CPA Exam Prep: From Daunting to Doable

6/29/2017 - By Various Authors

The CPA exams are difficult. Unfortunately, no magic Tips on How to Pass or 5 Do’s/Don’ts or even the top-rated study materials can guarantee you a passing grade on your exams for CPA licensure. What you can do is ensure that you’ve prepared for every step of the process. 

We asked four young CPAs who have recently passed or are in the process of taking their exams what they wish they had known before taking their first step towards getting their CPA license.

“Understanding the Exam Requirements”
BY: Nicole Heineken

The licensing authority for CPAs falls under the jurisdiction of the Board of Accountancy for the state or territory in which a CPA practices. Thus, the first step in your CPA Exams planning process should be to determine in which jurisdiction you would like to practice and to research the requirements for obtaining CPA licensure in that state. Typically, CPA licensure requirements need to be completed in a certain order, so it is important to closely review the pre-requisites for your chosen jurisdiction at the beginning of your journey toward becoming a CPA. 

“Prepping to Pass”
BY: Tabitha Cook, CPA

You are meeting your education requirements, have applied to your state board, and are waiting on your application to be reviewed. What’s next? While you are waiting to receive approval of your application or even if you haven’t applied yet, it’s never too early to start considering what review course may work for you, fit your budget, and match your study style. Once you have a course all picked out and are excited about this new journey, how do you study? Awareness, expectation, and communication are key to making the study time happen.  

“Prioritizing Your Responsibilities” 
BY: Caroline Beasley, CPA

You've got your materials and are ready to hit the books. Now it's time to get real and ask yourself: how long is this going to take? How much time every day do I need to dedicate to studying? When will I know that I'm ready to take any of the four exams? The answer to these questions depends on you! Everyone’s individual learning style is different, but there is one thing you should do before starting to study, and that is to take an objective, realistic view of your current responsibilities and prioritize them around your study time. 

“Game Planning for Exam Day” 
BY: Brandon Heppler, CPA

It is absolutely imperative that you develop a game plan for test day.  Going into these exams with a mindset that “I’m going to take it 1 question at a time” is a big mistake and will most likely force you into a time crunch at the end of the test where the task based simulations count for large percentage of your score. The best game plan for conquering these tests is by setting time goals.  Set time limits for each testlet that you know are firm. Know the contents and make up of each test, and develop your game plan early on in your study block.  When you study the practice questions, make sure you are using your game plan.  After all, what use is a game plan if you don’t practice it?! 

The time and energy invested in preparation for the exams are high, but the personal and professional rewards are well worth the effort. In the coming weeks, we will look at each Q/A more in-depth, so you can feel better equipped to conquer every single step of the CPA exams from beginning to end. 

Helpful Links from our Authors:

  1. AICPA – Become a CPA
  2. Best CPA Review Courses
  3. Journal of Accountancy – Find Time to Study for the CPA Exam

About the Authors 
Several staff accountants and seniors in our Tax & Accounting Department worked together to share their current and past experiences concerning the CPA exams. If you would like to learn more about each of them or contact them individually, you can view their full bios below:


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