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Author: Andy Goldstein, NASBA Electronic Media Specialist and Webmaster
Posted: January 10, 2013

This time of year, 45% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, according to statistics from the University of Scranton. Many of those people commit to making the same changes: getting organized, staying fit and healthy and spending more time with family and friends.

Unfortunately, according to that same report, only 8% of those people are successful in achieving their resolutions. Some researchers believe the high failure rate is due to the fact that people make resolutions without being ready to change their habits, while others say that people set unrealistic goals and expectations in their resolutions.

But if you apply the resolutions mentioned above to your preparation for the Uniform CPA Examination, you might be successful in making your resolutions come to fruition, as well as knocking the Exam out of the park.

Getting Organized

With so much material to cover, preparing for the Exam is enough to make anyone want to run for the hills. The good news is that there are plenty of resources to help you get organized and ready to take the test.

One such resource is a free app offered by the AICPA that helps with planning for the Exam. CPA Exam Aid offers a multitude of functions, including progress trackers, tips to help you study intelligently and discussion forums. You can also import or create your own study schedules for any or all of the Exams. The app even includes a built-in plan based on the AICPA’s Content Specification Outline. If you’re taking any part of the CPA Exam, or planning to in the near future, you should definitely check out this app.

Once you’ve charted your study path, the next logical step is sourcing Exam review materials. Passing the CPA Exam is an exclusive rite of passage in becoming a CPA, and is not without its battle wounds. Having the proper armor will help you win this battle: Enter CPA Exam materials. Deciding which Exam materials are right for you can be a tough call. There are plenty out there to choose from, so make sure to do your research and choose the study materials that cater to your preferred method of learning.

Additional resources to help get you organized when taking the Exam include the Uniform CPA Examination Candidate Bulletin and the This Way to CPA website.

Staying Fit and Healthy

It’s 1 a.m., and though you’ve been studying since before dinner time, you feel like you’ve barely scratched the surface of your Exam review materials. It’s all too tempting to grab a sugar-packed soda or energy drink to keep going, but before you do, think about this: Researchers have found a positive link between diets rich in nutritious foods and positive academic performance. Consuming excessive “empty calories,” or calories devoid of nutrients, can lead to poor academic performance.

That said, it’s important to make sure you eat, and not skip meals while studying. Jason Boylan, a certified nurse practitioner at Third and Church Healthcare in Nashville, TN, said eating smaller, more frequent meals is critical to success.

“Eating smaller meals more frequently, instead of three larger meals, will help your metabolism and keep your ‘engine’ moving,” said Boylan.

Replacing foods high in sodium and saturated fat for those high in Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants will not only help you stay healthy, but foods like walnuts, carrots and berries will also increase brain function, which will help on those long nights of studying. So, instead of reaching for those Cheetos or Ramen noodles, grab a bowl of fruit or a few peanut butter crackers instead!

Spending More Time with Family and Friends

This is a tough resolution to make happen during the hundreds of hours you will spend studying for the Exam. Many Exam candidates prefer to study alone, but employing family or friends to help you study may be a great way to break the monotony of studying alone, as well as a way to spend more time with those you care about.

For example, have a family member quiz you with flashcards or sample tests. This is a great way to keep yourself accountable and eliminate procrastination. Plus, you may receive great feedback on your work and your progress that will help you stay motivated and positive.

If you are friendly with other people going through the Exam process, starting a study group with them also may be beneficial. Study groups are beneficial in many ways: you may learn new study habits from other group members that you’ve never tried before, and explaining information and concepts to the other group members may help reinforce your mastery of the material.

However you choose to do it, keeping your resolutions will hopefully lead to an organized, healthy, social and successful 2013!

“New Year’s Resolution Statistics” 12/13/12
“Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail” Ray Williams 12/27/10
“What Foods to Eat While Studying” August McLaughlin 3/29/11
“Study Groups” Mangrum-Strichart

Other Suggested Reading

Maximize Your Brain Power

Preparing for the CPA Exam

A Word on CPA Exam Reviews