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ch03 - CHAPTER 3 The Multiple-choice Component...

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CHAPTER 3 The Multiple-choice Component MULTIPLE-CHOICE – 80% Multiple-choice questions comprise 80% of the entire Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) section of the computer-based CPA exam. Under the pencil and paper- based exam, only 50-60% of the questions were tested via this format. At first glance, most CPA candidates and intermediate accounting students would probably tell us that the more multiple-choice questions, the easier the exam is. Why do most students prefer a multiple-choice exam? They receive some comfort from the fact that an answer is given. They fear the open-ended essay and problem format, as the entire answer is up to them. They believe that with multiple-choice questions they at least have a fighting chance. What do they call these questions – multiple-guess? Let’s hope the typical accounting student isn’t just guessing. I am quite confident that candidates aren’t passing the CPA exam based upon their guessing abilities. Let’s face it – if candidates know the material and the concepts, it won’t matter what question format is used. The purpose of this chapter is to provide intermediate accounting faculty with information about multiple-choice question design, presentation format, selection methods, and the scoring process. Again, not all the information is provided, as the AICPA continues to release details. Further developments will be communicated in the quarterly CPA Connection email updates, scheduled to begin April 2003. What could possibly be new information? Aren’t multiple-choice questions a familiar question format? Yes, some of the details have not changed for over 70 years, but the computer-based exam is taking test question selection and scoring processes to 19
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20 Chapter 3 The Multiple-choice Component new levels, utilizing such methods as multistage testing presented in distinct testlets while tracking test enemies . Don’t stop now. Read on to learn more about these changes. Multiple-choice Question Design Historically, the CPA exam multiple-choice format used a four-option answer, allowing candidates to select from four (4) choices marked with small letters “ a ” through “ d ” The examiners will continue to use this format on the computer-based test (CBT). Another carryover from the paper-based exam is the requirement that candidates select the “best” answer. This statement tells us that while there could be more than one right answer, the examiners believe there is clearly one answer that stands out above the rest. This tends to be especially true in the auditing section. Financial accounting and reporting questions on the other hand usually have just one, correct answer. It is the nature of the subject matter. Candidates compute the answer using a distinct formula or algorithm applied to the relevant information. The search for the best answer applies only when a theoretical question requires candidates to identify or define a concept. Set your students’ minds to rest – the financial accounting and reporting (FAR) area is primarily computational. It’s
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