CPA Prep Professional Development

Which Part Of The CPA Exam Should I Take First?

You've decided you want to take the CPA exam, but what part do you want to take first?

So, you decided to start studying for the CPA exam. Congrats! Wait, you don’t know which part to start with? Well, there are several considerations before choosing the first section of the exam. You could:

  • Start with the most difficult section first before the clock starts.
  • Start with the part that most interests you.
  • Start with the ‘easiest’ section.

Start With the Most Difficult Section

Although each section of the exam is difficult there are some sections of the exam that are more time intensive.

  • FAR – 100 to 120 hours
  • REG – 90 to 110 hours
  • AUD – 70 to 90 hours
  • BEC – 55 to 75 hours

In order to pass the CPA exam you must pass all four sections within an 18-month rolling window. Since the clock doesn’t start until you pass your first section, and you can only sit for an exam section during the four annual testing windows, it is often recommended that you start with the most difficult section.

Starting with FAR or REG gives you more chances to pass the hardest and most time intensive parts without eating away at the 18 month testing period. This can alleviate an incredible amount of stress especially when you pass a section like FAR first.

Start With The Section That Interests You The Most

If you plan on becoming a tax accountant then start with REG. If you want to be an auditor then AUD is the perfect section to start your CPA journey. The CPA exam is difficult and trying to stay focused during your study sessions can be just as difficult.

To overcome this lack of motivation start with a section that interests you the most. Whether it’s a section that corresponds with a class in college in which you excelled or an area of accounting you’ve worked in for years, choosing a section that’s going to capture your attention will make your CPA studying easier.

Start With The ‘Easiest’ Section

Passing the first section of the CPA exam is often the biggest hurdle. Some candidates get discouraged and quit after failing the first part of the exam. Preparing for the exam is important but having the motivation to keep pushing on until the end can be just as important.

Starting with the easiest section of the exam and passing that section can give you the boost you need to crush the other 3 portions of the examination. AUD or BEC are still difficult exams but the study time to complete these sections isn’t as time intensive. If you’re worried about failing then starting with a part that will be easiest to pass might be your best bet.

Go With Your Gut

Everyone’s path to the CPA is different so going with your gut is sometimes your best option. Put in the preparation needed to crush the exam and never give up! It’s a difficult time of your life but once it’s over it’ll be well worth the investment.


Photo Copyright: <a href='https://www.123rf.com/profile_wavebreakmediamicro'>wavebreakmediamicro / 123RF Stock Photo

Jeremias Ramos is a CPA working at a nationally recognized full-service accounting, tax, and consulting firm with offices conveniently located throughout the Northeast. Jeremias specializes in tax and business consulting with focus areas in real estate, professional service providers, medical practitioners, and eCommerce businesses.

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