Adam Greene CPA's Blog

Certified Public Account in Melville, NY

How to study for a CPA test while working full time

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Image courtesy of Steven S. at Flickr.com

As a certified public accountant in Melville, Adam Greene knows that becoming a US certified accountant may be one of the hardest things you will need to face during your accounting career, especially when you have a full-time job that already consumes most of your days and have to take a CPA exam, that will most likely force you to study at least 400 hours within 18 months.

Many people ask themselves if they will be able to keep their jobs while studying or –most important- to pass the CPA test while they are still working a minimum of 8 hours per day. The answer for those who doubt is Yes. For everyone, it should be obvious from the beginning that studying and keeping one’s job requires sacrifice and self- discipline. But don’t worry, evidence shows that thousands of people have been able to pass their CPA test while still working full time.  The degree to which you can succeed depends entirely on you.

In this article, you will find a set of useful pieces of advice intended to help you to successfully pass your CPA test while you still have a full-time job.

1  . Schedule the date in which you will take the test:

The CPA test is composed of four parts. You will need to take 4 different tests to complete each part. Decide what part you want to take first, sign up and set your exam date. This simple step will start the clock, forcing you to study because that exam date is coming whether you study or not. It is recommended to schedule your test 2-3 months prior to the test date, that way you will have enough time to put all your things together and prepare yourself.

2. The early bird catches the worm:

Try to wake up early in the morning and study for at least 2 hours. This guarantees you will be completely focused on what you are doing. Probably it is not going to be easy at first to wake up at 4 in the morning, but you will for sure get used to it.

Try to reread at night the concepts you learned during the morning, without staying up late night. This will get you into the rhythm you need to fully understand the test contents.

3. Make the best you can out of your weekends:

During the weekdays, your routine is going to fluctuate between your job and the time you will need to spend studying. You will need to perform at your job and retain all the information you learned for the test. Leaving no space for social life. It is recommended to study only a few hours on the weekend, that way you will keep things balanced without neglecting your social life.

4. Organize your time:

Once you take the first part of the CPA test, you will have 18 months to complete the other three parts. This will force you to organize your time and study harder during those months.

It is recommended, though, to schedule the remaining parts with a 5 week – or less- difference between each. This will allow you to study at least 100 hours while you are still working and yet remember most of the contents you need to know for each part of the test.

Try to keep in mind that presenting the test in a short window will most likely give you the chance to have fresh information in your head, since the CPA test requires to memorize and retain lots many different facts.

5. Use vacation days:

Try to use two or three vacation days before the exam and use them to study like it was a full-time job. You will be able to work on the most difficult areas with a fresh mindset. Try to take practice exams during these days.

You could set the exam days on Fridays, that way you will have a long weekend after the test, to let your mind rest before you start preparing for the next test.

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Image courtesy of Joshua Brown at Flickr.com

6. Keep a clear mind

Like most fighters do, you should rest on the fighting day so your mind is clear enough to face the upcoming challenge.

On the exam day, get up and eat a good breakfast. Exercise to release endorphins. If you still have some doubts about specific concepts, briefly study them, without dwelling on anything that could potentially block your brain.

7. Have a positive mindset

Repeat constantly to yourself that you are going to kill it. Don’t discourage yourself if there is something you don’t understand. Remember that a positive mindset is always a good thing to have.

8. Start with the most difficult section

Try to start with the part that you know is going to be a nightmare for you. Since you only have 18 months to complete the test, try to kill the section that comes harder on you that way you will continue with the confidence that the remaining sections will be comparatively easier for you.

You can read more about CPA sections here.

9. Get an Online Certification

If by any chance you definitely need more flexibility with the time you have available , you can always get an online certification. You can read more about this in the post on How to get a CPA certification online.

What if you don’t pass on the first attempt?

If by any chance you don’t pass a section, sign up and retake it in the next testing window while the information in your head is still fresh. If you do pass sign up for the next section and follow all the previous tips and pieces of advice.

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