We know there are many tips and tricks out there that will tell you different techniques about how you can ace the CPA Exam. While some of them are helpful, we also know that there's no shortcut to passing the CPA Exam. The most tried and true way to ensure your success is through one task: studying!
While this may seem simple enough, sometimes it’s easier said than done—especially if you’re a busy student or working professional with other things going on in your life.
Therefore, it’s important to remember that planning your study schedule just as important as taking the Exam itself. Here’s what you can do in order to make sure that you develop a strong study plan and—most importantly—stick to it.
Understand the time commitment for the CPA Exam
The AICPA recommends that candidates spend 300-400 total hours to successfully pass the CPA Exam. This typically breaks down into spending 2-3 hours of study time for every 1 hour of lecture time that you watch. These 2-3 hours will consist of reading the material, going through actual AICPA released questions/solutions that include multiple-choice questions and task-based simulations, and simply working through the material until you thoroughly understand the concept and feel comfortable with it.
Keep in mind that this time pacing is based on an average. It could take you fewer time or more time to get through certain topics than others depending on your educational and professional background.
Remember that you only have 18 months to pass the CPA Exam
This may sound like a long time for many candidates, but those months can fly by pretty quickly—especially when life events get in the way or if you have failed certain parts. We have heard from other candidates about losing their credit for 1, 2, or even 3 parts of the exam and have had to take them all over again. Don’t let this happen to you. The CPA Exam is a huge investment of your time and energy. Make it count!
Create a study plan—and make it realistic
Give yourself a realistic timeframe of when you can pass the CPA Exam. Will it be 3, 6, 9, or 12 months? In order to determine this, look at what’s going on in your life and plan accordingly. Once you have set a timeframe, it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty. Use our study planners that break down the entire CPA Exam into your selected time frame. It tells you what to study each day and also allows days for breaks, if applicable. They are also customizable to fit your lifestyle so you can see what goals you should be hitting daily, weekly, and monthly.
Remember to not be overly ambitious—you could be setting yourself up for failure and go into a downward spiral of feeling unmotivated. Instead, leave some wiggle room in your study plan to accommodate unexpected life events or something as simple as needing an extra day to fully comprehend material that you haven’t encountered before.
In addition, keep in mind that everyone studies and learns differently, so the sooner you figure out what your learning process is, the better. Find out what the optimum time of day is for you to study and how many hours you are fully productive before information begins to get blurred. See what works better for you—doing the practice questions after watching the lecture, or re-reading the text before practicing? If you're having a particularly hard time with a topic, use all the resources available to you to get a better understanding. Discovering what study methods are most favorable to your learning curve will set you up for success as the course and your study habits work in tandem to support one another.
Stick to your study plan
Creating a study plan is all fine and well, but it means nothing if you don’t actually stick to it. Do whatever you need to do to make sure you stay on track daily. This could be letting family/friends know not to disturb you during certain times of the day, eliminating your distractions, decluttering your home/study space, or doing weekly meal preps to save time.
You can also set up a reward system for yourself whenever you achieve certain aspects of your study goals. All of these things can motivate you to continue pushing forward until you take your last section at the Prometric Center. As Roger famously says, “If you study, you will pass.” This quote is true if you adhere to your study plan and try your best not to procrastinate or stray. The only way to successfully pass the CPA Exam is to study until you know the material!
We're wishing you all the best of luck!