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Five Keys to Passing the CPA Exam

Posted on 27th May 2012 @ 7:49 PM

Passing the CPA exam will not be easy, but if you follow these five important rules, you will significantly increase your chances. CPA Exam Keys

1. Make a study schedule.   You must make a detailed schedule of your CPA exam study plan.  If you have three months before your test date, schedule what you will study every day and every week. Hint: you’ll want to periodically schedule up to a week of review time of previously studied materials. Believe me, if you get to the end of your course and haven’t looked at chapter 1 in over a month, you’ll have a very tough time remembering it. Another hint: structure your schedule in a way that allows you to finish one to two weeks before your exam date. You will need this time to (again) review material you have forgotten along the way, as well as focus on your weak spots. 

2. Schedule time off before the exam.  It is a very good idea to have at least one day completely free before the exam to CRAM. I took all four sections in a 10-day period, but I structured them as follows:

  • FAR: Tuesday. I had the previous weekend and Monday to study.
  • BEC: Thursday. I had Tuesday after my FAR test and all of Wednesday to study.
  • REG: The following Tuesday. Again, a weekend to study and all of Monday.
  • AUD: The following Friday. I had Tuesday after REG to study, plus Wednesday and Thursday.

Sure, I had to dip into my paid leave bank at work, but it was a small price to pay for some very valuable cram time.

3. Study your multiple choice questions!   Everyone studies and learns differently, and I’m not going to tell you to how much to study MCQs. However, I will say that they should at least be a part of every candidate’s study routine. For FAR, REG, and AUD, multiple choice questions make of 60% of your score, and 85% of your BEC score. So, pretty important. As you grade yourself, you will learn the content better when reading the answer explanations, and in many cases you will see the exact same questions on the test. Just make sure that when you answer incorrectly, you take the time to read the explanation and understand it before moving on.

4. Commit to passing the CPA exam. This is the most important piece of advice I can give you, and I’ve already written an article devoted to this topic. In short, you must decide that you will pass the exam, no matter what it takes. When obstacles arise (and they will), find ways to get around them. Not passing is not an option. 

5. Use current, quality review materials. Passing the exam is one of the most important accomplishments in your career, so it is worth investing some money in a good CPA review course. Make sure the study materials are not outdated and that they have a good reputation. You can find top quality CPA review materials here

Andrew Lee, CPA

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