(Posted March 2024)

The CPA PEP module exams include practice cases and multiple-choice questions (MCQs). In this article, you will find tips on how to master the MCQ portion of the CPA PEP Module final exams.

What do I need to know for the CPA PEP module exam MCQs?

Before you begin preparing, know what topics are examinable and to what extent. As you familiarize yourself with the Core Module Blueprints CPA Canada has provided, you will notice for example, that on the Core 1 final exam, 50-70% of the MCQs relate to Financial Reporting, compared to only 0-10% on the Core 2 final exam.

You need to study the relevant material, so be comfortable with the PEP Module blueprints.

On the Elective Module final exams, the MCQs will focus on the competencies where there is an increase in expectation, e.g., from B to A in the CPA Competency Map. For more detail on what topics are examinable in each CPA PEP module, you can review Section 6 of the 2022 CPA Competency Map – Part 2.

How do I study for the CPA PEP module exam MCQs?

Practice, practice, practice

The Core 1 and Core 2 Module final exams include one 60-minute case and 75 MCQs. The Elective Module final exams include two cases totaling 200 minutes and 15 MCQs. Regardless of which PEP exam you write, MCQs are an important part of passing so you need to be well-practiced.

Not all MCQs are created equal, and you want to study using MCQs that reflect the exam you are going to write. Our team of expert authors has designed an extensive library of practice MCQs that reflect the style of questions you will see on your exam so you can study with confidence. Visit our website to learn more about the Densmore EDGE courses or practice exams that will prepare you for the Core and Elective Module Exams.

Debrief each question

As with case writing, you need to debrief each MCQ you write and this does not mean memorizing the correct answer. After you have attempted the practice MCQs, you will review the solution to understand what the correct answer was, and then debriefing starts. When you get an answer incorrect, ask yourself:

  1. Was this a technical weakness?  If yes, learn technical from the solution first. Our practice MCQs provide explanations of why the correct answer is correct, as well as why the incorrect answers are not so that you can understand where you went wrong in the thinking that led you there. If reading these solutions sufficiently refreshes your memory, then debriefing was quick. However, if you are still rusty about a particular topic, you should take time to learn the relevant technical. You can use the CPA Canada Learning Library (eBooks) provided as part of your CPA PEP resources, or you can rely on the concise explanations of examinable technical found in the Densmore Competency Map Study Notes.
  2. Was it a misunderstanding? Some candidates see the correct answer and think “I knew that!”. While this is encouraging, it will not matter on the exam if you “knew” the correct answer but selected the wrong one. Understand why you chose the incorrect answer. Did you read the question too quickly and miss key words? Did you see a correct option and select it quickly without seeing the option below it was more correct?

You also need to debrief the MCQs you answered correctly to ensure that your reasoning was sound, and it was not a lucky guess. It is best to debrief the questions shortly after writing them. Unless you are completing a timed practice exam, you do not want to attempt too many MCQs and then come back to debrief them because you will forget your reasoning. Instead, debrief each MCQ as you attempt it, or attempt MCQs in small groups of 5-10 questions and then debrief that group.

Check your blind spots

Pay attention to the type of MCQs that you find challenging. Are you scoring well on all personal tax questions but struggling on the corporate tax questions? Are you acing Assurance MCQs but struggling with Finance? Do not ignore these blind spots. Schedule time in your calendar dedicated to addressing them.

How do I pass the CPA PEP module exam MCQs?

Success, celebration and students with results after exam in university. Goal achievement, education scholarship and group of people happy with friend with paper passing test and celebrating victory

Manage your time

You are responsible for managing the time allocation between the MCQs and the case portion. It will not be controlled as part of the final exam.

The case(s) will be an important part of the exam, so you should not steal time from the MCQs to respond to it. Some candidates think they have at least a 25% chance of passing the MCQs by guessing so they spend more than the suggested time on the case and find themselves disappointed on results day.

Write the case(s) first but take only the suggested time. The case is intended to be written in that time and even if it does not feel like it, you do not need more time. If you choose to answer the multiple choice first, make sure you pay attention to the clock and do not leave less than the suggested time for responding to the case(s).

You will then have approximately 2.5 minutes for each MCQ. Some will take more than this, some less, so pace yourself. Complete five questions at a time and after each group of five, look at the clock to ensure you are still on track with your time. If you are unsure, make an educated choice and keep a list of the MCQs you are unsure of and if you have extra time at the end of the exam you can come back to them using the easy question navigation menu in the exam software. If you get stuck on one problem for too long, you risk having to guess on the remaining MCQs. Remember, just because one MCQ is challenging does not mean it is worth more than another one, so you do not want to sink unnecessary time into it.

Other tips

  • Eliminate options – Sometimes seeing multiple options is stressful. If this happens, start by ruling out the options you are certain are incorrect, and briefly explain to yourself why you know this. This will build your self-confidence and may help to refresh your memory on the topic, making it easier to select the best answer. You can do this in two stages. The first is to eliminate any options you are certain are incorrect. In the second stage, re-read the question to remind yourself of what you are looking for in an answer to identify the most correct option. Alternatively, you can read the question without looking at the available answers and try to determine the most correct answer first before seeing if it is among the available options.
  • Do not second guess yourself – The MCQs sometimes request the “best” or “most correct” answer. This creates ideal conditions for second-guessing. If you have read the question slowly and understand what it is asking you, then go with your gut. If you are tempted to second guess, see if you can briefly explain in your mind why the other answer is more correct, and if you cannot or you have a strong rebuttal, trust your first response and move on.
  • Read actively – When reading a problem, take pay close attention of the words that change what the problem is asking you (e.g., best, not, false, true, most). You can also trace the words with your cursor as you read. Anything that helps you to understand the question efficiently and fully will provide more time for thinking and analyzing.