WRITE OR RIGHT?The Importance of Good Writing Skills for the CPA Exam                          Molly Brown, James Madison ...
CPA Exam –  Written Communication Questions• Business Environment & Concepts Section  •   3 hour exam  •   1 testlet conta...
Written Communication Questions   Not an essay!   Candidates must read a situation description   and then write an appropr...
Scoring   Written communication questions are scored   based on 3 general writing criteria:   1. Organization   2. Develop...
Organization Document’s structure, ordering of ideas, and linking of one idea to another: • Overview/thesis statement – Mu...
Development Document’s supporting evidence/information to clarify thoughts: • Details • Definitions • Examples • Rephrasing
Expression Document’s use of conventional standards of business English: • Grammar    • Sentence construction, subject/ver...
Scoring   How Do You Earn a Top Score?   •Understand the context   •Think through your message   •Structure your response ...
Understand the Context   Who are you in the prompt?   Who are you writing to?     – An auditor/CPA writing to a client    ...
Understand the Context  •Avoid being too technical if writing to non-accountants  •Keep the tone friendly, but professional
Think Through Your Message   •Take a deep breath   •Brainstorm points before responding   •Keep it simple   •Pick 2 or 3 p...
Structure Your Response  4 or 5 paragraphs is best  You MUST have a thesis paragraph & a concluding paragraph to earn a ...
Structure Your Response Stick to one point per supporting paragraph Use transitioning phrases   – First…, second…, lastly…...
Sentence Structure is Important   Diction – appropriate word choice    Find the best word possible to explain clearly and...
Sentence Structure is Important   Sentence Fragments    Each sentence needs at least (1) a subject and (2) a predicate   ...
Diagnostic English Quiz- Choose the best choice The company can assert any defenses against third party beneficiaries that...
Diagnostic English Quiz- Choose the best choice The company can           Answer: assert any defenses against third party ...
Diagnostic English Quiz- Choose the best choice Under the cost method, treasury stock is presented on the balance sheet as...
Diagnostic English Quiz- Choose the best choice Under the cost method,            Answer: treasury stock is presented on t...
Diagnostic English Quiz- Choose the best choice A common format of bank reconciliation statements         to reconcile bot...
Diagnostic English Quiz- Choose the best choice A common format of bank          Answer: reconciliation statements        ...
Resources  The Elements of Style, by Strunk & White  The Business Writing Handbook, by  William Paxson
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Write or Right-Writing Skills For the CPA Exam

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Get tips and insights on earning a top score on the written communication portion of the BEC section of the CPA Exam.

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Write or Right-Writing Skills For the CPA Exam

  1. 1. WRITE OR RIGHT?The Importance of Good Writing Skills for the CPA Exam Molly Brown, James Madison University Valerie Wendt, Bisk CPA Review
  2. 2. CPA Exam – Written Communication Questions• Business Environment & Concepts Section • 3 hour exam • 1 testlet containing 3 written communication questions • 1 question is a pretest question • Written communication questions are 15% of your score
  3. 3. Written Communication Questions Not an essay! Candidates must read a situation description and then write an appropriate document relating to the situation. Instructions will state what form the document should take (i.e. memo or letter).
  4. 4. Scoring Written communication questions are scored based on 3 general writing criteria: 1. Organization 2. Development 3. Expression If your response is off-topic, you will not receive any credit for the response.
  5. 5. Organization Document’s structure, ordering of ideas, and linking of one idea to another: • Overview/thesis statement – Must Have! • Unified paragraphs (topic & supporting sentences) • Transitions and connectives
  6. 6. Development Document’s supporting evidence/information to clarify thoughts: • Details • Definitions • Examples • Rephrasing
  7. 7. Expression Document’s use of conventional standards of business English: • Grammar • Sentence construction, subject/verb agreement, pronouns, modifiers • Punctuation • Final, comma • Word usage • Incorrect, imprecise language • Avoid jargon, social media language • Capitalization • Spelling
  8. 8. Scoring How Do You Earn a Top Score? •Understand the context •Think through your message •Structure your response •Pay attention to grammar and spelling
  9. 9. Understand the Context Who are you in the prompt? Who are you writing to? – An auditor/CPA writing to a client – An auditor writing to a superior – An audit senior writing to staff – An internal accountant writing to a superior – An internal accountant writing to staff
  10. 10. Understand the Context •Avoid being too technical if writing to non-accountants •Keep the tone friendly, but professional
  11. 11. Think Through Your Message •Take a deep breath •Brainstorm points before responding •Keep it simple •Pick 2 or 3 points
  12. 12. Structure Your Response  4 or 5 paragraphs is best  You MUST have a thesis paragraph & a concluding paragraph to earn a top score  Make an outline of the first sentence of each paragraph, then fill in the rest  Your thesis (introductory) paragraph cannot include your actual response, or you will be penalized
  13. 13. Structure Your Response Stick to one point per supporting paragraph Use transitioning phrases – First…, second…, lastly… – In addition… – In summary… Brief concluding paragraph – Thank you… – Feel free to contact me at…
  14. 14. Sentence Structure is Important Diction – appropriate word choice  Find the best word possible to explain clearly and concisely what you are trying to say Troublesome words (ie. Accept/Except) Syntax – order of words in a sentence  Don’t be hasty in your composition  Read each sentence carefully  Make sure words are in the best possible order Modifier Placement – placing modifiers (i.e. adverbs) improperly can be confusing and often changes the meaning Modifier should be placed before the word(s) it modifies
  15. 15. Sentence Structure is Important Sentence Fragments  Each sentence needs at least (1) a subject and (2) a predicate  Check for run-on sentences Punctuation Use appropriate punctuation Two most common areas involving periods occur when incorporating quotation marks and/or parentheses with periods Spelling Don’t rely on spell checkers
  16. 16. Diagnostic English Quiz- Choose the best choice The company can assert any defenses against third party beneficiaries that against the promisee.
  17. 17. Diagnostic English Quiz- Choose the best choice The company can Answer: assert any defenses against third party beneficiaries that against the Pronouns promisee.
  18. 18. Diagnostic English Quiz- Choose the best choice Under the cost method, treasury stock is presented on the balance sheet as an unallocated reduction of total equity.
  19. 19. Diagnostic English Quiz- Choose the best choice Under the cost method, Answer: treasury stock is presented on the balance sheet as an unallocated reduction of total equity. Possessive noun
  20. 20. Diagnostic English Quiz- Choose the best choice A common format of bank reconciliation statements to reconcile both book and bank balances to a common amount known as the “true balance.”
  21. 21. Diagnostic English Quiz- Choose the best choice A common format of bank Answer: reconciliation statements to reconcile both book and bank balances to a common amount known as the “true balance.” Verb - agreement
  22. 22. Resources The Elements of Style, by Strunk & White The Business Writing Handbook, by William Paxson

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