Summer can prove to be a difficult time to stay focused and study for the CPA Exam. Between summer holidays, vacations, and other fun outdoor activities, you may find yourself falling behind on your study goals. But remember--you'll never get this time back to focus on obtaining licensure. So here are our top tips on how to stay motivated to study for the CPA Exam this summer.
1. Get Your Firm Bonus Faster
If you’re already working at a firm or are planning to do so, you already know that many firms give out bonuses (anywhere up to $5,000!) for candidates who finish and pass the CPA Exam in an allotted amount of time (usually 1 year). Afterward, the bonus amount can decrease the longer it takes you to pass. So finish the CPA Exam before that due date, and you may get that bonus even quicker! Plus, this will show your current or potential employer that you mean business. Taking the CPA Exam is ambition enough—but passing all 4 sections before they expect you to? Yes. You’ll be on the radar and you may enjoy some benefits that your peers won’t be privy to, giving you some extra fluff on your shoulders.
2. Increase Your Salary Quicker
CPAs make on average 5-10% more than non-CPAs, and are also estimated to make over $1 million more during the course of their career. This means the sooner you get your CPA license, the sooner you can increase your salary. Imagine getting that pay jump right when you start at your firm. That means more money in your pocket sooner to pay off school loans, plan an extended vacation after busy season, save for a home, and more!
3. The Longer You Wait, the More Difficult it Will Be
Life only gets increasingly complex as time goes on--so take the CPA Exam as soon as possible. Take advantage of the time you have now before you have to juggle a full-time job, kids, marriage, going back to get your Master's Degree, or having to deal with your brother sleeping on your couch for six months while his place is being renovated. The faster you get the CPA Exam out of the way, the quicker your life can begin. Plus, take advantage of still being in academic study mode if you just graduated from college. The accounting topics you learned will still be fresh in your mind and you won't have to deal with transitioning from young professional back to student.
4. BIG changes to the REG section are happening
The Tax Cut and Jobs Act (TCJA) that passed on December 22, 2017 is making monumental changes to the REG section of the CPA Exam. The AICPA announced that these new changes will be effective to be tested on the CPA Exam beginning January 1, 2019. If you want to avoid those changes, it's important to study for and pass REG now. This is also important to avoid having to learn new information--especially if you already took all your tax classes which do not reflect the new TCJA. Luckily, our new SmartPath Predictive Technology™ has all the data you need to pass REG faster and more efficiently, so even if you weren't planning on taking REG this summer, now you can!
5. Study Outside
You don't have to be a hermit all summer in a dark room. Find a way to incorporate enjoying the nice weather when you're studying. Find an outdoor courtyard at work. Set up your study station in the back yard. Listen to some audio lectures and do practice questions at the beach. Some students may find it difficult to concentrate outside, but you'd be surprised how far a little Vitamin D can go for both your mental and physical health!
6. You Can Study on Vacation
Studying for the CPA Exam doesn't have to soil your trip to Europe or Cancun. Just incorporate studying when you can and be realistic about it. You probably won't be studying 5 hours a day in your hotel room, but you can probably go over some lectures on the plane or in the car. Having realistic expectations as to what you can actually accomplish while on vacation will not only help you enjoy your time away, but also keep you from being overwhelmed when you return. So make a study plan for your vacation and stick to it. Hold yourself accountable so that you're at least being productive on your trip and not throwing study time completely out the window.
7. Include Your Family and Friends in Your Reward System
If you're a parent and your kids are home and begging you to go to the pool or the beach, try to incorporate them in your reward system. For example, when you're done mastering a chapter or concept, it's time for a pool day. Alternately, if your friends are hankering for your time, but they understand that helping you stay focused to get through your practice test for FAR will make that beach bonfire happen faster, you'll get your studying done sooner and everyone will know what exactly what to expect.
8. Do More Today so You Have Less to do Tomorrow
Don't procrastinate! Work now, play later. Granted that this is much easier said than done, but the harder to your try to put your studies first, the more enjoyable your summer plans will be! In retrospect, these few months that you spend bunkering down on passing the exam is a small price to pay for the enormous amount of benefits and opportunity that licensure will bring in both your personal and professional life.