Studying for the CPA exam can require hundreds of hours of study. In addition to a time commitment, CPA candidates must consider what resources they’ll need to study. Since there are so many choices (books, videos, online training), you may be overwhelmed by this decision. Before you spend money on study tools, check out these free CPA resources for the various parts of the exam.
Nothing is wasted. This quote is attributed to E.V. Lucas, and I really like it. This quote applies to the coursework you did to meet your state’s CPA requirements. You gathered a lot of useful information- don’t waste it! Use those textbooks from your accounting courses as a CPA study tool.
Here’s an example. The FAR test always asks questions about bond amortization. Say, for example, that an investor buys a $1,000 IBM corporate bond for $1,070. That $70 amount (above the $1,000 face amount) is called a premium. That premium needs to be amortized over the remaining life of the bond.
Most students need a chart of follow how amortization works. The chart can be connected to the journal entries required to post amortization. Every intermediate accounting textbook has this type of chart. Use that resource to study the concept.
If you’re still not sold on using your textbooks, consider this point. Many of the examples in your textbooks are familiar to you. Those are the examples you used to study in school- why not use the same examples for the CPA exam?
Class notes, handouts
In addition to you textbook, you can use your class notes and other handouts. Taking notes is your personal method for clarifying information. You listen to what is said, and then take notes.
If you’re in class learning a difficult concept, you may have taken more notes than normal. Also, your professor may have handed out more information to explain a tough concept. If you have those materials, they can serve as a great study tool.
There is some great information on the AICPA’s website. You can download a document that goes into great detail about each topic covered on the CPA exam. It’s a good way to make sure you cover all of the exam topics. The AICPA also provides tutorials and sample tests for the exam.
University lectures, handouts, videos
Performing a general search on the web does not always provide reliable information. However, when you Google an accounting topic, take a look at the first few search results that are from a university. Many accounting professors post their lectures notes, PowerPoint slides and even videos on the web. I’ve found some great free resources from university professors.
Help from friends
Check with co-workers, peers and supervisors who have taken the exam. They may have a textbook, lecture notes or some other resource that helped them study for the exam. If something was really useful, they may still have that resource.
Gather all of these free resources before you start to study for the exam. Many CPA candidates invest in test prep courses. Before you make that investment, consider your free resources. You may be able to cut down on your test prep investment, if you have some useful free tools. Use all of these tips to prepare for the CPA exam.