The Research Review Method

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For my first CPA exam, I decided to go without one of the review courses. Instead, I am researching the material as a method of preparing for the CPA exam. I'm currently going through REG material and I have found that there is a wide range of material available for review. I am using the cheap Wiley review books but my study process is much like researching for a paper. I get a general overview of the subject first, and then dig into different topics as I review.

For example, I have a basic business law book (Barron's) for the basics of the business law section. Following that I study the Wiley CPA exam review book and a more comprehensive business law textbook (Business Law Today). The Wiley is an outline while the textbooks provide explanation. For all three, I reconcile any apparent differences and omissions. One or the other may have better explanations of the topic. For example, Barron's lists the non-dischargeable debts in two separate lists while the Wiley has a long disorganized list. 

Of course, those are just a few of the resources. There are also some outlines of business law material available for studying for the bar exam. Obviously, you wouldn't try to use a bar exam review, but you could benefit from reading sections on Secured Transactions or Bankruptcy. The US court system website is another resource. You can get an overview of all six chapters of the bankruptcy code there.

Finally, I make some of my own notes and outlines. One thing I noted in the order of bankruptcy distribution is that the items can be categorized. Alimony and administration are high priority items. The next five are business related (ordinary course, wages, benefit plans, storage, and deposits). The next three are government related (taxes, FDIC claims, and DUI liabilities) with general creditors (timely or untimely) as low priorityitems. Of course there are details to remember about each, but at least I have the order right.

My philosophy is that a mastery of the subject is more related to how much you know and how well you know it, rather than how good the review course is. While "research review" may not be the most efficient way to prepare, it may be the most effective way to master the material. I suspect the better you master the subject, the better you will be prepared on the job.

Yet another advantage of the research method is that it is less likely to put me to sleep. Reading and re-reading all of the same material tends to make my eyelids heavy.

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