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CPA Exam Tips: Written Communication

All potential certified public accountants (CPAs) must pass the four-part CPA exam before they can actually become a CPA CISM exam . Currently, three of the four CPA exam sections include written communications tasks (the BEC section does not contain any writing tasks), but in the new 2011 CPA exam, all written communication will be moved out of AUD, REG and FAR and put in the BEC section only.

The written communications tasks are designed to test your ability to create professional business documents. To earn points on written communications questions, test takers must read a description of a realistic scenario or situation and write a document that responds to that situation using proper grammar and punctuation. For example, the question may require the test taker to write a business letter, memo or other document to a hypothetical client concerning a situation that a certified public accountant might encounter in everyday business. The type of document the candidate must write is specified in the question, and is formally called a “constructed response.”

While the rest of the questions on the CPA exam are graded with automatic scoring, written communications are reviewed and scored by a network of readers who are actual certified public accountants. Each written constructed response is scored according to relevancy, organization, development and expression.

In the first stage of scoring, the constructed response is read to determine if it stays relevant and on topic overall. For that reason, you’ll want to confine your writing to only the topic at hand. Try to avoid showboating, adding a lot of extra information, or going off on tangents. You won’t be given any extra credit for writing about more than what’s required, but you can lose points for straying off-topic

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