2009 AICPA Released CPA Exam Questions: Should Candidates Spend Time Studying Them?

20 Apr 2009

Guest Posts

By Jeff

The AICPA recently released their list of 2009 CPA Exam questions, which is something that they do on an annual basis. They release fifty questions or so per section, which is in addition to the questions that they license to the various CPA Review courses to use in their books.

Should candidates spend valuable study time going over them?

To answer this, I asked Phil Yaeger of Yaeger CPA Review.

His response is as follows:

“While I realize that there is some buzz about the 2009 AICPA Released Questions, I do not recommend that my students (or any other CPA candidates) spend time studying them. The reason for this is two-fold:

1. The questions that they released are old, retired questions that they have decided not to use on future exams. Candidates who spend time tryng to answer these questions are not only wasting their time on them, but also risk becoming frustrated because their review material hasn't covered these topics. At a recent meeting with the AICPA they told us that these questions have been purged from their exam test bank and won't be used in the future.

2. In our course we use the Wiley CPA Review textbooks and Practice software. There are several thousand good multiple choice questions and simulations to work on and study from. Within our DVD lectures, we go over close to a thousand questions and simulations. WHY go over Released Questions that you'll never see again? There are more than enough good, worthwhile, questions to study from. We carefully choose questions that we believe best represent how to apply important concepts. We teach concepts and use questions to reinforce solid understanding.

I do not recommend that my students spend their time and energy on the 2009 AICPA Released Questions. Their time would be much better spent reviewing their notes or working the Yaeger-assigned questions in the Wiley books. The questions that we assign and review in our DVD lectures will appear on the CPA Exam, wheras the AICPA Released Questions will not be on the Exam.”

I'm always here to help,

Phil Yaeger, CPA, CFP, PhD

Yaeger CPA Review 1-800-824-2811

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Daniell Blue under this Creative Commons license.

Leave a Reply


Joey Altruda 15 years ago

"AICPA Released Questions will not be on the Exam" ...This is absolutely NOT true. I just sat for the FAR on 4/18/09. I used Becker's CPA review which uses released questions from 1989-2007. On my exam there were AT LEAST 3 or 4 questions that were EXACTLY from the released questions that Becker uses. EXACTLY!..not even the dollar amounts were changed, not even the placement of the answers were changed. EXACT question & answers! And many of the questions on my FAR (and previous exams, by the way) were simply DERIVED from previously released questions. I highly encourage candidates to study the questions! Definitely worth it!!

Jeff - another71.com 15 years ago

Joey - there is a huge difference between the AICPA questions that are in most CPA Review books (they buy the license to use them from the same place - the AICPA) and the 2009 questions that the AICPA just released. I too have seen many questions from the Wiley book show up in the exams.

anon 15 years ago

You should know better than that Jeff. The answer is a simple YES. Of course you should look at these questions. If not for more practice, than why not do them to familiarize yourself with the types of questions you will get on the test. They won't be exactly the same, but at least students will get a sense of the difficulty/types of questions they will see. Also, I'm assuming you posted this question so you can post Phil Yaeger's response (which I'm sure he's paying you to promote, as usual).

Jeff - another71.com 15 years ago

"anon" The point is that there are thousands of CPA Exam questions in books like the ones that Wiley publishes. These are licensed from the AICPA and they are questions that have appeared on exams before. It is very possible that candidates will see these exact questions (I've seen word for word questions from my study materials appear on the Exam) or variations thereof on your exam. The key to the CPA Exam is understanding the concepts - and not just memorizing questions. If you understand the concepts and can do well on the practice questions in the book - you're ready for the exam. I just looked at my Wiley 2008 FAR book. It has 1,242 multiple choice questions and 48 simulations. If you want "extra practice" - go do the questions in the Wiley book first...even though I believe it's to your detriment to do those extra questions because if you work the book questions and understand them - you should be sitting in a testing center - not worrying about these additional questions. Someone over at CPAnet posted that they had looked at the new questions and were worried because they didn't understand them or whatever. People were asking about them here, so I asked Phil about them because I never used them...I barely had time to get through the "minimum" questions to do in the Yaeger program. Once I was done with those - there was another 1,000+ questions on the Wiley software. So ~ I asked Phil if he recommended that people do them. He said he didn't. That's that. Thanks for reading, btw.

CPA WantaBe 15 years ago

is there a difference between the Wiley Software and Wiley Book. If I just use the book, is it enough to get a passing grade? Thanks for reading

Jeff - another71.com 15 years ago

CPA WantaBe - the software is a nice supplement, but it's not a deal-breaker if you don't buy it. The book has more than enough MCQs...the advantage to the software is the faster transition from answering the question to getting the answer because you don't have to flip back to the answer. It's also good to be familiar with answering questions on the computer just like you will on the actual exam, but cpa-exam.org has a sample test if you don't want to buy software. If you've already sat for a section, then you know what to expect in this regard. In short - the software is a luxury, not a necessity if you already have the Wiley book.

