The Evolving Research Review Method


Earlier I talked about using a "Research Review Method" to study for the CPA exam. I used that for the first time through the material. Some of the material was new, so it wasn't really review. The previous entry on the Research Review Method discussed mostly Business Law aspects. To round off that, this is a wrap-up of sources I used for the taxation study. For taxation I used my college textbook, of course. However, since it was the 2011 edition, I visited the textbook support site and studied the Powerpoints for the 2012 edition. I studied the Powerpoints first and then followed up with the textbook for explanations, that is, in addition to the Wiley guide. Textbook support sites are also useful in another way. Most textbook sites provide on-line quizzes you can take for each chapter. The quizzes were easy, so either I'm really well prepared, or they are not specific enough. There are also some other web site resources that provide sample questions, including, although some questions may be a little too specific. I'll see soon.

Yet another valuable resource for taxation study is the CCH Master Tax Guide. I loved it when I was studying taxes in 1996, so I got the 2012 version before I started working my internship. When I got to the internship, I saw that they had a shelf full of the CCH guides. That's the authoritative source I used to make sure I have the current law correct. Sometimes it's a little more detailed than I need, but it does provide explanations of complex regulations. The guide is organized into numbered paragraphs and sections for different subjects, and it provides the IRC section numbers for reference. Yes, I checked the Internal Revenue Code on several occasions, and that is advised.

The Evolution

Now I'm in phase two where I am reviewing everything I've previously studied, but now my review method has evolved a little. I am using a new technique to organize my study habits. The AICPA provides an outline showing what material is covered for each section. It's called the Content Specification Outline (CSO). I am now using that as my primary outline. This is how I use it.

I downloaded the CSO (a PDF document) to my  computer, Selected All, and then Pasted it into a Word document. I deleted everything but the REG outline and background material. Now I am going through the outline and adding notes for each section and subsection. That will help me be sure I'm not missing something; and by following the outline, I'm not burning brain cells learning stuff I don't need to know. Today, for example, I'm studying Agency and Contracts. I've outlined Agency using notes from each of my sources and tested myself using Wiley, the textbook online quizzes, and Next I have to add notes for sections covering Contracts: 

B. Contracts

1. Formation

2. Performance

3. Third party assignments

4. Discharge, breach, and remedies

Under Contracts I will have the elements of a contract and types of contracts. For Formation I would add notes about Oral and Written, Defenses, et al. If there's something about contracts that I really can't fit into this outline, I don't think I'll need to know it.

Finally, also based on the CSO, I'm reviewing subjects based on the percentage of questions in the section. In other words, I studied Taxation of Entities first because it has the largest percentage of questions (18%-24%). Now I'm on Business Law which makes up 17% - 21%.

As my study continues to evolve I will keep you up to date.

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