How to Pass the CPA Exam
As every CPA Candidate knows, passing the CPA Exam requires time, money, and a strong mental fortitude. Here’s how you can pass the CPA Exam quickly and efficiently.
Passing the CPA Exam in 3 months is challenging, but feasible. If you have the drive, discipline, and SmartPath Predictive TechnologyTM to focus on the challenge, you will be successful. Take the challenge by following these steps:
Ensure you’ve met the requirements for sitting for the CPA Exam.
Obviously, this is the most important step because if you haven’t met the requirements, you won’t be able to sit for the CPA Exam. Depending on your jurisdiction, you will either need 120 or 150 semester units to be eligible. Most states or jurisdictions now require or will require 150 semester hours of education for CPA licensure. Check what your state or territory requirements are to sit for the CPA Exam before beginning your journey.
Commit to passing the CPA Exam in 3 months (maybe over the summer).
Envision what it will feel like when you have passed the CPA Exam and you’re walking into your firm on the first day, knowing you’re ahead of most of your colleagues. Think about the bonus you’ll receive and the time you’ll save sitting for the Exam before starting full-time work. Create a vision board for inspiration, showing what your goal of becoming a CPA will look like in 3 months. Mapping out your future is the most inspiring way to keep you on track over the summer.
Sketch out your CPA Exam Game Plan.
Now that you’re mentally prepared for the CPA Exam challenge, it’s time to prepare your CPA Exam Game Plan: a critical part of your CPA Exam journey. A CPA Exam Game Plan consists of:
- Understanding the CPA Exam Basics. It’s important to have a complete understanding of what to expect on the CPA Exam. Look at the CPA Exam structure, scan the CPA Exam Blueprints, check out the types of questions asked on the Exam, review pass rates, and understand what is considered a passing score.
- Be realistic about how many hours it will take for you to pass the CPA Exam in 3 months. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) recommends that candidates spend a minimum of 400 hours to study for the CPA Exam. That’s about 16.7 days of consecutive study time—needless to say, it’s a lot. Taking your study style into account and having the proper expectations on hours needed to study for and pass the CPA Exam is vital to your success.
- Set goals for yourself. If you’re planning on passing the CPA Exam in 3 months, then set small goals (e.g., hourly, daily, weekly) to help you stay on track and keep you motivated to continue to push forward as you meet these goals. Use SmartPath Predictive Technology to keep you on track and measure your progress, checking your timeline against meeting the targeted goals to gauge your preparedness for Exam day.
Create a Study Plan.
You get 18 months to complete and pass all 4 parts of the CPA Exam, and you’re going to do it in 3! Research has shown that students who have a study plan are more likely to stick to their studies and reach their goals. Therefore, a study plan can make all the difference between passing and failing the CPA Exam.
The good news is that the Roger CPA Review 3-Month Study Planner is included with all course packages. It not only fully incorporates the course syllabus but can also be downloaded for complete study customization. Even though passing the Exam in 3 months is not for the faint of heart, the 3-Month Study Planner allows for some down time as it accelerates you on the fast track to passing the CPA Exam this summer. And, don’t forget, when creating your Study Plan be sure to account for your personal life as well.
Get into a Routine.
It’s difficult to get into a routine during the lazy days of summer, but a routine will help you achieve your 3-Month CPA Exam goal and keep you on track. A partial sample morning routine might look something like this:
|6:00 AM||Wake Up|
|6:30 AM - 8:00 AM||Practice Multiple Choice Questions|
|8:00 AM - 8:30 AM||Breakfast|
|8:30 AM - 9:00 AM||Shower and get ready for the day|
|9:00 AM - 12:00 PM||Review Lectures|
Sketch out your routine and keep it handy so you can refer to it daily. Also, remember to study in 2-3-hour blocks and always include breaks in between those times. Walk around, grab a coffee, or head to the park for a mental break. It’s imperative to give yourself breaks so that you’re fresh when you start the next block of study time. You’ll be much more productive and will retain information more easily.
Ask for Support.
Let family and friends know your short-term goal of passing the CPA Exam over the next 3 months and how passing will ultimately elevate your career path. Ask them for support during this significant, yet hectic time. This is the time to fully focus on your career goals and those who want you to succeed will be supportive. It might be a good idea to set expectations with close family members and let them know you’ll need them to step in more during this time to help with tasks you normally complete. The good news is that they will be able to celebrate and benefit from your success once the Exam is over.
