feel free to start submitting your questions.

Thursday April 26, 2012 01:57

Question

Hi Corey,

Thursday April 26, 2012 01:59

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Corey Cines:  Hi everyone! I'm very happy to be here, thank you for joining. To briefly introduce myself, my name is Corey Cines and I'm an Associate at PwC. I just started with PwC in the Assurance practice within our Private Company Services group last September after passing the CPA exam in Summer 2011 and graduating from the University of Maryland in December 2010.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:00

Question

Carolyn:  What is the best way to study for FAR?

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:00

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Corey Cines:  I just had the pleasure (maybe not the best word) of going through the challenging process of passing the CPA exam so please do not hesitate to ask any and all questions. The more information you get the better off you will be successfully passing the exam.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:00

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Corey Cines:  Thanks for your question Carolyn. FAR was a monster and and my toughest section.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:01

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Corey Cines:  I used Becker for the exam which had 9 different sections. I went through 1-2 sections a week and left a week at the end to do a speed review of every section.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:02

Question

Yura K:  Why did you choose Becker?

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:02

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Corey Cines:  Overall I think it took me about a month and a half watching the videos and doing the practice problems. I didn't really bother with the book as I am not great at learning from reading (I fall asleep).

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:03

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Corey Cines:  Yura, PwC was nice enough to pay for the costs of the exam and have a relationship with Becker.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:04

Question

Michelle:  Were there any sections of Becker that you felt did not provide enough preparation for the test?

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:04

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Corey Cines:  We just sign up online, request the type of course we want to take (online, in person, or self study) and then get to work.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:04

Question

Tyler:  What did you do to stay motivated to stick to your study plan and not fall away from it?

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:05

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Corey Cines:  Good question Michelle. Becker was great for BEC, and pretty good for AUD.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:06

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Corey Cines:  REG it emphasized some things that I didn't really see on the exam but that could have just been my section.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:06

Which exam section will you take first?

AUD
( 5% )
BEC
( 5% )
FAR
( 70% )
REG
( 17% )

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:06

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Corey Cines:  FAR had just changed because of the addition of IFRS so that was kind of a guessing game on their part. They should be better equipped now to handle that.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:07

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Corey Cines:  Tyler make sure to find a routine and stick to it.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:07

Question

Rod:  What did you think of Becker's online tools. Did you get good feedback on your weak areas?

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:07

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Corey Cines:  Don't shoot too high or you will get frustrated and run into trouble. Set a realistic plan of I am going to study 3 hours this day, 4 hours that day, build in times for breaks (I took long runs to clear my head) and then stick to the schedule.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:08

Question

How long did it take you to complete FAR's study in terms of hours, months?

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:09

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Corey Cines:  Rod I might not be the best person to comment on Becker's online tools. Didn't even know they existed to be honest :) . I'm sure they have some good stuff in there though. They know what they're doing...

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:09

Question

where you working at the same time?

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:10

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Corey Cines:  If I had to approximate I would say far took me 130 hours. I started studying in June and then really started seriously July 1 and took the exam July 13. By seriously I mean I was working like 6 hours a day 5-6 days a week for the last two weeks.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:11

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Corey Cines:  When I graduated in December I knew I would be working with PwC starting in September.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:11

Question

How many hours a day did you study? Were you were full time

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:12

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Corey Cines:  So I took a part time job with Giant Food as a Supply Chain Analyst working about 20 hours a week Tuesday-Thursday.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:12

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Corey Cines:  Monday and Friday I would study around 4 hours for whatever section I was taking and 3 hours Tuesday-Thursday.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:12

Question

Yura K:  With FAR, what topics were tested the most and which ones do you feel need to be studied more than others?

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:13

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Corey Cines:  Yura, to be honest FAR might be totally different now for you than it was for me. On my exam they were testing IFRS questions out on us. It surprised me just how many of those there were. My gut feeling is they didn't count because I didn't really spend too much time studying IFRS vs. GAAP.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:14

How many hours a week do you plan to study for the exam?

