Tips for the CPA Exam

Gina Deveney
Posted by in Accounting, Auditing & Tax

For professionals who want to become certified public accountants (CPAs), the CPA exam is a career requirement. The test enables you to practice as a CPA, which can increase your credibility and earning potential. By following tried-and-tested exam tips, you can increase your chances of passing on the first attempt.

For aspiring accounting professionals, the CPA exam is one of the most important accounting tests. It is designed and developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and stays the same for accountants in all American states and US territories. The exam covers four topic areas and tests knowledge of US code as it relates to accounting. It takes approximately fourteen hours to complete, making it the most challenging of all accounting tests.

Most accountants and accounting resources advise you to take the CPA exam as early as possible after college graduation, while your knowledge is still fresh and your test-taking skills are sharp. Because the application process is complex, you should apply as soon as possible. Pay special attention to the application requirements, which differ from state to state. Regardless of your location, at a minimum you will need to provide official college transcripts and an application fee; most states also have specific educational and work experience requirements.

The application process for the CPA exam usually takes between four and eight weeks, if you have followed directions carefully and included all required materials. Once you are approved, it may take time to receive a testing location appointment. You can take the four sections together or individually, in any order. Given all of the variables, scheduling is key, particularly if you are working in a full-time position.

According to the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, it is likely that you will fail one or more sections of the CPA exam the first time around. Choosing a dedicated program of study can help increase your chances of passing. When selecting a course, take into account your individual learning style. If you find it easy to focus and commit on your own, a self-study course or online review may be enough. If you need a more dynamic environment, a live review class is probably a better option. A well-known source of review materials is the Thomson Reuters CPE line, which, according to a recent story on AccountingWEB, now includes products from Bisk Education.

Many CPA test-takers focus solely on the material, but neglect personal health. The CPA process is long and often grueling. To help stay on track with working, studying, applying, and testing, it is important to take care of yourself by cultivating regular sleep habits and sticking to a schedule that allows personal time. In doing so, you can ensure that you will be mentally and physically healthy on test day.

The path to CPA certification is long and difficult, but comes with significant professional benefits. By preparing your mind and body for the rigors of the CPA exam, you can boost your chances of success.

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