Hello and welcome to yet another exciting piece on how to study for the CPA exam.
This article will teach you the crucial steps to studying and passing the CPA exam, the importance of test practice, and time management for a successful exam pass.
In this article, we shall talk about:
So, let’s continue with it below!
Know What to Expect from the Exam
If you’re taking the Certified Public Accountant Examination, you’ll want to know what to expect from the questions.
In addition, you must know what will be on the exam to study and prepare appropriately.
The CPA exam has four sections, each containing 50 percent multiple-choice questions and 50 percent task-based simulations (50/50 allocation for AUD, FAR, and REG; 50 percent MCQs, 35 percent TBS, and 15 percent Written Communications for BEC).
To be adequately prepared, it will be necessary to study for all types of CPA exam questions.
The number of CPA MCQs on each portion of the exam is as follows:
Auditing and Attestation (AUD): Each testlet has 36 questions, for a total of 72 questions.
FAR (Financial Accounting & Reporting): Each testlet has 33 questions, for a total of 66.
Regulation (REG): Each testlet has 38 questions for 76.
BEC (Business Environment & Concepts): Each testlet has 31 questions, for a total of 62.
A total of 276 multiple-choice questions are spread over the CPA exam’s four sections.
Creating a Study Plan
Set a daily goal of how many hours you want to study each day and stick with it.
While that may sound impossible, all you need is at least 20 minutes, three times a day.
There will be times when you get distracted by work or family life; it’s okay if you don’t reach your daily goal every single day.
Just make sure that, on average, you’re hitting it every day for a month, and in six months, you’ll be surprised at how much further along you are compared to those who didn’t have a plan!
Studying in Groups: Your study group doesn’t have to consist of other people taking the exam—though that would be ideal.
You can form a group made up of teachers, professors, and friends who can help break down new information.
Several online platforms are dedicated to helping individuals pass the Certified Public Accountant exam (and other exams).
If you use one of these resources, make sure you only post clear-cut examples from study materials, not to give away any actual test content.
Remember that sample questions aren’t always based on what you’re going to see on exam day, but they still have plenty of value as teaching tools!
After all, even if an example question isn’t exactly like something you’ll encounter on test day, learning about it ahead of time might prevent confusion during your big moment.
Always Come Prepared: It’s easy to fall behind during an exam, thanks to specific issues.
To avoid such issues, come prepared with everything necessary for success.
Don’t rely on internet access at an unfamiliar location because that never works in real life—know precisely where you’re going and make sure someone else knows as well (in case anything happens).
Time Management while Studying
Use your time wisely.
That sounds like an obvious bit of advice, but it can often be easier said than done.
Before opening up your favorite social media app or checking email, consider what topics need reading first and prioritize accordingly.
Even small steps towards completing assignments ahead of an exam schedule can pay off big time over time.
Your study habits needn’t vary much while studying for any exam but making sure tasks are always getting ticked off can have a remarkable effect on overall stress and energy levels throughout study periods.
Also, remember that breaks play a vital role in cognitive function and motivation, so don’t try to study non-stop for days on end – your brain will thank you later!
Save some mental fortitude for late-night cramming sessions as well; sometimes, you won’t get another chance to sit down and tackle important study materials again if there are pressing deadlines looming large.
Make use of resources provided by teachers and professors.
They’re typically more than happy to offer suggestions on how best to approach coursework; ask them!
If you haven’t had a lecture that goes over tips and tricks for tackling certain types of questions, then reach out via email or post something onto class Facebook groups.
You may also find helpful hints scattered around class discussions or forums online.
Just make sure you take notes from these discussions so they don’t add yet another item to your ever-growing list of things to remember!
Schedule work into smaller chunks.
Don’t set yourself long hours every day.
It’s far better to have slightly less time than you’d like most of the time rather than needing extra hours now and then because you’re behind.
Remember that life still has places for things other than studying, too – if anything, taking regular breaks helps enhance your productivity because it gives your brain space away from information overload!
For example, maybe your study room doesn’t have a television.
During a particularly grueling section of information to digest, you might find your eyes glazing over as you stare at your textbook.
Leave it for half an hour and do something else!