5 or less
( 0% )
6-15
( 11% )
15-26
( 61% )
26+
( 27% )

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:14

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Corey Cines:  I recommend you guys pay special attention to the differences though.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:14

Question

Maged Melio:  I am Maged Melio. Work as Financial Accountant - IFRS Dep. - in National Bank of Egypt. I see that CPA will add value to my career. Would you give more hints about CPA for Banking career?

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:15

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Corey Cines:  Hello Maged. Welcome all the way from Egypt!

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:16

Question

Maged Melio:  Thanks Corey, most welcome. Nice to attend useful conversation like that!

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:17

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Corey Cines:  I think the CPA adds credibility to anyone, in any career. I learned so much from the process about accounting, taxation, and business and it is constantly something that impresses people when I say I passed the exam.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:17

Question

Angela:  I am studying with Becker now but I wanted to know have you heard of other materials that helped others. I could use suggestions on Auditing because it seems so foreign at times.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:17

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Corey Cines:  Angela, first of all it is important to understand you are not alone in that feeling.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:18

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This Way to CPA :  Check out our article for international students: https://www.thiswaytocpa.com/exam-licensure/articles/get-licensed/become-cpa-usa/

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:18

Question

Bernice:  When you were about to take an exam, how did you know that you were fully prepared?

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:19

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Corey Cines:  I work in auditing now (I should be auditing something as we are speaking) but I took the exam before I started and it all looked like a different language.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:19

Question

CPABound:  I completed my Masters in Accounting 3 years ago and have attempted to study for the exam off and on for the last two years. I fear that jumping into 15-20 study hours a week would not be enough for me to pass the exams. What do you suggest? Is it too late for me?

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:19

Question

Maged Melio:  Thanks to This way to CPA staff. I appreciate

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:19

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Corey Cines:  I didn't use any resources other than Becker but when I ran into walls for any issues I would take a look at websites like ThisWaytoCPA and The CPA Exam Club.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:20

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Corey Cines:  Bernice, I never felt fully prepared.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:21

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Corey Cines:  But keep in mind you need a 75%, not a 100%.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:21

Question

Did you pass all four parts on first try? if so what helped you succeed?

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:21

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Corey Cines:  I knew I was somewhat ready when I would go through all the text questions during my last review week (always left a week at the end for review) and was scoring in the 70s and 80s.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:22

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Corey Cines:  Don't ignore the task based simulations. I feel like I learned the most from doing those as they provide more of the real life circumstances.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:22

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Corey Cines:  I did pass the four parts on my first try luckily.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:23

Question

Bernice:  Thank you so much. That helps.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:23

Question

Mayra:  I'm sorry, I don't know if you answered this already. But did you take one section each week. Also, is there a certain order that you recommend taking the exams?

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:23

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Corey Cines:  The key was giving myself plenty of time between sections and plan that I could realistically stick to.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:23

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Corey Cines:  Usually my rule of thumb was a month and a half between sections.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:24

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This Way to CPA :  Want to learn more about Corey’s experience taking the CPA Exam? Read his exam diary: http://www.thiswaytocpa.com/exam-licensure/exam-diary/corey-cines/

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:24

Question

Yura K:  Could you describe you studying style? I know each person is different but as far as studying and then sitting at the exam location were there any strategies that paid off once you see the real questions?

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:24

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Corey Cines:  Mayra, that's a great question. Please take a look at my CPA Exam Diary (yes I wrote a diary) for a comprehensive answer.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:25

Question

Klodia :  Did you use the flashcards?

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:25

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Corey Cines:  To briefly answer your question, I went BEC, REG, AUD, FAR.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:25

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Corey Cines:  But I recommend you decide whether you want to go hardest first and get them out of the way or easiest to build up some confidence and momentum.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:26

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Corey Cines:  Yura, yes it is very important to understand your own study style!

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:26

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Corey Cines:  Mine is auditory and tactile I need to hear it and do it. I didn't waste time reading unless I needed a nap (except for BEC as it wasn't as boring).

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:27

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Corey Cines:  Klodia, I did not use flashcards. There were too many and they scared me away :) . But its all about knowing your individual style. If you use them to study in school, then I would recommend using them for the exam.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:28

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This Way to CPA :  Learn more about how your learning style can help you pass the CPA Exam: https://www.thiswaytocpa.com/education/articles/studying-up/learn-it-your-way/

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:30

Question

I just joined this discussion so you may have already answered this question.....How did you feel when you left your first exam? I just took FAR last Friday. I felt great until I hit the sims and I am so afraid the sims caused me to fail!

