CPA Exam Prep: Time Management and Study Techniques for Busy Professionals

CPA Exam Prep: Time Management and Study Techniques for Busy Professionals

The Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam is a significant milestone in the journey of any aspiring accountant. The prospect of preparing for this challenging exam can be overwhelming for anyone. However, the challenges of getting ready for the CPA exam can feel daunting for those studying and working full-time.

Knowing a few tips to help working professionals navigate the CPA exam journey successfully can make all the difference. Here are a few of our favorites that may help you get the best results come test time.

Start the Process Sooner Than Later
After graduating from college, it’s tempting to take a well-deserved break from studying, exams, and homework. While celebrating your accomplishments is important, delaying the CPA exam process can make it more difficult to get back into the groove of studying. Fresh out of an academic environment, you are accustomed to studying habits and know your learning styles. As you embark on your career, your workload is likely to increase, making it even more challenging to find time for exam preparation. As a result, you may want to consider starting early to leverage your existing academic momentum and readiness.

Find a Schedule That Works For You

Everyone has their own unique rhythm when it comes to studying. Some people are morning people — and some are not. Find a time slot that suits your energy levels and daily commitments. Consider allocating a couple of hours before or after work for focused study sessions. Weekends are often the most critical study days, as they provide uninterrupted hours and allow you to get a reasonable amount of sleep, keeping you alert and ready to tackle the material. Remember to take breaks to relax and recharge. Whether it’s a Friday night or an entire weekend, it’s crucial to have downtime.

Be Aware of Important Dates
Staying informed about key dates is vital when preparing for the CPA exam. The exam’s current format allows you to take each section multiple times throughout the year, with testing days available from Monday to Saturday. To manage your time effectively, refer to the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) resource that estimates when you’ll receive your test results and the timeframe required to sit for the exam. Scheduling your exam near the end of the testing window can reduce the waiting time for results. Here is the AICPA resource to help you plan: AICPA Exam Score Resource.

Also, be aware of the upcoming changes to the CPA exam itself. Starting January 2024, all portions of the CPA exam (AUD, REG, FAR, BEC) are being modified in some way, with content additions and removals. Make sure to plan accordingly, as December 15th, 2023, is the last day to sit for any section of the current CPA exam.

Don’t Get Discouraged
Facing a “not pass” result on the CPA exam can be a disheartening experience, given the hours, early mornings, and late nights invested in your studies. However, it’s important to remember that the average pass rate for 2023 is around 52%, according to the AICPA. When you receive your exam report, take the time to review it carefully. Going over the report will provide insights into your weaker areas and your strengths. Use this information to create a new game plan for tackling the section again, possibly revising your study techniques.

Keep Going on Your CPA Exam Journey — You Can Do It!
The CPA exam is a rigorous process, especially for working professionals. By following these simple tips, you can better prepare and increase your chances of success. Remember to start early, create a study schedule that suits your lifestyle, stay informed about important dates, and don’t let setbacks discourage you. With dedication and perseverance, you can achieve your goal of becoming a Certified Public Accountant.

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