October 23, 2018

CPA Exam Excel-erates into 2018

2018 CPA Exam Changes gleim excel

On April 1, which is (Facebook) officially known as the International CPA Exam Changes Day, the CPA Exam will undergo another round of major updates. I know you’re all thinking, PLEASE  no more changes. And, in the wake of the Great Content Overhaul of 2017 when the AICPA increased the number of Simulations in each section and upgraded their questions to test your higher-level thinking skills, I don’t blame you for feeling a little afraid.

BUT I’m happy to share that these new changes will target the design and functionality of the exam to give these elements the much needed makeover that they (and all current and future CPA candidates) deserve. In other words, these updates are going to make the exam experience easier, not harder.

You are so beautiful to me

The redesigned exam will actually be really….well, pretty is honestly the best word. All the elements of the current version that y’all have been complaining about will be updated. Trust me when I say you will like it. I’m going to go into the user interface changes more in a later article. Spoiler alert – the question navigation will be at the top of the screen and the timer will be on the left side now, because, you know, that’s where you look first.

Excel-lent news

Hard to believe, but there is a 2018 CPA Exam change even more exciting than the intellectual oranges and soothing blues of the new design. The CPA Exam is replacing its proprietary spreadsheet with MS Excel, which *fun fact* has been known and loved by accountants since 1985.

After April 1, exam candidates will be able to access the desktop version of Excel by clicking the spreadsheet icon found in the nice redesigned toolbar of the Multiple-Choice Questions and Task-Based Simulations.

On the exam, Excel will perform all of the same essential functions as the regular desktop Excel spreadsheet. The only things the CPA version of Excel won’t do are completely non-essential, like a lot of keyboard shortcuts. Think most Ctrl+, Atl+, Shift+, and function keys as well as anything that might threaten the security of the exam or allow you to access your personal online Excel account, which of course you wouldn’t do anyway because you’re not a cheater.

The only really useful shortcuts available will be Cut, Copy, and Paste. How will I know, you might wonder, which shortcuts work and which don’t? If you’re a Gleim customer, we will lay it all out for you in our online course in a list of the functional shortcuts. If you’re not a Gleim customer, idk. Good luck with that?

While there will be a limited number of shortcuts available, the good news is that the ones you will be able to use are super useful. You will be able to copy figures from Excel and paste them into the answer fields of a simulation or into the calculator, and vice versa! And you’ll be relieved to know that if you commit every accountant’s worst nightmare of closing Excel without saving your work, it will retain all of the information entered while in a testlet, even if you close the window or switch between questions.

Excel-ebrate these functions

Excel on the CPA Exam will also let you:

  • Filter and sort: This is the biggest difference by far, as it includes complex sorting with multiple variables.
  • Use standard spreadsheet formulas: All of the formulas will be available to search through and select, so you won’t have to know them by heart if you get to anything super complicated.
  • See all the numbers: The exam’s current proprietary spreadsheet tool hides numbers if you enter too many of them, but Excel will actually round decimals for you and turn large numbers into scientific notation.
  • Drag content: As you probably know, you can click the side of a box to drag the contents to another box in Excel. You can’t do that in the current spreadsheet.
  • Move down with Enter: Excel will allow you to hit Enter to move down a row, which is very useful when entering many rows of data by hand. The current spreadsheet only allows this movement by clicking in the cell you want, which drives everyone CRAZY.
  • Apply a formula to an entire column: You’ll save a lot of time by utilizing Excel’s ability to copy a formula and paste it down an entire column. The current spreadsheet tool only grabs the value of a cell, not the formula itself.
  • Color cells: With Excel on the CPA Exam, you’ll be able to shade your cells every color of the rainbow if you want to. (ps Don’t do that. Make good decisions.)

At this point, the AICPA has indicated that all the work you do in Excel with the features above won’t be graded. No one will ever see it but you, which is kind of a shame but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

This has been fun, but what about the rest of the CPA exam changes in 2018?

If you’re like us and are really excited by the fact that Excel is officially coming to the CPA Exam, two things about you are also probably true: 1) You were born to be an accountant, and 2) you’ll be pretty stoked about the rest of the exam changes coming in April. Check out our free 2018 CPA Exam Changes guide and future blogs to learn more about the integration of Excel and all the other updates.

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Elijah Watt Sells Award Recipients Make the Rest of Us Want to Puke

The AICPA announced the winners of the Elijah Watt Sells awards yesterday. For you mere mortals, this is an award for the 10 highest cumulative scorers on the CPA exam.
Glancing over the recipients we notice that two Big 4 firms (KPMG and Deloitte) enslave employ five of the recipients. A couple of recipients work in industry and a few more work for smaller, local firms.
This leads to the obvious question of why the hell P. Dubya and E&Y were totally shut out? Grant Thornton and BDO were also blanked. Are the honchos at the Radio Station and Big D giving the worker bees more time to study? Are P. Dubs, E&Y, et al. cutting out the bonuses for passing and thus destroying anyone’s motivation for passing? Are those of you looking to pass already choosing between eating and sleeping (and maybe sex) so studying just isn’t happening? Sells was a Big D founder so maybe the whole thing is rigged? Thoughts anyone?
Oh and congratulate the recipients while you’re at it (without vomiting on them).

We’re Here to Listen to Your CPA Exam Stories Because We’re Solid Like That

Cpa_exam.jpgOkay, so the purpose of the Elijah Watt Sells post was not to make any of you feel like you’re lesser accountants. We just figured that a good portion of you were hung over today and the story of 10 individuals that got vomit-worthy scores on the CPA exam would get you past the nausea and running to the bathroom to lose that 3 am breakfast.
Now that you’re feeling better, we want to appeal to the rest of you. We want your CPA exam horror stories. Not because we want you to send you running back into the bathroom to sob in the stall. Not because some people we know passed all four sections in one sitting and don’t have any good stories. No, no. We want your stories because we here to listen to you. Besides, they’re probably funny now anyway. Aren’t they? Even if you’re still mortified or pissed off, this your opportunity to vent about it.
Sooooo, did you run out of gas on the way to the exam site? Did your computer crash with 10 minutes to go and you had to re-take the entire exam? We’re you caught cheating?!? Or watching porn? Impress us…