Top 9 CPA Exam Preparation Tips

Updated:November 20, 2018
Jason Galaif, CPA

Preparing for the CPA Exam requires a killer study schedule, the perfect CPA review course, and the right attitude. It can be a long journey with many pitfalls. Here’s the top 9 CPA Exam preparation tips to help make the journey a little easier.

Some are amazingly simple to implement and will yield powerful results. They cover a wide range, encompassing almost all areas of the exam process.

1. Are You a Morning Person?

When are you the most productive with your studying? Are you ready to roll right after waking up? Or do you do your best work at night? Whichever is the case, choose your exam time to match your peak times for productivity. You can take the exam at 8:00 a.m. or even as late as 5:30 p.m. Surprisingly, many people feel like they have to take it first thing in the morning. Be sure to take your CPA Exam when it’s right for you, day or night.

2. Space it Out

Cramming is rarely recommended. Before the actual exam, yes, cram as much data as you can on your double-sided dry-erase boards to make use of any mnemonics you’ve created. But, otherwise, leave the cramming study sessions behind. It’s better to spread out smaller chunks over a longer period of time. Study every day, stick to your schedule and you’ll remember, understand, and be able to apply what you’re learning.

3. Social Media as a Reward

We’re all living in a digital world and let’s not pretend like we don’t spend a fair amount of our time lost in social media downward spirals of cats, gifs, memes, and all the other strange allures of the vast internet. If you stave off from checking your Facebook or Instagram until after you finish your studying for the day, it’ll turn those weird internet moments into little rewards for productivity. It’s a win-win, as you’ll notice you begin to steer away from those instinctual social media checks and focus your attention on more important endeavors.

4. Understand the Adaptive Nature of the Testlets

The multiple choice sections for FAR, REG, and AUD are adaptive, meaning they progressively become more difficult the better you perform on them. If you crushed your first one then the second will require more time. Keep this in mind so you don’t spend too much time on the MCQs.

5. Audio Courses

Downloading a CPA review audio course can be one of the best ways to maximize your studying time. Long or even short commutes to and from work are great opportunities to turn into additional study time. Household chores, weekly errands, and working out are other great times to plug in those headphones and gain some study time.

6. Get A Review Course

Probably the number one tip, and one that usually doesn’t even bear mentioning because it’s so obvious, is to get a review course. Going it alone is almost guaranteeing you’re going to fail. In fact, I don’t know anyone who has passed the CPA Exam without using a review course. So get one, but choose the right one for you. I’ve reviewed plenty, so check those out and find one you feel confident will properly prepare you for the exam.

7. Strictly Adhere to an Exam Timing Schedule

You can study all you want, absorbing every aspect of every element of the CPA Exam. You can be as confident as you like with how well you’ve studied. But if you take too long, it’s all for naught. You have to write out a schedule for how long it’ll take you to complete each testlet from the beginning to end. Document how far along you are and be sure to stay on track so that you have enough time for your simulations.

8. Make Use of the Research Tool

The simulations can cause even the most stalwart person to tremble with, if not fear, unease. The best way to conquer them is to have excellent time management on your MCQs so that you have enough time to utilize the research tool. It can help you find almost anything that is being problematic. And don’t forget to use it when preparing for the BEC written communications.

9. Give Yourself a Break

Study regularly and study efficiently, but give yourself a day of rest. If you don’t, you’ll quickly burn out and not get the most from your study sessions. Pick one day a week to do anything, as long it is completely non-CPA Exam related. It’ll help revitalize you and make you look forward to something on a weekly basis that’ll make the months of study much easier to knock out.

Utilize these tips to ensure you get the most out of your study time and go into each section of the CPA Exam completely ready. Remember why you’re putting so much time and effort into this venture. Stay positive and good luck! You can do it!

Top CPA Exam Prep Tips

START STUDYING FOR THE CPA EXAM


2018-07-12T10:46:07-07:00

2 Comments

  1. Jeremy June 27, 2016 at 7:46 pm - Reply

    Hey Jason. Let’s say I don’t usually get overwhelmed with studying everyday, is it okay to do a little studying during my “rest day”? (like 2 hours of studying in the morning or night) I am afraid if I don’t keep the content fresh everyday, I’ll lose it!

    • Jason Galaif June 28, 2016 at 11:45 am - Reply

      Jeremy,

      That’s great that you can study everyday without tiring. It’s really a personal preference, but I advise against making that 2 hours during your rest day a full day of studying. Get some fresh air and recharge your batteries. You may not notice it, but taking a day off to relax and getting your mind off the test really helps you jumpstart the next week of studying. I like the idea of short and light studying during rest days if it helps mitigate anxiety from not studying. Otherwise, you owe it to yourself to take the day off!

      Jason

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