Ultimate CPA Exam Prep Strategies and Last-Minute Tips on Exam Day

CPA Exam Tips on Efficient Studying

The more efficient you are, the less time you will require to complete the preparation.  Here are a few tips on efficient studying for the CPA Exam:


Divide the material into bite-size chunks. Subtopics are easy to study for a few minutes at a time. Research shows that people absorb concepts more quickly when they break the material into small themes.

Refer to your study plan. If you are taking a CPA review course, the material should be subdivided for you. If you are self-studying, divide the material into chapters or modules, as shown in your CPA review materials. Use CPA review-oriented materials that are less than twelve to eighteen months old. Studying the concepts one area at a time will allow you to master topics in a shorter period of time.


Once you break the old habit of believing that you must have several hours to study, you will find you have more study time. You will be less likely to procrastinate and more likely to jump in and learn. Once you break the old habit of believing that you must have several hours to study, you will find you have more study time. You will be less likely to procrastinate and more likely to jump in and learn. Make it a habit to read CPA materials instead of the newspaper in the morning, throughout the day, whenever you sit down, or during your work commute. 


The age-old image of schoolchildren writing each spelling word ten times is a good model to follow when you are struggling to absorb and remember a difficult technical concept. Let’s say you have trouble remembering a formula. Write it down to grasp the topic. Talk to yourself. Repeat concepts out loud and often. Give your flashcards, books, or notes to someone else and let the person quiz you. Answer the questions out loud. Your long-term memory will improve greatly by repeating concepts out loud.


Some areas of the CPA content require the preparation of a summary. Spending time to summarize the process helps you reinforce the main ideas. You will have a clear understanding of the topic once you go over it in detail and summarise it. Review your summary whenever you have a free moment. You learn as you prepare the summary.


Graphs, diagrams, pictures, and charts assist you in analyzing the information. While studying, timelines are useful visuals to remember a topic in chronologic detail. You may graph what happens to the depreciation in the early years or what happens to the carrying value of the asset over time. A complicated topic in your CPA material can be diagrammed and easily analyzed for effects.


Try to study with a coworker, a review course acquaintance, or a college friend. A study buddy will help you stick to your study plan, but it works only if you study. You can both meet at a quiet place where you can each study on your own and later discuss topics out loud. Study at library meeting rooms, your office at night or weekends, or a bookstore café. Make sure to be on time for the arranged study session. This gives you an excuse to leave your home and go study. Study partners help you be on schedule, motivated, and encouraged. Two heads can solve a problem quicker than one. Dump your study buddy if he or she doesn’t keep the schedule, isn’t supportive, isn’t serious, or won’t share information that helps you. 

Last Minute CPA Exam Tips


Before you leave for the exam, check to be sure if you have the necessary paperwork. You must bring your Notice to Schedule (NTS) to the exam along with two other forms of identification. Your identification must bear the same name as shown on your NTS. You will receive a list of acceptable forms of identification along with your NTS. Arrive at least thirty minutes early before your scheduled exam time. Maintain a positive attitude; just your outlook alone will help to keep you calm and in control. Don’t talk about anything that requires you to expend brain power. Save it for the exam. Keep it light and happy.


When you reflect on what it will be like at the exam, always visualize yourself as a person who is in control of the situation. See yourself as calm, collected, and knowledgeable rather than as jumpy, fidgety, and stressed. Picture yourself so attuned to the exam material that you couldn’t possibly have time to be nervous. See yourself methodically moving through the questions, working one exam testlet at a time, staying within the time limits, and completing all of the questions.


Realize that you won’t know everything. You must understand that the examiners will ask you some unexpected questions. No matter how much you’ve studied and practiced using previous exam questions, there will be plenty of new questions that will stump you. There is no need to get agitated. Make use of your practiced exam technique of narrowing down the answer choices. By eliminating one or two of the answers, you will increase your chances of guessing the correct answer. Also, don’t panic when you open a simulation work tab and come across a question that you know nothing about. Go through the question, and look for cues and clues that will jog your memory. Try to release tension by smiling to yourself. Stay in control by first reflecting on your overall knowledge. Don’t be afraid to take some risk. Every now and then, decide that you must go for it. Leave nothing blank. The CPA exam is positively graded.


Don’t study until the last minute before the CPA exam. Make sure that you have a clear mind before you enter the test center. It is highly likely that you won’t remember any of your last-minute study points when your exam starts. Leave your exam materials at home. The lockers at the Prometric center are small, so there will hardly be any space to store your review materials. 


Pacing around the house or your hotel room on exam day will only add to your tension. Your heart will beat faster, adding to your nervousness. Keep your pre-exam activities to a minimum. Engage in peaceful activities to foster a peaceful state of mind. Eat foods that won’t upset your stomach. Give yourself the best possible chance to think clearly. Stress levels decrease when you take a rational approach to the situation.


Hope that the above article is helpful to you in your CPA exam preparation.  This article should prepare you for the CPA exam process and gives you a few last-minute exam tips. If you have any queries, feel free to comment in the section below. Happy Learning!

Simandhar Education:

Simandhar Education is the official partner of Becker and AICPA - Largest Training provider for US CPA, US CMA, IFRS and EA courses in India with offices in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Gurgaon, Kerala, Cochin (Kochi), Trivandrum, Kottayam, Kozhikode, Malappuram, Chennai, and Mumbai.

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