As everyone will tell you, studying for the CPA exam is difficult but not impossible. My goal is to take and pass all of my exams in a 7 month period, in order to be done before next tax season. What that means in reality, is that I am going to do a lot of studying and working and forgoing more fun activities.
Before I embarked on this CPA journey, I asked several CPAs about their study strategies and then compiled a plan that I thought would work best for me. Diligence and consistency has been the best formula for me. Before I start studying for a section, I take the module guide and create a study schedule. I plan to study 2-3 hours every evening after work and then 3 hours each Saturday and Sunday. I set “complete by” dates, so that I know where I need to be in the study book and I assign myself a set number of review questions to take each week to ensure that I am practicing the material I am learning. My goal is to have two full weeks prior to a test for review, so I plan my study schedule accordingly.
Thursday, August 2, 2012
Worried about the CPA Exam? Our Staff Accountants offer some tips.
Brent McKee, Staff Accountant
The hardest part of working while studying for the CPA Exam is finding time for quality study time. Work is demanding but you have to commit yourself to intense studying if you want to pass the test. It’s difficult explaining to my friends that I can’t hang out/go to dinner/play golf because I need to get some extra study time in. They don’t understand that I need to put in 100-plus hours into each section to pass.
My suggestion is to create a detailed schedule and stick to it. When I stick to my schedule I learn the material to a point that I feel confident being tested on it.
It’s important to give yourself time to do things for pleasure and take breaks. In my view, the key to passing is to find the right balance of pleasure and time spent studying. I also feel strongly that an hour of focused, intense studying is much more beneficial than three hours of studying interspersed with Facebook, email, television, text messaging, and your roommate clamoring in and out of your study area.
Joshua Knudsen, Staff Accountant
Being a husband, a father of two little girls, and breaking into a new career makes finding free time to study the biggest obstacle in passing the CPA exams. I started off using the Kaplan study materials but found they were overly comprehensive, the plethora of content was an overkill for study prep. So I moved on and tried out Gleim, Lambers, and Roger study materials. I found the Roger books to be more succinct and best suited for my time crunch.
Next was discovering the best time to study, I tried cramming in during lunches but that was unproductive. I tried late at night after my kids had gone to bed but I found I was too burnt out from the day of work. So the best time I found was early morning.
Passing the exams takes planning and sacrifice. My best advice is to build a support team. For me that is my wife. So each day we both kick each other out of bed at 4:30 am, she goes to work-out and I dive into the books. This has worked best so far and I hope to be able to pass the exams soon so I can get back to sleeping in to 6:30am.
Though my plan is not without stress. I am very active in volunteering in the community and I make participating in practice development activities a priority. If I have a networking event that I would like to attend, I plan accordingly. This means looking at my calendar on Monday for all upcoming events and recognizing what evening I won’t have free to study. I may study before work and/or on my lunch break. This has helped me to stay on track, while still staying involved. I also make it a point to share my plan with my friends and family, so that they can support me and encourage me to study, rather than trying to distract me.
Overall, the hardest part for me has been the lack of “free” time to spend with my husband and friends. But in the end, passing my CPA exams is my primary goal and staying focused on that helps me to deal with the “less fun” parts of preparing for the exams. I passed the first exam I took in May and I am hoping to be equally successful in August, when I tackle two more sections. Good luck to all of you prospective CPAs!”