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I found out I passed Core 2 a few weeks ago. Next thing you know, it was time for a new module.

I talked about why I chose the Finance module previously so if you are trying to make a decision, I hope that will help. Since I enjoyed taking the extended pace (20-week) way more than the regular pace (8-week), I decided to take Extended for Finance again. For those of you who need help deciding whether regular or extended is for you, I have a post for that as well.

First Assignments – Why Are They So Hard?

I know many of us were working on our first assignment this August long weekend (isn’t CPA life just fun) and all must have struggled to some degree. I always find the first week/assignment set the hardest because of the following reasons:

– it is the first assignment for a new module
– for Core 1 students, the majority of them would be asking, “WHAT THE HECK IS THIS?”
– for non-Core 1 students, our brains were blissfully case-free for a few weeks

I am going to share how I normally approach my first assignment when I start a new module. This method has helped me with Core 1 and Core 2 so far with relatively less stress and none of that 6 hours on one assignment torture. Note, this might not work with everyone but you will find a way that works for you throughout your journey.

Two Efficient Ways to Tackle Your First Assignments

Read the Case, Highlight Facts, (Attempt To) Identify Assessment Opportunities (AOs) & Submit A Blank Page

This might sound crazy but hear me out.

If you have never written a case before, you might not even know where to start. Yes, the Module Workshop is fabulous and effective but when you have to work on your first case completely on your own, you will realize you have never been more confused before. This is fine. We all start there.

If you have written a case before, your blissful case-free weeks between modules would have affected your case-writing ability a little. You can either spend 3 or 4 times the recommended time on the case (e.g., for a 60-minute case, that would be 3 to 4 hours) or you can spend the recommended time on reading the case, highlighting facts, attempting to identify AOs and submitting a blank page.

This was exactly what I did with my first case for Core 2. Note, you should not do this more than once as that will jeopardize your eligibility to write the final exam (>75% overall module grade). This should only be done if all of the following is true:

– you have less than 8 hours to spend on this week’s materials (Assigned Reading, MC, Practice Case, Integrated Problem)
– you have no idea where to start because it is your first time or first week for a new module
– you will debrief (non-negotiable)

You will hear throughout your CPA journey that debriefing is half of the learning. This is not a myth and is probably one of the key ingredients to success. So, limit yourself to spending an hour (or 80 mins for Elective Module) on your first assignment so you can spend another hour to debrief instead. Note, you will not get the answer key if you do not submit anything so make sure you do.

More CPA Posts ~
CPA PEP Core 1 – How to Study for the Module and the Exam
CPA PERT – Ultimate Guide on How to Get Your First Experience Report via EVR Approved
CPA PERT – Enabling Competencies Examples
Densmore for CPA PEP – Are The PEP Essentials Packages Worth It?
CPA PEP Module – Regular Module or Extended Module?

Read the Case, Plan Your Response, Do Your Best Within Recommended Time & Submit Your Attempt

For those of you who have written cases before and are caught up on the readings, attempt the case within the recommended time. For Core modules, that would be 60-minute. For Elective modules, that would be 80-minute.

I do not recommend spending overtime on the case even if you have the time (i.e., taking the extended module) because of the reasons below:

– time is finite and there are other things you can spend time on that will improve your technical skills (e.g., Integrated Problem, practice problems in the chapter readings, debriefing MC answers)
– you might be heading down the wrong path since this is your first assignment for a new module, you are most likely unfamiliar with the best and most efficient format
– you will receive useful feedback on your attempt completed within the recommended time so you know where you stand

Conclusion

I am a big advocate of debriefing even though I did not truly appreciate the process until I was studying for my Core 1 exam. The faster you get familiar with the debriefing process recommended by CPA and successful CFE writers, the smoother your CPA journey will be.

Leave a comment below to let me know if this works for you!

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