Benefits of Professional Certifications – Job Search & Networking (Video)

In this video, HOCK international President Brian Hock discusses two of the main benefits of having professional certifications:

  1. Provides a differentiating factor when competing for a job
  2. Offers networking through a professional organization

Learn more about the HOCK study materials for the CMA, CPA, and CIA exams and see how HOCK can help you prepare to pass your exams on your first attempt.

CIA Part 1 Textbook Update January 2019

The CIA Part 1 Textbook has been updated, and the new files are available for current students to download in My Studies. The significant changes are listed below including page numbers in the new book. If you have any questions about these changes, please contact us and we will be glad to assist you.

You can also learn more about the HOCK CIA Textbooks and other exam prep materials if you are not already a HOCK student.

Section III

Page 31: Added lists of the knowledge and skills that an internal auditor should have.

Section V

Pages 47-50: Additional discussion about governance, the Board of Directors, and managing stakeholders with regards to governance.

Page 52: Small topic added about the governance process relationship with risk and control.

Pages 57-58: The IAA’s role as an ethics advocate and what is included in a code of conduct.

Page 60: A list of the main aspects of ISO 26000.

Page 61: Added a discussion about the Pyramid of Social Responsibility.

Pages 67-70: Detailed descriptions of risk appetite, risk tolerance, risk capacity, and the influences on a company’s risk appetite.

Page 101: New lists cover the benefits and limitations of internal controls.

Pages 105-106: Added discussion about the segregation of duties along with some examples.

Appendices

Page 152-153: Appendix D added with a sample code of conduct. Previous Appendix D is now Appendix E.

Study Tips: Maximize Your Study Time with Distraction-Free Studying (Video)

In this video, HOCK international President Brian Hock offers some tips about how you can maximize your study time with distraction-free studying. Fewer distractions = more learning and more learning = passing your exams!

Some of the suggestions discussed in the video include:

  • Have all of your materials ready when you start studying.
  • Turn off all of your notifications (phone, email, etc.).
  • Wear earplugs or play soft music.
  • Try studying somewhere other than home or office (try the library!).
  • Try different study times (maybe early morning or later at night).

Learn more about the HOCK study materials for the CMA, CPA, and CIA exams and see how HOCK can help you prepare to pass your exams on your first attempt.

Study Tips: Setting Aside Time for Effective and Efficient Studying (Video)

In this video, HOCK international President Brian Hock offers some tips for how to set up a study schedule for effective and efficient studying.

Some of the suggestions discussed in the video include:

  • Set aside time where studying is the only thing you do.
  • Make studying a priority in your schedule.
  • Study at a time of the day when you are alert and focused.
  • Use smaller blocks of time for studying rather than longer blocks.

Learn more about the HOCK study materials for the CMA, CPA, and CIA exams and see how HOCK can help you prepare to pass your exams on your first attempt.

The Only Question You Need to Answer to Pass the Exam

There is one question that you must be able to answer correctly in order to pass a professional exam. If you can answer this question correctly, you will pass the exam. If you cannot answer this question correctly, it is very unlikely that you will pass. Watch the video to find out the question!

So, before you start preparing for any question that is going to be on the exam, make certain you can first answer the question of why you are studying. Why are you studying?

CPA FAR Textbook Update January 2019

The CPA FAR Volume 2 Textbook has been revised to reflect the latest guidance for Leases in ASC 842, which is a major revision to the accounting for leases. The new Volume 2 textbook files are available for current students to download in My Studies.

Candidates should review the new lease material in Group F on pages 54-104. If you have any questions about these changes, please contact us and we will be glad to assist you.

You can also learn more about the HOCK CPA and other exam prep materials if you are not already a HOCK student.

ICMA Announces Changes for 2020 CMA Exams

The ICMA (Institute of Certified Management Accountants) has announced a few changes to the CMA exams effective with the January/February 2020 testing window.

  • CMA Part 1 has a new section on technology and analytics, and internal auditing has been removed.
  • CMA Part 2 has a new topic on social responsibility, and a few specific accounting topics have been removed.

Because these changes affect only about 10-20% of each exam, the current exams and the 2020 exams are interchangeable (there is no “transition” phase). That is to say, candidates can take one of the Parts under the 2019 syllabus and one of the Parts under the 2020 syllabus. Candidates studying now or starting to study in the next few months do not need to change their study plans.

