For people who wish to work as a certified public accountant, taking and passing the CPA exam is key to fulfilling this career goal.
Those who pass the exam will then qualify to work as a CPA in all 50 states, as well as Washington, D.C., and all U.S. territories. In order to prep and be ready for exam day, consider the following tips:
1. Get Ready to Study — A Lot
To perform well on the CPA exam, you’ll need to put in significant study time. In fact, you can expect to hit the books for about 30 hours a week for up to four months to prepare, so it’s crucial you come up with a study schedule and stick to it. This may mean missing out on binge-watching Netflix shows with friends or skipping a few nights out, but come exam day, you’ll be glad you did. Additionally, resist the urge to cram for the exam. Unlike your high school algebra test where you might have been able to get by with memorizing some mathematical formulas at 2 a.m. the night before, studying for the CPA exam requires a slow and steady process.
2. Earn a CPA Exam Preparation Certificate
Another way to boost your chances of passing the CPA exam is by earning a graduate certificate in CPA exam preparation from a reputable online accounting degree program. Because you may be working full time and have other responsibilities that can make it challenging to attend in-person classes, pursuing an online accounting degree or taking a hybrid approach may be two of your best options. Additionally, the certificate program will build on any existing knowledge of accounting and is designed as a standalone credential.
3. Know That Practice Makes Progress
The CPA exam is administered on a computer, so spend plenty of time taking practice exams beforehand to become better acquainted with the questions and learn how to best succeed. This way, you’ll go into the exam with more knowledge and feel more prepared. Yes, it’s important to know the exam material inside and out, but being familiar with the method of taking it and getting comfortable with the process is also extremely important.
4. Anticipate Setbacks and Know How to Overcome Them
Despite your best intentions and hard work preparing, it’s possible you may have to retake a portion of the CPA exam. In fact, this isn’t an uncommon occurrence, as the number of candidates who pass all four sections the first time is between 14% and 20%. To help improve your odds of passing, be aware of which areas of study are most challenging for you and carve out extra time to better understand this information. Additionally, know there’s no shame in asking for advice and tips from a trusted instructor, mentor, or anyone else in your inner circle who can offer support.
Success Can Be Yours
Preparing for the CPA exam is no doubt challenging and time-consuming, but it’s also well worth it for people who wish to work as certified public accountants. By creating and sticking to a study schedule, enrolling in an exam preparation certificate program, taking practice exams, and prioritizing how you study for different portions of it, you’ll have a better chance of passing the rigorous exam on your first or second try.