Utilizing technology is a must for scheduling, staying organized, and studying on the go. Since I started the exam I’ve tested out a number of applications, and below is a list of my favorites. Everything in this list is free (although some offer paid enhanced versions) and will work on most commonly used phones, tablets, and computer operating systems.
Brainscape - Flashcards
Time is money (especially when that time could be used to study), so I’d suggest purchasing flashcards, but it’s useful to make a custom deck of cards for things you’re really having trouble with. Brainscape allows you to create and view flashcards on your phone or on their website. The cards will automatically sync between devices. Typically, I’ll create the cards on my laptop and then use a tablet or phone to study them when I get a few free minutes. Flashcards are saved on the Brainscape server so you don’t have to worry about losing them.
Wunderlist – Checklist
Use the website, phone application, or computer application to create checklists which sync across all devices. It’s more feature packed than most native phone checklist applications, allowing you to add photos, notes, sub lists, or alarms to each item in a checklist and to easily reorder, sort, and flag items. The inbox function lets you see an overview of items from each checklist that are coming due. You can also share a checklist with a contact, which is useful for sending your roommate or significant other the grocery list when you’re falling behind.
Camscanner, Evernote – Saving handwritten notes and documents
Both applications allow you to quickly take photos with your phone or tablet of multiple pages of documents and save them as a batch. Handwriting notes helps me remember the information, but I back them up in case I lose, destroy, or get them out of order. It’s also useful for reviewing notes on a tablet or laptop. Both applications allow you to email the batch to yourself. With Camscanner you can also upload to Google Drive, Dropbox, Onedrive, Box, or your Evernote account. Evernote allows you to upload to their server only. The free version of Evernote gives you 60 megabytes of space per month, which has been enough for me, but you can upgrade to 1 gigabyte per month for $2.99 per month, or unlimited for $5.99 per month.
Dragon Dictation – Voice to text
This application seems to be more accurate than my iPhone’s native voice to text feature. I’ll use it in the car to take notes for things I need to do and have used it when driving home after an exam to take notes on what areas I felt I needed work on (in case I needed to retake it).
Stayfocused – Block distracting websites
Most people have 3-5 websites they waste most of their time on. This is an extension for the Chrome browser that will let you create a list of websites to allow or block for a scheduled period of time (for example: block facebook.com from 5-9 PM Monday – Friday) or for the next X amount of time (for example: allow only rogercpareview.com for the next 45 minutes). You can even block access to Stayfocused for that period of time, preventing you from changing the settings. If you don’t use Chrome, there’s a variety of similar software available for most browsers.
Breathe2relax – Meditation
Breathe2relax walks you through a meditation session. Use it to relax before entering an exam or to refocus during a long study session.
Sworkit lite – Exercise
Sworkit creates custom 5-60 minute strength training, cardio, yoga/pilates, or stretching workout routines you can do with no equipment. It’s great for traveling or to get a quick workout in during study breaks. It will show a video of each exercise and a timer to walk you through it (similar to a workout video). Sworkit lite, the free version, has occasional ads that are easy to close. Sworkit Pro ($2.99) is an ad-free version that has some additional features such as syncing to diet applications and purpose specific downloadable routines for golfers, pregnant women, surfers, those that need low impact routines, etc.
Gmail – Email sorting function
A little known function of gmail.com is that you can add a “+” symbol after the username and any word you want and it will still be received. For example, if your email address is firstname.lastname@example.org you could give the email address of email@example.com to NASBA, Prometric, Roger’s CPA Review or use it to send notes to yourself. You will still receive the email at firstname.lastname@example.org, but you can easily use the search function in Gmail to pull up all CPA related emails by searching email@example.com. You could also set a filter to move all emails sent to firstname.lastname@example.org to a specific folder or to star them. Also useful for signing into websites that require an email address for activation, but will send you spam (send all emails to email@example.com to deleted items).
I hope I was able to shed some light on some really great applications I’ve been using to help me get through various parts of my studying, and I hope you’re able to explore these applications and put them to good use for yourself as well.
Please leave a comment below if you have suggestions for software you’ve found useful in preparing for the exam.
-Tyler Remington, Guest Blogger for Roger CPA Review