Remaining Calm Before the CPA Exam


Test anxiety is real, especially for one as high-stakes as the CPA Exam. For some, it may just cause jitters, but for others, it can really impact performance on exam day. The last thing you want is for test-day nerves to get in the way of all the hard work you’ve done to get there, so check out these tips to help you stay calm when exam day comes around.

1. Adjust your attitude

Step one starts way in advance of exam day. The sooner you can start, the better. Change the way you think about the CPA Exam. Change the way you talk about the CPA Exam. Change the entire attitude you have surrounding the CPA Exam.

If you think of the CPA Exam as some big scary monster in your life or some horrible enemy to be defeated, that’s what it will become. Likewise, if you think of it as a challenge that you can and will overcome, a test of discipline and grit that you are capable of mastering, a stepping stone on your journey to success, that’s what it will become.

The CPA Exam will be what you make it, so don’t make it something to be anxious over. Make it something to be proud of, something to achieve, something to conquer, not something that is destined to conquer you.

The way you think about and talk about the exam can make all the difference come test day. So start now. Change the narrative. You’re the hero, the exam is your adventure, and the ending is in your hands!

2. Remember, it’s a win-win.

No matter what happens on exam day, you can come out as a winner. Of course, the goal is to pass. That’s the best-case scenario. Keep that goal in your mind above all else.

But in every situation, it’s important to know what’s on the other side of the coin as well. If you don’t pass, then you have a new opportunity. You have a chance to reflect, learn from your mistakes, dust yourself off, and get back in the game. You’ll come back better than you were before, and you’ll be stronger for the roadblocks you’ve overcome.

Missing the mark can be a big disappointment, and we’re not denying that. But it can also be a motivation and a guide for the rest of your journey. It can be another step on your path to success. Knowing that the worst-case scenario can still end up leading you to your final goal takes so much pressure off of exam day.

3. Be confident in yourself

If you’ve put in the work and mastered the exam content, you have good reason to be confident. Take a good, hard look at everything you’ve done to get to where you are. Reflect on everything you’ve learned. Think about the sacrifices you’ve made. Remember the study sessions, the flashcards, the practice exams. That’s something to be proud of, and it was all you. You did that.

Now, it’s finally exam day. You’ve made it. Self-doubt will do you no good now. So be your own cheerleader. Believe in yourself. Go pass the exam!

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