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:30

Question

Klodia :  Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:31

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Corey Cines:  I did not answer that question, that's a good one. I was pretty sure I failed. Luckily you only have to be in the top 40% so I guess I was up there.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:31

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Corey Cines:  The simulations are always very very difficult. I would give a call to my friends after we took the exam and ask how they think the sims went. The general response was terribly.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:32

Where/how do you do your best studying?

At home
( 38% )
At a quiet place away from the distractions of home
( 53% )
At a bustling coffee shop
( 0% )
During breaks at work
( 7% )

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:32

Question

Anne:  What would you recommend to someone that didn't pass the exam the first time?

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:33

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Corey Cines:  Don't worry about it too much. One good tip for the simulations though is to try to leave yourself plenty of time for them. That way you can weed your way through the authoritative literature which sometimes has some answers to the tricky problems.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:33

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This Way to CPA :  Looking for more on how the CPA Exam is scored? http://www.aicpa.org/BECOMEACPA/CPAEXAM/PSYCHOMETRICSANDSCORING/Pages/PsychometricsandScoring.aspx

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:34

Question

Anne:  Did any of your friends study or take the exams with you? What do you think of study groups?

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:34

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Corey Cines:  Thanks for your question Anne. I recommend giving yourself 2 weeks to refresh and giving it a second try. You already know the material and are probably are aware of your "areas for development."

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:34

Question

Christy:  I just sent the message saying I took FAR this past Friday. I did not realize I had left off my name....I helps to know you did not feel well about the sims either. I studied over 200 hours....I just started on AUD this morning. I find it hard to move on to the next section without knowing how I did one FAR. I feel like my brain is out of space!!!!!!!

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:35

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Corey Cines:  I didn't take it with any friends. I really wish they were taking it the same time I was so I could talk about it with someone but, I graduated in December and they graduated in the Spring. Study groups work if you have the right group. Again, to go back to something I mentioned earlier, if it worked for you in college, it will probably work on the exam.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:36

Question

Tom:  Hi Corey, what's your advice on getting my foot in the door with recruiters at the big 4? I am no longer a college student, but I don't really qualify for an experienced associate. I have one of the CPA exams passed and I'm now working on FAR, and looking to work for a big 4 firm. Thanks!

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:37

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Corey Cines:  Christy, forget about it. I was 100% positive I failed FAR and even considered starting to study again so I could take it at the next window. Things tend to work themselves out in the end though...

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:37

Question

Christy:  When I started this process I did not realize how emotional it would be. Meaning that it is so much "mental attitude."

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:38

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Corey Cines:  Hi Tom, welcome. Work your network!

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:38

Question

Christy:  Corey, Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:38

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Corey Cines:  Talk to friends, family, random people on the street and you will find opportunities in the firms. It is a numbers game so try to speak to as many people as possible.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:39

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This Way to CPA :  Building a study group? Use this checklist to make sure your study group works for you: https://www.thiswaytocpa.com/education/articles/studying-up/right-study-stuff/

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:39

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Corey Cines:  Christy, it is emotional. It can get lonely at times, frustrating and exhausting. Its a learning experience not just from the perspective of the exam but having a challenging project and needing to complete it.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:40

Question

Yura K:  Will the script of this chat be available after the chat is over?

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:40

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Corey Cines:  At the end of the day you'll be a stronger person once you are successful and as I said before, things tend to work themselves out.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:40

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This Way to CPA :  Hi Yura. You will be able to view a replay of the chat directly on the Facebook page as soon as it ends.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:41

What time of day do you do your best studying?

Early morning
( 37% )
Mid-day
( 12% )
Afternoon
( 0% )
Evening
( 50% )

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:42

Question

wendy:  how did you hire by PWC? compus interview? apply online?

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:43

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Corey Cines:  I like the poll questions, I'll address those briefly. I don't recommend studying at home. Be honest with yourself, while it is convenient, there are too many distractions.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:43

Question

Christy:  Corey, Thank you so much for the encouragement. I should know my FAR score May 7/8. I will keep pushing on towards AUD!!!!

