We've been discussing the big changes coming to the CPA exam in 2017 for awhile now, and while all changes being made are for the benefit of the exam candidate, this latest change announcement was much welcomed.
In the AICPA's Exposure Draft for the 2017 CPA Exam Changes lies a proposal to add break time to each section of the exam. This change comes as a result of the changes made to increase focus on testing higher-order skills, which will require candidates to examine and utilize information on a more in-depth level. The AICPA feels that the added break allotments will give candidates time to step back and take a breath from testing before diving back in.
Some of you that have already taken portions of the exam know that it is possible to take breaks with the current exam setup, however it counts against testing time and breaks that last more than ten minutes are reported to the candidate's board of accountancy. Naturally, this leaves many candidates feeling obligated to continue testing rather than take time for a break, though the breather could benefit them in the long run. Breaks will possibly run around 10-15 minutes, which is just enough time to refocus and refresh your mind.
So how can you spend this newly allotted break time? There's several options but here's one we don't recommend—doing a mini-cram session in your head. You need these few minutes to take your mind off the exam, plus trying to squeeze in too much info in that short period could cause you to mix up information.
Step out to have a breather and think about anything besides the exam. Think about what you're doing after the exam. Knowing the test is going to end and you'll be walking out after completely it in a short amount of time can give some peace. Think about your plans for the evening, a loved one, hanging with friends, or anything you enjoy. If you're a yogi and are dressed to do so, put in a few poses to relieve any anxiety you might be feeling. Take a short walk to take your mind off the test. Keep a protein bar and water handy to refuel during breaks so you're not distracted by hunger during the exam. Don't do anything to put your test taking or mindset into jeopardy.
The time is going to fly by and we recommend not trying to look how much time you have left, it'll just give you one more reason to stress. Take it for what it is - a gift to relax, take a second to breathe, and get back to acing the exam.
While this latest exam changes news is one to look forward to, some of you may be nervous about taking the all-new CPA exam and if this sounds like you, we recommend establishing a plan to complete the exam in 2016. Of course we'll be here along the way to help you get there.