The problems in the following pages have been prepared to afford students ready means of testing with actual figures their knowledge of accounting principles.
The aim is in only slight degree to afford the sort of mechanical practice that results in facility, though some degree of facility must spring from any practice; the prime aim is to afford material on which the student may cultivate the power and the habit of seeing straight, of seeing deeply, and of seeing whole. All serious accounting work requires the accountant to do these three things: first, to see the surface meaning of things; second, below the surface facts to see the underlying facts; third, to see the relations of all the fundamental facts to one another. Except for the bookkeeping problems — in which, moreover, the aim is as far as feasible the same as in the accounting problems, — the exercises following are intended to demand of the student careful observation (to show him what the figures mean), or the application of some analytical power (to tell him what lies below the surface), or sense of relationship (to indicate to him how present figures are tied up with other figures). Many of these problems require the exercise of all three of these faculties at once.
Either of two methods is feasible for the choice of material for exercises, — actual figures yielded in specific business enterprises, or imaginary figures devised to call into play certain lines of thought on the part of the student. The former gives the student a certain degree of familiarity with actual figures, and, if a sufficient number of cases is taken, with normal figures; but a very large number of cases is usually needed to cover the specially noteworthy conditions, for few sets of actual figures chance to combine many notable facts. Then so much of the student's thought is occupied with the repetition of mechanical processes that he loses alertness for the recognition of differences in principle.