Based on the average successful CPA candidate, the AICPA recommends putting in 400+ hours of dedicated study time to pass the CPA Exam. However, there are no specific requirements on how to budget this time. Many students aren't sure if they should whiz through the study process by cranking out all four parts of the CPA Exam in just three months or if they should follow the old adage, slow and steady wins the race."
The answer is - to each their own! There is no specific timeline that works best for all CPA Exam candidates.
The following are some possible timeline scenarios on how the CPA Exam could fit into different schedules and lifestyles. Perhaps one might resonate with you.
Hasty Harry: Harry is fresh out of college and has decided that he won't join his buddies in Europe over the summer. Instead, he would like to power through his studying so he can sit for and pass all four parts of the CPA Exam. He wants to quickly obtain his CPA license in order to solidify a big bonus from the firm that hes set to work for in September.
Study Recommendation: An accelerated review is a great option for recent graduates or CPA hopefuls with a fast-approaching deadline. However, be prepared because a 3 month study plan is more intense than a full-time job and requires impeccable self-discipline. Beginning his CPA courses during a blackout month, Harry will study and sit for all four exams in just one testing window.
Quick Quinn: Quinn just finished busy season at her firm and with more time to focus on the exam, she would like to crank out her studies and all four parts of the CPA Exam in just 6 months. With her job, shes busier than her friend Harry and believes doubling his study time is her best option.
Study Recommendation: Quinn is a great candidate for a 6 month plan because she can dedicate a few hours to studying each day before or after work. Shell need to study for a full weekend day too, but she can complete her studying and sit for all four parts of the CPA Exam in just two testing windows.
Steady Stephanie: Stephanie is a self-employed, mother of three, who owns her own company that provides tax services for local businesses. Stephanie is a bit busier than Quinn and therefore wants more time to dedicate to studying for the CPA Exam.
Study Recommendation: Stephanie is a great candidate for a 9 month or 12 month study plan. With these plans, shell need to study two days during her work week and one full weekend day. With no pending deadline, Stephanie thinks a longer study plan is the perfect way to balance her many personal and professional commitments.
Whether youre using our CRAM Course or you've just sat for your last exam after a year-long stretch of studying, there is no right or wrong way to study for the CPA Exam. It's a completely individual endeavor! If you need some help figuring out your study plan, be sure to check out our 3, 6, 9 and 12 month study planners. Our study planners can be customized to fit your busy schedule and will give you the confidence you need to start your CPA Exam journey.
This article was originally posted in 2011, but the advice given is still valid for the CPA Exam candidate today. Some editorial changes have been made from the original article.