Watch a film or spend time with friends and family.
Then go back to studying and see how much easier it feels after a quick break!
Staying motivated can be hard when faced with multiple massive pending topics to be covered.
The trick to maintaining enthusiasm about your studies is breaking everything down into manageable chunks, so even if you don’t feel like reading 2 hours of economic concepts and analysis, think about reading five hours instead.
Take Practice Exams
To increase your pass rate, put in time by working through practice questions repeatedly.
The AICPA offers a database containing hundreds of sample CPA review courses.
The database allows users to create customized exams based on their individualized strengths and weaknesses.
Make sure you figure out which areas you need extra help with before jumping into an exam.
It’s also important to remember that while online quizzes can offer insights into what it may be like taking an actual test, ultimately, they aren’t quite as effective.
You will never know exactly how it feels until you take one of these tests under actual test conditions.
However, they’re still better than nothing if you don’t have much time and money.
Note that all four sections of the CPA exam have their unique nature.
For example, audit questions focus more on financial statements, whereas tax is more broad-based accounting.
In addition, management questions require you to think outside of just numbers, whereas auditing might require understanding internal controls within an organization.
Finally, keep up with professional developments: Ensure that you stay up-to-date with recent developments in accounting policy not only because you must pass them but because they pertain to other parts of your career!
Ultimately, with everything considered (time management, cost, effort), regularly going over past questions is likely your best bet for optimizing how well you do.
Sure there’s additional value in studying things like concepts or business law – but given limited resources and considering time constraints due to full-time jobs – there’s no substitute for frequent practice testing.
Don’t Neglect Any Topics
No matter your time commitment to studying, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of zeroing in on some topics.
That may be fine if you’re focusing on learning your weaker subjects or things that interest you most, but if you ignore everything else, then there’s a good chance that on test day, you’ll forget half of what you’ve learned.
To avoid being over-reliant on only one method of study—and potentially missing something important—make sure to take ample practice tests in which every section is equally important.
It will help keep more things fresh in your mind.
Another tip for not missing any major topic areas is to develop a habit of completing and reviewing flashcards before falling asleep each night; without fail.
You’ll find that there were always important words or concepts from previous study sessions slipping from memory as you drifted off.
As with anything else, repetition ensures retention.
Put together enough nightly reviews, and eventually, they won’t have to become nightly anymore. (This also works well with taking notes during class.) Your morning commute is also a great time to review flashcards.
And finally, once again, keeping up daily preparation habits (such as scheduling your exams) will help combat anxiety about looming deadlines when exam week comes around.
The chances are good that panic alone could ultimately sink your scores anyway (or at least prevent them from improving beyond their current levels).
If you know an upcoming exam isn’t going to leave you with extra free time, find some new activities to fill that void part of your study routine early.
You can likely think of many tasks you can delegate: filing tax documents, making calls or emails instead of sending texts, etc.—even chores like cleaning out old files or prepping laundry for work can occupy a little extra time.
The point is: remember productivity!
Work smarter by developing productive new habits and filling the rest with logical alternatives, so there aren’t any gaps that tempt procrastination.
Get Help When You Need it
Preparation for anything can be complex, especially something as rigorous as an exam.
There’s often a lot of information to take in, and sometimes it’s hard to find a way that works best for you.
Seeking help from other students and professionals is a good idea—each person will have different study habits and philosophies, which will lead you down various paths when it comes time to create your plan.
Plus, there are plenty of resources available: books, classes (online or in-person), tutors, forums, study groups, and more.
Find what works best for you—even if it doesn’t seem like much at first—and stick with it until test day.
Create a schedule and stick with it consistently over several weeks before your exam date.
Take notes right after each reading session instead of stockpiling them all up before starting an assignment.
Practicing run-throughs will ensure those large chunks of information don’t become overwhelming during testing week.
You’ll understand most of what you’ve learned because you’ll have had time to absorb concepts truly.
For example, one of your biggest focuses at school may have been learning definitions to memorize and then later identify within multiple-choice questions.
Still, they won’t do you any good if you don’t remember them under pressure!
