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How to Prepare for the CPA Exam

Written by Jimmy Rustling

If you dream of becoming a Certified Public Accountant, naturally, you need to pass the CPA exam. This can be somewhat difficult.

That doesn’t mean it has to be. There are numerous people who have received very high scores on the CPA exam. Some have even managed to do so on their first tries.

Those who perform quite well on the CPA exam don’t always have unique advantages over those who struggle with it. It’s often the case that they simply prepared more effectively.

To prepare for the CPA exam in a manner that will help you pass it with relative ease, keep the following tips in mind. They reflect some of the most common advice CPA exam top-scorers tend to share.

Take a Prep Course

Yes, studying to be an accountant will help you prepare for the CPA exam in some capacity. However, there’s a nuanced but very real difference between the information you receive in your classes and the instruction you can get out of a genuine CPA exam prep course.

Your college and university courses prepare you for your career. A CPA exam prep course prepares you specifically for taking a challenging test.

Luckily, if you’re a busy person, there’s no need to enroll in a time-consuming prep class. An online CPA exam prep course can serve your needs just as well as (and perhaps even better than) one you must attend in person.

Start as Soon as Possible

If you have plans to become a CPA, even if you are years away from taking the CPA exam, it’s advisable to begin preparing right now. There are several reasons this is so.

First, the CPA exam simply covers a range of complex subjects with which you need to be familiar. Establishing a foundation by studying these subjects early can dramatically improve your chances of performing well on the exam.

Second, many find that while developing a routine for preparing for the CPA exam is essential, it’s also somewhat difficult at the start. Learning how to schedule your study sessions so that you devote enough time to covering all subjects thoroughly while also taking breaks isn’t something that may come naturally to you. Thus, if you begin preparing sooner rather than later, you’ll have more time to perfect your routine.

Develop a Strategy for Taking the Test

Typically, when you pass the first part of the CPA exam, you must pass the remaining sections within 18 months. Luckily, you have some control over when you take certain sections.

Review the differences between the sections. For instance, some require greater memorization of rules.

There is no universal “right” sequence for taking the test. The order in which you take the various sections will depend on your personal preferences.

More importantly, it will depend on your individual strengths. Assess the nature of each section, and decide how you will approach the exam in a manner that plays to your natural abilities and inclinations.

All that said, while studying for the CPA exam is something you should take seriously, it’s not necessarily something you should stress about. Many who’ve successfully passed the CPA exam on their first try report that stressing about it served no purpose. Thorough preparation was what truly helped.

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About the author

Jimmy Rustling

Born at an early age, Jimmy Rustling has found solace and comfort knowing that his humble actions have made this multiverse a better place for every man, woman and child ever known to exist. Dr. Jimmy Rustling has won many awards for excellence in writing including fourteen Peabody awards and a handful of Pulitzer Prizes. When Jimmies are not being Rustled the kind Dr. enjoys being an amazing husband to his beautiful, soulmate; Anastasia, a Russian mail order bride of almost 2 months. Dr. Rustling also spends 12-15 hours each day teaching their adopted 8-year-old Syrian refugee daughter how to read and write.