Best Places to Study for the CPA Exam


Studying in the same location is important as you’ll begin to associate a frame of mind with that environment. The same phenomenon happens when you feel compelled to turn on the TV when you walk into the living room or notice a mental shift toward what you’ve been working on when you get to the office. But our environments aren’t always fixed; traveling or having guests stay at your house might force you to find a temporary location. Here are a few of the less obvious places you can look for.

Grocery Stores

Most large groceries stores have a café or eating area. They’re open late, well lit, have cheap food and drinks, and most major chains have Wi-Fi. Stores are noisy, but it seems to blend together and be less distracting than a normal coffee shop. 

Hotel Lobbies

Most are reasonably quiet, have Wi-Fi, are open all night, and have comfortable seating. The hotel staff is always rotating and there are hundreds of rooms, so even if you’re not staying there they usually won’t question it. 


They’re open late, have seating (not always tables), and there’s a pleasant hum of washing machines in the background. They rarely have Wi-Fi, but using the Roger’s lectures and multiple choice questions work well on my phone.

College Libraries

Most colleges have at least one library that is open to the public. Parking is sometimes far away, but it’s always fun walking through a new campus. Some restrict hours for the public or have internet access for students only, so check the website. There are many instances where you can obtain a guest pass to use their facilities. 

Community Centers

Currently, my favorite study spot outside of my house is a community center. The one near me is essentially a large food court with adjacent meeting rooms, a public library, and a book store. There’s a wide range of places with “community center” in the title. Some are more gyms or venues for concerts and plays. Check the website so you don’t find yourself in the middle of a PTA meeting or polling location.

Government Buildings

Besides public libraries, many government buildings have spaces suitable for studying that are open to the public. Some examples in my area are a large waiting area in a ferry terminal and a rarely used legal library in the court house. 


Most malls have a bookstore with a café. If you don’t mind the noise, try the food court or a coffee shop. Some chain restaurants (like Panera Bread) seem to be popular spots to work as well. 


There are lots of diners like Denny’s or IHOP that are open 24 hours. Diner booths are a pretty comfortable and cozy spot to get some productive studying done. Order a cup of coffee, some food, or dessert and as long as it’s not too crowded, you can definitely stay as long as you want; just keep refilling that coffee mug!

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