The CPA exam, which is really a collection of tests, is known as one of the most difficult examinations in the world. And if you’re serious about passing it, you’ll need to develop a meticulous study plan and intentional process.
What Makes the CPA Exam So Difficult?
It’s no secret that the CPA exam is one of the most difficult professional exams on the planet. But have you ever considered why that is? In other words, why do roughly half of all applicants fail the exam when they take it? Here are a few explanations:
- Technical nature of the material. For starters, the material is challenging. It’s highly technical in nature and isn’t something you can fake your way through. You either know the answers or you don’t.
- Amount of material. Secondly, the exam is massive! There are four sections – each of which has a multi-hour exam attached to it. (That’s a lot of knowledge to retain.)
- Time investment. By one estimate, it takes somewhere between 80-100 hours just to study and pass a single section. So if you want to pass the entire exam, you must be willing to put in at least 300 to 400 hours of study time. If you’re working a full-time job or have a family, this is a major time commitment.
- Rigors of exam day. Finally, you have to deal with the beast that is exam day. Sitting for several hours in front of a computer answering questions is enough to make anyone’s eyes glaze over. If you aren’t prepared for this unique setup, execution will be difficult.
4 CPA Exam Prep Tips
When you combine these factors, it becomes clear why so few people pass the exam on an annual basis. However, you can rest assured there are ways to increase your own odds for success. Here are some tips:
1. Give Yourself Plenty of Time
The CPA exam isn’t something you decide to take one month and then sit for the next. It takes months of preparation to get to a point where you’re ready and able to sit for the exam. The key is to give yourself ample room in your schedule to make studying a priority. Cramming isn’t an option. You’ll need to devote a considerable portion of your daily time far in advance.
2. Take a CPA Exam Review Course
There are tons of free exam review resources on the internet, but they’re all going to give you the same basics. If you want to take a deep dive into the intricacies of the exam and become immersed in the latest topics, you’ll need to take a CPA exam review course.
A CPA exam review course not only gives you the right curriculum, but it familiarizes you with the exam format and gives you access to expert instructors who know the exam inside and out.
3. Simulate the Exam
Anything you can do to prepare yourself for how the exam will be administered on exam day is going to help you in a significant way. And one of the best options is to sit for simulated exams and mock tests.
Simulated exams follow the exact format and time constraints of the actual exam. And the more you take these practice run-throughs, the more natural it feels. It’s recommended that you take at least two simulated exams before sitting for the real thing.
4. Prepare for the Nuances of Exam Day
Speaking of the real thing, it’s helpful to prepare for all of the little nuances of exam day. You should have a game plan for how you’ll manage your time, what you’ll do prior to the exam, and ways you can get your mind right.
When the morning of exam day arrives, you shouldn’t feel stressed about cramming. Instead, you should feel so prepared that you’re able to relax your mind and walk into the testing center with a sense of peace. The only way to make this happen is by preparing ahead of time.
Pass With Confidence
It doesn’t matter who you are, what your previous accolades are, or what you think you know. The CPA exam is difficult! And the only way to ensure you’re successful is to put in the prep work. By carving out the time required to study, and immersing yourself in the right material, you can approach exam day with confidence. Best of luck!