CPA WantaBe 15 years ago

Jeff - Thank You

Dan 15 years ago

I will be the smart-a** that points out that in the picture they are studying with Sparks... I am guessing Phil would not recommend that tactic. (disclaimer- this comment being posted after far too many hours studying in a day let alone the week thus far with only a few more days of this to go with any luck) Thanks for the posts Jeff!

15 years ago

This is my personal experience, I read the released SIMS included in Becker and got an almost same written communication question. Was this a coincidence? I don't think so.

15 years ago

"The questions that we assign and review in our DVD lectures will appear on the CPA Exam" I'm very concerned about this statement. How do you 'know' your questions will appear on the CPA Exam? I don?t want to be crossing any ethical lines by having all the answers to the exam(s) prior, but do want to pass the exams?the first time. If you have the questions that ?will? be on the exam, does that mean that anyone can pass, whether they are a good accountant or not? How would that effect the future status of CPA?

Lee 15 years ago

Where do I find these released questions from the AICPA? I looked on their website, but no luck.

15 years ago

I guess what Phil meant was may appear and not will.

MW 15 years ago

Lee, Check Becker CPA Review & click on current students for 2008 & 2009 AICPA questions but for 2007 try to google.

Nina 15 years ago

I have to agree with Joey Altruda - I also got exact the same 3-4 questions for every part that I took. I would STRONGLY recommend to study these released questions. I guess Phil just haven't taken exam for awhile :-)

Jeff - another71.com 15 years ago

Before he answered my question, Phil called the AICPA and they told him that these questions were purged from the test bank and wouldn't be used again. These questions are also in the Wiley book - in the BACK of the book all by themselves. I scored a 92 on REG working zero AICPA-released questions. That's my $.02 Everyone can do whatever they feel is best...it's their exam :)

Lee 15 years ago

Thanks MW! I tried that, and I still couldn't find anything. I went to current students, etc. Let me know!

Nik 15 years ago

I didn't do the AICPA questions to memorize them. I tried them to learn the concepts. So in that sense, I think they are very helpful. It seems a lot of people just try to memorize questions.

Jeff - another71.com 15 years ago

but...in theory...there's a 1,000 other questions in your current review materials that should be better than these "retied" questions...right?

MW 15 years ago

Lee, Beckers CPA Review.com/under current students click on Updates and academic Support/half way to the page you will see "AICPA 2009 Exam Questions Release - Available Now!"

jwm1129 15 years ago

Hey I just finish the REG exam. edited Good luck with you guys.

MW 15 years ago

jwm1129, Violation of AICPA code???

Joe 15 years ago

It's not a violation ! he's recommending some materials from textbooks ! he didn't come up with Qs and answers

Jeff - another71.com 15 years ago

It's the same thing as saying "hey, I had ____ simulation". I'm just trying to keep my site in-line with the AICPA's disclosure policy...not trying to be a content cop. I know that candidates mean well when they post this stuff. I have to edit it, though.

Nina 15 years ago

Had an Audit yesterday, and happy to report that I got some questions very similar and almost identical to the ones released in 2009. So, I believe that your post is misleading. Thanks.

Patrick 15 years ago

I think you should do the questions. Yeah, they may not be exact carbon copies of questions you may see on an exam, but some have been quite similar. In any event, it can't hurt you to do the released questions.

Jeff - another71.com 15 years ago

Again - I think there are a 1,000 other questions in your review materials that are better to do. People can do whatever they think is best...i passed without doing a single "released" question (I barely had time to do the one's in my book). Nina - I don't think there's anything misleading about my post...I give my opinion on it...and why...Phil gave his opinion on it...and why...you are free to make up your own mind as to what you want to do. I have no idea how people remember what they saw on the exam word for word...my mind was always mush after each test...it was all a blur. -Jeff

RXCPa 15 years ago

I've taken a few sections of the CPA using the Bisk material and i found that most of the questions are eerily similar to actual exam question. I had some that were EXACTLY the same, so i would recommend studying the questions over and over. All they are going to do is reword the same question and put some different answers. They are worried about the concepts, not the questions.

