CPA Review Course Question Difficulty

From Joe:

My daughter and I went to a baseball game here on campus a few days ago. We sat behind the visiting dugout. Their batters had an interesting habit. They had a sledge hammer and each player would swing it for several seconds before picking up the real bat to go to the plate.

My daughter was mystified by the sledge hammer and wanted to know what they were doing. I explained that batters have long had the practice of swinging very heavy objects before they bat. When I was a kid, they would swing 2-3 bats at one time. Now, they often have a heavy object that they refer to as a “donut” that they slip on the bat to add weight. Or, apparently, they use a sledge hammer.

The purpose of swinging the weight is to loosen up and strengthen the batter’s muscles to get ready to better hit the baseball. After straining against the weight of the sledgehammer, the batter is able to swing his own bat faster and harder. I’m assuming Babe Ruth did this type of practice 90 years ago. It’s not a new idea.

I was reminded of this last week. Someone on the Internet said that she liked the review question from X course because they were easy but didn’t like ours quite as much because they were harder. I thought that a really naïve thing to say.

Are our questions really harder?

I would guess that 60-80 percent of our questions are about the same level of difficulty as the CPAExam. The other 20-40 percent of the questions are probably a bit harder. Why is that?

Isn’t the answer obvious? It is like getting ready to bat by swinging a sledge hammer. It builds up your muscles and makes you a better hitter. Harder questions make it easier to answer questions in the future.

I think practicing on questions that are too easy is a big waste of time and money. What good does that do you? You should be practicing on questions of about the same difficulty as the CPA Exam or slightly harder because YOU ARE WORKING TO BUILD UP YOUR BRAIN.

Sure, hard questions stretch your brain a little bit. They help you learn a bit more. They help you understand more. They help you do better the next time you see similar questions. And, isn’t that exactly what you want?

No one wants impossible questions. That doesn’t do you any good for anyone. But you should want a decent dose (20-40 percent) of questions that push you to know more.

The harder the questions are that you work in practice, the easier the questions will seem on the CPA Exam.

Swing that sledge hammer!




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