Guide to Studying for the CPA Exam

Passing the CPA Exam begins by creating a solid game plan and study strategy that maximizes your Exam study time.
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How To Study For The CPA Exam

Whether you are a recent college graduate or are an experienced professional, the key to successfully passing the CPA Exam is to take stock of your priorities, build a strong CPA study guide and take the first step toward your goals. Year after year, candidates report the biggest hurdle they face in obtaining their CPA license is procrastination and study time management. Read on for our top tips to create your own plan and get on the path to CPA success:

  1. Downloading the Blueprints. The CPA Exam Blueprints will inform you on what’s on the CPA Exam. This free resource is provided by the AICPA and is published one to two times per year and provides the following information (provided by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)):
    • Content organized by Area, Group and Topic along with score weighting
    • Sample task statements that represent what you may be asked to do when testing
    • Skill levels at which tasks are tested
    • Reference materials that support the sample task statements
    • Number of item types you must complete (multiple-choice questions, task-based simulations and written communication tasks)
    • Score weighting of each item type

  2. Enrolling in a CPA Review Course and creating a study plan to improve your chances of passing the CPA Exam. Research has shown that students who have a study plan are more likely to stick to their studies and reach their goals. Therefore, a study plan can make all the difference between passing and failing the CPA Exam.

  3. Planning out your CPA Exam studies with our 3, 6, 9 or 12 month study plan options. Remember to be realistic about how many hours it will take for you to pass the CPA Exam. The AICPA recommends that candidates spend a minimum of 400 hours to study for the CPA Exam. That’s about 16.7 days of consecutive study time—needless to say, it’s a lot. Taking your study style into account and having the proper expectations on hours needed to study for and pass the CPA Exam is vital to your success.

    The Roger CPA Review study planners not only fully incorporate the course syllabus but can also be customized to account for your life events – a great way to balance work, CPA Exam studies, and your personal life!

  1. Setting goals for yourself. If you’re planning on passing the CPA Exam in 3 months, then set small goals (e.g., hourly, daily, weekly) to help you stay on track and keep you motivated to continue to push forward as you meet these goals.

  2. Getting into a Routine. It can be difficult to get into a routine when working full-time and/or as a parent, but a routine will help you achieve your CPA Exam goals and keep you on track. A partial sample morning routine might look something like this:

    7:00 AM - 8:00 AM Wake Up
    8:00 AM - 8:30 AM Practice Multiple Choice Questions
    8:30 AM - 9:00 AM Breakfast
    9:00 AM - 12:00 PM Work
  3. Using patent-pending SmartPath Predictive Technology™ to minimize study time through targeted study sessions. SmartPath combats the misguided perception that attempting exhaustive practice question sessions is necessary to pass the CPA Exam. Instead, SmartPath reveals that when you’ve demonstrated the level of competency necessary to pass the CPA Exam, ultimately helping you to achieve optimum efficiency in your CPA Exam preparation. Your study time is more productive because SmartPath evaluates WHICH questions and HOW many questions you need to pass. The ultimate result is more efficient study sessions, and less wasted time.

  4. Asking for support from family, friends, and colleagues. Let family and friends know about your CPA Exam goals and how passing the Exam will ultimately elevate your career path. Ask them for support during this significant, yet hectic time. This is the time to fully focus on your career goals and those who want you to succeed will be supportive. It might be a good idea to set expectations with close family members and let them know you’ll need them to step in more during this time to help with tasks you normally complete. The good news is that they will be able to celebrate and benefit from your success once the Exam is over.

  5. Finding a study partner who is on the same journey as you. Try to meet up with them often either virtually or physically. Test each other on Exam topics or to discuss the Exam. A study partner will help motivate you and keep you focused on the task at hand. Plus, a study partner helps you realize you’re not alone during this challenging time.

  6. Turning off devices during study time. Don’t be distracted by social media networks or chatting with friends who aren’t sitting for the CPA Exam. This is the time to focus on your journey and sacrificing what it takes to get there. When you’re studying, turn off all devices, and install Website blocking software to block distracting sites while you’re studying.

  7. Taking care of yourself during this time. Try to drink plenty of water, get fresh air, exercise and get as much sleep as possible. When you create your schedule, be sure to include down time for you to step away from your studies to regroup and refresh. Self-care is extremely important during this time, so don’t forget to take the time you need to take care of yourself.

Be sure to think positively. Remember the CPA Exam is largely a mental game of strength. So, the more positive you remain, the more success you will have. Remember, “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” Passing the CPA Exam is a challenge you can and will conquer if you believe in your yourself, put in the hours to study, and set yourself up for success!

Studying for the CPA Exam Q&A

Yes, you can study for the CPA Exam and work full time. It will not be easy, but you can do it!
  • Create a study schedule and stick to it.
  • Take full advantage of early mornings before work, evenings after work, weekends, and holidays to study for the exam.
  • Focus on your goals and you will be successful!
Your college accounting courses will provide a solid foundation in accounting. However, when it comes to the CPA Exam, it will require a different approach in comparison to how you prepared for your accounting finals. An effective CPA Exam review course will provide you with everything you need to pass the CPA Exam, regardless of what you took in college.

Once you meet the educational requirements and are ready to be a CPA, start studying as soon as possible.

Studying for the CPA exam is a time-consuming process. Therefore, if you are still an undergraduate or graduate college student, it is recommended to focus on your degree first.

Follow these steps to re-study for a section of the CPA Exam after receiving a failing score:

  1. Apply for a new Notice to Schedule (NTS) as soon as possible.
  2. After you receive the NTS, schedule the exam immediately.
  3. Use the “Performance Report” that comes with the score notice to identify your weak areas.
  4. Focus on your weak areas when reviewing. This may mean starting from scratch on those areas by watching the lectures again, reading text, and creating quizzes on those areas.
  5. Remember to review all topics in order not to forget mastered areas.
  6. Take practice exams until you receive passing scores.
  7. Don’t give up!

The anxiety of the CPA Exam intensifies as the exam draws closer. Here are a few tips on what to do before your CPA Exam:

  • Use the week before your exam to better understand concepts that are weak areas. Your weak areas should have been identified during quizzes and practice exams.
  • Review your notes and take additional practice exams and/or quizzes to conduct an overall review.
  • The day before your exam make sure you have everything ready that you’ll need like your identification and Notice to Schedule (NTS).
  • Get enough rest so that you are ready to attack the exam the next day!

Passing all four parts of the CPA Exam requires a significant time commitment. A typical CPA candidate spends approximately 300 – 400 hours preparing to pass all parts of the exam which equates to approximately 1.5 – 2 hours per day. However, a more true indicator of the time it takes to prepare for the exam is the comprehension level of the candidate.

Yes, you need a CPA Review course to pass the CPA Exam. One of the biggest mistakes CPA Exam candidates make when they first apply and start studying for the CPA Exam is not having a CPA Exam review course. A review course provides a thorough, consistent, A-Z preparation for the exam.

It is highly recommended to use the most update-to-date materials when studying for the CPA exam. This is because the exam undergoes changes on a regular basis and accounting standards modify.

Yes. If you have submitted all of the necessary documents and are just waiting on your Notice to Schedule (NTS), then you can begin studying.

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