There is a brief announcement about the change on the IMA web site here: https://www.imanet.org/cma-certification/getting-started/cma-2020-exam-changes, where you can also download the new 2020 Learning Outcome Statements.

HOCK will release updated study materials in advance of the new exams, and all HOCK customers who have purchased the CMA materials will have online access to the updated materials for the exam Part(s) they have purchased at no charge when they are released. If you have any questions or concerns about these changes, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will be glad to help.

CMA Part 2 Textbook Update October 2018

The CMA Part 2 Textbook has been updated, and the new files are available for current students to download in My Studies.

The only major change in this update is that the whole topic of Risk Management (Section D in Volume 2) has been revised to reflect the most recent COSO document, Enterprise Risk Management: Integrating with Strategy and Performance. Candidates who have already studied Section D should review the new book to familiarize themselves with the latest guidance from COSO. All of the other changes were minor clarifications and re-arranging content for better flow, and there is no need to re-study any other topics.

If you have any questions about these changes, please contact us and we will be glad to assist you.

You can also learn more about the HOCK CMA Textbooks and other exam prep materials if you are not already a HOCK student.

Q&A with Brian Hock, President of HOCK international – Exam Prep Questions

Over the years I have been asked several common questions about preparing for exams, and hope that this will be helpful for candidates considering taking a professional exam.

1. What exam should I pursue?

The best exam for you is the one that will help you the most in your career. So, you should ask yourself what you want to be doing in five years and what you need to do to make that happen. Keep in mind that you may also need to do something other than get a professional certification. As a general rule of thumb, here is how I look at the best market for each of the main US certifications:

  • CIA – If you are, or want to become, an internal auditor you take the CIA exams. CIA is also an excellent second certification for CMAs.
  • CPA – If it is required for the position that you would like, or you are wanting to work as an auditor for the Big 4, CPA is probably what you need. However, the requirements to be eligible for the CPA Exam are much more difficult than the other exams. Be certain to confirm your eligibility for the CPA Exam before you start the study process.
  • CMA – This is the best certification for most candidates who do not want to work as an auditor, but instead want to work for a company as an accounting or finance professional. Anyone who works with a budget, as an accountant, as a manager in a company, in finance, or who would like to start a business would benefit from earning the CMA Certification.
  • CFA – This is the certification (actually a Charter) for individuals who want to work in investment banking.

2. What is the most difficult Exam Part?

Obviously, this depends a lot on your background and experience, but a couple of exam parts that are usually more difficult are CIA Part 3 (under the 2018 syllabus) and CPA Regulation.

CIA Part 3 is difficult just because there is so much content in it. Even though none of the topics are difficult and none of the topics are tested in great depth, the breadth of material that needs to be learned makes the exam difficult.

CPA Regulation is difficult because it covers US Business Law and US Taxation, and for many candidates (even in the US) Regulation covers topics that they will never use. Furthermore, the nature of business law and taxation are such that the material requires memorization because there is not always an underlying logic that makes things easily understandable.

3. What is the one thing that I can do to most improve my chances of passing an exam?

The most important thing that you can do to improve your chances of passing an exam is knowing why you are taking the exam. Whether it is to improve your knowledge, earn the certification, or to make more money (the most common reason), if you know why you are taking the exam, you will be able to pass the exam. If you do not know why you are taking the exam, it is very probable that you will never pass. The reason is because passing the exam requires dedication over several months and it means that you need to study in the evening after a day of work, on the weekends, and when you would rather be doing something else.

4. What is the next thing that I can do to improve my chances?

Other than the obvious things like reading the book and doing practice questions, the next thing that you can do to increase your chances of passing is to ask questions. When you come across something that you do not understand, ask your provider. At HOCK we provide unlimited support to candidates who are using our materials, so if there is something that you do not understand, ask us. Chances are that we will be able to answer your question quickly and fairly easily for you, and much more effectively and efficiently than you could answer it if you were to try to learn it on your own. Let us help you prepare – that is why we are here. If you bought materials from another provider, ask them. They should be able to answer all of your questions.

