Thursday, September 29, 2016

BEC 2016 Update

Many people reach my blog by searching about BEC on Google (“How can I pass BEC,” “Why did I fail BEC,” “BEC Study Plan,” etc.). Therefore, I thought I would write this updated post for 2016 with some helpful information instead of just complaining about BEC (you can read complaining here). I have included resources that I found helpful for my own study plan. I am not affiliated with the AICPA, NASBA or the CPA Exam. This is not official at all; I am just a CPA candidate writing on a personal blog. You should do your own research and double-check whether the information presented here is correct and still applies. 

This post contains my BEC Strategy, A Closer Look at BEC (Content Specification Outlines) and My Study Plan, CPA Exam Resources, and BEC Resources!

My BEC Strategy

I am seriously considering sitting for the CPA Exam again this winter. And if I decide to do it, I will try to beat my nemesis first – BEC! On the surface, BEC looks to be the easiest of the 4 parts of the CPA Exam (only 3 hours instead of 4, no simulations), but that thought is very deceiving (as most of us have learned the hard way). The CPA Exam is also changing for April 1, 2017, so I want to get this part out of the way now. I will write more later regarding the 2017 changes.

In order to be successful this time, I will not harp on what I did wrong the other 20 times I took it. OK, it wasn’t 20 times, but it sure feels like it. This time, I want to be one of the 49% of CPA candidates who passes the CPA Exam. For this go-round, I plan to:

1. Do a million multiple choice questions, and
2. Use textbooks and online resources along with the review books.

My thinking is that the multiple choice questions repeat, so familiarizing myself with the questions will help me answer them quickly; saving some time that can be used on the written portion. Textbooks and online resources will provide some extra information that I can hopefully use in the written portion.

So far, I have ordered the Wiley BEC Study Guide and have the Wiley BEC Focus Notes. The Wiley BEC Test Bank looks expensive, but I might go for it. I am starting out by self-studying, but will write another post on review courses later, since I’m not sure which to use yet.
[As per the disclaimer in the left sidebar, I participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to] 

A Closer Look at BEC and My Study Plan

Right now, the AICPA gives you 3 hours to take BEC. BEC is comprised of 3 multiple-choice questions (MCQs) testlets (72 multiple-choice questions total) and 1 testlet with 3 written communication tasks. In 2017, the test time will change to 4 hours since they are adding 5 task-based simulations in addition to the MCQs and the 3 written communication tasks. They are also reducing the number of MCQs from 72 to 62 questions.

OK, so what does BEC test you on? According to the AICPA, the candidate should be able to "demonstrate an understanding of the general business environment and business concepts." Now, what does that mean? Per our friends at the AICPA, Business Environment and Concepts pertains to the following areas:

1. Corporate Governance (16%-20%)

This area covers the COSO framework, ethics, internal controls, enterprise risk management, and business structure.

My Study Plan: I will refer to the COSO, SOX and IIA websites (see below).

2. Economic Concepts & Analysis (16%-20%)

This area covers economics, globalization, and financial risk management.

My Study Plan: My almost 20-year-old Economics textbook will be used as a reference since the concepts of supply, demand, GDP, and inflation are the same as what they were back then.

3. Financial Management (19%-23%)

This area covers financial forecasting, projections, analysis, capital management, financial valuations, debt, equity, and leasing.

My Study Plan: I have some books that I use for work on financial processes and controls that I think I can use.

4. Information Systems and Communications (15%-19%)

This area covers Information Technology (IT) and systems, security, and segregation of duties.

My Study Plan: Flash cards! I plan to memorize the IT terms and definitions. My specialty is in systems implementations, so hopefully, my work experience will have made me stronger in this area than I was when I last sat for this exam.

5. Strategic Planning (10%-14%)

This area covers planning – budgets, forecasts and projections, and market and risk analysis.

My Study Plan: I will refer to my old textbook on budgeting and forecasting (I think it was called “Financial Accounting”).

6. Operations Management (12%-16%)

This area covers financial and non-financial measures of performance, cost accounting, management processes and philosophies, and project planning.

My Study Plan: I plan on solving lots of multiple choice questions for the financial statement ratios and cost accounting. There weren’t many questions on cost accounting in the Wiley book, so I will have to find a MCQ resource to supplement.

CPA Exam Resources

The AICPA provides the following helpful resources:

Additional Resources for BEC:

The AICPA suggests the following resources in their CSOs along with a list of textbooks. The organizations sell information to corporate employees, but I was able to find a lot of free information (including PDFs) on their websites. So please look around for the free stuff!!! I am not affiliated with any of these organizations; just using their free resources for my own studying as suggested by the AICPA CSO and writing about it here in case it helps someone.

§  Free Executive Summary and Poster 

o   Free full text of the Act

o   Free guidance

o   Free Cobit5 toolkit (at the bottom of the page) 

I hope you find this compilation of information helpful for your own BEC Study Plan. After doing this research, I am relieved that not much has changed since I last took BEC. Let me know in the comments below how you plan on studying for BEC.

No comments:

Post a Comment