How to Study for the CPA Exam During the Busy Season


Accounting professionals are gearing up for busy season once again. For many, this means long hours working, less time with family or friends, and difficulty focusing on CPA Exam Review.

But, simply postponing studying or sitting for the exam until busy season is over is out of the question. You want to become a CPA as soon as possible, and you’re willing to work as hard as you need to accomplish your goal. But how can you find the time to study when you’re working so much? How does anyone get it done?

The truth is, most CPA Exam candidates are working professionals. You CAN do it. You just have to do a complete and honest audit of your time. Here’s how. 

Total up the number of hours in your week and subtract from that total, based on your priorities. Be as detailed as possible. If you’re having trouble deciding what your priorities should be, try using this list to help you with your audit. Write down how many hours per week you utilize for each category. 

1. Health

Without your health, all other priorities become meaningless. Maintaining your health requires that you to eat, drink, sleep, and get moving. 

2. Work

During busy season, your job will require most of your waking time. Luckily, some of your health requirements can often be accomplished during work hours. Except for sleep. Sleeping on the job is considered bad form. 

3. Family

These people are the ones who love you even if they rarely see you. Don’t neglect them too much. They won’t require a lot of time or effort if they support your goal of becoming a CPA. Every day, give them a smile, a wave, perhaps dinner, and a few minutes of light conversation. In return, they’ll prove to be invaluable when it comes to delegating tasks you decide are low priority. 

4. Study

You know what this means. It means concentration, determination, and discipline. It’s also going to be one of the last things you’ll want to do after taking care of priorities 1 through 3. But, remember: If you’re using your time effectively, you’ll be able to accomplish two or more priorities at the same time.

For example, some people can study on their lunch break, accomplishing the Health and Study goals. If you can study effectively and consistently you WILL pass the CPA Exam. 

5. Social/Recreation

This is usually the lowest priority for most people and even more so during the current pandemic. You can get away without having much of a social life, but who wants to end up a CPA without friends? Besides, your friends can help you relax and clear your head when you need it the most. So, consider joining that Friday night Zoom happy hour. It might actually do you some good.

You should now have a clear idea of how many hours you’ll need for each of your priorities.

Much like a financial budget, you’ll need to add or subtract hours from each of these categories to find your perfect balance. During busy season, accountants are working between 50 and 70 hours per week according to some reports. Even if you subtract 8 hours per night for sleep, you’ll still be left with over 40 hours. What you decide to do with that time is up to you.

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