How to maintain your sanity while studying for the CPA exam.

From start to finish, it took me six months to pass all four sections of the CPA exam.

The CPA exam is a beast. Studying is hard, and it requires commitment and dedication to religiously stick to a schedule.

But you already know all that.

My Biggest Piece of Advice.

The first thing I learned while studying for the exam is that, while it’s important to stick to your schedule and stay on track, it is also okay and even necessary to take the occasional break.

FAR.

I studied for FAR during winter break. Because I was off from school, I studied non-stop for hours every day.

After a few weeks, it got to be too much. I realized that the non-stop studying was actually causing me to be inefficient. So, a few weeks into FAR, I started incorporating breaks into my routine.

If you feel like you can’t process any more information, take a break.

Believe me, you’re not being lazy. On the contrary, it will actually enable you to retain more information. I would go on coffee runs, and even made time for nights out (gasp)!

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AUD & REG.

I studied for AUD and REG during my final semester of college.

I’d make sure all my school work was done on the days that I was in school, leaving the remaining days for CPA studying. I found that going to school twice a week, particularly the social component, really helped me focus on studying the rest of the week. Because I wasn’t doing the same thing day in and day out, it was much easier for me to get through the material when I was studying.

BEC.

I studied for BEC right after I graduated. Since I was off from school, I was back to studying every day. This made studying for BEC much harder than AUD and REG.

The Importance of Scheduling.

Because I’m a planner by nature, I made sure to break out the material into daily and weekly schedules. This helped me stay on track with my studying and ensured that I’d be ready for exam day.

While review courses have estimates for how long different sections are going to take you—they are not always accurate. It’s important to look through the course and figure out how long it will take you to get through the material and then schedule accordingly.

Don’t Forget to Leave Time to Breathe.

Scheduling is important. But while you aim to be efficient, you may also need to leave time to catch up.

On my non-study days, I wouldn’t schedule any CPA studying. This way, if I fell behind, I could use the time to catch up.

By the same token, If I was on track or ahead, and I felt up for it, I would also use my ‘non-study time’ to get ahead of schedule. This way I could either free up future study time to do something else or simply get ahead.

Last words.

While structure is important, flexibility is also key!

Discipline is necessary, but don’t be too hard on yourself. Leave time to air out and catch up.

There aren’t any shortcuts when it comes to tackling the CPA exam. Put in time, work and effort, and you will pass.

You might have to empty your social calendar, but the end result will be well worth it!



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