Written Communication Questions on the CPA Exam
Essay questions, which assess your written communication skills, appear only in the business environment and concepts (BEC) test. The BEC test includes three essay questions, one of which is a pretest question that doesn’t count toward your grade. You don’t know which question is a pretest question, so do your best work on everything.
As a starting point, read the essay question and jot down some notes about your knowledge on the topic. Once you’ve written down some thoughts, you can start to organize your thoughts into an outline. After the outline is complete, you’ll write the essay.
These questions assess your basic writing skills, such as grammar and punctuation, as well as your ability to put your thoughts in a logical order. Here are some ways in which the essay grader will judge your response:
Accuracy: The information you provide must be technically correct.
Relevance: Your response must be relevant to the reader of the memo.
Organization: The grader will also judge how well you organize your thoughts. For example, a memo should make a statement, provide information to support that statement, and then move on to another idea.
A written communication question may ask you to suppose that you’re the chief financial officer of a company. The company president asks you to write a memo explaining the advantages and disadvantages of issuing common stock to the public for the first time — an event often referred to as “going public,” or an initial public offering (IPO).
Many essay questions ask the candidate to give advice on a financial decision. For example, maybe a company needs to decide whether to make a product component or to buy it from an outside company. A firm may need to decide whether to lease a new building or buy it. Your job is to use your knowledge of BEC topics to write a clear document that supports your decision.