It’s an exciting time for CPAs! CPAs enjoy many benefits in their careers including long-term job security, great flexibility and better work/life balance, increased salary, and more job opportunities. A CPA is also seen as a trusted advisor and business consultant from day one, so there’s something to be said about having these three letters after your name. Finally, CPAs are at the forefront of the latest technological advances in the business world. They work with some of the most cutting-edge accounting technology when servicing clients.
So, why are you waiting to sit for the CPA Exam?
WHAT TO DO THE NIGHT BEFORE YOUR CPA EXAM
So, you’re scheduled to take the CPA Exam and it’s happening soon! You’re probably excited, anxious, worried, or none of those, and just ready for it to be over. The night before the CPA Exam can be the most anxious time for many CPA candidates. We have some suggestions to help with jitters before the CPA Exam.
Do not do anything new before the CPA Exam.
Instead, review you notes to help you feel confident about topics you’ve had trouble with in the past. When you come across notes that are still challenging, stick a yellow Post-it on them so you can go over them on Exam day. The reason we suggest not learning new concepts the night before the Exam is that there isn’t enough time to fully digest new information only a few hours before the Exam. Doing so will cause unnecessary panic. Instead, focus your time and energy reviewing and solidifying the things you truly understand.
Talk to someone.
It is amazing how helpful it is to voice concerns and anxieties about the Exam to friends, close colleagues, or family members. If you are still worried about the Exam and don’t have anyone you can talk to, write down your concerns on scrap paper or in your notes. According to the University of Chicago, writing about worries eases anxiety and improves test performance. It is very natural to feel worried about the Exam—but what’s more important is how you handle the stress. If possible, reach out to someone and connect.
Lastly: Make sure you have everything you need for the Exam ready the night before.
You don’t want to make too many decisions the day of the Exam. So, be prepared! Decide which clothes you’re going to wear. Grab your Notice to Schedule (NTS). Have a map (or smart phone) to find the testing center if you get lost. Also, pack your 2 forms of identification (Driver's license, passport, Identification card) and your Notice to Schedule (NTS), review notes, water, and snacks. Have everything ready in your purse, backpack, briefcase or other type of bag. Leave early to ensure you’ll make it on time if something happens out of your control. You can sit in your car and review notes and eat some snacks and/or meditate before going into the Exam.
Exam anxiety is normal and there are there are many ways of reducing it. Find out what anxiety-reducing method works best for you!
6 TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL CPA EXAM DAY
Once Exam day arrives, be sure to follow these suggestions:
1. Plan ahead
Know exactly where you are going on Exam day, such as the location of your testing center, where to park, which entrance to go to, etc. If possible, do a trial run prior.
2. Get a good night's sleep
Make sure you get at least 8 hours of sleep the night before so you’re well rested on Exam day. This will help you feel sharp and alert. Try to relax and take some deep breaths. Stay calm. You’ve got this!
3. Eat a good breakfast or lunch
Depending on when you’re sitting for the Exam, try to eat a high protein, low carb meal so you don’t deal with a carb crash during the Exam. Also, think about drinking a little caffeine (if you normally do) to help you stay alert for the next few hours.
4. Leave for the Exam early
Remember: anything that can happen, usually will happen. So arrive early to avoid traffic jams, issues with public transportation, or anything else out of your control. Doing this will help you battle your nerves and give you time to decompress before you sit for the Exam.
5. Remember there is no food, drink, or tobacco allowed in the testing center
So be sure to take care of those needs before going in. Also, although you get a restroom break during the Exam, be sure to go before the Exam.
6. Review your mnemonics
Since you’ve arrived at the Exam center early, go over your mnemonics so they are fresh in your mind as you enter the testing center.
PASSING THE CPA EXAM
Taking the CPA Exam can be intimidating; after all, it’s a very difficult process to go through. According to the AICPA, the CPA Exam Pass rate statistics so far tells us that on average, the pass rate is just under 50%.
But that also means there are 50% of people who are passing the Exam. In order to help candidates along that process, we have created some key tips and tricks to help you successfully pass the CPA Exam.
