You’ve had hundreds of nights before an exam, but you’ve never had a night before the CPA exam. You know this one is going to be tough, probably the hardest exam you’ll ever take (the first one always seems the hardest). So how do you prepare yourself for that?
As usual, it depends on the person. In this post, we’ll explore two schools of thought: cram like crazy and chill out.
Get Your Cram On
You’ve decided to go for option A and give yourself extra security before the exam. And who could blame you? With an average 50% passing rate, you need all the help you can get.
Remember to set priorities when you cram or it may feel like you aren’t accomplishing anything. Peruse all your study materials, keeping the big picture in mind. Then, find areas where you feel you’re especially weak and work on them as much as possible the night before.
You should try to take a little time to relax your brain before you go to bed. I know it seems like resting time is wasted time, but it may give your mind the break it needs before pulling out all of the exam information. Stop studying right before dinner and take the rest of the evening off.
Take It Easy
If you’re like me (and most people!), you like to give yourself a small reward before you take the exam. You know that cramming really doesn’t work for you and your mind typically wanders when you try to study under stress. Your brain loves pre-exam breaks.
You should do a surface level overview in the morning the day before your exam, and work on any weak spots. Then take the afternoon off to hang out with friends, get some exercise in, or Netflix and chill. Hot baths are always a good choice.
Tips For Everyone
Whether you’re a crammer or a chiller, you can benefit from several tips to get you in shape before your exam:
- The night before, eat a light, healthy dinner. A heavy dinner may make you feel sluggish in the morning.
- Save the address of your testing center into whatever map app you like. You don’t want to be rushing around trying to find it in the morning.
- Set two alarms.
- Put the electronics away and relax before bed. If you get crazy nervous, you aren’t going to be able to sleep. Sleepy brain = sad brain.
- Eat a light breakfast. Those three McGriddles may seem like a good idea, but I assure you that halfway through the exam they won’t be.
- Wear comfortable clothes that you can sit in for 3 or 4 hours.
- Get to your exam at least fifteen minutes early. If you’re an early birdie, you can perform tip 5 or start the exam early.
- Do some cramming right before your exam. When you get in the exam room, they’ll give you a laminated pad and a marker where you can write notes. Write down everything you remember on difficult topics or on topics you think are essential. Then when those topics come up, you can simply look at your pad.
When You’re Done
Walk out into the sunshine, rejoice that you’ve taken your first exam, and take the rest of the day off! You’ll need some time to recover before you start studying for the next one. And don’t dwell on how you think you did. It’s over now, so there’s no point!
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