Look back through past study handouts and highlighted sections of textbooks or look up topics online: see what terms might pop up on future exams.
It also helps to try out different study environments; create a space where you know distractions won’t occur.
If some topics are tough for you, try turning to friends with strength in those areas for extra support.
The nice thing about friends is their willingness to share their secrets!
Strategies to Tackle the Biggest Weakness
Whether you’re new to studying for a test or have taken many in your life, you’ll likely have a specific weakness that holds you back.
For some people, it’s one section of the exam—say, Auditing and Attestation (AUD) or Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)—while it might be organization or time management for others.
If you haven’t identified your weakness yet, try taking sample exams under realistic conditions (i.e., timing yourself and making sure you take complete breaks in between sections).
By understanding where your weaknesses lie, you can attack them head-on with study strategies—like focusing more on particular topics or quizzing yourself more frequently on those tricky areas—and ultimately improve your score in a realistic amount of time.
More efficient studying will allow you to learn about more aspects of the profession than focus solely on your strength.
So even if audits aren’t what get you going, learning about auditing and attestation doesn’t necessarily mean less focus is put on financial accounting—it just means an expansion in knowledge.
This approach also helps avoid burnout by spreading out studying across all parts of the test, not just one area.
In other words: Don’t ever feel like any parts of the CPA exam prep course should be ignored!
Every bit of studying counts toward your goal, whether it’s something you already know well or need extra help with.
Study Smarter, Not Harder: There’s always an element of common sense when it comes to personal improvement, but hard work often wins out over intelligent laziness when we’re feeling unmotivated.
But while you shouldn’t slack off and hope things work out naturally, don’t rely on natural ability alone.
Smart goals keep motivation high while providing structure during busy times.
Whether they pertain to how you prepare or how much progress is made each day, smart goals support systematic success without demanding unrealistic measures of endurance or effort.
Have a Positive Attitude
The first rule of studying for any exam is simple: Have a positive attitude.
Look at your study sessions as opportunities instead of stressful duties, and you’ll get twice as much done in half the time.
In addition, you will be more motivated; studies have shown that our attitudes shape our perceptions of reality, which could affect how well you study too!
Before your next exam session, tell yourself (out loud or silently) what a great opportunity it is to learn and retain information.
You might surprise yourself by performing better than expected!
Today is a chance to learn something new, don’t think about previous failures.
Just remember what you did right last time, so that can help guide you today.
Confidence plays a vital role in studying.
While confidence doesn’t always ensure success, low self-esteem often leads to poor performance.
If you’re confident that you know everything about your upcoming exam, chances are you’ll do pretty well on it.
There are several ways to motivate yourself before diving into an exam—from meditating beforehand to visualizing success beforehand.
Before each exam, you take, make sure your head is clear of distractions and filled with thoughts of how awesome you are—both things that come with having confidence in yourself!
Next, meditate, Visualize Success: Meditation has been proven to reduce stress, increase focus and improve memory recall, making it perfect for conquering exams.
Stay still during meditation—it shouldn’t feel like exercise (unless you want it to).
Then, a few days before an exam, try visualizing yourself succeeding on test day—but keep these expectations realistic.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint, to pass the CPA exam.
One way to tell if you’re on track is whether or not you’re able to answer practice problems before finishing all of your allotted time.
If you can’t, try reviewing questions and see which topics are giving you trouble.
Also, make sure you’re taking full-length practice exams regularly—at least two per month.
Most people find that taking these tests helps gauge how much studying they still need to do to pass.
To guarantee success, budget for additional study time as needed.
For example, let’s say you’re scheduling yourself to take three practice exams each month until you sit for your first test date.
That’s fine — but if after five months (and two or three full-length exams) you don’t feel comfortable with where you’re at — spend some extra hours brushing up your weak areas until you are satisfied with how far along you’ve come.
This approach should help avoid any last-minute cramming on final details.
Be sure to refer back to your progress plan constantly!
Being disciplined throughout the process will keep you from making rash decisions when it comes time to prepare for an exam.
And finally, remember to celebrate even small victories during your CPA prep journey — no matter how insignificant those wins may seem at first!
You’ll be amazed by what sticking with it can accomplish over time.