One of the most frequent questions we receive from our students is, “What is the most effective way for me to review for my CPA Exam?” This is most certainly a great question to ask since, after all, each section is comprised of many topics that you have spent hours pouring over.
As your exam date approaches, you not only want to make sure that you’re solidifying all the material, but also that you thoroughly understand it and aren’t forgetting to connect the dots in between.
So whether your exam is in a couple weeks or days, here is a compilation of our favorite advice for those days leading up to the exam.
1. Emulate our January 2015 student of the month, who passed REG after cramming for 4 1/2 days of intense study. His tips can apply for FAR, too.
2. Go through all the recent AICPA-released questions in your student account. It’ll help you get in the examiners’ heads, plus some of those questions may appear on your exam as well. We know, it’s strange, but true.
3. Your instinct is correct – drill, drill, drill on questions in your Interactive Practice Question software (IPQ). When you miss a question, explain why out loud or in writing–whichever you prefer–exactly why you missed it and why the correct answer is correct.
4. When drilling questions in IPQ, make space between the initial try and the re-try of a question. This is to avoid memorization. In other words, if you take a Section 1 quiz on Day 1, take the quiz and review the answers. Then on Day 2 work on other sections — not Section 1. Then on Day 3 you may go back and take another Section 1 quiz. The technical term for this type of approach is interleaving.
5. Set a numbers goal each day — perhaps 100-250 questions a day. A TBS can count as 5-10 questions while MCQs can count as just 1 each. Use an online pomodoro timer if this helps you maintain focus.
After you’ve gotten enough practice with Research TBSs, eliminate them from your TBS quizzes by unchecking the “I have scheduled my exam and have access to NASBA research materials” checkbox during the quiz setup. Maybe you have not been checking this box yet. You’ll want to start unchecking it again once you’ve gotten some Research practice.
6. Develop your own flash cards for any key formulas, schematics or facts, and memorize these. Practice writing them all down in a smallish space as quickly as possible. When you get to the testing center, mutter them to yourself while you wait to get to your testing station – you’ll look a little crazy, but who cares!
Once you finally begin the test, take two minutes to ‘brain dump’ the formulas onto your scratch whiteboard. That way those formulas are there if you need to refer to them, and the burden of keeping them memorized is off your mind as you hunker down to start your first testlet.
7. Play back the lectures as frequently as possible for the section you’re sitting for. You can do this while commuting, doing household tasks, working out, etc. Try to eat, sleep, and live the section you’re studying over these last few days before the exam.
8. We disagree with advice we’ve seen to simply rest and stop studying for several hours before the exam. Sleep is important, but you can still get plenty of sleep while spending as much of your waking moments as possible preparing for the exam. This exam is difficult, so the sheer relief of getting it out of the way will be worth leading a very ‘unbalanced’ life for the last couple days before the exam.
As you narrow your focus to a laser beam on understanding this material and preparing to rock the exam, you’ll find that your knowledge really starts to ‘gel’ and you’ll start making connections and gaining insights you hadn’t noticed before.
We hope you found these tips helpful and that you put them to good use when you prepare to review for your upcoming CPA Exam section. We’re wishing you all the best of luck and let us know in the comments below what worked for you or if you have another method of preparing that has proven successful!