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    CPA Exam Candidates Everywhere Freaked Out by NASBA’s Switch to “Noteboards” from Scratch Paper

    By | December 20, 2012

    This email went out to CPA exam candidates from NASBA earlier today:

    Effective January 1, 2013, in lieu of scratch paper and pencils, candidates will be provided with two double sided, laminated, colored sheets called “noteboards,” as well as a fine point marker for making notations.

    Candidates will be directed to write their examination Launch Code (from their NTS) on their noteboards. Candidates cannot bring any paper or pencils to the workstation in the testing room.

    If needed, candidates may request additional noteboards from the test center staff, but candidates must first turn in the original noteboards they received in order to get a new supply.

    Candidates will be required to return the noteboards to the test center staff when their examination is complete.

    Sounds to me like they no longer want you be able to brain dump mnemonics as soon as you sit down at your station with paper and pencil, or they just want to screw with everyone and see how bent out of shape they get. Will they also provide tissue so candidates can clear their boards or are candidates expected to use their shirtsleeves? And if so, are they required to cut off their sleeves and return those upon leaving the test center too since they'll have all-important CPA exam data all over them, if smeared?

    Were that many people really trying to sneak out of the exam with Prometric-issued paper?

    Calls made to NASBA to ask why they have implemented this change have not yet been returned.

    Outrage may now commence in the comment section.


    • Belowme

      Anyone who complains over this is a pussy. It’s really not a big deal. Get your act together GC, this really isn’t THAT much of a big deal to do a story on.

      • timreynolds

        You sound like a fun person to hang out with.

      • GAAPforce1

        You must be new around here.

    • BobSaget

      This is awesome. Now I can take the edge off by huffing the marker. Betchya didn’t think of that, Prometric!

      • MRW

        Actually my exam wasn’t with erasable markers, just permanent markers. I was told that this is what corporate (prometrics) gave them. If I need other laminated sheet I would have to wait until a testlet break to go out get a new one from them. Then reprocess back in. What is the point of a laminated sheet if it isn’t with erasable markers? Why not just paper and permanent markers. I guess it is harder to fold up a laminated sheet and put it in my pocket than a piece of paper. I don’t know. But if that was the case with to many testing scratch papers finding their way out of the testing facility why not go after the person watching the screen with every prometric tester on it. Maybe it means the prometric people can be bought off to look the other way. If that is the case then I don’t need a marker anyway I will just bring in my study material make it a open book test. That would really make the old timers turn over in their grave.

    • guestie

      Adrienne I’m not sure if your response was serious. It’s obviously a cost saving measure. I made maybe 1/2 page of writing for FAR, AUD, and REG combined. BEC I used 2 pages to plan essays. I know everyone is different but I would like to see how many people actually had to use the 12ish page booklets they give you. Huge waste of paper.

      • Gest

        You think it’s a cost saving measure?? I would guess some clever youth(s) got caught cheating. Use your imaginiation as to how.

        How long did they deliberate over what to call the laminate, before settling on noteboard? Don’t know, I think it’s pretty sexy

    • TommyJohn

      Thankfully I’m done with my CPA at this point, but if I were still taking the exam, this would make me seriously pissed off. You see, I’m a southpaw, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. If any of you right-handed folks have ever watched a leftie try to write with an erasable marker, or a fountain pen, or a particularly grainy pencil, or… well, pretty much anything except a standard #2 or fast-drying ball-point pen, then you know what happens: we lefties drag our hand across the paper over what we’ve just written, turning our writing into a huge sloppy spotty distorted mess and covering the side of our left hand in ink/lead/marker/etc. An erasable marker and a laminated sheet is a nightmare for your average southpaw, and not something I would want to deal with if I were taking the exam.

      However, with that being said, as previously noted I am done with my CPA exam at this point and am on the other side of that particular barrier to entry now, so all I really have to say is: ha-ha suckers!

      • timreynolds

        Sounds like you’re defective.

