As we wrap up the last day of the June/August testing window, we’re also saying goodbye to the last summer month and hello to the beginning of September; a month that’s known for going back to school, the beginning of fall, and, of course, blackout month!
Blackout months give NASBA and the AICPA some “maintenance” time to ensure that the computerized exam is doing what it’s supposed to be doing and it also gives them time to evaluate candidate performance and sometimes throw in some new CPA Exam questions. For many candidates, these blackout months or dead months can be frustrating since it feels like your study momentum is being thrown off—especially if you’re ready to test, but can’t.
So while some of us may be thinking about how quickly the year has flown by, most of you are probably finding yourselves sitting around and waiting for the next testing window to open up in October & November. So what should you be doing during the off month, you ask? We have just the answer for you!
1. Take some much deserved time off
Blackout months can be a huge bonus for candidates as it allows you to catch up with family and friends, take a small vacation, or plan important events in your life that have been put on hold because you’re pursuing your CPA. It can also give you a more relaxed timeline when it comes to studying. Set a goal of how much you would like to accomplish by the end of September and study more leniently, giving yourself more days off, breaks, and a chance to enjoy a bit of life again. If you need a break, by all means, blackout months give you the advantage to take one!
2. Focus on Studying
This is usually the more population option if you’re looking to get the most out of your blackout month as a way to prep for the upcoming testing window. Depending on the section you’re studying for, it can take you between 60 and 150 hours total to be prepared to take a section. So blackout months provide the perfect opportunity to focus on studying without having to worry about an exam coming up immediately thereafter.
3. Try to gain some experience
Another option that may sound appealing to you is taking this time to apply for internships, jobs, volunteer work, or anything you’re looking for to gain some experience in the field. Many CPA Exam candidates study while working both full and part time. If you’re nearing the end of your CPA Exam journey or want to work while studying, this month could be the perfect time for you to emit your time and energy in applying to companies or organizations that will give you the opportunity to get some experience under your belt. This will be quite helpful after you’re done with the Exam and are applying for licensure since most states require a minimum of 1 year of experience or more. Be sure to check with your state board of accountancy to ensure that you’re getting a job that meets their requirements!
Whatever your plans for this September’s blackout month is, be sure that you do use it to spend a day or two catching up on some personal “you” time doing things you enjoy with good company.