Jeff - another71.com 15 years ago

I?ve taken a few sections of the CPA using the Bisk material and i found that most of the questions are eerily similar to actual exam question. I had some that were EXACTLY the same, so i would recommend studying the questions over and over. All they are going to do is reword the same question and put some different answers. They are worried about the concepts, not the questions. I'm not surprised that you saw questions that were exactly the same...the questions you saw from your materials are the same ones that most review companies use because they buy them from the same place: the AICPA. There is a big difference between the MCQs that you see in your review books and software and the "AICPA released questions". The AICPA released them because they have said that they are not going to use them anymore - they are being purged from their test bank. This is why you can get them online for free in some places. Do you think that the AICPA - who charges a lot of money for companies to purchase the license to use their questions in their review materials - would just start giving away viable exam questions? I too have seen many questions in my review materials that were on the exam...it's common. People who claim that they have seen the AICPA released questions on the exam - well, I have no idea if they're right, confused (so many questions on the exam and you've seen so many questions during studying - it would be easy to get confused). However - I DO know this: there are thousands of MCQs in any good review course. These have explanations and are fully vetted. If you have done all of those questions - you should be taking the exam, not doing these other questions. - this is my personal opinion. I didn't do a single "aicpa released question" in my successful exam attempts. In the end - people can do whatever they want - it's their exam and they are responsible for their own success. The intent of this post was because every year candidates think that they should be doing these extra questions and this year, I started getting asked about it. Will you see questions from your CPA review materials on the CPA Exam? Yes. Should you work those questions until you're sick of them and then go take the exam? Yes. Will you see some of the "AICPA released questions" on the exam? I don't know. They're releasing them for general public consumption for a reason, so I would tend to doubt it. HOWEVER, even if you do see one of them on the exam - the thousands of good MCQs should adequately prepare you for answering it. Again - people can do whatever they want, but simply dismissing this article because you "saw the AICPA released questions on the exam" is missing the point of the article entirely. Thanks for reading, Jeff

Bhavini 15 years ago

I think it depends on how much time u have. there are just 40 or 50 questions released. a matter of an hour or two. if u have time u might as well practice them once. I always do and most question are on the same topics already covered in the book. I would say there is no need to give any extra importance to these questions just because they have been released by AICPA. treat them the same way u treat any other question already there in ur book. once u have solved over 1000 mqcs in you book , u are well prepared. you can solve the AICPA question as a mini test.( if you have time) if you dont have time , just leave it.

smhfinallypassed 15 years ago

I've recently passed the CPA exam (found out today actually), and I do recall seeing some released questions on the exam. Eventhough most of the CPA material and questions are enough to pass the exam, the AICPA released questions helped me think about how questions can be asked differently on the actual test compared to how they are asked in the books/software. Understanding the concepts is key. So if you know the concepts and practice all questions, you will be able to figure out questions that are being asked in many different ways.

Big Z 15 years ago

It can't hurt to look at them but then again I think any time you are studying you will walk away a better person

i think the worse thing you can do is ......to not work problems and just read the solutions

Big Z 15 years ago

It can't hurt to look at them but then again I think any time you are studying you will walk away a better person

i think the worse thing you can do is ......to not work problems and just read the solutions

procrastinator 14 years ago

ahhh...in the time spent reading all this back and forth I could be done with the stupid questions.

Keva 14 years ago

I have read all the posts, there are obviously two extreams, and i think candidates need to know this. Now follow me: Questions are released for the following 2 reasons: (1). They are retired and will not be used again; or (2). They are duplicated and one needs to be removed. The idea is, if we study the released question we will have a better shot as to how exam questions are structured. Listen to Jeff as to the questins in the Text - they are liscence questions from AICPA. But u need to go through as much as u can.

Ashley 14 years ago

I would definitely suggest CPA candidates study these released questions. I have seen questions on the exams almost identical to many of these questions. Many of them have different names or numbers, but studying the released questions ensures your understanding of how to work these problems. That is what is important-that you understand the concepts, not memorizing. I always studied these questions a day or two before my exams.

Sven 14 years ago

I think it is beneficial to review these questions - at least to get an idea of the question structure and see how you are going with the material you have already reviewed. No harm done in reinforcing/ confirming your knowledge and understanding.

Jeff - another71.com 14 years ago

It's up to you...I think I made a pretty clear case for why it's a waste of time, but everyone should do what they feel is best. Thanks for leaving the comment, btw...appreciate it.

Kathy 14 years ago

I took BEC today and one of the problems that were released and given as hw in the becker software was on my test today so these questions do help. Practicing them gives you an idea of what you need to know.. better to be safe than sorry and just practice

Michelle 13 years ago

From my experience- I have got about 5 IDENTICAL questions from AICPA released questions. I like to do them a day before the actual exam- they are comparatively much easier to the Becker questions- so is a good confidence booster to me :)

Chris 13 years ago

I took my BEC exam yesterday. I would like to say the past questions can provide a hint how you will be tested. And by reviewing the past questions, you can check what you do not know well enough so you can focus on your shortage before the test. Good luck to all!

tyler israel 12 years ago

No shit the AICPA questions are so hard!!! i could not do any of them and i have reviewed wiley for the past 4 months. I don't even know why becker puts them in there material. You have to be kidding me, I almost cried when i was trying to do them they are so hard. WHat the hell is wrong with Becker!

Wayne 6 years ago

When I passed it was from going over and over old exams. A review course did me no good at all. Going over and over old exams gets you comfortable with the bizarre questions. Further always look at the answers first, you will be amazed how often you see the answer before reading the question.