CPA Exam Tips From Past Test Takers
1. The best piece of advise I can give you is to focus on understanding the content. I have come across many many CPA candidates who just want to finish the exam, however, it is not so easy unless you emphasize understanding the concept.
2. Give equal importance to learning the concept and applying them by practicing the questions. Divide your time rationally between study and doing questions.
3. Practice questions as if you are taking the actual exam, that is, don't multitask at that time.
4. Make notes for the review material in your own words and keep reading them whenever you have time.
5. For the BEC section, do not ignore practicing essays. Focus on improving your essay writing skills by practice and asking others to review them for you.
6. Practice simulations as much as you can. Simulations contain questions from ...read more
My goal, and I think most test takers would identify with this, was to get the best possible preparation for the CPA exam and to take each section only once. The CPA exam consists of 4 lengthy exams, each one of which can be taken separately (which I did), and the entire process is highly stressful. The exam covers a lot of information, challenging by its nature and there are time limits within which to take and pass all exam sections.
Having spoken to my peers, I decided that Becker CPA Review was the best available test preparation option for me. While it is a costly course ($3,000+), if you have the opportunity, I would highly recommend it. I did not use any other test preparation material other than Becker and passed all sections of the CPA exam on the first ...read more
I was fortunate enough to have a summer off after school and before work started to study full-time for the CPA exam. I worked a part-time job and spent the rest of the time studying, as I knew I wanted to pass all 4 sections in one summer to avoid having to study while starting work at a Big 4 public accounting firm. My study schedule was as follows:
I gave myself about 3-4 weeks to study for each exam (breakout between exams listed below), and spent approximately 20 hours/week studying until the week before the exam, and the week of the exam I spent probably 40-50 hours reviewing material and taking practice tests. I watched all the pre-recorded lectures, took down ALL the notes, and highlighted all the sections that the instructors recommended. THIS IS VERY ...read more
The CPA exam is one of the hardest professional exams in the world. I had JD’s tell me that their law boards were way easier than the CPA exam. The test will always be easier while you are already in school. Once you enter the job force, you begin to lose the mindset of studying required for successful preparation. If you don’t have the luxury of taking the exam concurrently while being a student then there are several things that can be done to help out.
1. Dedicate at least 1-2 hour blocks of time to studying 4-5 nights a week.
2. Do not schedule marathon studying sessions. Trying to study on a Saturday from 8am-8pm will only lead to burnout and fatigue. Instead, block yourself off and study from 8-11am and then again from 5-8pm. You will find that the quality of ...read more
I finally passed all four parts of the CPA exam just a couple of months ago: Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) and Regulation (REG). I am a full time Accountant, who saw the CPA exam as the final step of career accomplishment. The process was very difficult to complete and with the few paragraphs that follow, I hope to enlighten as many people as possible on the best way to successfully pass the CPA exam.
I had just finished my Master's Degree in Accounting about 1 year prior to starting to study for my exam, but quickly found out that the majority of the classes I took were not designed to specifically prepare students for the CPA exam. Therefore, I decided to use a preparatory class in my quest for the ...read more
AUD - 02/03/13 – Passed 1st Time
BEC - 07/06/13 – Passed 2nd Time
FAR - 05/24/14 – Passed 1st Time
REG - 08/24/13 – Passed 1st Time
Tip 1 – Be prepared to take the test when you order the study materials.
I purchased the Becker Self-Study CPA Exam Review, Flashcards, and Final Review materials October 2011. I graduated in May 2008 and was able to sit for the exam, but had been putting off purchasing the test prep materials due to the hefty $4,000 cost. Becker Professional Education began offering a 12 month payment plan in 2011 and I happily took advantage of the offer.
Once I had my materials, I schedule an exam. However, I pushed the exam out to a later date, failed and was completely discouraged. I did not take another exam until January 2013. DO NOT DO THIS!
By July ...read more
To pass the CPA exam you have to eat, breathe, sleep, and literally live the CPA exam. A test prep course can only take you so far. You have to do the rest and put in the time. This is not a test that you prepare for the night before or even the week before. This exam has to be your life if you want to pass.
I was working full-time in public accounting and was about nine months out of college when I decided to start studying for the CPA exam. I had two driving factors to complete the CPA exam so early in my career. First, I reasoned that I didn't want to be stuck taking the exam later in my career, especially in public accounting, when my responsibilities would double ...read more
If you made the decision to begin a career as a public accountant then you can be sure you will be faced with the daunting task of successfully passing the CPA exam. This four-part exam; Business (BEC), Financial (FAR), Audit, and Regulation (REG), will most certainly be the most difficult test you have ever taken (unless you have taken or plan to take the CFA exam). The CPA exam is a marathon that will push you to your limits both mentally and physically. Below is a summary of how I survived the CPA exam and some tips that I thought helped get me through this stressful part of my life and put a grueling 5 months behind me, resulting in successfully passing this four-part exam the first time through.
I used a combination of Becker’s live, self-study, and online studying ...read more
I chose Becker because it had a great reputation and I was determined to pass the first time even if that meant taking an/(the most?) expensive review course available. I passed all four parts the first time, so I think the price was completely worth it.
My “CPA exam story” started immediately after finishing grad school in June, so that I was able to devote my summer to the CPA exam. I did the FastPass approach, which involved attending live classes in addition to hundreds of multiple choice questions using their software. However, I never intended to take each part of the exam right after its respective lectures had finished (i.e. Becker teaches REG for 2 weeks, sit for REG immediately, then days later Becker begins teaching Audit. That was too crazy for me). I wanted to take my time, ...read more
The biggest mistake I made when I first started studying for the CPA exam was treating it like a college exam. I got through college by procrastinating, then cramming the week before the exam, and then somehow passing. When I applied this method to the CPA exam it meant failing all 4 parts in a row within 2-7 points! I DO NOT want this to be you!
