Monday, June 22, 2009

Pass the CPA Exam - How to Do It

Passing the CPA exam can be a disheartening project, particularly if you’ve heard of the vast number of people who have had to sit through multiple sections several times before ultimately passing the exam. What follows are 10 CPA preparation tips that have helped me in the past, and I am quite sure that they will serve you well also. You will pass the CPA exam, ultimately – unless you give up, it is inevitable.

1)Acquire the Appropriate Mentality
Nobody said passing the CPA was easy. This is a huge project that can require lots of time and perseverence in order to succeed. Many people fail more than one sections multiple times before finally passing all sections of the CPA. Brace yourself for the possibility that you may fail some of the sections before passing all sections, and accept that as a normal part of the journey of getting your CPA. But then, you'd want to remind yourself of previous accomplishments that serve as concrete validation of your capabilities, for example getting your university degree. Countless other people have struggled through and passed the CPA exam finally, and you will also.

2)Request Help From Loved Ones
Passing the CPA is not a simple project, fortunately you will not need to go about it by yourself. You should request help from your family & friends by telling them reasons why you want to pass the CPA and how time-consuming and difficult this project is. If they approve of what you're trying to achieve, they may assist you with some of your present responsibilities (e.g. household chores such as cleaning), and will understand if you can’t attend every social gathering.

3)Stay in Great Health
Poor health has hurtful effects on concentration, which can greatly impact on the ability to think & study. Eat a balanced diet, get adequate exercise, and above all, get a minimal of 6-8 hours of sleep every night, taking an afternoon nap if you must. As Well, don’t forget to set aside time for regular rest breaks – they will help you to stay focused and refreshed, and will also help you to absorb knowledge better when you return from the break. Studying for the CPA can be quite a battle. In order to pass the exam, you need to keep both your body and mind in good condition.

4)Get a Solid CPA Exam Review Course
The best CPA exam review courses available on the market are equipped with DVD lectures that explain the material a lot better than books ever could. The best CPA exam review programs even comes with a list of practice questions
exam problems spend time on, that are most likely to be found on the real exam. The top CPA exam review courses offer phone support to allow you to call in to ask for further clarification on study materials, and get answers and detailed clarification from course instructors. Undoubtedly, investing in a good CPA review program can really reduce your exam prep time and better your chances of passing the CPA exam.

5)Find a Study Buddy Or Two
Find other people who are also preparing for the CPA exam in your geogrphical area and invite them to study together. has a forum where you can post or answer to a request for study partners. Set up a strict schedule and request for everyone to commit to it by putting studying ahead of other obligations. Study buddies can help you to be more disciplined, and two heads are better than one when it comes to working out challenging concepts or questions. When you're feeling frustrated, your study buddies may just give you the emotional support you need to continue – after all, they’re in the same boat as you and should understand how you feel.

6)Concentrate on One Section At a Time
Many people find it overwhelming when trying to take on all four CPA exam sections at the same time. There's too much material to cover at the same time. A better strategy would be to focus only on studying for one section at a time, do the exam for that section, take a break, and then start studying for the next section and so on. Another piece of advice would be to go for the most difficult section first (the one that is most difficult for you – this will vary from person to person), because as soon as you pass the first section, you only have 18 months to pass the remaining sections. Getting that most difficult section out of the way first will minimize your chances of running out of time and having the 18-month window expire on you.

7)Identify Problem Areas
While reviewing materials you know well may make you feel good, it certainly won't help your exam scores by much ultimately. To get the most effective ROI for your effrot and time, spend it on studying materials you have the most trouble with. Flip through all of your learning materials, identify your problem areas, and focus on them
concentrate on them until you feel confident that you can handle them.

8)Taking Notes is Important
It is crucial to take lots of notes while you’re studying, so that you’ll have something to study from during the last few days before the actual exam. Since your short-term memory is, well, short-term, materials you study during those last few days will be the freshest on your mind on the day of the exam. This small window is simply not sufficient for you to review all your study materials from start to finish, so be sure you have a comprehensive set of study notes that you can cram into your short-term memory during the last few valuable days before your exam.

9)Use a Stopwatch
When you're doing practice questions, time yourself like you're actually doing the exam. This will condition your brain to work under time constraints and better prepare you for the actual exam. Moreover, by training yourself in this way, you’ll be less likely to panic on exam day when you have trouble answering a question.

10)The More Practice the Better
Try to do as many practice problems for as many times as you have time for. By doing this, not only will you understand the material better, but you’ll also feel more confident about your odds of passing the exam – both of which will help increase your exam score!

Find out about how Dave Bryant's ultimately managed to pass three previously-failed CPA sections over the course of only 10 months, with impressive scores, in his blog