Passing the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam is a significant achievement that requires determination, preparation, and hard work. The exam is divided into four sections: Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), and Regulation (REG). The CPA exam is known for its difficulty, and candidates must score at least 75 on each section to pass. In this article, we will provide you with comprehensive tips and strategies to help you pass the CPA exam on your first attempt.
1. Set a Study Schedule and Stick to It
Creating a study schedule and sticking to it is one of the most crucial strategies you can employ to pass the CPA exam. It would be best to prepare a study plan that suits your needs, taking into account your learning style, schedule, and commitments. The plan should consolidate all the four sections of the exam, allocating enough time for each. This consistency and organization approach will improve your chances of passing the CPA exam on your first try.
You can develop a customized study plan by setting daily/weekly goals. Use a CPA exam review course or materials to make use of existing materials. Identify specific times throughout the day when you can devote an hour or two to study separately for each section. Actively monitoring your progress while following a study plan allows you to identify the areas where you are struggling, allowing you to adjust your routines accordingly.
Here is an article on creating an effective CPA study schedule.
2. Invest in a CPA Review Course
The first step towards exam preparation requires investing in a high-quality CPA review course. This course should be compatible with your learning style and need. Consider finding a course that provides practice questions, simulations, and explanatory videos. The right course will help you understand the concepts, familiarize yourself with the exam’s format, and increase your comprehension levels.
There are different CPA review courses available, including Becker, Roger CPA Review, and Wiley CPAexcel. Typically, you’ll find relevant reviews that can help guide your choice. A good CPA review course should be affordable, engaging, and equipped with an interactive platform to help make studying more manageable.
3. Practice with Test Simulations
Consistent practice is important when it comes to the CPA exam. The more you practice, the more you will become familiar with the exam’s format, the questions, and time management. You want to aim at solving as many practice questions and simulations, and don’t just memorize answers. You need to focus on the concepts and logic behind each question in a situation where you’re playing a role.
CPA review courses that offer mock exams are available to provide a controlled environment where you can take practice tests to assess your understanding of the concepts you’ve learned to identify your weak areas. Most importantly, you can adjust your study plan accordingly.
Here is a link to the AICPA’s tutorial and sample test, which will give you a feel for the exam’s format and functionality.
4. Join a Study Group or Find a Study Buddy
Studying alone can be overwhelming at times, and may even lead to burnout. Connecting with a CPA exam study group or a study buddy can help ease the burden. Such groups provide the perfect opportunity to discuss difficult areas you need help with, share study materials and gain a different perspective. Interacting with friends and colleagues who are studying for the CPA exam can offer motivation, accountability, and support during preparation for the exam.
Online sources such as Another71 or Reddit’s CPA subreddit can provide a perfect opportunity to find a study group. You can also consider reaching out to classmates and colleagues.
5. Prioritize Your Wellness
The value of self-care cannot be overemphasized when preparing for the CPA exam. It is important to recognize that burnout and stress can negatively affect your capabilities. Lack of sleep, poor nutrition, and excessive anxiety can affect your studies’ productivity. Get enough sleep, eat nutritious diets, and engage in regular physical activity.
It’s recommended that you take regular breaks when studying to help yourself avoid burnout, and take care of your wellbeing. Monitor how you’re feeling mentally and physically, and aim for a healthy work-life balance. It would help if you found the right balance to maintain your wellness and avoid sacrificing any critical part of your life.
Here is an article with tips on taking care of yourself while studying.
Bonus Tips for Passing the CPA Exam on the First Try
1. Stay Up-to-Date with Changes
The CPA exam is always evolving, and being current with the changes is imperative. It’s crucial to stay informed and up-to-date with these changes to avoid any surprises on exam day. Check the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) website for the latest updates and announcements.
2. Take Mock Exams
Mock exams allow you to simulate the actual exam in a controlled environment. These tests are beneficial in assessing your understanding of the concepts you’ve learned, identifying weak areas, and adjusting your study plan accordingly. Most CPA review courses offer mock exams, but you can also find free mock tests online.
3. Engage with CPA Professionals
Networking and engaging with CPA professionals provide valuable insights, tips, and advice on how to excel in the CPA exam. They know what it takes to succeed in the exam and understand the procedure. Join professional associations, attend seminars, and reach out to local CPA firms to build connections.
4. Get Enough Rest Before Exam Day
The night before the exam day should be dedicated to rest and relaxation. Attempting to cram in a lot of information can simply add more stress. It would be best to get at least eight hours of sleep, have a quiet evening, and make sure your mind and body will be refreshed, and you are ready to tackle the exam with a fresh perspective.
5. Stay Confident and Believe in Yourself
In the end, it’s essential to remain confident and believe in yourself. Trust that you’ve done the best you can to prepare and that you are ready to pass the CPA exam. Self-doubt and anxiety can hold you back, so focus on your strengths and accomplishments. Visualize yourself acing the exam and visualize how it will feel once you pass.
Passing the CPA exam on your first attempt is challenging, but achievable, with the right mindset, strategies, and resources. Preparing a study schedule, utilizing CPA review courses and materials, and practicing with test simulations can undoubtedly improve your chances of success. Engaging with other students, practicing self-care, staying up-to-date with changes, taking mock exams and building connections with professionals can serve as an added advantage in achieving your goals. Remember to stay motivated and take good care of yourself throughout the process. Good luck!
Disclaimer: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the writer and not necessarily to their employer, organization, committee, or any other group or individual.