There are a couple things every CPA exam candidate needs; determination, a solid study schedule, a strong command of the information, a comprehensive review course, and the desire to succeed. What many candidates forget before they even walk into the Prometric testing center is an often neglected but important component to any good CPA exam plan: confidence!
Take a student studying for Financial Accounting and Reporting. This person has likely spent 30-some hours watching lecture videos or attending Live classes, has run through many thousand multiple choice questions, has labored hour after hour on practice simulations, and has probably also gained 3% in body muscle from hauling around that huge book everywhere. Perfect plan and for all intents and purposes, this person has done everything they are supposed to and should naturally do well on the exam.
But let's say this person, despite knowing that they did their best to prepare for the big exam day, has little or no faith in their ability to tackle FAR. There is a crisis of confidence.
Do you think this person will be able to sit down at the computer and beat FAR into submission? Likely not. But why?
Countless studies reveal that people perform better and in some instances can even alter a likely outcome just by the power of positive thought. In today's busy and complicated world, it is easy to get caught up in anxiety, worry, panic, and any other number of negative emotions and feelings. These emotions tend to permeate into other areas of our lives, leading to doubt and fear. When being coerced by such negative forces, it's no wonder a person might find themselves feeling negative on their big day.
So how to battle these emotions? Try these five tips to get you through!
Practice visualization: We have one student who has a blank frame on his wall that he plans to use for his CPA certificate when he gets it - in the meantime, he uses it as a reminder of what all his hard work is leading to. Make a "fake" business card that says only your name with the letters CPA after it and hang it on your bathroom mirror so you can't help but see it every day when you wake up.
Surround yourself with positive people: You know that guy who works over in Assurance that never seems to have anything good to say? Ditch him. When you are having a crisis of confidence, it is imperative that the cast of characters in your life answer the call and help you to lift your spirits.
Don't let other people's defeat become your own: Imagine you are studying for the CPA exam at the same time as a few of your colleagues - five of you even got some time off to sit for exams and decided to take Audit on the same day. When the first wave of scores come out, your four colleagues all receive scores below 75. You, however, are still waiting for your score. How would that make you feel? What you have to keep in mind is that is their defeat, not your own. And that super negative woman you met at Prometric who bemoaned the fact that she's sat for BEC 17 times and still not passed? Please ignore her. You are your own person.
Do your best: It sounds incredibly trite but sometimes all you can do is try. Especially when it comes to the CPA exam, you have to remember that not everyone is brave enough to even attempt it, let alone succeed at it. You are certainly not the first accountant to panic at the thought of written communication and you most certainly will not be the last. And no one can guarantee that even with positive thinking and visualization you will succeed, but at least if you do your best, you're less likely to beat yourself up over a 72.
Remember, this is your exam and your goal. It is a difficult journey but one well worth all the effort. If you study, you will PASS! If you've got to tell yourself this 10,000 times a day to get through the process, do it!