CPA Exam Prep – Exam Study Tips

August 25th, 2011 by dave bryant | No Comments | Filed in CPA Exam Prep

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1. Get in the Right State of Mind

The CPA test is well-known for being very hard to successfully pass. It’s quite a difficult test and you will need to study a lot to be able to pass. A lot of students have failed multiple times on various sections before they eventually pass. Because studying for the exam is very hard, you should congratulate yourself for having the determination tackle it. You should also think of your previous achievements to motivate yourself. It’s important to remind yourself that whilst the exam may be very hard, lots of other people have passed, so you can too.

2. Purchase a Great Review Course

A lot of the review courses that can be purchased usually include some lectures in the format of DVDs; using DVDs can make confusing concepts much easier to comprehend than books can. The best CPA courses tend to look carefully at exams in the past to find out what questions actually appear on a more common basis than others, enabling you to study much more efficiently. If you think that you may need some extra help from instructors, make sure that you choose an exam course that lets you contact instructors by phone so you can ask them any questions you may have regarding your study materials. Personally, I can’t overstress how important it is to invest in a great CPA course. It can even mean the difference between passing your final exam with excellent marks and failing completely, and it can really help you save huge amounts of time by enabling you to concentrate on the areas that are more likely to appear in the final exam.

3. Form a Revision Plan and Keep to It

There’s a large amount of work that you will need to learn before you’re prepared enough to sit each part of the exam, so pulling a couple of night long revision sessions just before your final exam will not be enough. Most people believe that you will need to spend around three months of near constant studying for each part of your exam. When you are forming a revision plan, make sure that you program in some time off to keep the plan realistic. It is far better to study for a couple of hours each day rather than trying to shove in so much revision time into your plan that you soon become discouraged and give up.

4. Get Help from Your Friends and Family

Getting ready for your CPA exam definitely isn’t easy, but there’s no need to go through it all by yourself. Now is a great time to get help from friends or family. Explain to them how hard it is to complete the exam, and hopefully they will do as much as they can to help you whilst you’re preparing for the exam itself. They might even start letting you get away with not attending family gatherings or cleaning, cooking and doing other chores around the house.

5. Keep Your Health in Check

Without being healthy, you’ll find that you are having trouble concentrating whilst you are studying. Make sure you get plenty of exercise, eat lots of fruit and veg, and perhaps most importantly, make sure that you are getting enough sleep each night. You should also make sure that you are fitting in breaks to your revision routine, by doing this you will have much more energy so will be able to study to the best of your ability.

6. Find Study Buddies

By studying with fellow students who are also planning to complete the CPA test, you will be able to focus a lot easier and will notice you are much more motivated. It’s also very handy to have someone around that you can discuss confusing and complicated concepts with; it’s also really handy to have someone about who can help spur you on when you are feeling down. If you are currently working at an accounting company, start asking your other workers or college friends if they are also gearing up for their exams. If you are finding it hard to locate people that you can study with, you should search for forums on the internet to find people who are in a similar situation. You may even find different people who are looking for individuals to study with in your local area.

7. Focus on a Chunk at a Time

Many students drastically underestimate how complicated the exam is so they book all of the sections one after another and attempt to revise for them all at once. Whilst this may be possible for some people to do, a much better idea would be to revise for a section at a time to greatly increase your chances of successfully passing each exam section. Because each of the four sections cover a huge amount of material, trying to remember all the information at once would probably cause a lot of people to fail all of the sections. Another good idea would be to revise the section that you find the hardest first. After you have passed the hardest section, you’ll have just eighteen months to complete the next three sections before the first section will reach its expiration time, so by completing the section that you find the hardest first, you greatly reduce the chances of the sections you have passed expiring on you.

8. Concentrate on Confusing Areas

Whilst constantly going over concepts that you understand completely will make you feel confident, it can also lead to an untrue sense of security that may ruin your chances in the final exam. To increase the efficiency of your revision time, you should definitely break down each of your problem areas and focus most of your effort on them. Make a list of all of your hard to understand areas and go through them piece by piece until they are no longer confusing to you.

9. Take Lots of Notes

Your memory can only absorb a fixed amount of information in the short term. Information that you revise shortly before your exam will be the easiest to remember. Because of this fact, you should remember to make short but sharp bullet points that you can look at and force into your memory shortly before you take your exam.

10. See How Long You Take

When you’re completing example questions that are a part of the material that you are studying, make sure that you time yourself with a stopwatch and pretend that you are actually participating in the exam. By doing this you will become used to completing questions within the allowed time period so you don’t end up panicking in the actual exam.

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