What Does the Business Environment and Concepts Section of the CPA Exam Involve?

One of the hardest exams in the world, the Uniform CPA Exam is a gateway to a successful and lucrative career. Passing the CPA Exam requires the examinee to study for numerous hours and have a solid and thorough education in accounting concepts. The CPA Exam consists of four sections:
  • Financial accounting and reporting (FAR)
  • Auditing and attestation (AUD)
  • Business environment and concepts (BEC)
  • Regulation (REG)
Each section of the CPA Exam covers different concepts and is structured differently. In this article we’ll take a closer look at the BEC section. The BEC section includes topics such as business and economic concepts, financial management, information technology and planning and measurement. The BEC is the only section of the CPA Exam that includes written simulations (as well as Task-Based Simulations). As such, this section of the CPA Exam sometimes has to be graded by humans after a computer has done a first review, so it may take longer to receive your BEC exam results than for other sections of the CPA Exam. Examinees have three hours to answer the three written simulations and three multiple choice testlets. As a result of this section being hand graded, it is to the benefit of the test taker to utilize a CPA review course for BEC. Each testlet is made up of 30 multiple choice questions. Like the other sections of the CPA Exam, question difficulty in testlets two and three will scale with how well you’ve answered questions in testlet one. If you answer most of the questions correctly in testlet one, you will get harder questions in the succeeding testlets. If you answer most of the questions incorrectly in testlet one, you will have easier questions on two and three. The harder the question, the more points it is worth. So if you find yourself receiving difficult questions throughout the exam, you may be doing well and scoring more points. Many feel that the BEC section is the easiest of the four and therefore leave it for the last section they take. However, because the written section requires hand grading, which could delay the score report, you may want to take it earlier in your testing timetable. Many exam-takers feel that there is no need to add unneeded stress and anxiety to the end of the exam schedule. The CPA Exam is stressful enough, if it fits your personal test taking preferences, it may be a good idea to save yourself some anxiety and take the BEC second or third in your exam schedule. As with any exam, be sure you’re fully rested and get a good night’s sleep the night before. Pace yourself throughout the exam and do not over think the questions. Try to remain calm and not to fixate on the difficulty level of the questions as you advance from one testlet to another. Specifically for the BEC section, grammar, spelling and punctuation count on the writing simulations, so make sure you brush up on your English skills in addition to the aforementioned accounting concepts. You can be marked down if you cannot professionally explain your answers to the graders. After all, you will have to explain many concepts, in writing, to clients and employers in the future. The BEC section of the CPA exam covers a wide range of concepts, many of which you may not have covered in typical accounting classes. So be sure you’re prepared for questions that may encompass economic concepts, business law, IT and business strategy. We suggest brushing up on these topics by finding a CPA exam review course that matches your learning style. Above all, don’t underestimate the difficulty of this section. Though this section of the exam is considered by many to be the easiest of the four, it still consistently yields the same high fail rate, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare with the same focus and intent.

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