CPA (Certified Public Accountant) is a highly sought after career choice. Choosing to pursue this course and obtain a CPA designation is one of the best career decisions that you can make. For CPAs, there are ample jobs with lucrative pay rates and great career growth opportunities. Since this is a globally pursued qualification, you need to pursue the course with a well defined and effective exam strategy.
The first important thing to understand about this exam is the candidate requirements that you need to fulfill. These can vary from one region to another. Hence, you must be careful to prepare according to the requirements specific to your region. It will help you familiarize yourself with the exam and what are the things you should prepare for.
1) Exam Content and Methodology
Each exam has its own content and methodology. While preparing for a career-defining evaluation like CPA, it is important that you understand the content of each segment and are able to comprehend what skill is being tested in any given segment of the exam. Apart from acquainting yourself with the various knowledge areas, you must also get used to the exam’s format. There are plenty of sample test options available for each section. You should practice those and understand the working of the exam software.
2) Time Management
To achieve every good thing in life, time management is a key process and the CPA exam is no different. From the time you register for the exam, there is an 18-month window to pass it. Hence, you need a practical schedule that makes provision for the number of hours you spend on preparing for each section. Depending upon factors like the topic, your grasp of the particular subject, and the individual pace of learning, it can take from 100 to 200 hours of studies to be exam ready for each section.
3) Test Center Strategy
You must have a clear strategy on how to follow the instructions of your Prometric test center even before you reach there. Usually, there is a very strict check and they are really serious about thwarting any attempts to cheat in the exam. Calculators, pens, and all forms of gadgets are strictly prohibited in the exam center. Further, they might take any necessary steps related to candidate verification and screening. In short, you should be ready for at least an airport level entry check.
4) Focus on the task in hand
Spending 200 hours of study time might appear easy at first glance, but, if you calculate comfortably, it is not a walk in the park. You need to be focused and have a regular study plan to ensure being exam ready.
5) Create a study group
Every year, there is a large number of candidates who take the CPA exam. Thus, you are neither an exception nor alone in your quest for the CPA license. You can connect with others to form a study group. Further, you should also create a support group for advice and encouragement. This can include your family, friends, office colleagues, etc. At times, employers also support their employees and you must inform your current employer about preparing for the exam. It is not unheard of the employers to offer their employees paid leaves to study, offer financial assistance, or simply motivate you throughout your preparation.
6) Don’t overexert yourself
There is no doubt that you need to study really hard and with a dedication to clear the CPA exam, but, you should not ignore your personal wellness and relaxation in this period. Adequate food and sleep are important for your physical and mental concentration. Take a break if you feel fatigued and rejuvenate yourself before pressing further with the studies. Don’t go overboard with tests or revisions.
7) Failure is not the end
Good preparation is likely to carry you through, but winning is not everything, always. In case you don’t get through your first attempt at CPA, don’t lose heart. CPA exams do not count your number of attempts. In fact, the final scorecard only mentions the scores of the exams that you passed. AICPA will also send you an email, to share your areas of improvement, on a topic and section-wise basis. Use this as an opportunity to improve on what you missed and prepare better for your next attempt.
8) Get a mentor
Professional help is always a great help in exams like CPA. If possible, get enrolled with a good mentor. The experience of such mentoring/exam courses will help you prepare better and enhance your chances of success at the exam.