10 Little-Known Fact About Passing the CPA Exam
1. When to Take the Exam
Sit now, don’t wait! There are many compelling reasons to sit for the CPA Exam sooner rather than later. One reason is to pass quickly before starting a new job at a firm. Many firms offer generous incentive bonuses for passing the CPA Exam, which decreases the longer it takes for you to become certified. Imagine how impressed your firm will be knowing that you’ve already taken the initiative and passed the CPA Exam before your start date, which will allow you to obtain the largest bonus possible. And, you won’t have to try to manage your time learning about your new position while studying for one of the most difficult professional exams.
Also, you’ve just graduated from college and there is a big advantage to taking the CPA Exam when you’re still accustomed to a study routine. Your knowledge from school is still fresh and you’re still very clear on topics that are tested on the CPA Exam. So, why not take it right away?
2. Write Out an Exam Timing Schedule and Follow It
This is probably one of the most helpful pieces of advice you can use during your Exam process. Write out a schedule of how long each Testlet should take you, from the moment you start the Exam to the end. Figure out exactly how far along you should be and make sure you keep on track.
Here is an example of scheduling your time during the AUD Exam (4 Hours – 5 Testlets):
Time (in hours counting down)
- 4:00 – 3:15 Testlet #1
- 3:15 – 2:30 Testlet #2
- 2:30 – 2:00 Testlet #3
- -- Halfway Point: 15 Minute Break--
- 2:00 – 0:60 Testlet #4
- 0:60 - 0:00 Testlet #5
By listing out your time, you are able to get an idea of where you are during each point of the Exam. For example, if you’re at 1:45 and you haven’t finished Testlet #2, you know that you need to start picking up the pace.
3. Getting a Review Course is 100% Required
As you probably have heard, taking on the CPA Exam alone, without any study materials, is pretty much like putting on a blindfold, being turned around a couple of times, and then handed a dart to attempt to throw onto the board. Chances are, you’re going to miss the mark. Therefore, you want to make sure you do ample research on which CPA Review course you would like to use. Pick one that will help you retain information and provide the necessary study support materials that help you learn best. Roger CPA Review courses offer SmartPath Predictive Technology™, a data-driven platform that provides targeted recommendations on where to focus your study efforts, so you pass the Exam faster and more efficiently. Test it out for yourself with a Free Trial.
4. Keep it on the Down Low
Unfortunately, when you begin to tell others you are taking the CPA Exam, your friends and family may want to become “involved”. Find out when you’re taking the Exam, what part, how many sections you have passed, etc. Therefore, if you are up to explaining why you canceled your CPA Exam section or why a 74 is not considered a passing grade, go ahead and let everyone know. But, if you would prefer not to add the additional pressure of everyone wanting to know if you passed or failed the Exam, you do not need to divulge this information. Keep it to yourself. That way, if you decide you’re not ready to take on AUD next week, it’s okay; you're allowed to change your mind. If you failed FAR twice, nobody needs to know this, and you can continue preparing to pass the Exam.
5. Study with Purposeful Multiple-Choice Questions and Task-Based Simulations
Once you start studying with a CPA Review course, don’t sift through tons of practice questions aimlessly. Make sure you’re practicing with questions that are focused on strengthening your weak areas. Otherwise you’ll find yourself just guessing at 60-70% of them. This tactic will NOT help you properly prepare for the CPA Exam.
This is where SmartPath Predictive Technology really comes into play. This data-driven platform serves you questions you need based on your performance, eliminating the guesswork out of preparation. This helps you reach the target goals for each section until your knowledge base of all the topics has been fulfilled. SmartPath helps you focus on learning and applying the actual material and topics presented
6. Figure Out If You Are a Morning, Day, or Night Person
This advice will be extremely helpful when you are planning the times to take your CPA Exam. For those of you who are morning people, take the test at 8:00am, right after a fresh cup of coffee. If you’re not a morning, you may prefer to take the Exam around 5:30pm to ease your nerves. Whatever time is best for you is when you need to schedule your Exam.
