Accountants students worldwide know that becoming a CPA is one of the “must-haves” for a successful career in public accounting and a prestigious certification to hold in private accounting.

Many professionals will pursue the CPA, but not all will succeed. The cumulative passing rate for CPA Exam in 2020 was 57.67% – an unusually high number compared to the typical 50% or less. The low pass rates can be a little disheartening but passing all the sections and doing this on your first try IS possible. Here are some tips and tricks that I found helpful for passing the CPA.

Prioritize Studying

To be successful, it is recommended that a CPA candidate study 80-100 hours over 4-8 weeks. Studying for the CPA can feel like a part-time job. Factor in working a full-time job, family, and friends; the balancing act can be difficult. It is essential to set boundaries with the people around you and let them know studying is your priority. If you are not ready to commit the time to study, then putting it off is likely the best approach.

Find the Right Exam Prep

Not all exam preps are created equal. Before you purchase the most popular, cheapest, or even highly recommended by colleague’s exam prep, I recommend going to the website and doing some digging. Different exam preps feed off different learning styles. The exam preps hold most of the same content, but it is the presentation that differs.

Find Moments to Study & Test

This one can be more difficult. Ask your peers about the slower and busier time of the year for work. Ask your family and friends about any upcoming events you may need to schedule around. You could still find yourself studying during the beginning or end of a busy season but try not to study during the whole busy season. Studying needs to be a priority, and that would be difficult during your busiest time.

Take Care of Yourself

Easier said than done. While studying, it may seem easier to skip workouts, eat out, and miss time with friends and family. However, you may realize you hit an emotional wall when the testing is over since you did not take care of your mental and physical health. Doing these things can bring you energy and change your mood. Be sure not to go overboard, and that studying is still a priority.

Create a study plan

This is the key to accountability. Trying to study 15 hours a week seems reasonable, but that does not always factor in life happening, and the goal may seem a little vague. I recommend coming up with a weekly study plan or hour goal that factors in life events such as a friend’s out-of-town wedding, something unexpected, or time to yourself. Some weeks may end up with goals of 10 hours, while others are 20+ hours. Creating this realistic plan will increase the likelihood that you a) make studying a priority and b) take care of yourself.

Passing the CPA Exam can seem daunting, but it certainly is possible! There are many more tips and tricks, but I find these to be the most helpful. Focus on your studies and take care of yourself. Good luck to all CPA candidates! The hard work and long hours are worth it.

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