      • cool story brah

        You should probably just learn to read and write right to left

    • Jhgjh

      As long as the damn thing works and is not completely unreadable it should be ok. The idea however is beyond ridiculous and redundant. I’m taking FAR soon, and obviously I’m gonna jot down all important formulas and amortization schedules from F1-10. I took AUD not too long ago, but scratch paper is useless for AUD.

    • Malenkaya_Zhopka

      I think this is a really dumb idea. At least for FAR and REG. I did ask for extra paper on FAR, because I like to organize my thoughts and write down all the numbers and stuff, plus I tend to write in enormously large font when I’m in a rush… I’d ask for a new noteboard every 20 mins. I was pissed enough that they don’t give you a physical calculator, I would be pissed very much if I had to take FAR with a noteboard!

      • Sec. 1231 Asset

        I agree. This is dumb. When I take exams, I always go back and review all of my answers , even if it’s just for a second to see if the logic I used in getting the answer was sound.

        I often write out my work on the paper so that this review process goes much quicker. I’ve passed all 4 parts, so this won’t bother me, but if anyone else does what I did on the exam, this would make checking your work much harder.

        • Petunia Brolinto

          Scores or it didn’t happen. Come on, you know you want to tell everyone again what you got.

    • OlintoFan4Ever

      I am also done with the exam at this point in life, but I found pneumonics to be something I incorporated into regular life, not a tool for brain-dump onto the Prometric pages.
      As Peter Olinto said, you can’t just memorize and regurgitate pneumonics. You need to understand what they’re saying. That’s how I passed the exam sections. (Olinto’s point was that if you understand the concepts then you’ll be able to recognize when they trip you up with tricky answers. An examiner trick is to include buzzwords in the wrong answers to mislead people who didn’t do more than just memorize.)

      • hahahahahaha


        • EllingSperrors

          New mawnicks?

      • YAEK.com

        Or you could just understand the stuff in the first place and not waste time with marketing gimmicks used by washed up CPA’s. Most of my friends and I used a different study software that didn’t put any weight on lectures and we all passed no problem. You’ve either got what it takes or you don’t.

        • guesty

          Cool Story Bro.

    • CPACandidate

      This is an outrage!

    • Zeiss

      Silly accounts and what they have to worry about/deal with.
      I’m so glad I DO NOT have a CPA and work in management consulting; where I get paid significantly more money than my auditor counter parts, the girls are hotter, and we all dress much better.
      You can have your noteboards – nerds.

      • Timreynolds

        Can you fill us in on the caviar in the break room?

      • Chad Brochocinco

        Cool Story Bro

        • cool story brah

          yeah what he said

    • EYREstaff

      Not sure why ppl are making a huge deal out it. GMAT test takers have been using laminiated note boards for some yrs now.

      • eYRE-a-douche

        This isn’t the f#cking GMAT!!!

    • MindTheGAAP

      Ummmm, some Prometrics have already been doing this. I used a “noteboard” on my exam i took over a year and a half ago. Not sure what the big deal is

    • Alex

      This is how the GMAT has been recently. Not really that bad, but a little silly I think. Though as a lefty, I agree with TommyJohn and will be collecting data on my hand the whole time when I take it.

    • numbersgirl

      There is something called muscle-memory, which helps you connect to what you have learned when you move in the same way that you did when you learned something. If you were holding a pencil and hearing the sound of the pencil and seeing the pencil write on white paper as you learned, and then you change to a different implement and a different color and texture of paper, you will have a more difficult time connecting with the previous experience of learning.

    • Cacpa

      Where can you buy those note boards for practicing ?

    • BeezNeezCPAMBA

      This about NASBA being tired of hearing complaints from people that say the exam was harder in their day because it was in two days and getting back at all the bitching by those who couldn’t wait two months for their score.
      The universe is in balance again. The CPA exams define their difficulty by arbitrary and bullish means. And now new candidates can feel proud because “In my day, we weren’t even allowed paper”. Yeah, but you’re still mediocre at your job, soooo . . . .