If you had to take a very difficult multi-part exam to take, would you take the most complicated parts first or most simplest parts first? What if you had a time frame to complete the exams and if you don't pass all the parts on time you may lose credit for the first parts that you completed? When it comes to deciding which section of the Uniform CPA Examination to take first, candidates generally have three approaches: hardest to easiest, easiest to hardest, and randomly picking one.
Hardest to Easiest
The rationale that I have heard most for candidates picking the hardest to easiest sections you can save time and money because you reducing the possibility of losing credit for a previously passed section. The Uniform CPA Examination does not have to be taken all at once but candidates have 18 months to pass all sections of the exam. The time starts ticking with your first pass. Let's say I sat in for Auditing and Attestation and its the hardest section for me. Suppose I took 3 tries before I passed it, once I pass it on the third try my 18 months time frames starts. If pass all the other sections within the 18 months period, I would not lose any credit. Suppose I took all the easy sections first and passed them without a problem, then took AUD and failed a couple of times. I run the risk of losing credit some or all the sections I had previously taken if it took me over 18 months to pass my hardest section. I have hard of horror stories where candidates will lose credit for a section that their initially passed easily but failed the second time around because new material and updates have been added to the section.
Easiest to Hardiest
The common rationale that I have heard for going with a candidate's most easiest section first is the establishment of confidence early. Having the first pass will boost confidence and reduce test anxiety. If some candidates take their hard section first and failed once or two consecutive times, they may get highly discouraged from continuing the examination process. Additionally, by taking the easiest section first candidates may become familiar with the test and know what to expect on test day. By the time candidates get to their hardest section their test anxiety may be lower.
My Exam Strategy
It depends on each individual candidate. You have to know yourself and work on improving your weak areas. For example, my written communication skill is not so strong, therefore I will save Business Environment and Concepts for last and continue to work on my writing every chance I get. Personally, I will go with exam strategy of easiest to hardest. I'm giving myself enough time to review thoroughly for each section and I need to build up my confidence that I will pass each section the first time.
I'll like to hear from you. Leave a comment below to let me know which strategy you prefer and why.