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:44

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Corey Cines:  Thanks for your question Wendy. I went through the campus recruiting process. I had been active in UMD's accounting society (I know, I know, pretty nerdy) and met the right people during that process.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:44

Question

Joseph:  What is the window of time you must wait before taking an exam part again if you fail?

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:45

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Corey Cines:  Christy, anytime! Forget about FAR for now, it is down. Get down to business for AUD and you'll be half way there.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:45

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Corey Cines:  Joseph, that's a good question. I'm going to refer you to that mystical ThisWaytoCPA post that comes up from time to time.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:47

Question

Yura K:  Do any of the sections of the exam require you to show knowledge of current accounting events? Do the actual test questions touch on this at all?

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:47

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Corey Cines:  Yura, not that I can think of. The goal of the test is pretty much to answer the question: Do you know the basic fundamentals of accounting?

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:48

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Corey Cines:  That would be something to discuss in an interview though if you enjoy reading FASB standards in your spare time :)

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:49

Question

Anne:  Hi Corey! Do you think someone working full-time can still sit for the exam after studying for 2 months?

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:49

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Corey Cines:  Anne, that sounds like plenty of time.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:49

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This Way to CPA :  Hi Joseph: Notes about retaking sections are in the Candidate Bulletin here:
http://www.aicpa.org/BECOMEACPA/CPAEXAM/FORCANDIDATES/CANDIDATEBULLETIN/Pages/bulletin.aspx

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:50

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Corey Cines:  If I were trying to study while working full time I would aim for 2-3 hours a night and around 8-10 hours on the weekend.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:50

Question

Anne:  Thank you, Corey!

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:50

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Corey Cines:  Good luck Anne!

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:51

Question

Yura K:  So, even with IFRS, it is just can you correctly tell the difference and whether IASB and FASB are close in theit convergence effort does not matter>

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:51

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Corey Cines:  Yura, if I remember correctly they try to specifically test whether you know the differences between IFRS and GAAP standards.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:52

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Corey Cines:  I doubt they would ask when the convergence will occur because I feel like that changes every day.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:53

Question

Klodia :  What would be your sugestion on REG study game?

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:54

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Corey Cines:  Thanks for your question Klodia. REG has a pretty sizeable amount of material.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:55

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This Way to CPA :  We've got about five minutes left. Corey can probably answer two more questions.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:55

Question

what would be the best study plan for BEC in a months time?

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:55

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Corey Cines:  I think I gave myself a month and a half and tried to get through a section a week.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:56

Question

Yura K:  How did you celebrate passing?

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:56

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Corey Cines:  BEC is very doable in a month. Aim for 1-2 sections a week and leave a week at the end to go back through everything.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:57

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Corey Cines:  Yura, I learned I had passed while sitting in my Assurance 1 training course on my second day of work. So unfortunately.... started working.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:58

Question

On the BEC should I focus a lot on the work out questions, or more on the concept.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:58

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Corey Cines:  My friends and I did go out to DC that night for a little celebratory activities though.

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:58

Question

Anne:  Congratulations, Corey! I'm sure your boss was proud of you :)

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:59

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Corey Cines:  Do the questions until you know them back and forth. There will often be a lot of repeats or very similar ones on the exam (especially in BEC).

Thursday April 26, 2012 02:59

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Corey Cines:  Thanks Anne! The Big 4 and quite a few other accounting firms provide a congratulatory bonus for passing the exam. Adds a little extra incentive in there for you...

Thursday April 26, 2012 03:00

Question

Thank you for your time, have a blessed day!

Thursday April 26, 2012 03:00

Question

Michelle:  Thank you for your time Corey, and congratulations!

Thursday April 26, 2012 03:00

Question

Anne:  Thank you!

Thursday April 26, 2012 03:00

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This Way to CPA :  Many thanks to everyone for your great questions. Keep an eye out for our forthcoming mobile app, CPA Exam Aid, to help you ace the exam.

Thursday April 26, 2012 03:01

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Corey Cines:  Thanks everyone! Appreciate all your questions and I hope I was able to help. Good luck with the process, I'm sure you will all do great.

Thursday April 26, 2012 03:01