How to Study for the CPA Exam During Business Trips


I am currently on a week-long Audit where I am up and at the client’s warehouse first thing in the morning until the late evenings.  Trying to find a few hours each day to prepare for FAR has been quite difficult; however, I’ve realized that if you try and plan out your studies prior to arriving at your hotel, it’s much more doable. With that being said, I know that many CPA Exam candidates such as myself who require travel as part of their job  may be facing the same struggle. Here are a few ways you can study while out on a business trip:

Study on the plane

While being in a tight and confined area is already uncomfortable (such as an airplane), trying to maneuver your study papers without agitating anyone else on the plane can be a bit difficult.  Knowing that I’d be using the entire 6 hour flight to study, I made sure to book my seat against the window. This way if anyone had to get up, I didn’t have to shut everything down or put together my papers to let the individual pass.  Additionally, I made sure to do everything in my power to not lose concentration by looking up at the monitor that was playing the free movie.  Since this wasn’t my first go around, I found that the best way to utilize my time was to have hundreds of flashcards already prepared that I could continuously review.  Once done with the reviewing of Flashcards, I would then open my laptop and do sets of 40 MCQs on all the chapters that I had already went over to enhance my knowledge of those chapters and to give myself a head start into my final review.  

Bring flashcards with you EVERYWHERE you go

When I leave each morning to go to the client, I make sure I have brought with me the flashcards that were troublesome during my review on the flight. Whether you prefer digital flashcards or physical flashcards is up to you. Additionally, if time permitted, I would have the new flashcards that I prepared while going through the MCQs on the plane.  I cannot emphasize enough how important flashcards can be in your studies.  There is no cheating with flashcards. If you do not know the answer, you can’t quickly glance down to see the answer as you would be able to when reviewing notes.  Whenever you have a spare moment, that’s a perfect time to review 5-10 flashcards.  The key to this exam is repetition; therefore, the more you review your flashcards, the better off you’ll be. 

Leave any new learning to either the early morning or late evenings

This tip is more of a personal choice, but I feel the best time to try and learn new material while on business trips is either getting up one hour early and going through the section, or doing so once arriving back at your hotel.  The thought process behind this is to just put the new material in your head.  The best way of going through new material in my mind is to get up an hour early and go through the chapter. I quickly read the chapter and make little notes to the important concepts or definitions that are important.  Then, if time permits, I suggest you spend 30-40 minutes later that evening and either re-read what you did in the morning or make new flashcards on the important concepts you noted in the chapter.  Then add those flashcards to the stack you already have prepared and bring them with you wherever you go to continuously review the material.  

Studying while on a business trip is quite difficult, and for the most part, you have to understand that sleep will have to be sacrificed in order to stay on track.  I hope these ideas and tips help those of you who are struggling to study while traveling for work! I know they have definitely helped me.

–Christopher Boate, Guest Blogger for Roger CPA Review 

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