The Importance of Knowing Yourself to Study for the CPA Exam


When people gear themselves up to study for the CPA Exam, they’re probably thinking about things like creating a study plan, scheduling their exam dates, or deciding which section they want to take first. Don’t get me wrong. These are all very important things that need to be done. But one thing that I think is just as important to pass the CPA Exam is knowing yourself and how you operate.  

I’ll be honest about last week.

I made a small short-term goal to study the individual tax section of the review, and I failed it.  I watched the intro, and stopped there. I know I need to discipline myself and spend the hours reading and then watching the lectures, but sometimes I feel inclined to skip straight to the study questions.  MCQ’s (multiple choice questions) are a large part of the exam, so that’s the most useful form of practice. But I know that watching the lectures and reading the book form the bones and muscle of my studies. Without it, everything else lacks foundation to build upon.

The biggest challenge for me is gaining the willpower I need to study for this subject matter.  I never find myself thinking, “Man, I really want to read up about taxes and business law.” Then again, I don’t think anyone does.

Something else I keep thinking about is that I haven’t had a summer off in three years.

Right when I graduated college, I began working full time, and now that I’ve decided to become a CPA, I’m trying to wrap my head around spending the rest of my free time studying for the exam. As a result, my studies have slipped and I’ve been focusing on my social life more than I have REG—I keep telling myself this is a phase that I need to get out of my system. But obviously, I need to buckle down and get back into study mode because time is of the essence.  

What I’ve learned so far throughout this process is that it’s really important to know yourself when you’re committing to something as huge as studying for the CPA Exam.

It’s important to be realistic and to know when you’re making excuses or when you’re procrastinating. Then it’s time to dig deeper and ask yourself what the cause is behind all of it. It may be something as simple as having a bad week, or it may be something more complex like a fear of failure or dreading learning new concepts. Whatever is preventing you from staying on track with your studies, you must be honest with yourself and find ways to nip it in the bud. Otherwise it will continue to hold you back. 

It’s equally important to know how your mind and body operate on a day-to-day basis and when you’re under pressure.

This can help you navigate how you feel toward your studies so that you can help yourself set a better tone and mood for the day. For example, I know I can be snippy if I don’t get enough sleep and that I don’t feel like doing anything if I’ve had a heavy meal or haven’t gone to the gym. Knowing the cause and effect behind your behaviors is crucial to how you will perceive the day, which will heavily affect how you feel about studying for your CPA Exam. So make sure you get the sleep you need, eat right, exercise, or do whatever it is you need to do to rectify the situation and put yourself in a happy healthy mood. 

The main takeaway I have for students who are in similar situations as me is to know yourself, be realistic, but also be ambitious and goal-oriented. Finding that balance is key.  If you’re eligible to sit for the CPA exam, you must go for it sooner rather than later.  

–Carrie Lynn Cross, Guest Blogger for Roger CPA Review 

Scroll to Top