Passing the CPA Exam is a huge milestone in an accountant’s professional life. Once you have met all the educational requirements, and make sure you also meet your jurisdiction or state’s specific requirements, it’s time to prepare for the CPA Exam. It’s a lot to prepare for, but fear not – there are resources abound. Here are a few quick tips to help get you started.
Tip 1. Learn the CPA Exam timeframes
The CPA Exam is divided into four sections, and you will take each section on separate days with four hours to complete each exam section. So, time management is crucial.
Once you pass the first section exam, a countdown begins: Upon passing the first exam, you will only have 18 months to complete and pass the remaining three exams. You will want to pay close attention to upcoming testing windows, and consider what trips or obligations you may have within that timeframe so you can ensure enough study and relaxation time.
Tip 2: Dedicate time and space for studying
The CPA Exam requires a tremendous amount of studying. Distractions will prevent your brain from paying attention to this task and interruptions will make your study periods less effective.
A cell phone is one of the most common distractions for students and working professionals alike. Take command of your cell phone by putting it on silent, flipping it screen-side down. Better yet? Go ahead and set that device to “do not disturb” or airplane mode for the duration of your study sessions. Managing these distractions leads us to our next point:
Tip 3: Manage your time
Time management is crucial, both when studying for and taking the actual exam. If you are not sure about how you actually use your time, consider using a time tracking device such as Toggl or Harvest to take an inventory of your study behavior.
As for time management when taking the actual exam, it’s very important to devote an adequate amount of time to each section, but not too much. Timed tests force you to answer quickly and keep at a steady pace toward completion. The better you know the material, the more you will be able to answer almost instinctively. See if there are any practice tests available (we mention one below) so you can gauge how long you are taking to answer questions and where you may be second-guessing yourself.
Tip 4: Utilize simulated exams
Simulated exams teach you a great deal about the pace of the test and how to manage your time during the exam. A simulated exam mimics the test format, questions and time allotted. Taking simulated exams will also indicate what your weaker areas are, giving you a clearer sense of what subject matter to review in order to prioritize reinforcing those areas in your mind as the exam date approaches.
Becker’s CPA Exam Review course provides many opportunities to take simulated exams.
Tip 5: Navigate the computer-based exam
You will want to be comfortable with the computer-based exam environment so no part of the exam period is spent figuring out how to navigate the unique interface or tools.
Becker’s CPA Exam Review Prep course mirrors the CPA exam, which means you will become familiar with the exam environment, format and tools by the time you sit for the test.
Tip 6: Get into the right frame of mind
When pushing through high volumes of study material, sheer willpower only works for a period of time before the brain—and body—begin to tire. If you want to build mental endurance, think like an athlete. Any good athletic coach will tell you that rest and recovery periods are a key component to getting stronger, faster and doing more.
You will definitely want to adopt several smart strategies to build mental endurance and speed. Moving around each hour or taking a short, brisk walk restores and improves mental alertness and sharpens memory.
Tip 7: Take a comprehensive approach
Recent accounting graduates may think that a lot of the exam content is familiar from what they learned in school; however, the CPA Exam covers a tremendous amount of material, and accounting topics are not covered equally. So, you will want to take a comprehensive approach to the material and be ready for anything.
If you are already working in the accounting world, you might have forgotten some things since finishing school. But your experience will give you an advantage in the area of active learning,” having the opportunity to bring concepts together and apply exam review material to accounting situations in your current workplace.
Tip 8: Choose a proven CPA review program
Becker’s CPA Exam Review course has been a leader in the accounting industry, trusted by nearly 3,000 firms, universities and government agencies for more than 60 years. Becker’s review course will prepare you for the CPA Exam and the educational foundation to reach your goals. The simulated exams, personalized learning technology and user-interface that mirrors the actual exam provide a functional review course. More than one million people have used the program to prepare for the CPA Exam. Becker understands that you are not just preparing for an exam—you are preparing for your future.
Passing the CPA Exam requires time, consistent studying and self-discipline. With these tips and a reliable review program like Becker’s, you’re bound to see the results you want!