6 Best CPA Exam Study Tips and Exam Prep Strategies

best-cpa-exam-study-tipsThere are a ton of different CPA review tips, study tactics, strategies, and techniques for studying for the CPA exam, but I have to be honest. None of them are better than mine. 🙂

I developed these tips while studying for my first exam section. As I was about half way through the process, I realized that I was spending waaaaay too much time reading things over and over without actually comprehending the information.

Best CPA Study Tips To Pass the CPA Exam

So, I took a step back and analyzed my study habits and changed my ways. I implemented these strategies and aced all four sections my first time. Here’s what I came up with.


Keep It Steady

You can’t study erratically or occasionally. It just doesn’t work. You have to be in the right mindset to study properly. Think about it. What are you doing when you study? You are trying to cram as much information into your mind at one time as you can.

This doesn’t happen occasionally. You need to set a regular routine and stick to it. A study schedule is crucial to studying efficiently because it allows you to prepare mentally for the dump truck of CPA information to unload in your head. You know when you are supposed to study and you can prepare for it mentally.

You should pick times each week where you study and do nothing else. My CPA exam study schedule looked like this:

  • Weekdays: 2-3 hours after dinner
  • Saturdays: 4 hours in the morning
  • Sunday: no studying

That was my study schedule and I stuck to it.


Get Rid of Distractions

One of the biggest mistakes that I was making as a candidate was letting distractions keep me from studying. This sounds obvious, right. Well, distractions come in two forms:

  1. Distractions that keep you from studying
  2. Distractions that interrupt your study process

So, what is the difference? Well, the first distraction could be TV. You watch TV and delay studying. It keeps you from pulling out your review materials. The second distraction could be Youtube. It distracts you while you are studying. Distractions could be anything: girlfriend, boyfriend, wife, husband, kids, work, anything.

The important thing is to identify what is keeping your from studying and get rid of it. You should have any distractions keeping you from your study routine and you shouldn’t have any interrupting it either.

When it’s study time, it’s study time. If you focus 100% during study time, you can accomplish way more.


Find a Study Place

So, how do you get rid of distractions and keep a schedule? You find a study place. A separate study area where no one bothers you will kill two birds with one stone.

I found that creating a dedicate study area that is specifically used for studying helped me focus and helped people leave me alone. I was prepared mentally when I entered the study place that I needed to focus and leave all the distractions behind me. There wasn’t a TV in the room and I left my phone behind.

Other people also were less of a distraction because my they knew not to interrupt me while I was in that space.


Take Study Breaks

This is a key tip that a lot of people miss. You can’t study 24/7. Trust me. It’s not possible. If you try, you will get tired, lose focus, and just start wasting time. It’s important to build breaks into your study routine. For instance, on my Saturdays I would break for 15 minutes half way through.

Breaks will give your mind a rest and make you fresh and ready for more content. Just don’t let your study breaks get out of hand. They are in the routine for a reason: to increase study efficiency. They aren’t supposed to give you a distraction.


Get Your Mind Right

This is probably the most important tip in this list. Before every study session, stop for a second and get your mind right. Get focused. Take a deep breath and clear your mind of everything that’s going on in life, so you can focus on the task at hand.

I found that studying while I was distracted with other things was a complete waste of time. I would spend two hours going through materials just to not even remember what I went through by the end of the session.

Studying is a mental thing. It’s all about mindset. If you go into each study session with a focused mindset, you will be able to get through more material and remember way more than you would otherwise. Your mind has to be in it 100% or you won’t really get that much out of it. Get in the zone and prepare yourself before you start studying. It sounds cheesy, but it’s worth it.


Stay Motivated

I’m sure at some point during your study process you will start questioning why you are even doing this or if you will even be able to pass the exam. I know I did. Everyone does. It’s important to stay motivated and remind yourself why you are studying.

For instance, you might get a pay raise, bonus, or promotion. You might be competing with friends, classmates, or co-workers. This might simply be one of your life long goals.

Whatever the reason is, remind yourself of it over and over again. The CPA exam isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon and you need to stay pumped and keep studying in order to get to the finish line.


Get Studying

Well, that’s it. That’s all I have. Those are the six biggest tips that helped me pass the CPA exam on my first try. Well, that and an awesome CPA review course. If you haven’t picked out a good CPA study guide yet, check out my comparison guide and see which one is right for you.