We recently compiled some of the top tips and recommendations for passing the CPA exam from our students. With hundreds of candidates using our CPA Army Boot camp study guide we were able to summarize their key strategies.
Most CPA candidates find that it is advantageous to take the CPA exam right after college. A lot of candidates will start studying for the first section in the summer. However, this will largely depend on whether or not you have student loans and the job directly after school. The reason why CPA candidates find it easier to take the CPA exam after college is that there are generally more distractions as you age. The workload at your job will most likely increase as will your responsibility and family obligations will increasingly use up more of your time. In addition, since he spent four years at college you’ve most likely have recently taken over 100 exams. This means that your test taking skills should be at their peak making it more likely that you will pass the CPA exam.
Another key tip for passing the CPA exam is choosing the right CPA exam review course. There are generally four major test prep companies that we have reviewed previously. Unfortunately, CPA review courses are expensive and many CPA candidates choose to study from free CPA materials. Although the CPA review courses cost almost $4000 in some extreme cases it is important to you as an investment rather than an expense. If you can minimize your number of failures you can cut down your total study time. Assuming that your time is worth $50 per hour and the CPA course costs $2000 you should ask yourself whether or not the CPA review course would save you 40 hours of time. If you can complete all four sections while only failing one section you would most likely find yourself in the top 10% of all CPA candidates. In addition, every time you fail section of the CPA exam you most likely will have to invest another 100+ hours in order to pass the failed section. Thinking about a CPA review course as an investment that might save you time its practical approach.
The last tip revolves around managing the psychology of taking a CPA exam. Most CPA candidates are type a personalities and they are not accustomed to failure. It comes as quite a shock when between 40 and 50% of candidates end up failing the CPA exam. It is important to manage nerves and achieve peak mental focus. Often times, candidates end up changing their routine prior to taking the CPA exam. For example, someone might take a run at six o’clock in the morning because they read a story about someone passing the CPA exam after exercising in the morning. Unfortunately, if you ever taken a run or exercise in the morning it’s probably a bad time to start on the day of the CPA exam. Similarly, people often change their routines in terms of breakfast or coffee of sleep habits.
In addition, many CPA candidates strive for perfection when writing the CPA exam. This is a mistake. These candidates are accustomed to figuring out every nuance of a problem. The CPA exam is more geared towards moving quickly from question to question. If you can’t understand a question there is little point in spending 7 min. on trying to figure it out. Apart from a lack of general preparation probably one of the biggest CPA exam killers is a poor allocation of time. Candidates look at the clock and find that they only have finished and there’s only 40 min. remaining.
Many high-performance athletes use visualization exercises prior to competition. They generally visualize every sensation about a successful performance including the sights, smells and feelings. For example, I know of a surgeon who uses visualization exercises prior to every operation.I’m not talking about some of the new age/law of attraction type of visualization exercises but rather ideas that are backed by hard science.
It’s important to also manage the ministry that elements of the CPA exam. Practice the research function at cpa-exam.org. Make sure you know where the testing center is and where the bathrooms are located. On the CPA exam date you’ll often notice somebody rushing around the parking lot while roaming through the hallway with a nervous look on their face. These problems can all be avoided if you take care of the administrative elements of the CPA exam.by