One of the most widely asked questions for candidates preparing to take the CPA Exam is: How long should I be studying? And many have probably heard the same response: the AICPA recommends putting in an average of 300-400 hours of dedicated study time, based on the average successful CPA Exam candidate.
Yet, there are no specific requirements on how to budget this time. Should you whiz through the process, cranking out all four sections in just three months? Or, does the old adage, slow and steady wins the race hold true for the CPA Exam, too?
The answer: To each their own! There is no specific timeline that works best for CPA students across the board. Everyone learns and retains information differently. Everyone has different life experience and professional/academic background knowledge that may help them understand some topics more readily than others. It also heavily depends on where each candidate is in their personal and professional endeavors.
But to give you a more general idea of where most candidates fall in the their study timelines, here are some of the popular scenarios we've seen here at Roger CPA Review.
Harry is fresh out of college and has chosen not to 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 exams to solidify the big bonus from the firm that he's set to work for in September.
Harry would most likely commit to an accelerated 3-month study plan. This accelerated review is a great option for recent graduates, or CPA hopefuls with a fast-approaching deadline. However, be prepared: 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.
Quinn just finished busy season at her firm, and now with more time to focus on the exam, she would like to crank out her studies and all four exams in just 6 months. With her job, she's busier than her friend Harry, and believes doubling his study time is her best option.
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, and her boss is even allowing her to study for an hour at the end of each day on company time! She'll need to study for a full weekend day too, but she can complete her studying and sit for all four exams in just two testing windows.
Stephanie is a self-employed, mother of three, who owns her own company, providing tax services for local businesses. Stephanie is a bit busier than Quinn and therefore wants more time to dedicate to CPA review for the Exam.
Stephanie is a great candidate for a 9 month, or year-long course plan. With these plans, she'll need to study for a bit during two days of her work week, and one full weekend day. However, with no pending deadline, she thinks it's the perfect way to balance her many commitments while achieving her professional goal of becoming a CPA.
Whether you're planning to sit for all exams in one or two testing windows, or you just sat for your last exam after a year-long stretch of studying, there is no individual recommended plan.
So as long as you squeeze those 300-400 hours in, you'll all be CPAs in your own time!