Plan It Out, Stick It Out

September 28, 2020

How to Make a Study Plan to Pass the CPA Exam

Adrienne Gonzales, in writing for Going Concern, states that, to pass all four parts of the exam, candidates need to “develop a study schedule and stick to it.” 

She Lists These 3 Steps to Create a Study Plan:

  • Choose the order in which you want to take the four parts,
  • Determine your time frame for testing, and
  • Allocate time per day or per week for the entire study period.  

In addition to studying for each of the four parts of the exam, the AICPA reminds us that there are important details to complete prior to testing and official materials to read. The Blueprints from the AICPA are a must-read, as is the Candidate Bulletin from NASBA. Additionally, the AICPA has tutorials and practice tests that help to simulate the testing experience.

Design A Battle Plan To Cover All Your Bases – Including Burnout Prevention

A workable study plan needs to include time for all these details and resources plus any current commitments. This Way to CPA has an article with eight tips for creating a successful study plan. A repeated note is the need for scheduled breaks and rest because preparing for the big exam takes several weeks or months and must work “not only with one’s professional schedule, but one’s personal life as well.” 

Building A CPA Exam Study Schedule

To illustrate, If I Were Making an Exam Prep Schedule, It Would Look Like This:

My Preferred Testing Order

  • REG – It’s the most difficult for me. My 18-month window doesn’t start counting down until I pass the first one, so I want to get my hardest test out of the way first.
  • AUD – It’s the next hardest for me, because it’s almost totally conceptual. I prefer calculations instead of conceptual questions.
  • FAR – Because I want to do BEC last.
  • BEC – The written communication portion can ask questions about a wide range of topics, so, if I take the other 3 exams first, I’ll be better prepared for written communication.

Testing Time Frame

  • I want to allow up to 2 years, because my family commitments are time-consuming. If I finish early, great! If I need to retake an exam or two, though, I want to have allocated the time to do so.

CPA Exercise Resources, Materials & Daily Schedule

  • The AICPA and NASBA have several free resources. Additionally, I will use a review course to enable me to have greater confidence that I’m covering all the needed information and that the study materials I’m using are up to date.
  • MDS CPA Review has 60+ hours of videos, 6,000+ CPA exam homework questions, 100+ simulations, flashcards and 4 books to read. I will probably need to study some topics more than once. Allowing only 5 minutes per multiple-choice question and 15 minutes per simulation, I need to allocate 525 hours just to complete homework one time. 
  • At my preferred study pace (slow and thorough), I see a commitment of 750 – 800 hours over the course of 2 years (730 days). So, if I can schedule 2 hours a day of studying, I will be a little ahead of my timeframe. This even allows for rest breaks and family activities, so it looks manageable.  
CPA Exam Review Course

Are You Ready to Prep For the CPA Exam?

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