ACAT Study Tips and Resources

With the ACAT testing window just around the corner, here are two study methods that you might find useful:




A.S.P.I.R.E. Method:

A: Approach/Attitude/Arrange

  • Approach your studies with a positive attitude
  • Arrange your schedule to eliminate distractions

S: Select/Survey/Scan

  • Select a reasonable chunk of material to study
  • Survey the headings, graphics, pre- and post questions to get an overview
  • Scan the text for keywords and vocabulary: mark what you don’t understand

P: Piece together the parts

  • Put aside your books and notes
  • Piece together what you’ve studied, either alone, with a study pal or group: summarize what you understand.

I: Investigate/Inquire/Inspect

  • Investigate alternative sources of information you can refer to:
  • other text books, websites, experts, tutors, etc.
  • Inquire from support professionals (association members, colleagues, experts,) and other resources for assistance
  • Inspect what you did not understand.

R: Reexamine/Reflect/Relay
Reexamine the content | Reflect on the material | Relay understanding

What questions are there yet to ask? Is there something I am missing?

How can I apply this? Is there a new application for it?

Could I explain this to colleagues?

E: Evaluate/Examine/Explore:

  • Evaluate your grades on review quizzes: look for a pattern
  • Examine your progress: toward achieving your goals
  • Explore options: with a teacher, support professional, tutor, parent if you are not satisfied.

Index Study Method:

Here is a method of studying that gives you an accurate perception of how well you know the material, and forces you to think about it, rather than just look over it.

Review your notes and readings frequently, so the material is “fresh”

As you’re reading your text or reviewing your notes,write down questions about the material.  Imagine you’re teaching the course. What questions would you ask on the exam?

Keep track of any terms you need to know and try the index card system:

  1. Write each question or term on the back of an index card
  2. On the front of each index card, write an answer
    or an explanation for the question or term on the back.
    Use your notes and text for a reference, but put the answer or explanation in your own words whenever possible
  3. Shuffle the index cards
    so you can’t figure out any answers based on their location in the deck
  4. Look at the card on the top of the deck:
    Try to answer the question or explain the term.
    If you know it, great! Put it on the bottom of the deck.
    If you don’t know it, look at the answer, and put it a few cards down in the deck (so you’ll come back to it soon)
  5. Proceed through the deck of cards until you know all of the information

Some Tips:

  • Carry your cards with you everywhere. Take advantage of little pockets of time.
    Test yourself while you’re waiting on line, riding the bus, etc.
  • If you think you know an answer, but can’t put it into words, you probably don’t know it well enough. Explaining the information is a good way to be sure that you know it.
    It’s also a good way to prevent test anxiety
  • Test yourself someplace where nobody can see you
    and recite the answers out loud. Study with a friend or colleague
  • You can share ideas and help each other out with concepts.
    You can use each other to make sure that you’re explaining your answers adequately

 Other ACAT Study Tools:

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

5 Social Media Tips

social media
We can safely say that social media is here to stay. Not only is it here to stay, but it continues to grow. As of January 2013 there are 1 billion active monthly users on Facebook and 200 million active monthly users on LinkedIn and Twitter.  Social media has become an integrated part of our daily life and a very important marketing tool for businesses. If you haven’t yet mastered the art of social media marketing that’s OK. We’ve come up with a few tips to help you become more efficient social media marketers for your business.

Also, be sure to check out our Tools and Resources page with a link to a credential holders’ only Tools and Resources Library. In that library we have put together a list of sample social media posts both fun and informative that you can share with your followers. These are for credential holders only so you must log in first to see them.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ACAT Exam Testing Window is Approaching

ACAT logos

Our fall testing window will run from November 23- December 16 and will offer exams for all four ACAT credentials: the Accredited Business Accountant/Advisor (ABA), Accredited Tax Advisor (ATA), Accredited Tax Preparer (ATP) and Accredited Retirement Advisor (ARA). Registration is now open on our website:

Many agree that achieving ACAT accreditation provides a distinction that sets accounting and tax professionals apart and open doors for practice development and career advancement. Earning ACAT credentials provides evidence to clients that accounting and tax professionals have achieved a high level of knowledge and skills and abilities needed to effectively serve their clients. If you take and pass an exam in the fall 2013 testing window you will be set to earn the credential in time for the 2014 tax season.

Here is a quick rundown of the credentials offered:
ABA: Focus on financial accounting, financial reporting, financial statement preparation, taxation, business consulting services, business law and ethics. Emphasis is on a practical approach to public accounting. Exam is two parts: Practice 1 and Practice 2, both 100 questions. Registration cost: $285 or $200 for one Practice of the exam, plus a $50 registration fee.

The ABA is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), an independent resource recognized as the authority on accreditation standards for professional certification organizations and programs.

Also important to note about the ABA: Achieving the ABA designation DE, IA, and MN meets state regulatory requirements to practice public accountancy.

ATA: A tax credential with emphasis on sophisticated tax planning issues, including planning for owners of closely held businesses, planning for the highly compensated, choosing qualified retirement plans, and performing estate tax planning.
Registration cost: $200 plus a $50 registration fee.

ATP: A tax credential for tax practitioners who have a thorough knowledge of the existing tax code and the preparation of individual tax returns with an expertise in comprehensive 1040 issues including supporting schedules, self-employed returns, and ethics.
Registration cost: $200 plus a $50 registration fee.

ARA: A national credential that recognizes professionals with expertise in retirement planning and special issues of senior citizens including tax planning and tax preparation for decedents, estates and trusts, and applying skills in real-life situations when serving aging clients. Registration cost: $200 plus a $50 registration fee.

ABA, ATA, ATP and ARA candidates must pass the exams and meet and experience requirements to earn the credentials. A blueprint for each exam with more information on topic areas is available at

Need Study Materials? We’ve got you covered!
National Society of Accountants has developed Self-Study Preparatory Courses and Practice Exams. The online preparatory courses are interactive and give instant feedback when taking the practice exams at the end of the chapters. Find more information here:

We are also posting a free 4- question quiz on our homepage each week until the end of the testing window so you can get additional exam preparation. Here is an example, which is also located on the homepage:

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Welcome to the Accreditation for Accountancy and Taxation (ACAT) blog, “Earned Voluntarily”. Here we will post information on the latest ACAT activities and relevant topics, including maintaining and marketing your ACAT credential(s).

We will talk about topics that are important to credential holders: marketing, social media, interviewing, and more. It is also a place where practitioners, students and the public will learn about ACAT credentials and share ideas that are relevant to business and credentialing in the accounting and tax community. We will post interviews with credential holders and articles on exam prep and test taking tips, as well as consumer tips. Follow us to get notifications in your inbox when a new blog post comes out.

Here is a short recap of our activities from the summer. We have been busy! In addition to our events we also welcomed 16 new credential holders after the June-July testing window.

We exhibited at the NSA Annual Meeting in IndianapolisAnnual Meeting booth

We held a reception for ACAT credential holders at the NSA Annual Meeting
ACAT images

The ACAT Board was installed at the Business Session at the NSA Annual Meeting
ACAT board
Pictured at the 2013 NSA Annual Meeting (from left): Don Yoder, Michael Salazar, Roy Frick, Christine Giovetti, Wanda Goodson, and Dave Rancourt

And finally, we exhibited at the IRS Tax Forum at National Harbor August 27-29!
National Harbor booth

Posted in Events | Tagged , | Leave a comment