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How to Set Yourself Up to Ace the CPA Exam

Passing one of the hardest professional certifications requires the right tools and some smart time-management.

Becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) can vastly improve your job prospects and compensation. It can also give you the tools that you need to succeed in your career as an accountant. Passing the CPA Exam isn’t easy, though. It requires hard work and diligently planned test preparation. All test prep is not equal, though. How you prepare for your exam really makes a difference in your pursuit to ace the CPA exam.

In the article below, we’ll dive into some of the ways that you can make sure you’re getting the most out of your studies and give yourself the best possible chance to pass your exam. Follow these tips to help you earn those glorious three letters after your name.

How hard is the CPA exam?

The CPA Exam is widely considered to be one of the most challenging professional certifications to obtain. The test is designed to be a comprehensive evaluation of all topics related to accounting. Many may struggle with areas that they are less experienced in or familiar with. Even for those who know the material well, the exam format itself may pose serious challenges.

The exam is divided into four sections: Auditing and Attestation, Business Environment and Concepts, Financial Accounting and Reporting, and Regulation. Candidates have four hours to complete each section of the CPA Exam. Since these tests often cover very different material, the variety of ways that questions are asked on the exam can often throw off test-takers who are not completely familiar with the exam’s structure.

Each section of the CPA Exam is scheduled separately from each other. This allows you to rest, recover, and review before tackling the next section.

Three Keys to CPA Exam Success

The CPA Exam tests your ability to organize and prepare every bit as much as it tests your knowledge. By focusing your efforts in the right places, you can be ready for it. Here are a few pro tips:

1. Know the Exam

You can’t prepare for challenges that you haven’t identified. Before you set out to take the CPA Exam, you need to know exactly what you’re getting into. By familiarizing yourself with the structure and format of the Exam, as well as with the latest curriculum on the test, you’ll know where you’re likely to struggle and thus where you need to focus.

Once you understand exactly what you’re undertaking with the CPA Exam, you’ll be able to seek out the right resources and tools to help you along the way.

2. Stick to the plan.

You only have 18 months to complete all four sections of the CPA Exam. After that, you’ll lose credit for your first passed section. That’s a huge time commitment and a real logistical challenge to plan your life around. This makes it absolutely essential to have a game plan for your exam from the beginning. It is also essential that you stay motived for the CPA exam during your studies to ensure you ace the CPA exam!

The exam indirectly tests your time-management skills that are essential as a CPA. You’ll need to find quality study guides and budget your study time from the beginning of the exam process through to completion. Make sure that you prioritize each module on the timescale that class scheduling demands.

3. Choose the right study aids.

Getting your CPA can open many doors for your career, but having to repeat the exam process is time-consuming, stressful, and costly. Do yourself a favor and make sure that you’re preparing correctly the first time. Carefully select tools that you will use to prepare for the test when making your plan, ensuring that they are a proven and efficient way to get you ready for the exam.

Studying smarter is essential for being prepared for such an involved and comprehensive exam. This is where you really put the first two tips into use and leverage what you know about what challenges you will face by formulating a plan that involves tools and resources that are most effective for you personally.

While you may need to rise to the challenge on your own, it is certainly easier when there’s someone to give you the help you need along the way. There are a number of study guides available out there for test-takers to review before each module. The CPA exam frequently changes though, so always make sure that you’re using the most up-to-date information. The AICPA also offers some resources to help you work into your prep plan. These include practice tests for you to gauge your progress along the way.

New Ways to Study

Traditional study resources certainly are useful when preparing for the CPA exam, but without personalized help from a source that’s knowledgeable about the exam, endless reading will only take you so far. New technology tools like adaptive, digital flashcards offer new options to maximize your study time.

Predictive analytics tools can help you track your progress towards your goals and adapt materials to ensure you are learning exactly what you need to succeed on your exam. This sort of tech-assisted studying helps you know how on track you are to succeed on the CPA Exam. It also provides you with a personalized learning solution that ensures you are getting the most out of your preparation time.

How to Ace the CPA Exam – Summary

Whatever resources you choose to help you optimize your study time, make sure that you know exactly what hill you’re trying to climb. Then make your plan and see the journey through to the end.

Getting your CPA isn’t an easy path to hike, but with hard work and determination, you can pass your exam and transform your career.

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