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Without a thorough and realistic study strategy for passing the CPA Exam, you're setting yourself up for frustration and failure. Roger always says, "The CPA exam is a test of discipline and in order to succeed, you're going to have to overcome procrastination, poor planning, and the temptation of outside distractions."

The first step in planning your study strategy should be a detailed schedule. If you are taking a Live CPA Review course, part of the work is done for you as you can base your study schedule off of your class schedule. If you've chosen a self-study CPA Review course or have chosen to study on your own, it's even more critical to schedule the lectures and subsequent study time throughout the week so you don't get distracted or lose track of where you should be in relation to when you sit for the exam.

The trick is to plan out your entire week, from waking up in the morning to going to sleep at night and all the studying you will do in between. It may seem overwhelming if you're working 50-60+ hours per week during tax season but if you've created a detailed schedule for yourself, you'll get a better picture of where you can fit in study time. Lunch hours are a perfect example of fitting in study time where seemingly none exists. Some firms even encourage unlicensed staff to use downtime to study for the CPA exam. If you cannot fit in a full hour-long lecture, you can easily pop in your simulation software and get through a few sets of multiple choice questions.

Remember how the brain learns; if you slowly build your knowledge base over time instead of trying to cram everything in at once, you will have a stronger and clearer picture of the concepts you are trying to retain. This method will come in handy when that section on bonds that stumped you for weeks pops up at the test center!

The key to an effective study plan is sticking to it. In her book "You Can Pass the CPA Exam: Get Motivated", Debra Hopkins shares a story of a CPA candidate who left her review class early because she wanted to watch her favorite baseball team play in the World Series. The candidate explained her choice by saying that she chose watching the game because she was worried it would be the last time her team would play for the season. Obviously, her priorities were a bit off, to say the least.

You have to accept up front that some activities will need to be sacrificed. Hopefully you have supportive friends and family who understand that while you're focused on passing the CPA exam, you won't be as available to spend time with them. Or, perhaps you have a supportive manager who appreciates your drive as an unlicensed accountant to further your career goals. But even if you don't have either of these in your life, you can still tackle this huge undertaking. Make peace with the fact that you may have to give up volunteering, or other favorite activities. Although you're making large sacrifices in your personal life, it's only temporary and will prove a worthy investment in the long run!

Talk to your friends and family and ask for their support through this process. Remember that the CPA exam is a very unique animal and, if you haven't tried it, you have no idea how difficult it truly is. Let people close to you know that you may not be as available to socialize but you haven't forgotten about them.

Whatever you do, do not put this off! You'll regret it in the long run. Be true to yourself and your goals; after all, you're the one who decided to pursue CPA licensure so do yourself a favor and stick to your plan.

The most important thing to remember is that even the best plans sometimes fail; there are things out of your control that may prove to be an obstacle but always keep your goal in sight. If you're honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses, you can maintain the dedication to your goal while remaining flexible when things don't go your way.

You can do this!

If you are a CPA exam candidate struggling to put together a study schedule, find a study buddy to motivate you or feel free to send us a note or leave us a comment so we can help you put one together.