You’ve waited, you’ve studied, you’ve prepped to no end. Now you need to know what you can do right before the CPA exam to give you the best chance of passing. To help you prep on exam day, check out the following ten tips for CPA test day that will help you before the exam, during the exam, and after the exam.
Before The Exam
1. Eat Meals You Know Won’t Mess With You – Don’t get McDonald’s breakfast if you don’t normally get it. You don’t want those greasy hashbrowns coming back to haunt you mid-testlet. Have a healthy breakfast, one that you normally have and one you know won’t upset your stomach.
2. Don’t Drink Too Much Coffee – My senior year of college, I thought I would be clever before my Cost Accounting final and get a large espresso drink from Starbucks… with an extra shot of espresso. I ended up not being able to write correctly, I was so shaky.
If you normally don’t drink coffee, DON’T HAVE COFFEE. If you do, have your normal amount. Besides being full of caffeine, coffee is also a diuretic. Which means it will clean your insides right out. Not something you want on exam day.
3. Make Sure You Have Two Forms of ID And Your NTS (And The Names On All Match) – You have to have your NTS to take the exam. It has your launch code on it, and without it, they won’t let you sit. DON’T FORGET YOUR NTS.
I would take your picture ID (the one the government issues you), and a credit card or student ID. Keep in mind, the names on your two forms of ID MUST MATCH the name on your NTS. If they don’t, you won’t be able to take the exam, and you’ll likely have to pay for a new NTS. No good all around.
4. Get To The Exam At Least Thirty Minutes Early – They have to check you in, check your ID, do the fingerprint, and give you the spiel before you can actually go in and sit to take the exam. Plus, if you’re there early, you’ll have time to do tip number 5.
5. Do Your Bathroom Thing Before The Exam – You get designated breaks during the exam that you can use to go to the restroom, but your body isn’t always on “break time”. Do whatever you need to do in the bathroom before the exam to make sure you’re ready to go when they call you in.
During The Exam
1. Write Down Hard Concepts At The Beginning – You’re going to get a laminated sheet of paper and a felt tip pen that you can use to write notes, figure out problems, etc. If there’s a concept that you’ve been having a hard time with, write it down as soon as you sit down. Then it’s out of your head and on the paper, and when it’s time to remember that concept, it’s right there in front of you.
2. Keep An Eye On The Time – Your computer will have a timer that shows how much time you have left overall for the exam. You should know how much time each exam takes and how much you should allot for each testlet.
All exams have 3 testlets and a SIM section, so break down your total time into four equal pieces. So, for example, if you’re taking FAR, you have four hours to complete all the questions. That means you should budget at least one hour for each section, and possibly less for the three testlets and more for the SIMS, depending on how you feel.
3. Use Breaks Wisely – You get breaks during the exam after each testlet, but your time continues to run. I would therefore use breaks wisely; that is, take them if you really need them but continue on if you don’t. The time on the exam is valuable.
After The Exam
1. Get Your Confirmation of Attendance Form – Make sure you’re provided with a Confirmation of Attendance Form after you finish your exam. It contains contact information should you need it, and supports the fact that you actually took the exam.
2. Celebrate (And Don’t Stress!) – Whether you feel like you passed or not, celebrate the fact that you took your CPA exam. Take the rest of the day off from studying and spend some time doing whatever you want to do. Don’t stress about scores; they’ll come out when they come out. No need to stress over something you have no control over.
For a super comprehensive look at the CPA exam from start to finish, including what to expect on exam day, check out this handy form that NASBA has put together. It’s a great tool for any questions you have about CPA exam day. And, as always, good luck my CPA friends!