There’s a joke told among professionals that when a client asks a question, they don’t know the answer to, the response they should give is, “Well, that depends.” It’s a great joke, to be sure, but in this case, it’s true. What is the optimal CPA Exam sitting order? It depends on the candidate’s strengths and preferences.
The truth is that there is no “best” order. There are, however, a few things a candidate should keep in mind to determine their most optimal order. These include personal choices, cpa exam preparation, and others that are discussed below.
Many candidates sit for the CPA Exam right out of college. Further, many have taken a recent course that is relevant to one of the Exam legs. Since the material is fresh in their mind, these candidates will opt to take that leg first. There’s nothing wrong with this approach. Any candidate who finds that this is true of them should use this method.
On a Roll
Many candidates who sit for the CPA Exam are fresh out of college. For this reason, the material is still fresh in mind, but they are also on a motivational binge. Others, however, get out of college tired and ready for a break. And after a while, they are prepared to plunge into the Exam.
Regardless of where a candidate stands on this spectrum, they should judge for themselves when they are ready and what leg they want to take in what order.
In Logical Order
Again, this is a matter of personal preference, but when many CPA candidates decide to take the legs of the Exam in their logical order, in most cases, it ends up being FAR, AUD, REG, and BEC. Most experts agree that the FAR is the most comprehensive of the legs. With this in mind, candidates like to take this leg first, with the remaining legs building upon the FAR as a foundation. The AUD, REG, and BEC contain some FAR elements, but not nearly to the extent. Further, BEC is kind of a catch-all for the other three legs of the Exam since it kind of pulls a little of each and the written memos. Most people consider this the optimal order.
Since legs can be taken in any order, it is strongly recommended that candidates take these legs in the order they desire. Many candidates mistake taking the legs in the order suggested by the review course they take. This is a mistake because, after all, that’s what they teach, and not necessarily what is best for a given candidate.
Another piece of advice that many people give is never to take the FAR as the last leg. This is because since the FAR is the most comprehensive, by the time most candidates have taken the other legs, they are burned out physically as well as mentally. Taking the FAR as the last leg is like climbing and mountain thinking you have it conquered, only to discover that you have an even steeper mountain to climb after you have gotten to the top.
Decide what you are good at and what you are most comfortable with and take that leg first. From there on out, it’s all downhill.