Aaron Sachs, Staff Accountant, shares how he successfully passed the CPA exam.
There isn’t an absolute way to ensure you’ll breeze through the CPA exam, but there are several ways to improve your odds and make the process as painless as possible. This posting highlights some of the key elements that I believe helped me successfully complete the exam.
Know Your Schedule and Plan Accordingly
The best way to increase your chances of getting the exam behind you is to create a solid game plan. Start asking yourself questions like “What time of year am I most busy?” and “How many hours a week can I reasonably plan to study for?”. The answers to these questions will likely dictate which exams you take first and when you will take them.
Another factor to consider is the relative difficulty of each exam in relation to your own strengths and weaknesses. Do you really struggle with taxation? Then it may be a good idea to study for the Regulation exam when your load is otherwise the lightest. For concepts that come easier, you may be able to add more flexibility to that particular section.
Talk with others that have recently taken the exam to get an idea of each exam’s level of difficulty and characteristics. Take the experiences of others with a grain of salt, as everyone is different, but more information is generally better than less. It can be hard to find the ideal time to study, especially if you are already working or have other big time commitments. Simply planning ahead in as much detail as possible can go a long way in boosting your chances of passing.
Once You Have a Plan, Stick to it!
Having a great plan in place won’t do anything for you unless it is followed. That’s not to say that you can’t make adjustments along the way. It’s good to occasionally reevaluate your plan and make changes when they are needed, however, you don’t want to get in the habit of making changes just to push your studying time out further.
Also, be sure that you have built extra time into your study plan to allow for unanticipated events. Life happens, but as long as you’ve accounted for that in the beginning, you’ll sleep much better a night. Lastly, it’s absolutely critical to do your best to keep a positive attitude throughout the process. Yes, the exam is hard, but it’s not impossible. If you truly want to pass and you put in the time, you can and will pass.
The approach I found most effective in preparing for the CPA Exam was a simple one – Carefully craft a plan and then follow it. I hope you find this small bit of advice useful in preparing for the Exam. Stay positive and happy studying!
Aaron joined Jones & Roth as an intern in January 2013 and transitioned to Staff Accountant in May 2013. Aaron has passed all four sections of the CPA exam.