Tips and Tricks for Passing the CPA Exam

If you want to become Certified Public Accountant (CPA) after you complete your online accounting degree, you’ll need to get licensed. This means that you’ll have to take and pass the Uniform CPA Examination. At Brescia University, we understand that the idea of taking the exam is stressful or intimidating for many students. We want to make sure you feel prepared and ready when the day of your examination comes, and our accounting degree program will teach you the knowledge and skills you need for a successful accounting career. However, that doesn’t mean that you won’t be nervous on test day. These are some tips and tricks that will keep you calm, cool and collected while you study for and take the CPA exam.

Before the exam:

  • Make a study schedule. 

    It’s important to make a detailed plan of attack when you start studying for the CPA exam. Concentrate on topics that you need to review the most, and make sure you save time to review previously studied material. Give yourself extra time (a week or two) before your exam date so that you can do a final overview before test day. Quiz yourself throughout your study process to make sure that you are retaining what you review as well.

  • Give yourself a break. 

    Even though it’s important to be adequately prepared for the exam, schedule days off throughout your study time to recharge and relax. Also, building days off into your study schedule ensures that you have days to make up study time that you may have to skip due to work or family responsibilities.

  • Use the right review materials.

    Because passing the CPA exam is vital to your future career, it is worth it to invest in quality study guides and aids. You may even want to sign up for a CPA review course. Make sure that your materials are not outdated and that they have a good reputation as far as exam results.

  • Build studying into your schedule.

    It’s almost impossible to review too much, so it is a good idea to bring some study materials with you wherever you go during the weeks before the test. Whenever you have free time (on your lunch break, on the bus or waiting in the doctor’s office) have flash cards or notes available so that you can review them. The more familiar you are with even the most difficult concepts, the more likely you are to understand them. It would be a good idea to download some materials onto your phone or tablet so that they are completely portable.

  • Get enough sleep.

    Making sleep a priority is the best way to keep from getting overwhelmed and exhausted during your study process. Try to consistently get enough rest and incorporate good sleep habits early on in your study process.

On test day:

  • It’s a marathon.

    Because the CPA exam is formatted in several different parts and multiple test periods, it is important to pace yourself while you are taking the exam. Don’t try to work too quickly or finish too early, because you will wear yourself out before the test is over. Although it’s important to work efficiently so that you have time to finish, try not to rush yourself.

  • Read the prep material.

    By the time test day comes, you will understandably be ready to get started and get the exam over with. However, it is very important to read all the introductory material given to you. This will help you understand what to expect. Aside from the test directions themselves, pay close attention to the Candidate Bulletin, which tells you what kinds of identification you need at the test center, as well as how to work through the introductory test screens. The Notice To Schedule (NTS) will tell you the section identification number for your scheduled exam sections as well. Finally, the Test Center Regulation Form tells you what items are not allowed at the test center.

  • Remember why you’re there.

    The most important thing you can do on test day is decide that you are going to do well. Be confident in what you know and how well you prepared, and remember that passing the exam is the first step to your new career as a CPA. This will keep you focused and motivated while you complete the exam.

Following these guidelines should help you feel less nervous and more prepared. Preparation is the best way to stay calm and feel confident, both while you study and on test day. For more information about Brescia’s accounting degree, visit our program page.