Find a Study Partner.
If you’re lucky enough to know someone taking the same journey, try to meet with them, physically or virtually, to test each other on Exam topics or to discuss the Exam. A study partner will help motivate you and keep you focused on the task at hand. Plus, a study partner helps you realize you’re not alone during this challenging time.
Stay off negative CPA Exam Forums.
Not only are forums sometimes a time-suck, they can also be discouraging. Many candidates will vent on CPA Exam forums, which showcases their frustration and negativity about their personal CPA Exam journey. But their pessimism isn’t a productive way to encourage others sitting for the Exam. Everyone has their own CPA Exam experience, so don’t expect their journey to match yours. Now is the time to stay positive and not be distracted by other experiences. Focus on your path.
Use a CPA Exam Review Course that provides exactly what you need to know to pass the CPA Exam.
Look, you have 3 months to pass the CPA Exam, so choosing a CPA Review Course that will help you accomplish this goal quickly and efficiently is essential. Roger CPA Review has recently launched SmartPath Predictive Technology™ within their 3 course packages to help CPA Candidates, like you, pass the Exam faster and more proficiently. SmartPath™ is a data-driven platform that provides you with targeted recommendations on where and how to focus your efforts by comparing your progress and performance to those that have passed the CPA Exam. We’ve done the work for you and have taken the guessing game out of CPA Exam review. Smartpath benefits includeYour study progress is tracked to targeted goals.
- Your study time is more productive because SmartPath™ mines user data to evaluate WHICH questions and HOW many questions CPA candidates need to pass. The ultimate result is more efficient study sessions, and less wasted time.
- Your Exam confidence soars because the guesswork of CPA Exam preparation is gone and instead, you’re guided by a clear path to success - something you need when trying to pass the Exam in 3 months!
- Your learning experience is highly personalized. We know CPA candidates study differently, which is why SmartPath™ adapts to your individual progress, and serves you the questions you need based on your individual strengths and weaknesses.
- It works! Read our case studies of students who have quickly passed the CPA Exam using our predictive technology.
Start your 3-Month Life Changing Career Journey. Just begin.
- Turn off devices.
- Do weekly meal-prep to cut time during the week for meals.
- Drink a lot of water to stay hydrated and mentally fresh.
- Try to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep.
- Get fresh air as much as possible.
- Exercise to keep your blood flowing (and help you sleep better!)
- Reward yourself with little triumphs as you accomplish daily or weekly goals.
- Think positively. Remember the CPA Exam is largely a mental game of strength. So, the more positive you remain, the more success you will have.
Finally, remember: “A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” Passing the CPA Exam in 3 months is a challenge you can and will conquer if you believe in your yourself, put in the hours to study, and set yourself up for success!
For starters, it’s important you realize that one size does not fit all when it comes to CPA Exam strategy. Everyone has different things going for them, and depending on what variables apply to you, you’ll need to tweak your own CPA Exam strategy accordingly.
With that being said, if you're a professional studying for the CPA Exam, a full-time job poses a common problem — time and the lack thereof. So here are a few things to keep in mind:
Change your mindset.
It’s not helpful to stay stuck in the “I’m too busy and can’t find the time to study” mode of thinking.
I’m busy, you’re busy, everyone’s busy. That fact is already proven, so it’s time to move on to asking yourself a simple question: How badly do I want to become a CPA?
I know people who wanted to become CPAs, bought review courses, but didn’t follow through with the commitment it takes to get ready for the Exam. Why? They didn’t want it badly enough. Some things were more important to them, and that’s okay. It’s imperative that you’re honest with yourself from the beginning about becoming a CPA before investing your time, money, and energy into it.
Do what it takes.
Now that you’ve determined you want to become a CPA, it’s time to do what it takes to get there. So, what will it take? Your time, plus and an awesome review course like Roger CPA Review. It’s that simple. As a full-time employee, you’ll have to find a way to allocate time from your 24-hour day toward studying. Unless you’re a genius, it’ll take you a few weeks or longer to study for each section. Therefore, it's important that you find time to study before, during, after work and on the weekends. The weekends are the most important time for CPA Exam studying for anyone. It’s doubly important for you because that’s about the only time you have completely off from work, assuming you're working a 40-hour week. You can get so much done on the weekends.
