Studying for the CPA while traveling sounds impossible; how can you possibly marry the beauty of travel with the arduousness of the CPA exam? But, never fear, it is possible! You just have to do a little planning.
1. Get Your NTS Ducks In A Row Before You Leave
Depending on where you’re traveling, you may have spotty internet, or no internet at all. While testing materials are easily downloaded, applying for your NTS may not be so simple. I would be sure to have your NTS for whatever exam you’re studying for BEFORE you leave. If you don’t, you may not be able to apply for it until you get home, which will set you back for taking the actual exam.
If you’re going to be traveling for a long period of time, I would also recommend scheduling your exam before you leave, depending on how you feel. For example, maybe you’re going on a three-month tour of Europe and you decide not to schedule your BEC exam before you get home.
You study during your trip and find that, when you get home, you’ve finished all the materials and are ready to review for the exam. You get on the Prometric site, but find there are no available dates for the exam for the next month (not uncommon). So you’ll essentially waste two weeks of time (assuming your review takes the full two weeks) that could otherwise be spent studying for the next exam. And as you know, time is precious when you have an 18-month window to pass all four.
It really depends on how long your trip is, but I would at least get your NTS before the trip, and maybe schedule your exam before (or during) the trip also.
2. Create Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Goals
Goals are incredibly important while you’re prepping for the CPA while traveling. I feel I’m more likely to get things done if I have a concrete idea of what those things are. You might set a daily goal of reading ten pages, listening to one lecture, doing 50 flash cards, or doing 50 multiple choice questions. Weekly goals might be doing one practice test or finishing an entire section.
Keep in mind how busy your schedule is going to be when setting goals. Don’t make a daily goal of reading 100 pages if you also plan on visiting the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower on the same day.
Making goals is a great place to start, but make sure you stick with them. Having a plan going into your travels is going to make studying much easier. As long as you stick with it.
3. Use Travel Time To Your Advantage
Whether you’re going on a ten-day vacation or backpacking the Andes, you’re going to have travel time. Set a goal to always accomplish something study related during your commutes. Read or listen to lectures on the plane, do practice questions while on the light rail. Use these relatively boring times to your CPA advantage.
Another way to get study time in for the CPA while traveling is listen to an audio lecture or flashcards in line. If you’re visiting any popular tourist spots, you’re likely going to be standing in some sort of line. Stick those ear buds in and listen to CPA stuff while you people watch.
4. Pencil Study Time In
We already talked about setting goals, but it’s also important to pencil study time into each day and let your traveling companions know. You could get up an hour early or simply say “I’m studying between 3-4pm every day.”
Having a set time that you study will ensure that (1) you’re studying every day and (2) your friends know you are studying every day. Both of these will be incredibly beneficial if you’re going to reach your studying goals.
5. Become Friends With Technology
The best part about studying in this time and age is that there are multiple outlets for studying with technology. You can listen to or watch lectures, bring the physical software with you, and download study materials and questions.
Make sure that you have all of this figured out before your trip. Get everything downloaded and bring any books you need with you, though I would recommend limiting the number of physical books. I mean, sure, carrying all that around will make sure I work off the constant pasta and pizza I’ll be eating in Italy, but I’m not sure it’s worth it (the books, not the pizza. The pizza is so worth it).
It’s a great idea to download the audio files for lectures too. If you guys take a break at a local park during the day, you can pop your earbuds in and listen to a lecture. I know, it totally ruins the picture-perfect park scene, but passing the CPA exam means you’ll probably have the funds to come back here and enjoy it fully someday.
And lastly, make sure you have a good time. Passing the CPA exam is going to be pivotal for your career, but enjoying the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of travel are going to be monumental in the overall scheme of your life. Make sure you enjoy every second that you can.
As always, good luck my (traveling) CPA friends!