I need you to understand that the CPA exam is the most difficult test you will ever take and will require you to get outside of your comfort zone. It will not only test your accounting/business knowledge, but test your mental and physical limits. The ability to work long hours and stay completely focused is something that is required to be a successful public accountant, which is why the CPA exam is designed ...read more
Look, nobody likes the idea of ignoring their friends and family to stay locked up inside to study for an exam. But if you can find the type of review material that works for your type of personality, it will make the process much more efficient and effective.
There are two types of learners: those that like to be in a classroom setting with an instructor, and those that are hands-on, study at your own pace. There's nothing wrong with either of those methods. But it's up to you to figure out which method works for you.
Before you spend a lot of time and money on CPA exam study material, I'd highly recommend to get a trial version or watch some YouTube videos to figure out what method works for you.
I have friends that tried to study from ...read more
I took the CPA exam a year after graduating my MAC program. I was in public accounting and took the exam during busy season, over a span of three or four months. This left very little time for study so here was my approach was to hit the high points quickly:
1) Don't wait. I only took a couple of weeks in between exams. This is an exhausting process and to drag it out will wear you down and cause you to lose interest.
2) Study short and often. I probably was able to get a good 1-2 hours a night of study time. I was able to focus for that amount of time and retain much of the information.
3) Problems problems problems. As most CPAs will tell you, the problems you find ...read more
The CPA Exam has its ups and downs. I truly believe that if you study and keep working at it you will pass. You might pass on your fist time or maybe even your tenth but I think everyone that puts in the time will get there. It took me two tries at the exam to finally pass. The first time I took it, I was right out of college and I just didn’t have the passion to pass. After failing a few times I just gave up. On the second attempt I had a full time job, I was married, had two young children to take care of and the exam to study for but I knew that I was going to pass it this time. I was mentally prepared to pass ...read more
One of the best ways I found to prepare for the exam was by practicing a lot of multiple choice questions. I particularly paid attention to topics I was weak in and topics that are heavily tested on the exam. The reason I feel doing a lot of questions helps the most is because it reinforces what you know, familiarizes you with the exam questions and helps you learn things you might not know. If time is very limited, this is the best option. It will teach you the most in the least amount of time. I personally spent 10 hours going through lecture videos and the rest just doing question, after question, after question. One of the important things to do is make sure you know why you got a question right or wrong. It’s not good enough to ...read more
Becker, which not unlike other products, required a lot of time, but the process they use is tried and true. I would definitely tell me undergrad self to study like what they preach if I could. Read the topic, sit through the lecture, reread the parts you highlighted and attach the mnemonics to memory, then work through the homework, and finally take the test. After all that you should see some items you need to review and others that you probably don't need to touch again. I went ahead and bought the flash cards, which I would recommend to a lot of people that are working or used flash cards a lot in college. You can study pretty easily at work with them and they are very well organized.
Also the time you put in may be completely different ...read more
Taking the CPA exam is going to be a lifestyle change and a shock to your system. Here's my advice on the best things to do to ensure your success.
1. Manage every minute of your time wisely. This is especially true for those already working a full time job. Squeeze in whatever hours of study that you can between work and life activities. Know that there will be sacrifices made in order to pass the test.
2. When in doubt, multiple choice questions are your best bet. If you don't understand a concept the first or second time around, do as many multiple choice questions on that topic as you can. This will help gain an understanding in the topic that you may not have gotten while just reading about the topic.
3. Get some sleep! This goes with my mantra of ...read more
Becker's Online Self-Study CPA Exam Review is the most comprehensive and useful resource to prepare for the CPA exam. While other resources may provide a variety of practice test questions and other materials, Becker is the only test prep that provides access to tools that facilitate different styles of learning and review. The CPA exam is primarily about remembering a vast amount of information and processing the correct decision given certain facts and circumstances. Becker's tools will prepare test takers to recall information at the appropriate time and remember the necessary details to answer questions correctly.
I purchased the entire package of test materials at one time and studied intensely for several months, and attempted to take as many tests as possible. My general approach, which was time consuming, but effective, was as follows:
1. I watched the Becker videos online and ...read more
I believe in breaking the problem into smaller portions and then attacking them. I decided to take one examination paper at a time and finish it before moving on to the next subject.
Apply for the examination, get your NTS, schedule the examination. Now, my goal is to complete all my review materials and portions within the set timeframe.
Plan to study regularly and work out each and every problem in the practice test. Practice, practice and practice more. Reading the texts from the books might sometime seem boring and exhausting, instead try to work the given practice test once, see how you score, for all the wrongly answered questions, go through the text to find out the correct solution. Voila!! you would have covered the entire book without much effort :)
Video lectures are of great help! Few areas ...read more
Just like I'm sure you have heard before this test is a marathon, an endurance race that you need to carefully plan and pace yourself in order to succeed. It takes lots of time and money so be serious if you are attempting to take the exam. Overall it is an experience that will help you develop in your career and as a person.
Whether applicants decide to take the accelerated route or the traditional route, I feel that I was able to get much more out of this program by completing the practice tests/questions rather than listening to all of the lectures and taking notes and/or reading the text books. I went through each question at least 3-4 times before sitting for each exam (between the reviews and practice tests, there are hundreds of questions for each part). Becker develops these questions to mirror the actual exam, so it made me feel much more comfortable during test time because I was looking at something familiar. For many study sessions I didn't even open a book. Answering the questions incorrectly is even beneficial, as Becker’s computer application provides you with the correct answer and an explanation. Many people, including the instructors, who I have ...read more