CPA Exam Study Tips

August 27, 2020

Get The Most Out Of Your Preparation Efforts & Energy

There’s only a certain amount of hours in each day. You can’t – nor should you – spend all of those precious hours studying for the CPA Exam! Efficiency is key and a thorough understanding is paramount. Throughout our tenure, we have observed some advantageous studying habits and processes that have helped many CPA candidates defeat this almighty test. We’ve gathered those time-saving best practices for you here!

Be Prepared Before Class

  • Gather book(s), highlighters, notebook, calculator and pen or pencil.
  • Read ahead and make notes about challenging topics.
  • Going to class prepared with questions allows you to make better use of the instructor’s availability, time and expertise.

Be Engaged While In-Class

  • Follow along in your book with the instructor’s lesson, highlighting areas that are emphasized.
  • Make notes of examples and comments, especially for troublesome topics.
  • Ask specific, detailed questions. For example:

Good Question 

How is the effective interest method used for bond premium amortization? 

Poor Question

How do bonds work?

Resources That Come With Your CPA Exam Study Program

What other resources are available to you? Flashcards? Contacting the instructor with questions? Tutoring? Familiarize yourself with all available tools and resources and use them to your advantage.

Other General Resources

Internet searches are helpful, but make sure the answers you find are current, correct and from authoritative sites. Information at AICPA, NASBA and other sites of their caliber are great, but watch out for chat rooms and old links on the web. Accounting regulations and tax laws update often, so an older post may contain outdated, incorrect material.

Homework: Mastering Concepts & Exploring Real-Life Situations

Homework questions are designed to represent the content of the exam, so using the homework questions as a guideline for in-depth studying produces greater mastery of concepts, terminology and applications.

Studying For The CPA Exam

CPA Homework Study Steps: 

  • Start with the question. In a given homework problem, skim down and find the question asked. This is the single most important study tip that every single candidate can use every single time.
  • Find keywords or phrases in that question and highlight them.
  • Look up those words and phrases in your book to be certain of their meaning and applications.
  • Look at the information given in the homework problem to find the details that correspond with the keywords mentioned in the question and highlight them. Most homework problems provide unneeded extra information that can be eliminated.
  • Find a similar example problem in the book, if possible, to see what steps were used to solve it.
  • Solve the homework problem and see if the answer you derived is one of the provided choices.
  • If a worked-out solution of the homework question is available, study it, even if you got the answer right. If you answer a question correctly by guessing, treat it as if you missed it.

CPA Exam Studying: Going Beyond Finding The Right Answer

Look at the incorrect answers and notice why they are incorrect. Most incorrect solutions are based upon common errors. Learning what not to do (what errors to avoid) is just as important as learning how to solve the problem correctly. For example:

  1. An incorrect answer may be the sub-total in the correct answer.
  2. An incorrect answer may be based upon some of the unneeded details that should have been eliminated.
  3. An incorrect answer can be based on forgetting a negative sign.
  4. If a question contains, “not” or “except,” an incorrect answer can be the answer derived if “not” or “except” is overlooked.

Get The Reinforcement You Need

  • Watch the class video again..
  • Review highlighted sections in the book.
  • Use flashcards to gain proficiency with terminology, concepts and formulas.

Need Help Preparing for the CPA Exam?

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