Pass the CPA Exam With These Preparation Tips
Passing the CPA exam may be a daunting task, especially if you’ve heard of the number of people who have had to take multiple sections multiple times before finally getting their CPA. Below are ten CPA preparation tips that have served me well in the past, and I am sure they will help you too. Pass the CPA exam you will, eventually – it is inevitable unless you give up.
1)Acquire the Right Mentality
Nobody said passing the CPA was easy. This is a huge undertaking that will require much time and tenacity before you will succeed. Many people fail multiple sections multiple times before finally passing all four sections. Prepare yourself for the possibility that you may fail some of the sections before passing them, and accept that as a natural part of the process of getting your CPA. On the other hand, remind yourself of previous achievements that serve as concrete proof of your mental capabilities, such as getting your college degree. Countless other people have struggled and passed the CPA exam in the end, and so will you.
2)Get Help From Friends and Family
Trying to pass the CPA is not an easy task, but you don’t need to do it alone. Start enlisting help from your friends and family members by explaining to them why you need to pass your CPA exam and how difficult and time-consuming this task is. If they are supportive of what you’re doing, they may help you out with some of your current obligations (e.g. household chores such as cooking), and will understand if you can’t make it to every social gathering.
3)Stay in Great Health
Poor health has detrimental effects on concentration, which greatly impacts on the ability to think and study. Eat a balanced diet, exercise adequately, and most importantly, get at least 6-8 hours of sleep every night, taking an afternoon nap in between if you need to (don’t go beyond 15-30 minutes or you’ll feel groggy). Also, don’t forget to schedule regular study breaks – they will help you to avoid feeling burnt out, and will also help your brain to absorb materials more readily when you resume after the break. Studying for the CPA can be quite a battle, where your mind and body are your weapons, so to speak. If you want to win the battle, you need to keep your weapons in good working order.
4)Invest in a Good CPA Review Course
Some of the best CPA review courses available today come with DVD lectures that explain concepts so much better than textbooks do. The better CPA review materials will even include lists of practice questions to focus on, that will be the most likely to appear on the actual exam. The best of these CPA review courses come with live support where you can call in to ask any questions related to the CPA exam, and get answers and detailed explanations from live trainers. In short, investing in a good CPA review course can drastically shorten your exam preparation time and increase your odds of passing the CPA exam.
5)Find a Study Buddy Or Two
Seek out other people who are also studying for CPA exams in your area and invite them to study with you. There are online CPA forums where you can post or answer to a request for study partners. Set up a strict schedule and get everyone to commit to it by scheduling other obligations around it. Studying with other people can help you to be more disciplined, and oftentimes two (or three) heads are better than one when it comes to figuring out difficult concepts or problems. When the going gets tough, your study buddies may just be able to give you the emotional support you need to keep going – after all, they’re in the same boat you are and should understand how you feel.
6)Only Take On One Section At a Time
Many people find it overwhelming when trying to study for all four CPA sections at the same time. There’s simply too much material to familiarize yourself with all at once. A better strategy would be to only concentrate on studying for one section at a time, pass the exam for that section, take a break, and then start studying for the next section and so on. Another piece of advice would be to go for the hardest section first (the one that is hardest for you – this will vary from person to person), because once you pass your first section, you only have 18 months to pass your remaining sections. Getting that hardest section out of the way first will minimize your chances of running out of time and having the 18-month window expire on you.
7)Focus on Problem Areas
Although reviewing materials you already know well makes you feel good, it certainly won’t help your exam scores much in the end. To get the highest ROI (rate of return) for your study time, spend it on learning material you have the most trouble with. Flip through all of your learning materials, identify your weak areas, and studying them one by one until you’ve conquered them.
8)Take Lots of Notes
It is important to take ample notes while you’re studying, so that you’ll have something to review during the last few days before the actual exam. Since your short-term memory is, well, short-term, materials you cover during those last few days will be remembered best on your exam day. This small window is just not enough for you to review all your study materials from start to end, so be sure you have a good set of study notes that you can commit to memory during the last few precious days before your exam.
When doing practice questions during CPA exam prep, time yourself as if you’re actually doing the exam. This will train your brain to work under time constraints and better prepare you for the actual exam. Moreover, by getting used to being timed, you’ll be less likely to panic on exam day when you don’t know the answer to a question.
10)The More Practice the Better
Do as many practice questions as you can, for as many times as you have time for. By doing so, not only will you know the material better, but you’ll also feel more confident about your odds of passing the exam – both of which will help increase your actual score!