These 6 Strategies Will Help You Pass the CPA Exam With Flying Colors

Oct 12, 2020 by

Taking the CPA Exam? These Strategies Will Help You Pass the First Time

2024 CPA Exam Changes -

Are you getting ready to take the CPA exam and finally become a certified public accountant? You probably already know you can expect the exam to be the most intense 16 hours of your life. After all, less than half of all people pass the exam on the first try. However, it doesn’t have to be a stressful experience.

If you want to pass your CPA exam on the first try, you need to be prepared.

1. Understand the details of each exam section

Part of being prepared for your CPA exam is knowing what to expect. However, a general understanding isn’t enough. You need to know exactly what’s involved for each of the four sections of the test.

For example, each test contains five individual testlets, and in all four sections of the test, the first two testlets are multiple choice questions and the next two are task-based simulations. The AUD, FAR, and REG sections contain more task-based simulations on the last testlet and the BEC section contains more written communication tasks.

Read the CPA exam guide from Wiley CPA for a thorough, detailed explanation of what each of the four sections cover and how each test section is scored.

2. Take a CPA exam prep course

If you don’t take a CPA exam prep course, you won’t be prepared enough to pass your exam. Prep courses offer benefits you won’t get from studying material printed in books. For example, you’ll get personalized tests and instructions as well as practice tests that will help you get the hard questions correct.

3. Verify that you meet your state’s education requirements

Don’t wait to verify you meet your state’s requirements for education. Undergo an education requirement review as soon as possible. You’re not fully prepared to take the exam unless you know with absolute certainty that you are qualified to sit for the exam.

For example, if you have two Ivy League degrees, an Ivy MBA, and experience working for two huge NYC investment banks, you might not meet the education requirements. That’s what someone from found out the hard way. The person in question was required to take 3.5 more courses to qualify.

Even when it seems like you’ve met all the course requirement hours, the board can review your courses and shave off hours they don’t feel qualify. You’ll have to spend more time taking those extra courses before you can take the test. The longer you wait to find out if your education qualifies, the longer you’ll have to wait to take your exam if you need more hours.

4. Create a methodical study routine

Studying for the CPA exam should be serious business. While it’s okay to study between other tasks, you should ultimately aim to create time to study on a regular basis. If you can manage to study every day, that’s even better.

Studying on a regular schedule keeps you focused on the subject matter you need to learn. The saying, “out of sight, out of mind” is true. Don’t let your exam material slip away from your attention. You have eighteen months to complete all four sections, but that time will fly by faster than you know.

5. Make it your goal to become an expert

Adopting the mindset of becoming an expert is a great way to boost your preparedness for the CPA exam. If you’re simply studying material to pass a test, you’ll probably use mental methods to memorize information rather than to understand concepts fully.

Approaching your studies as if you’re on a mission to become an expert will change your whole game. If you’re on a mission to achieve expert status, you’ll have a burning desire to know everything. If a small detail pops up that you’re unfamiliar with, you’ll look further into the subject rather than ignoring it because it’s not a question on the test.

6. Remember that passing the exam isn’t the end goal

You need to pass the exam to get your certification, but that’s not the end goal. The end goal is to turn your license into a profitable career. You’ll create a profitable career by thoroughly learning the material you study. Passing the exam won’t be worth much if all you did was cram information into your head without understanding how to apply that information to the real world. 

Use all the resources you can get

Last but not least, use all the resources you can find. The CPA exam is considered one of the toughest tests on the planet; you can’t be too prepared.

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