Read Questions Carefully

We get folks who occasionally write into us questioning one of our answers. We always check those out very carefully. Probably 75 percent of the time (possibly more), the candidate has missed seeing one word. And it is almost always the same missed word. That word is “not.” The question will ask something like “Which of the following answers is not correct?” The candidate will just fail to see the word “not.” It was there. Its imply did not register. And, then, their answer is wrong. Not because they did not know the material but because they missed that key word.

That tendency always worries me when candidates eventually go to take the CPA Exam. If you fail to make 75 because you don’t quite know enough material, that just means you need to study a bit more and take the exam again. But, please don’t fail the exam because you miss seeing the word “not” or " instead of."

When you read questions in studying or for real on the exam, you need to focus carefully on what it actually says. My students here at the university will complain after every test about reading what they thought a question was asking and not what it really did say. “I knew the answer; I just read it wrong.” Unfortunately, either way you wind up with a miss.

When you read a question, either in practice or on the CPA Exam, make sure you identify the facts that are being presented and the exact question being asked. Don’t guess at the facts. Don’t guess at what is being asked. Too often, it is human nature to read the first few words and then start to anticipate where the question is going. You need to avoid that trap.

Never anticipate a question.

Never assume that you know what is going to be asked.

Always read each question as if passing the CPA Exam depended on that one answer.

Have a sense of urgency.

Don’t throw points away by misreading words.

You can make 75 but only if you stay focused on each question.

 

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