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The Early Bird Passes the CPA Exam

Research shows that the sooner candidates take the CPA Exam after graduation the more likely they are to pass. If you are a recent or soon-to-be college graduate, consider the top four reasons why you should take the CPA Exam as soon as you can.

Feb 7, 2023, 22:30 PM

This blog was provided by Surgent CPA Review, a Partner Level sponsor of the Pennsylvania CPA Foundation.

Jack CastonguayBy Jack Castonguay, CPA, PhD

Your college graduation is imminent, and you certainly deserve a break from hitting the books. However, now actually is the ideal time to take and pass all four sections of the CPA Exam. For accountants, the CPA credential is the key to career advancement, and what better way to embark on your new career with this hurdle already cleared.

The CPA Exam requires you to pass all four sections within an 18-month window. But did you also know that research from the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) consistently show that the sooner candidates take the CPA Exam after graduation the more likely they are to pass?

With this in mind, you should be aware that new legislation that amends the Pennsylvania CPA Law passed at the end of 2022. The bill updates the law to allow an applicant for licensure to sit for the CPA Exam upon completing 120 semester credits, without a degree being conferred.

So, if you’re a recent or soon-to-be college graduate, consider the top four reasons why you should take the CPA Exam as soon as you can.

Peak Performance

"CPA Exam" as if on blueprints in schematic style.Look through the content blueprints of the CPA Exam, and memories of your college career will come flooding back. Audits. Tax. Accounting 101. Advanced Accounting. All of it is on the exam.

If you sit for the exam in the months around the time the time your college career comes to a close, you’re not starting at zero. You’ll still need the help of exam prep to review all the information and topics that may have not been emphasized in your accounting studies, but much of it is fresh in your mind and easily recalled. It might seem intimidating to cram four or five years of college learning into a four-part exam, but with the proper review materials you can make sense of the concepts you’ve already learned and can expect to see again.

You’re Already in Study Mode

You spent years honing a study routine that maximized the use of your time and sent you into exams at peak performance. You also may remember the challenges of trying to resume that routine in the fall semester after a summer off.

Now, imagine trying to dust off that routine after you’ve been working for a few years. Your life has grown richer, so you’re juggling your career, friends, family, and volunteer commitments. You’ve developed an approach that maintains work-life balance, but the pressure is on to earn that CPA. Cramming a forgotten study discipline into your schedule makes the process much harder than it has to be. Plus, do you really want to study for an exam after working a full day once you begin your career? I think not.

When you’re fresh out of college, your ingrained study habits make prepping for the CPA Exam an easy pivot. Why not take advantage of the information still fresh in your brain and keep the momentum going? There’s no better opportunity to utilize everything you’ve learned about time management and study tactics. Plus, your total time investment will be less now than it would be in a few years.

Earn More Money Earlier in Your Career

CPAs earn more money than accountants without a CPA, so the sooner you get your credential the more you’ll be making. In fact, compared to their uncertified counterparts, CPAs can earn up to $1 million more over the course of their careers. The money starts accruing earlier in your career, putting you on a fast track to your financial goals.

As an added incentive, many firms give out bonuses for candidates who pass the CPA Exam in an allotted time. Before you begin your career, you’ll likely be taxed at a lower rate, so you’ll get to keep more of that bonus! You also will make yourself more marketable for the best jobs available and will advance more quickly than your peers.

Gain a Competitive Advantage

Top employers want to see initiative, self-motivation, and perseverance. If you already have a position in an accounting firm, immediately pursuing your CPA credential signals that you are serious about career advancement and about continuously adding to your repertoire of skills.

If you’re still looking for a job, take advantage of your available time and pin down that CPA. This could be the only time in your life when other obligations aren’t standing in the way. Plus, the sooner you start, the more motivation you have to finish. You’ll have an edge in job interviews, and maybe you’ll even have time for an abbreviated but well-earned stay at the beach or in the mountains.

Surgent Can Help Jump-Start Your Career

The advantages of studying for the CPA Exam close to graduation are clear. You’re primed for success. You’re not shoehorning study time into a schedule loaded with new obligations. You’ll earn more money sooner. And you’ll be a prize candidate on the job market.

Surgent CPA Review can make it even easier. We can bring you up to speed and make your study time count with these exclusive features:

  • A.S.A.P. Technology: Adaptive learning assesses what you know and need to know so you spend time shoring up weaknesses to help prepare you for the CPA Exam faster.
  • ReadySCORE: ReadySCORE predicts your likely score if you were to sit for the test that day, minimizing the guesswork on when you’re ready to take the exam.
  • Daily Surge: Your time matters. Daily Surge cards appear every time you log in, suggesting the topics you need to cover to stay on track.
  • MyMCQ: Customized multiple-choice practice questions push you to learn more challenging concepts with each round so you don’t waste time studying for questions you have already mastered.
  • 100% pass guarantee: Surgent’s pass guarantee means you don’t lose your prep course investment if something goes wrong.

You want more effectiveness and less study time: to study smarter, not longer. Surgent CPA Review can help you get your career off to a running start. Plus, Surgent’s special student pricing makes it affordable. Learn more about what Surgent has to offer by signing up for a free trial of Surgent’s CPA Review and look forward to a future of passing the CPA Exam with flying colors! Make the next time you take the CPA Exam your last time by partnering with Surgent.

Jack Castonguay, CPA, PhD, serves as vice president of strategic content development for Surgent CPA Review in Radnor, Pa. He can be reached at castonguayj@knowfully.com.

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PICPA Staff Contributors


Statements of fact and opinion are the authors’ responsibility alone and do not imply an opinion on the part of PICPA officers or members. The information contained in herein does not constitute accounting, legal, or professional advice. For professional advice, please engage or consult a qualified professional.

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