I studied while taking a maximum course load in graduate school and working in some capacity. I would study intermittently during the day, at night, and on the weekends. I basically did as much as I could when I could. I’ll admit, I didn’t religiously stick to a schedule. But weekends were the days I studied the most — doing 8-hour days sometimes, while watching Netflix episodes in between. Hey, whatever works right?
Here are some actionable tips you can apply now while balancing work, study and life:
- Study as much as you can when you can — listen to lectures as you commute and do practice questions in your spare time.
- Binge study on the weekends. If you somehow fall off schedule during a hectic workweek, use the weekend to get back on track.
- Ask your support system (employer, family and friends) for consideration during this period. I’m sure they want you to succeed too. Therefore, they’ll have to afford you some time off.
The CPA designation is not unattainable. It requires time and taking things one step at a time. You can and will pass if you put your mind to it. As Roger Philipp, CPA, CGMA always says, "The CPA Exam isn't a test of intelligence. It's a test of discipline."
Working in public accounting full-time while also raising a family can be quite overwhelming. Add studying for the CPA Exam into the mix and life might seem completely chaotic. The good news is that while studying for the CPA Exam, working full-time, and raising children isn’t easy, it’s possible. Below are 5 things you can do to help yourself successfully pass the CPA Exam while juggling a full-time career and family.
1. Have a plan and make it accessible to everyone.
As a working parent who is starting to study for the CPA Exam, having a study plan will be an integral part of your success. Given the sheer amount of content on the Exam, having a sense of direction will make your study sessions more productive. The key is to allocate your free time so that you’re mentally prepared every time you start your studies. Using a study planner is ideal because you can then decide how much time and effort you are able to put into studying for each part of the CPA Exam. Be sure to set realistic goals for every day of studying and then create a calendar that your support group can access. That way, everyone is aware of the hour and days that you need to set aside to study. There are numerous calendar and scheduling apps that are great resources for this type of planning.
2. Study when your children are asleep.
You always hear as a new parent to, “Sleep when the baby sleeps,” and now you can implement this saying into your CPA Exam studies. Study when you’re on-the-go, early in the morning, during lunch breaks, late in the evenings, and/or on weekends. You can integrate these study times into your planner (mentioned above) for optimal study time when you have the quietest space around you.
3. Ask for help!
If you’re sitting for the CPA Exam, you’re obviously driven, but don’t try to do it all alone. Now is the time to lean on family and friends for support. Ensure that your family and close friends understand what passing the CPA Exam means to you long-term and the benefits it will provide to your overall career goals. Stress the importance of having a support system during this time, so that you can share the benefits with them once you pass. If you don’t have anyone close who can be there to help watch your children, consider hiring a sitter or paying for an extra hour for your kids to stay in daycare or an after-school program so you can use that time to study.
4. Prepare for Success.
Do everything possible to set yourself up for success at home. Freeze and prep meals on the weekend, so that you don’t have to cook during the hectic week. Hire a cleaning service if possible to clean your house, so you can focus on studies instead of the dishes. Ask family members or friends to step in to help take over some of your weekly tasks so you can use that time to study. And, use public transportation when possible so you can study during your commute to work.
5. Maximize your study efforts.
After you decide how quickly you want to pass the CPA Exam, have mapped it out using a study planner and scheduler so others know your plans, you’ll want to really maximize the time you have to study. Roger CPA Review offers SmartPath Predictive Technology™ to provide students with targeted recommendations on where and how to focus their study efforts so they meet CPA Exam goals quicker and more efficiently. .
Instead of spending time working on sections of the CPA Exam that are easy, SmartPath provides the questions you need to know through guided and personalized study sessions. Your Exam progress can be tracked to targeted goals to easily gauge preparedness without wasting your time. Allison W. was able to successfully pass the CPA Exam as a working mother, using our predictive technology. See how she did it and read her case study here: https://www.rogercpareview.com/smartpath-case-studies/alison-w.
Bonus Tip: Finally, ensure you’re providing self-care when needed.
Eat well, get sleep when you can, and drink a lot of water while studying. Take breaks and get fresh air when possible. Remember, there are many working parents who pass the CPA Exam each testing window. This is a short and hectic time in your life that will yield great career rewards once accomplished.