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Studying for the CPA Exam: Five tips to save time while studying for the CPA exam


CPA exam, cpa tips, cpa help, studying for cpa exam, time savings cpa exam tips, BEC CPA tips, AUD CPA tips, REG CPA tips, FAR CPA tipsAs you know or will find out soon, the process of becoming a CPA is not easy! The act of preparing for, taking, and passing all four parts of the CPA exam requires hundreds of hours of hard work. During this seemingly never-ending and challenging journey, you will experience fatigue and burn-out; however, in my opinion, the worst thing you can do during the CPA exam process is take a long break from studying and taking the CPA exams.

I passed all four sections of the CPA exam during a six-month period. Luckily, I did not have to retake any of the exams, which is a common occurrence as the average passing rate is around 40-50% per exam. Having personal experience dealing with the CPA exam process, I want to share valuable tips for conquering the CPA exam. By the time I reached my final exam, I felt confident in my study routine. Most importantly, I felt that my process for preparing for each exam improved each time. I learned how to prepare more efficiently, which saved me lots of time and headache during CPA exam preparation. 


As I stated, I passed all four sections in a six-month time frame (three months while in school). In my opinion, I could have cut that six-month time period to four or five months if I knew what I knew by the end of the CPA process at the beginning of my CPA journey. Therefore, I want to share these CPA exam tips to help you prepare more efficiently for the CPA exam. My goal is to help future CPAs feel confident and comfortable during the CPA exam process. I truly believe the following CPA exam time-saving tips will help you during the CPA exam process. For more CPA exam tips, please check out the links to my other CPA exam posts below:


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Time-Saving Tips to Follow During the CPA Exam Process

CPA Time-Saving Tip # 1: Take handwritten notes while listening to the CPA exam review lectures

Take handwritten notes while listening to the CPA review lectures! Trust me, you will learn and retain the material much better. Ignore the instructors if prompted to highlight and annotate the textbook. I found that I usually needed to reread the CPA module after simply highlighting the CPA textbook. However, if I took handwritten notes during the CPA prerecorded lectures, I rarely needed to reread the CPA textbook. This will save you lots of time while studying for the CPA exam.

Additionally, after listening to all the CPA section lectures, you will not want to review your highlights, annotations, and notes within the CPA textbook. Luckily, if you follow the notebook strategy, you will not have to rely on the CPA textbook while reviewing. Instead, you can study your handwritten notes, which will be much easier to look over during the review stage.

CPA Time-Saving Tip # 2: Avoid the tedious and unhelpful CPA review course study materials

Do not waste your time with the tedious CPA review course materials! Most CPA review courses provide an extensive library of CPA review materials. In my opinion, if you attempt to complete all the assigned materials, you are wasting your time. Focus on the beneficial study materials, and skip the tedious study tasks.

Examples of tedious and unhelpful CPA review course materials include:

  • Preassessment tests
  • Skills Practice
  • Simulations (at the end of each chapter)
  • Simulated exam (only take one)
You will save time studying for the CPA if you skip the CPA study materials mentioned above. Check out CPA Review Course Study Materials: The Do's and Don'ts for a detailed explanation about the mentioned materials. 

CPA Time-Saving Tip # 3: Do not obsess about the completion check marks

Forget about the completion check marks! This CPA tip goes hand in hand with tip #2. You will waste so much time while studying for the CPA exam if you obsess over the CPA review course completion check marks. You will save time studying for the CPA if you study smarter rather than harder. Skip the unhelpful CPA review materials as mentioned above. Also, if you feel extremely confident with a module or chapter, skip it! This will save you time and allow you to focus your time on studying and mastering the more difficult CPA topics.

CPA Time-Saving Tip # 4: Take one simulated exam

As stated above, plan to take one full simulated CPA exam per section! Most review courses offer several simulated exams for each section. The simulated exams reflect the actual CPA exam; therefore, the simulated exams may take you three to four hours to complete. Because of this, I do not recommend taking all the offered simulated exams. Instead, after reviewing your notes for each chapter, take the first simulated exam, completing all the multiple choice and simulation testlets. After, review the exam and take notes on the questions and sims you missed. After further reviewing and finishing the Final Review, take a second simulated exam, but only complete the two multiple choice testlets. After this, avoid any additionally offered simulated exams entirely.

You will save time studying for the CPA exam if you limit yourself to one full simulated CPA exam. 

CPA Time-Saving Tip # 5: Schedule your test in advance

Schedule your CPA test in advance! Scheduling your test in advance helps you stay committed to your planned CPA schedule. The approaching exam date will motivate you to master the CPA material. Additionally, it allows you to choose the best date and time available because test centers tend to fill up. I suggest scheduling the exam about a month from your desired exam date. Schedule and commit!

I found that people who waited to schedule the CPA exam until they were finished with the material tended to excessively review the material by scheduling the exam several weeks later than desired. You will save time studying for the CPA exam if you schedule in advance and commit to your CPA study schedule. 

In conclusion

I hope you have a better understanding about how to study for the CPA exam. Hopefully, by following my time-saving CPA exam tips, you will more efficiently utilize your CPA exam preparation time! Please share the CPA exam time-savers with others who may also benefit from learning how to effectively and efficiently study for the CPA exam. 

Please share any and all comments and questions below! Happy studies and good luck on your next CPA exam!

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