A Day in My Life as a CPA Exam Candidate


As any CPA candidate will tell you, finding time for a social life is very difficult if you are properly studying for the CPA Exam.  These are not like those college accounting finals where you and your buddies go to the library 2 or 3 days prior to the exam and cram all the information into your brain hoping to see the same exact information but just in different numbers.  The CPA exam actually tests your comprehension of the material.  You cannot just memorize definitions or formulas because I can almost guarantee you that come exam day, the answer will not be that straight forward.  You must be able to analyze each and every spec of information in these exams to pass.  

With that in mind, here’s how a typical week in my life plays out.  Keep in mind, I’m 26, not married, nor do I have any children or pets; therefore, this allows me to devote every second of my day to the exam.  I completely understand that my schedule is not possible for some of you with more responsibilities, but I thought I’d give you a snapshot of how much time and dedication the CPA Exam calls for. 

Monday-Friday:  This is my life during the work week each and every week of the year while studying

  1. Wake up at 5:45am, to get to work early to study before the workday begins.  Arrive at work around 6:45am: Study until 9am without interruptions. Find a conference room or a small talk room to separate yourself from co-workers because they will talk to you.
  2. Since I’m very fortunate to work for a company that has a Gym in the basement of the building, I’ll try and squeeze in a 45min workout.  Some candidates try and listen to lectures on their phone while working out.  I’ve found that to be a waste of time for me personally.  When I’m on my own time, I try not to involve anything CPA related to that activity.
  3. Leave work around 6:30pm.  On my rides home, I’ll play old lectures or notes I’ve recorded on certain topics to hit the major points of each topic.
  4. Arrive home around 7pm. Eat dinner and watch TV or be on my phone for 20-30mins to decompress from the day.
  5. By 8pm at the latest, I try to be at my desk studying for another 2-2.5 hours.  These are the crucial hours of my day as I try to get through the lectures and read the text for that particular night so I can go through the MCQs the next morning.
  6. In bed by 10:30pm.  This is the one rule that has not changed.  No matter how little studying I’ve gotten done in a particular day, I do NOT stay up any later than 10:30pm.  In order to be productive (at least for me), I need to be in bed for at least 7 hours.  Your mind needs a break in order to handle the next day’s work. Remember, the CPA exam is a marathon–not a sprint.  Don’t sacrifice sleep today in the beginning or middle stages of your preparation because you’ll only tire yourself out for the next day.  

Saturday-Sunday: This is a majority of my weekends every weekend of the year 

On Saturdays I’ll try and sleep in and relax for a bit.  My ultimate goal is to get 5-6 hours of studying in on Saturday AND Sunday.  I’ll do this in either 3 study sessions of 2 hours or 2 study sessions of 3 hours.  IF I do go out on a Saturday, I try not to make it an alcohol heavy night as I’m now on the wrong side of my 20s and hangovers are becoming more and more difficult to handle.

Hope this makes some of you feel better about not having any time to enjoy yourselves either.  

Cheers and Happy Studying,

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