Obviously, we give you great tips on both the basics of each exam and specific exam sections. But the best CPA advice has to do with studying. Because, honestly, studying is going to take over your life for the next year. So check out our tips to prepare you for the exam. And use them to conquer the beast.
1. Know Your Learning Style
I started out watching lectures, going to class, and reading a review course. By my third exam, I was only reading the review course. Why? Because I learn best by reading. I would fall asleep during the video lectures and draw in my notebook when I was in class. It was a waste of my precious study time.
At this point, you should know which learning style works for you. If you’re an audio learner, you might like video lectures. If you learn best in groups, a class could be perfect. It’s really important to know what works for you so you don’t waste time on learning styles that aren’t helping you progress.
2. Review, Review, Review
Have you seen a FAR review course book? It’s MASSIVE. Therefore, it’s really easy to forget what was in the first chapter once you’re on chapter 11. Luckily, there are ways to combat this temporary memory loss.
You’re heard teachers and professors say it a million times, but it’s really important to review. When I was studying, I would do a quick review of each chapter before starting the next chapter. Then when you do your hard-core review before your exam, you remember most of the early stuff. You can focus more on concepts that you aren’t solid on as opposed to focusing on every single thing.
3. Set A Media Schedule… AND STICK TO IT
It’s really easy to spend an hour on Facebook and not even realize it. I literally do it once a week. And that being so easy consequently makes missing out on an hour of study time really easy.
The best way to conquer this time suck is to set a media schedule. Because, let’s be real, we want to know what’s going on in the world outside of CPA studying. And that’s totally cool. But learn to limit it. Set a time each day where you are allowed to check social media, read up on the latest news and watch cat videos on YouTube. Give yourself an hour and go nuts. But when it’s time to stop, it’s time to stop.
Keep in mind, THIS INCLUDES PERUSING CPA BLOGS. Seriously, if you’ve been scrolling through our awesome advice for the last 5 hours, you need to turn off your computer and go study. Reading blogs does not a CPA make.
4. Have Fun (Impossible You Say? Not So!)
When I started studying, I planned to join a beach volleyball league that played once a week. The point was to do absolutely no studying on that day. Unless you’re a super human studier, you need breaks. And while it’s important to take small breaks throughout the day, I find it’ even more refreshing to take one huge break once a week and do something fun. It resets both body and mind.
5. Find Motivation
Getting A Bonus
Getting a Job
Proving All The Haters Wrong
Passing This Last Exam Because If I Don’t My First Exam Will Expire!
Hopefully you don’t have to deal with the last one, but write down your personal motivations and on a list and keep that list in a place you see every day. If you get down, read the list. Then watch cat videos. Then get back to studying.
6. Get Away
I’m a huge proponent of becoming a hermit in order to study. For me, it meant living at my parents’ and getting thousands of miles away from friends. Some people either can’t do that or don’t want to. But you should try to have as much alone time for studying as possible. Maybe that means hitting the books at your local library or moving into your own place. But let yourself get away to study.
7. Create A Rewards Program
Just like finding motivation pushes you to study, being rewarded helps you keep going. Rewards should be used sparingly, but not only when you pass an exam. Use them if you get a great score on a practice exam or you finally grasp a concept that has evaded you for the last few weeks.
Good luck, my CPA friends!