How to Study Successfully for the CPA Exam (Even When Time Is Tight)


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If you want to become a certified public accountant, you will need to pass the CPA exam. The exam is made up of four sections: Financial Accounting and Reporting, Auditing and Attestation, Regulation, and Business Environment and Concepts.

You will have four hours to complete each section, which is made up of both multiple-choice questions and task-based simulations. To pass the CPA exam, you will need to study hard, even if your time is tight. Get started by checking out the following tips for successful studying.

Plan Your Study Time

First off, you need to plan your study time. You should develop a personalized schedule that works for you. Take your other commitments into consideration to create a plan that gives you time to focus on your studies at allotted times.

Also, consider which times of the day you are more focused. Some people find it easier to focus on studying in the morning while others find they can focus better in the evenings, for instance.

 When creating your study schedule, make sure you allot time each day for studying. You should also divide the topics into bite-size portions and allocate them to your time slots.

You will need to manage your time well to give enough study time to each portion. It is recommended that you dedicate at least 120 hours in total to each of the CPA exam’s four sections.

Find a CPA Prep Course

You will be able to study better if you find a good CPA prep course. There are several good prep courses available, so make sure you compare different ones to find the right option for you. According to CPA Exam Guy, two of the best are Becker and Surgent.

Use Flashcards 

Using flashcards is a great way to help you remember important and hard-to-understand information. So, make flashcards or buy pre-made flashcards from course providers to help you learn more easily.

Just make sure you limit how many you use. You should use flashcards for the most important and complex topics, not for everything you need to learn.

Take Practice Exams

Once you have spent time studying and feel you have learned a lot, and well ahead of the CPA exam date, you should take a practice CPA exam to find out which sections you need to improve on.

After completing a practice test, you may need to change your study plan so that you spend time focusing on some areas more than others. You can find CPA practice exams at various reputable online sites.

Join a CPA Study Group

It could be helpful to join a CPA study group, online or offline. By engaging with other students, you could understand complex concepts more easily and gain helpful tips. You can also share tips yourself.

Get Help from a CPA Mentor

It could be worthwhile getting help from a CPA mentor, who is someone who has passed the CPA exam and who can give helpful tips and advice. You will be able to understand complex topics like professional skepticism and audit letters more easily with the help of an expert.

A CPA exam coach will also help you to work out how much time to spend on each question when completing the actual exam. Even if you do not get help from a mentor, you can still get advice by reading articles published by professional CPAs on the web.

Look After Yourself

Studying for the CPA exam can take over your life, as you will need to devote a lot of time, energy, and thought to your studies. But do not let it take over your life to the extent that you neglect to look after yourself.

If you find yourself not working out as often, not sleeping as much, and not finding occasional times to do things like socialize with friends, you could soon burn out.

So, make sure you look after yourself throughout the course of your study. That means eating healthily, drinking enough water, exercising regularly, setting a cut-off time to stop studying and go to bed, and ensuring you get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. 

If you do not take active steps to look after your mind, body, and spirit, you could push yourself to exhaustion and lose the energy to focus on your studies.

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