Author: Jenna Elkins, Communications and Digital Media Specialist, NASBA
Posted: November 8, 2018

If you’re on the journey toward becoming a certified public accountant (CPA), you know (or will find out soon) that this journey is not an easy one. One of the biggest hurdles is completing the CPA Exam. With four sections to pass, each one completely different from the other, many candidates find it overwhelming to know where to start studying or what to do next.

Recently, we asked the members of our Facebook Group, CPA Exam Candidates Forum, to give us their insight on what they consider to be the best test tips for conquering the Exam. Here is what they had to say:

Develop a study plan and stick to it. Find someone who will hold you accountable and help cheer you through the process. – Jill D.

Make room in your study plan for flexibility. Sickness happens, work happens and some days, your body needs sleep. You need room so that one bad day doesn’t create a snowball effect of disaster. – Kasey S.

Arguably, the most challenging aspect of the CPA Exam process is your willingness to put forth the time necessary to pass. – James H.

Have a break, but don’t have a KitKat. Go sleep, don’t burn out yourself and come back to the real journey. And yes, study FAR before the rest!! – Talha S.

Don’t just read the material but seek to understand. Don’t try to memorize word per word but do something to help you understand the concept. I often scribbled and drew something on my textbook to help me understand. Seek to understand, that’s my motto. – Esther W. S.

Study in the morning. Your mind is totally clear from things that happen during the day and it helps me retain the information. – Janelle S.

At the beginning of the process, make a daily schedule that is possible to stick with. Outline whatever review textbook you decide to use and then write your own flashcards on the key and hard-to-understand terms. Practice multiple choice as much as possible, repetition will help. Finally, I always take off the day before my exam to rest my mind. – Tarver W.

Prepare for a marathon, not a sprint. The study process is long and tedious, but consistency and discipline are the key to passing each exam the first time through. – LeAnn A. R.

If you plan to do them all during the summer, schedule all your exams before you start studying for any of them. That way you can plan out your time. Also, if studying during the summer, treat it like a full-time job with possibly some overtime. I did 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday thru Friday, and some weekend mornings, then worked a part-time job on weekend evenings. – Timothy W. P.

Make Three Friends:
1. Someone who understands, advises you and reminds you of the benefit.
2. Someone who’s taking the CPA Exam to study with.
3. Someone who has no idea what’s going on but is there for encouragement; sometimes you just need someone to tell you, “You’ll do great.” – Obed K. E.

Don’t study without direction. You need to have a timeline for all the topics you need to accomplish before your scheduled exam dates. Never skip the topic without understanding the full concept. – Roger C. O.

The big challenge in the CPA Exam is how to manage your time through the examination process. I got stuck two times in the last simulations. – Sultan A.

Do a practice run to the exam center the week before the exam at the same time and day of the week you will be going. When I did that, I realized the exam center was farther than I thought, which would have freaked me out on the day of the exam. – Penny H.

Read questions very carefully. Don’t graze over the word “not”… a common mistake I’ve made especially in AUD. – Chris H.

Focus on understanding why you got an answer wrong. Sometimes in understanding what you did wrong, you understand where you had a gap in your thinking. – Shefali B.

Take BEC last because the written communication section can test topics from other sections. – Troy P.

Utilize MCQ reviews (progress tests), every day. – Jennifer L.

Write things down in your own words. Even if you don’t review it, it helps you to remember when you write it down. Also, practice multiple choice questions over and over, and read why the wrong answers are wrong, not just why the correct answer is correct. – Julie T.

If you are not a member of the CPA Exam Candidates Forum, consider joining today! You’ll receive messages straight from NASBA, encouragement, words of advice, test tips, and have your CPA Exam-related questions answered by members who live around the world.

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