7. It’s Okay to Schedule Your Test…Last Minute
Most people think the best thing to do is schedule their CPA Exam as far out as possible. This way it forces them to study because they know they are limited on time. But, as always, things happen, and most people just go into the Exam, having not finished the material, and come out with a 74 or less. Instead of going down this path, have an overall goal of when you plan to take the Exam in your head first. Then schedule the Exam when you are ready to take it.
Note: This tip will only work if you live in an area that has multiple Prometric testing centers. If you only have one testing center near you, then it’s more likely that your time slots will fill quickly. However, if they do get filled, most of the time people end up canceling their Exam 5 days out and slots will reopen. Just keep checking the availability in your area to make sure you get your desired time and date.
8. Reward Yourself for the Little Triumphs The more time you spend studying for the CPA Exam, the less time you have for everything and everyone else in your life. Therefore, squeeze in some time to breath and have a little fun. Use this time as a reward for completing milestones in your study material and especially when you pass a part of the CPA Exam. Just make sure you celebrate the small victories to stay motivated.
9. Just Because You Don't Feel Confident During the Exam, Doesn't Mean You're Going to Fail!
Think positively! One way to ease your mind during the Exam is to remember that the AICPA includes pretest questions on the CPA Exam. So, if you're really struggling with one of the questions, it could possibly be a pretest question that won’t count against your score. Also, always keep in mind that the better you are doing on the Exam, the more difficult the material becomes. If the material seems more challenging, then you're answering the questions correctly.
10. And Finally, Remember the Clock is Ticking
Once you passed your first Exam section, remember that the clock has started to count down. You have 18 more months from the time you pass your first Exam to finish the remaining 3 parts. 18 months sounds like a long time, but it will come sooner than you think. So, be sure to plan your CPA Exam strategy accordingly. We continue to wish everyone the best of luck on their CPA Exam journeys! Be sure to let us know when you pass, so we can celebrate your success!
Why You Should Sit for the CPA Exam Now
Don’t wait to sit for the CPA Exam! If you’re hesitating on starting the process, here's all the reasons why you should seize the day and jump start your journey.
1. Experts recommend taking the Exam as soon as possible after graduation.
Although the CPA Exam changes to meet the demands of the profession, it is still heavily academic-based. Therefore, it will benefit you to take it while you’re still in a student-centered mindset, and while accounting concepts are fresh in your mind.
2. You'll never find a "good time" to take the CPA Exam.
For those of you who did just graduate, this is your golden opportunity to focus solely on the Exam without the added stresses of work and other life priorities. For those of you who are already working, trust us when we tell you life is only going to get more complex the more you delay the process. So, take advantage of the time at hand!
3. Because you can.
In some states, you can actually sit for the CPA Exam before meeting the education requirements. These are called provisionary states. For example, Washington has a provisionary period of 180 days (6 months). This means that if you’re due to graduate and meet all the educational requirements in June of a certain year, you can sit for the Exam in January of that same year. Simply check in with your state’s Board of Accountancy to obtain the necessary paperwork. Provisionary periods vary in select states. Learn more about provisionary states here.
4. The firms want you to pass…yesterday.
Whether you’re looking for a job, or looking to impress your new employer, passing the Exam as quickly as possible is going to make you more valuable. The sooner you get those three letters behind your name, the sooner you can jumpstart your career growth and get ahead. Plus, many firms offer big bonuses to those who finish in their first year!
5. There's no need to fear this Exam.
If you're dragging your heels because you're just plain scared to face the Exam, it's time to get over that and realize you can do this. Plus, it isn't going to suddenly get easier. Rather, the Exam will continue to evolve to test candidates based on the challenges of the profession.
6. You’ll have the support you need to pass the Exam!
Our approach has always been to effectively engage our students in their studies to truly learn the concepts. We then provide tools for students to practice their knowledge on real CPA Exam-like questions in an Exam-like environment so that they are completely familiar with the process on Exam day. At the end of the day, "If you study, you will pass.”