Regardless if it’s your first time taking the CPA exam or your next attempt at passing, studying for all four tests can be very overwhelming. People have passed the exam with a variety of tips, but the key is finding which ones work best for you. So, whether you just started studying or need some helpful last minute study tips, the following tips below are here to save you.
- Download old CPA questions! These are often the basis for future CPA exam questions.
- Don’t just answer questions, study the answer explanations – these are huge! They often contain great little bits of information on how they could trick you or how a slight change in the details of that question can be important. Don’t just look at the answer explanations for the correct answer. It’s often the explanations of the wrong answers that may serve as the basis for new and different questions.
- For Audit: Do questions! Then DO MORE QUESTIONS! Memorize! Here is the thing with audit, it’s very heavy in theory and there are only so many ways to ask the same questions. This test is all about association and recall. Meaning the same thought process applies for the theory portions of the other exams.
- Don’t just practice the “How” practice the “WHY” – When doing practice problems take the extra step and do the extra work. While you want to know how to answer questions quickly when taking the exam, it really helps to cement your understanding of a subject matter. This can be done by thinking through the problem entirely and doing the extra work. For example, write out the journal entries, make T-accounts, change the question up and think about how changes in the context and or details would impact the answer (if the question asks for IFRS also do the GAAP and then compare).
- Crunch Time – When you’re 72 hours away from your exam, spend the next 48 hours on your weak points – only reading and practicing the things you don’t know. So, if you know the answer and or how to solve a problem then just SKIP IT and move on! This sounds easy in theory, but we are wired to want to reward ourselves by doing the things we are good at like getting a right answer. If you want to get better, you must fight that urge! Then, within the hours until test time, feel free to review everything.
- During the exam, time is key – So don’t waste it on things you don’t know! Within each section you can move from question to question. First, answer the questions you know, as they won’t take any time. Second, answer the questions you know how to do, but will take some time. Third, answer the questions you are not as confident on and will take some time, but set a time limit and don’t go over that limit. Even if it means you’re guessing, don’t be fooled by sunk costs. On the questions where you have no idea, just take a wild guess (you can always go with answer “C”), but don’t waste your valuable time on the things you just don’t know.