Four Tips for Success on the CPA Exam

We all want to be winners. We all want to be the champion. We all want to pass the CPA Exam (although that can be an especially difficult goal). Wanting to succeed is human nature.

How do you turn that intense desire into results? How do you become a winner? How do you attain a championship?

I watched a pro basketball game on television recently. The playoffs are now being played. Only four teams remain and they are all vying to become the champions.

That particular game was very close and the coach for one of the teams called time out to rally his players for a final push toward victory. During this game, the coach was wearing a microphone so the fans could listen in to what he had to say to his team. He looked at each player and said, “When this is all over, don’t let anyone be able to say that the other team played smarter or played harder than you did.”

What great advice!!!

My guess is that many of you are preparing to take the CPA Exam in the near future—possibly this summer. The pass rate on each part of the exam is roughly 50 percent so it is not an easy exam. Success is tough to attain. Nevertheless, when you walk away from that testing site, never let anyone be able to say that the other candidates studied smarter or studied harder than you did.

If the rest of the candidates managed to study smarter or if they studied harder than you did, then they have more right to pass than you do. That’s only fair.

So, how do you study smarter? How do you study harder? Let me give you four quick recommendations based on my 35+ years in this business.

1 – Put in enough hours. If you cannot invest sufficient time, it is awfully hard to find the points you need. Without a sufficient amount of time, you are just praying for a miracle. I always recommend 60 to 100 hours for each part of the exam as a minimum.

2 – Study on a regular basis. Don’t run hot and cold in your studies. I prefer for candidates to study 3-4 days (or more) each week. Taking too much time off just causes you to forget what you have already learned. The knowledge leaks out of your head. Make preparation a very regular part of your daily life.

3 – Schedule all of your study sessions at least one week ahead. If you don’t have a schedule, it becomes so very easy to procrastinate and wind up getting nothing done. Write down when you are going to study each day and for how long. Then make sure you stick with that schedule. Many people end up chanting a mantra: “I meant to study.” That chant does not do you any good. It does add a single point.

4 – Realize that college is for learning the material. Success on the CPA Exam is different. It is all about learning to answer questions. Focus your preparation time and effort on answering as many questions as you can. That is where the points are. I always suggest that candidates answer all of the questions at CPA Review for Free TWICE. The second time around is when you really start adding points. Initially, whenever you miss a question, read the answer very carefully. Jot down a few notes to help ensure that you will get it right the next time you see it. Getting better is the real key to passing the CPA Exam. Answer each question twice and make sure you improve your chances of getting it right the next time.

Remember, when you walk away from that testing site, you don’t want anyone to be able to say that the other candidates studied smarter or studied harder than you did and, therefore, they deserve to pass more than you do.

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