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CPA Exam Advice for First Time Students

The CPA exam is biggest hurdle for students to overcome before they can get their CPA license. It’s often referred to as the most difficult professional exam because of its poor pass rate. Depending on the testing year, less than 50% of people who take the CPA exam end up passing it. It’s that hard.

Although it is challenging, passing the exam is the first big step to a stable and lucrative accounting career. After you become a CPA, you will be able to move up the ranking a public accounting firms, perform audit tasks, and sign off on legal tax documents.

It’s a difficult test, but it is worth it. Here are a few tips that you can implement to have a better success rate of passing the CPA exam.

Prepare with the Right Study Course

Studying for the CPA exam is a marathon. Each CPA exam section is a multi-hour test, so it’s important to find the right CPA review guide.

Not all students have the same knowledge and skill sets when they leave college. Some students enjoy auditing while others can’t stand it. Likewise, some students like working tax problems and analyzing tax saving strategies while others are bored to death doing any type of compliance work.

That’s why it’s important for students to find a review course that focuses on the types of topics they need to study in order to prepare for the CPA exam. It’s a good idea to check out multiple different courses before you settle on a single course.

That way you will have some experience with each and know which will give you the lessons you need to feel confident on your exam day.

Don’t Wait

That’s the last thing that any college student wants to hear. Right after they graduate they need to start studying again, but it’s the truth. You need to start studying right after you finish college because all of your classes will still be fresh in your mind.

The better you remember the information from your college courses, the less you will need to prepare for the exam. If you remember most of the information, your study process should be pretty easy since you will just be reviewing what you already know.

If you wait a few years to take the exam after college, you might not remember that much from all of your classes. In this case, you will probably need a lot more studying to be ready to sit for the exam.

The best thing to do is to start prepping for the exam as soon as you finish college. Everything is fresh in your head and you will have a much easier time on the exam.

Stay Motivated

The process of becoming a CPA is long. Let me rephrase that. It’s really long. After your four years of college (sometimes 5 years), you will need to start studying for the CPA exam.

It’s commonly suggested that you should spend at least 2 months studying for each section. That’s a long time! That means the full exam will take you about a year to complete.

An important thing to remember during this process is to keep your motivation high. Remind yourself why you want to become a CPA. Write down inspirational quotes and give yourself goals to strive for.

Losing motivation will be the death of your CPA journey. You have to stay motivated in order to successfully prepare for the exam. There are no half measures because you can’t kind of pass the exam. Either you pass or you fail. Stay motivated and get prepared!

Stay focused

One key to motivating yourself to study is by simply staying focused. Set your study goals and focus on the getting through the right amount of study material each day.

It’s also a good idea to remove distractions from your life while you are studying. Get rid of your TV and phone. You don’t need to be distracted by social media while you are studying. Just focus on getting through your lessons.

Also, breaking down your lessons into actionable sections will help you stay focused as well. Trying to cover too much information at once can be tough, so break down the lessons into smaller amounts.

That way you can stay focused on what you need to accomplish during the present study session and not worry about the future one.

Schedule Your Time

One of the biggest pieces of advice while studying for the CPA exam is to set your schedule. You should have a consistent study schedule that doesn’t change.

If you let yourself float back and forth with study times, you will never have consistent growth. Slow and steady wins the race. You need to set study times where you can focus on studying and nothing else.

This way you can ensure that every day you learn a little more and are consistently on the path to your exam day.

Another part of setting schedule is to simply take days off. You can’t study everyday or you will go nuts. Schedule in a few days off every now and then.

Use Practice Tests

The last tip is to practice taking the exam with some practice tests. After all practice makes perfect, so it’s a good idea to practice taking the exam before you actually go into the testing center.

You don't want any surprises on your exam day, so use the AICPA practice tests to help you get a better feel for what it will be like to take your exam at the testing center.


The CPA exam is challenging for anyone. It doesn't matter whether you got straight A’s in college or barely made it through by the skin of your teeth.

It’s a tough test, but with some determination and practice, you should be well on your way to passing the CPA exam.

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