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Planning for the CPA Exam

Posted on 10th Jun 2012 @ 6:28 PM

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An overriding concern should be an orderly, systematic approach toward both your preparation program and your examination strategy. A major objective should be to avoid any surprises or anything else that would rattle you during the CPA exam. In other words, you want to be in complete control as much as possible. Control is of paramount importance from both positive and negative viewpoints. The presence of control on your part will add to your confidence and your ability to prepare for and take the CPA exam. Moreover, the presence of control will make your preparation program more enjoyable (or at least less distasteful). On the other hand, a lack of organization will result in inefficiency in preparing and taking the examination, with a highly predictable outcome. Likewise, distractions during the examination (e.g., inadequate lodging, long drive) are generally disastrous.

In summary, establishing a systematic, orderly approach to taking the CPA exam is of paramount importance. Follow these six steps:

1. Develop an overall strategy at the beginning of your preparation program.

2. Supplement your textbooks and/or lectures with outlines, flashcards, and multiple choice questions.

3. Supplement your overall strategy with an explicitly stated set of problem-solving procedures—the solutions approach.

4. Supplement your overall strategy with an explicitly stated approach to each examination session

5. Evaluate your preparation progress on a regular basis and prepare lists of things “to do.

6. RELAX. You can pass the CPA exam. About 40 to 50% of the candidates taking a section of the CPA exam pass. But if you take out the individuals that did not adequately prepare, these percentages increase substantially. You will be one of those who pass if you complete an efficient preparation program and execute well while taking the exam.


The following outline is designed to provide you with a general framework of the tasks before you. You should tailor the outline to your needs by adding specific items and comments.

A. Preparation Program

1. Obtain and organize study materials.

2. Locate facilities conducive for studying and block out study time.

3. Develop you solutions approach (including solving simulation problems as well as multiple-choice questions.

4. Prepare an examination strategy.

5. Study the material tested recently and prepare answer to actual exam questions on these topics under exam conditions.

6. Periodically evaluate your progress.

B. Physical Arrangements

1. Apply to and obtain acceptance from your state board of accountancy

2. Schedule your testing location and time

C. Taking the Examination

1. Become familiar with of the CPA test center and procedures

2. Implement examination strategies and the solutions approach

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