To become a certified public accountant, you must first pass the CPA exam. The exam is developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and uses the same questions for accountants in all U.S. states and territories. Covering four topic areas and taking approximately 14 hours to complete, it is considered the most challenging of all accounting tests. Use the following tips to increase your chances of passing the test on your first try.
1. Apply Early
The application process for the CPA exam is complex, so experts advise applying as soon as possible. Different states have different requirements when it comes to educational and work experience, required materials, and fees. Applying as soon as possible after graduation also takes advantage of your fresh knowledge and sharp test-taking skills.
2. Schedule Accordingly
The CPA exam consists of four sections, which can be taken individually or all together. Keep this in mind when scheduling your test. Consider your individual study habits; will you do better in one long marathon session, or is it easier to break it up over several days or weeks? You'll also need to work around your work schedule.
3. Find a Support Group
You don't have to study alone. Find a CPA study group online or in your local classified ads, and meet a few nights a week to study together and compare notes. It is easier to work out difficult material with other like-minded individuals. Meeting in person is not necessarily required; online study groups are also helpful for support. Even your non-CPA friends and family can get involved with supporting you by helping you with chores, respecting your study time, or just being available when you need a break. Don't be afraid to reach out.
4. Don't Cram
Trying to cram a bunch of knowledge into your head at the last minute is never a good idea. Remember, the CPA exam prepares you for your career; therefore, you need to really learn and know the material in order to succeed. Every Sunday, try scheduling your study week ahead of time, and stick with the plan as much as possible. Get familiar with exam-related material early and often; it will come naturally to you on test day and will lead to greater success.
5.Don't Neglect Your Health
The CPA exam is long and grueling, but studying to the point of exhaustion is not the way to go about it. It is extremely important to balance your days and include plenty of time for sleep, exercise and personal time. Taking care of yourself mentally and physically is important so that when test day comes, you feel healthy, strong, rested and prepared.
Passing the CPA exam is no easy feat. It requires a lot of diligent studying, hard work and peer support. By preparing yourself physically and mentally for the rigors of the test, you have a better chance of success. The professional benefits of passing the CPA exam and becoming certified are well worth the effort.
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