The CPA exam is a big commitment of both time and money. In addition to the cost of your undergraduate coursework, you may purchase a CPA review course or a set of review books. In some cases, CPA candidates hire personal tutors to help them get through the exam. This addition expense that may be difficult to afford, so ask yourself these questions to make an informed decision about hiring a tutor.
How long has it been since you earned your accounting degree?
Even if you work in the accounting field, it’s not possible to stay on top of every issue that’s covered on the CPA exam. Like any body of knowledge, your recall starts to fade over the years. If it’s been several years since you took your college courses, it will take more time to prepare for the CPA exam.
Do you work as an accountant now?
If you work as an internal auditor, the auditing test will include many topics that you work with everyday, such as audit report language and selecting a sample for auditing test work. While you work in audit, you probably don’t recall many tax concepts, so tax topics will require more study time.
If you work in operations management, on the other hand, you make many of the business decisions that are tested on the CPA exam, such as a sell or process further decision. If this is your career path, auditing and tax may be a weakness for you.
Is writing a challenge for you?
The business environment and concepts (BEC) test is the only test that requires you to write essay questions. If writing is a weakness for you, you might consider getting help with this specific area. It’s not a big portion of the total exam, but you can learn how to write more effectively and gain more points on the BEC test.
Have you taken some of the tests and not passed?
I did online tutoring for accounting students for about three years, and this situation was always the toughest one to address. Let’s say that you took the BEC test and got within 5% of a passing grade. Do you need a tutor to get over the hump and pass the test, or do you simply need to put in more study time on your own? It’s tough to know the right answer.
My suggestion for tutors
Here is how I would approach the tutor issue. First, create a plan of study and put in the time suggested for each test (you’ll need to spend 100 hours or more on each test). Second, I strongly recommend that CPA candidates take the Becker CPA Review course. Now, Becker is the most expensive, so if you can’t afford it, consider some of the other review courses.
Start a list of the exam areas that are the most difficult and that you can’t seem to nail down. If you took a test and didn’t pass, you’ll get access to a test report that explains which areas had the lowest scores. Find a tutor by asking school friends, your college placement office, or by finding online reviews.
Book an hour with that tutor to go through your list of questions and see how it goes. If you’re getting results, book another hour. I would not work with a tutor who requires you to book more than one hour at a time, because good tutors can generate repeat business without asking for a big time commitment.
Preparing for the CPA exam can be expensive, so before you start working with a tutor, consider these tips. Figure out a test preparation system that works for you.