By Megan Burke, CPA, PhD
Better salaries, enhanced career growth, and stronger job security are just a few of the reasons why the CPA designation is worth pursuing. However, studying for and passing the CPA Exam is no easy feat, especially if you are a busy student or working professional with competing priorities. Research conducted by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) shows that the closer you take the CPA Exam to your graduation date (i.e., while you’re still in a student mindset), the more likely you are to pass during your first attempt.
As a content developer at UWorld Roger CPA Review, I understand that every CPA Exam candidate’s time is precious. So, while there are no shortcuts to passing the CPA Exam, there are steps you can take to expedite the process, particularly in the area of studying more efficiently. Here are three tips on how to pass the CPA Exam faster so you can obtain your license and begin excelling in your professional life.
Create a Study Plan and Stick to It
Give yourself a realistic time frame to pass the CPA Exam. Will it be three, six, nine, or 12 months? To determine your plan, look at what’s going on in your life and schedule accordingly. Create a daily study plan to ensure you get through all the material within your designated time frame.
Proactively put parameters in place that will allow you to accomplish your daily study goals. This could be asking family and friends to not disturb you during certain times of the day or setting up a reward system for yourself whenever you achieve certain aspects of your study goals. You can even schedule your exam dates in advance to give yourself hard-deadline motivation to work toward your goal.
Remember to leave some wiggle room in your study plan to accommodate unexpected life events, breaks, or an extra day to fully comprehend material that you haven’t encountered before.
Getting off track comes easily, so stick to your study routine. This is an essential key to CPA Exam success.
Identify Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Passing the CPA Exam is rooted in how well you understand the concepts. A helpful way to make sure you do is to identify where you are strong and weak in specific content areas.
For example, if you had a great audit professor in college, you probably don’t have to spend as much time doing practice questions on audit topics of which you’re already familiar. Conversely, if you aren’t quite up to speed on internal controls, you’ll want to spend more time studying and doing practice questions on this topic until you have a thorough understanding.
Once you identify areas that need improvement, focus your efforts on fully comprehending those topics instead of wasting time on areas where you are already proficient.
At UWorld Roger CPA Review, we help students do this thorough our SmartPath Predictive Technology. SmartPath shows candidates how many practice questions they need to answer correctly in each section to achieve topic competency. We encourage students to hit their SmartPath targets and then move on to the next section.
By honing your time and effort to turn weaknesses into strengths, you will gain more efficient study sessions and less wasted time.
Understand Why You Got a Question Right or Wrong
Working through practice questions is an important activity for applying your knowledge and skills, but it also is the most time-consuming element when studying for the exam. Therefore, it is extremely important that your practice questions contain thorough and coherent answer explanations that teach you the fundamentals about the topic the question is representing, including why each answer choice is correct or incorrect.
Having good, detailed answer explanations will reinforce your knowledge about the content while also filling in any comprehension gaps. Thorough answer explanations eliminate the need to constantly refer back to lectures or textbooks to gain clarity; everything you need to know is already in front of you. This increases study efficiency by minimizing the need for memorization and maximizing retention and recall for exam day.
Making sure that you fully understand the what, why, and how behind each question ignites learning and will help you understand concepts more quickly and easily.
The career outlook for CPAs remains strong as demand for the position grows. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment growth for accountants will increase by 7% over the next eight years. There is no better time than now to obtain licensure. The sooner you pass the CPA Exam, the sooner you can reap the rewards of greater career opportunities and benefits.
Megan Burke, CPA, PhD, is an assistant professor of accounting at Texas Woman’s University and a content writer for UWorld Roger CPA Review.
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