5. How can I tell when I am ready for the exam?

There are a number of indicators that you can use to assess when you are ready, and like most decisions there are quantitative and qualitative factors to consider. The factors include: 1) How you are doing when you take practice questions – you want to be 15% or more higher than the passing score because these are questions you have already ansnwered; 2) The result on your mock exam(s) – ideally you will be at least 5% above the passing score for your exam; 3) How you feel when answering the questions on the mock exam. While it is nice to know what your score on the mock exam is, only you know how comfortable and confident you were and how many questions you had to guess on, or were uncertain about your answer. If you know 75% of the material and there were 8 questions that you guessed on, your score would be between 67% if you guessed poorly, and 83% if you guessed perfectly. Those two different scores would give you different feedback about your readiness for the exam.

If you are able to answer the questions on the mock exams easily and comfortably and you feel that you could explain why the correct answers are correct, then you are ready for your exam.

6. How did you study for the exams when you took them?

I have passed the CPA (even though I do not have a CPA license), CMA, and CIA Exams. For all of them I self-studied. I passed all of my exams the first time except for CPA Regulation, which I passed on my second attempt.

7. Which exam is the hardest: CMA, CIA, or CPA?

This is a common question, but there is no one correct answer because is too specific to each candidate for there to be one answer. All three exams have about the same pass rate, so using that as an indication does not provide much help. For people who like formulas and numbers, CMA has more of that than CIA does. For people who do not likes taxes, the CPA will be the hardest because of the tax section. The key for making any exam easier is to be certain that you are taking the exam that you need to be taking, which will keep your level of motivation high so that you will put in the time to study.

8. Can I prepare for an exam by doing only practice questions?

No, you should not try to pass any exam by only answering practice questions. While the practice questions are a critical part of preparing, they are not enough by themselves. The practice questions show you how a topic has been tested in the past, but the questions on your exam will be different than what has been asked in the past. Therefore, you need to know more of the theory than you learn just from practice questions. Additionally, while there is some important learning that takes place when you miss a question and have to learn why you missed it, learning through missed questions is a very inefficient way to learn. It is much better to have a basis in the theory (from textbook or videos) so that there is something to build on when you miss a question.

9. What is the difference between the textbook and videos? Do I need both?

The obvious difference is in how they teach. Different people learn differently, so you will learn more from the method that works best for you. The videos cover the entire syllabus, but do not include every detail that is in the textbooks. The textbooks cover more details and exceptions to the rules than the videos. If you study primarily with the videos (and the practice questions, of course) you should be able to pass the exams. I say your “primarily” because even if you use the videos as your main study tool, you will still need to refer to the textbook for some topics that you do not fully understand from the videos.

One way that I sometimes describe it is that if you want to win an award for the highest score on the exam, you need to know everything in the textbook. If you want to comfortably pass the exam, focusing on the videos as your primary learning tool is fine.

10. What makes HOCK materials different than other materials?

I think that there are a few ways the HOCK materials are different than our competitors, confirmed by the reviews and feedback from our students.

  1. Our materials are not just “Review” materials. We do not assume that you have studied all of these topics in school and therefore only need to review them. Our materials have more explanations, more details, and more examples than the competitors. This does lead to our textbook being longer, but we continue to stay focused on the syllabus in all of our materials.
  2. Our explanations of correct and incorrect answers in our question bank are better and more helpful. Sometimes knowing why a specific answer choice is incorrect is just as important as knowing why the correct choice is correct. We have complete explanations for not just correct answers, but incorrect answers as well.
  3. We provide quick and unlimited support, and we answer every question that we receive from students studying with HOCK. We almost always respond the same day that the question is asked and for most candidates any delay in a response is due to time differences. It is worth mentioning as well that the support that you get from HOCK is usually from the authors of the textbook – this ensures that you get accurate answers that address what you need to know on the exam.
  4. We are the only company to provide a guarantee that pays for you to retake your CMA exam if you fail after studying using our materials. While some companies may offer a partial refund, or give you extended access to the materials, your goal is passing the exam. I believe that materials should be such that if you use them, you will pass. And that is what the HOCK “You Pass or We Pay” Guarantee does – if you watch the videos and do the review quizzes and mock exams (this is how we confirm that you have actually studied), and do not pass the actual exam, HOCK will pay your fees to take the exam again. We are asked if we actually make the payment, and the answer is yes, we do, but not very often because if you do study our materials following our study plan, you will be prepared to pass – comfortably and confidently.

I hope that you have enjoyed this Q&A. If you have any other questions about preparing for the exams please contact us and we will be glad to help.

Brian Hock, CMA, CIA

PS You can also read my Q&A with some personal/career questions if you missed it earlier this week.