CPA Exam Final Review

Your final review is where you’ll look through the tons of study material you’ve been enmeshed in for the last couple months and try to walk away from with a feeling of confidence that you know it. Don’t let the amount of material you’ve covered overwhelm you. It’s time to look through it all and squeeze it for all it’s worth.

Be Mindful of the End

organization-for-a-testStay organized as you study. Keeping your notes organized as you progress through the material will be crucial later on during your final review. You want to easily find definitions, formulas, and key topics that might be on the exam. Highlighting and underlining as you pour through your textbooks is a great way to mark important information for later review. Remember the goal is alleviate stress and make your final review easier.

Multiple Choice Questions

Once you have completed a particular section, you should go back and re-take all the practice exams and topics that you struggled with. The higher quality CPA review courses have performance tracking analytics built into their software that help you easily identify the specific subject areas you’ve scored low on in your previous exams.  After each practice test, go back and manually write out the problems that you got incorrect in your notebook.

Physically writing things down with pen and paper allows your memory to process the information in a different way making it easier to recall later on. Have you ever made a “To-Do list” before, but ended up not having to use it because you remembered what you wrote on it? I do this all the time, especially as I get older and things slip my mind more frequently. Writing transforms your thoughts into something more visual and strengthens your memory, use this to your advantage.

72-Hour Cram Session

woman-hand-desk-officeHow you spend the 72 hours prior to your CPA exam are a key indicator of whether you will pass or fail.  You’ll need to be laser-focused, removing all distractions and noise from your surroundings. The thoughts and information you put into your mind during this time will determine how you perform on your exam.

The best way to ensure you are able to fully focus, especially if you work a full-time job like I did, is to use the weekend for your final review.  If you are able to take Monday off from work then this is a huge advantage since this would give you 3 consecutive days to get your study on. I would suggest scheduling your exam on a Monday afternoon, this allows for a short study session before you head off to the testing center.

Here is the final review study schedule that I used to pass all 4 exams on the first try:

  • Friday: 4 hours after work (6-10PM)
  • Saturday: 8 hours broken up by afternoon break (9AM-1PM & 4PM-8PM)
  • Sunday: 8 hours broken up by afternoon break (9AM-1PM & 4PM-8PM)
  • Monday: 4 hours (7AM-11AM) Take exam at 1PM

Unavailable and Unassailable

During this 3-day final review period I made it clear to all my friends and family that I would be unreachable. Nothing at all that would stand in the way of me becoming a CPA, especially since I know what it was like to fail and have to study again. I was able to cover all the material I needed to in this 3 day time frame and felt much more mentally prepared going into my final exam.

This is the final review game plan I used in order to quickly pass the CPA after failing my first time. However, my hope is that you will take what fits your own needs to create your own review plan. Play to your strengths, if cramming is not your style, then lengthen the total review period so you are able to cover the study material adequately. The goal of having a final review study plan is to not only review all the information you’ve learned in the previous weeks, but to also give you a huge boost of confidence on your exam day by knowing you have prepared more thoroughly than most of the other CPA candidates.


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  1. Sagar January 12, 2016 at 11:07 am - Reply

    Hi Jason,

    You mentioned the “higher quality CPA review courses” that provide performance tracking analytics in their software. Is this feature truly necessary or can I get by without it?

    • Jason Galaif January 13, 2016 at 3:31 pm - Reply

      Hey Sagar,

      Studies have shown that performance analysis improves subsequent performance. You need to learn from your mistakes to improve. These software tools are really useful in providing a clear report of your performance, thus allowing you to make all the necessary adjustments in your preparation. You can definitely go about your performance tracking in a number of ways, but don’t make it too cumbersome or opaque. Remember, if you can measure it, you can manage it! Best of luck


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