Top Tips to Pass CPA Exam

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You must first pass the Uniform CPA Exam if you intend to become a certified public accountant (CPA). It is not a simple task. You have four hours to complete each of the four areas of this standardized test: Financial Accounting and Reporting, Business Environment and Concepts, Regulations and Auditing and Attestation.

You must complete the exam within 18 months with a score of 75 on each of the four areas in order to succeed. While some test takers choose to complete two, three, or all four sections during a single testing window, others prefer to complete one section at a time. 

The median CPA Exam pass percentage for each section has historically been between 45-55%. However, the CPA exam pass rates should not discourage you because they do not indicate that you cannot pass. There are a lot of tips and tricks available that will teach you various strategies for passing the CPA Exam, however, here is no shortcut to clearing the CPA Exam, even though some of them are beneficial. 

Studying is the one activity that has been proven to guarantee success time and again. Even while it may sound simple and clear, there are instances when it's easier said than done, especially if you are a busy student or working professional with numerous obligations.

Regardless of your path, passing the CPA test requires a significant amount of study. But don't fear: proper preparation, the right tools, and the tips below will help you reach your goals.

Tips to Pass the CPA Exam

The CPA exam assesses your understanding of a vast amount of information as well as your ability to apply it. It's a challenging test with multiple-choice questions, task-based simulations, and brief writing assignments. To pass, you must score 75 points on each of the four parts, however, because each question has a varying point value based on its difficulty level, you may not need to answer 75% of the questions correctly.

Each question has a varying point value depending on how tough it is; therefore, you may not need to accurately answer 75% of the questions to receive 75 points in each of the four parts to pass. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) reports that around half of all test-takers pass the exam section(s) they try; however, the passing percentage falls to 20% for those who attempt to finish all four portions at once. The Elijah Sells Award is given to candidates who receive an average composite score of above 95.5 on all four CPA test parts when taken in one sitting, and only a very small percentage, 0.1% in 2020, receive it.

1. Create a plan

The CPA exam has 4 sections, and it must be fully completed in 18 months. Since the examination is only conducted four times a year, you should make a plan for passing them on time. As soon as you finish your first section, the timer begins to run. The loss of a passing section and the requirement to repeat it would be terrible if the 18-month timeframe had already passed. Consider work schedules and upcoming events in your life, and leave some room in your plan for the unexpected as well.

2. Consider The Section Order

The "optimal" sequence to take the exam sections is hotly debated among CPAs. Some argue that taking each subject as near to the associated college course as feasible keeps the content fresh in your mind. Other CPA veterans advise taking the AUD portion after working as an auditor. Others advise reserving the simplest portion until last, which might be the BEC section because it has the greatest passing rate. In comparison, you would wish to start the 18-month clock after clearing the part with the least passing rate, FAR. Furthermore, many test takers try multiple sections at the same time, in any number of combinations. All to say, there is no such thing as a magic sequence, so carefully adjust yours to your own circumstances.

3. Create A Realistic Study Plan

The CPA exam is difficult and time-consuming to prepare for. Don't try to cram. Instead, begin early by creating a study plan that begins at least 10 to 12 weeks before the exam. The timetable should be reasonable and adapted to your needs. Whenever feasible, aim to organize short study blocks of 60 to 90 minutes instead of lengthy sessions, as research reveals that many people's cognition is less effective during longer study periods.

Keep in mind that being highly ambitious might lead to failure and a downward spiral of feeling unmotivated. Instead, give some flexible space in the study plan to deal with unforeseen life occurrences or something as basic as needing an additional day to completely learn things you haven't covered before.

4. Use study tools

Examine the several accessible study tools to see which ones meet your budget. On its website, the AICPA provides several free materials, such as CPA Exam Blueprints, practice exams, and advanced access to its research database. Blueprints identify which material areas are and are not evaluated in each part, assisting you in focusing your study. The blueprints are especially crucial right now since the AICPA is modifying parts of the content covered, emphasizing some areas and removing others, as part of its initiative to restructure the examination by 2024.

The sample exams can be a useful diagnostic tool for identifying your strengths and limitations, which can then help you organize your studies. Access to the research database in advance allows test takers to become acquainted with the tool before using it on a real test. Aside from free study tools, there are several fee-based CPA review courses available that give a study framework and content. Choose the one that best matches your learning style.

5. Take Mock Exams

To test topic proficiency, the AICPA database of past exam questions can be useful. After studying one topic, take a series of mock exam questions before going on to the next topic. The mock exams are also critical to becoming acquainted with the format of the examinations themselves. Taking practice examinations exposes you to the three sorts of questions that are commonly used: multiple choice, task-based simulations, and essays. Taking practice tests is the greatest method to establish the proper pace, which is necessary because each section within each section is timed. Practice examinations, in conjunction with training videos, can help to gain familiarity with the testing software's capabilities and functionalities.

6. Make a Test Schedule

When taking practice examinations, attempt to imitate the exam atmosphere as precisely as possible, especially in terms of scheduling. Professional review courses recommend allotting no more than three minutes to each multiple-choice question and no more than 15 minutes to each task-based simulation. BEC is the only portion that requires written essays, which should take between 12 and 15 minutes per assignment.

7. Build A Support Team

Communicate your objectives to the people who matter in your life so that they may be supportive while you study for the CPA test. Your support team will most likely be prepared to make modest accommodations, such as a quiet study room, as well as larger adjustments that may arise as a result of your changing priorities. Reach out to colleagues, mentors, and qualified CPAs whenever feasible to enhance your support team and give insight and guidance. Additionally, contact potential employers; it is generally in their best interests to assist you in obtaining your license.

8. Don't Procrastinate

To achieve your objective of passing the CPA exam, you must prioritize your studies. Accepting additional time commitments that may interfere with your study objectives should be avoided. By commencing your studies early, you may allow for unforeseen kinks in your overall strategy while still staying within the 18-month timeline.

Conclusion

If you want to be one of the 40,000 newly minted CPAs each year, you must pass the CPA test. It's a big job that will take a lot of time, energy, and attention. These 8 CPA test tips can assist you in achieving the highest possible results.