There are several different theories on what CPA exam order is the best to take. Unfortunately, most of them are wrong. How do I know this? Because most of them disagree with my own theory about the best order!
Obviously, this is a joke. But seriously; my CPA exam section order makes way more sense than what some of your professors or CPA review companies tell you to do. 🙂
- 1.Becker CPA Review Course Endorsed by Big 4 Accounting Firms
- 2.Surgent CPA Prep Course Best Technology + Save $1,200
- 3. Wiley CPAExcel Review Course Best Instructor Support
- 4.UWorld Roger CPA Review Courses Best for Engaging Video Lectures
- 5.Gleim CPA Review Course Most Task-Based Simulations
What Order Should I Take the Certified Public Accountant Exam?
Before we can map out all four sections of the exam step by step, we need to start at the beginning. What CPA exam section should you take first?
Take the Hardest CPA Exam Section First
I’m sure you have heard this theory several times and it makes no sense to me. I wrote an entire blog post about this that I linked to above. If you take the hardest section of the CPA exam first and fail, you’ll probably be pretty disappointed and unmotivated to continue. If you pass your first exam, on the other, you may end up losing it later if the 18-month window elapses before you complete all four sections. Then you will have to retake your already passed hardest section. Doesn’t sound like fun, does it?
Your First CPA Exam Part Should be Your Easiest
Taking the CPA part that is easiest for you first makes way more sense. It will give you a better shot at passing it and if it does elapse because of the 18-month testing window, it won’t be that hard to complete again. Thus, you should sit for the CPA part that comes most natural to you or that you have the most experience with.
For CPA candidates, this could be your last course in college if you just graduated, or your current line of work. For example, any business majors may want to take the Business Environment and Concepts (BEC) section first. Alternatively, individuals currently working as auditors will want to try their hand at the Auditing and Attestation section (AUD). Whatever topic you feel most comfortable with, that should be your first section.
Second Exam Section Order
Choosing the second in your order to take the CPA exam is pretty easy. It should be one of your harder sections. After coming off your big first section victory, you should feel pretty motivated and ready to crush another section. You also have the experience of taking a real, live CPA exam, so you know what it’s like and what to expect.
It only makes sense that you take on one of the more difficult ones. For many people, this is the Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) section. Although this exam part isn’t any more difficult than others, it is just way longer. Thus, most people think of it as more difficult. Either way, pick one of the more difficult sections for your second exam date.
Third Exam Section Order
After you get the news that conquered the most difficult CPA exam section, you should be thrilled and a little tired of studying. I was too. That’s why I opted to take another section that I felt somewhat comfortable with.
A lot of people feel that the BEC exam is fairly easy because it’s shorter than others and it has a writing portion that pretty much common sense. Other candidates have trouble with the written portion.
The next part you should take should be the easier of the two you have left. For me, this was BEC.
What CPA Exam Should I Take Last?
The last exam should be the subject that is your second hardest part. There are a couple reasons why I don’t advice people to take the hardest exam last. First, you will be so sick of studying at the end, that you might not want to put in the time to complete the most difficult section. Second, if you fail it, one of your prior sections will most likely expire. Neither of those options is great.
Instead, you should take the section that is your second hardest last. You’ll be coming off a somewhat easy victory from your third section and should be ready to finish up strong.
Get Discounts On CPA Review Courses!
10% off McKissock Real Estate Continuing Education
Save $1,200 off Surgent CPA Ultimate Pass
Save $800 off Wiley CPAexcel Platinum Review Course
Gleim CPA Premium Review Discount – Save $500
Save $465 – Fast Forward Academy CPA Discount
Save $250 off on the Becker CMA Advantage Bundle.
Save $550 off on the Becker CMA Pro Bundle.
Save $400 off Wiley CMAexcel Platinum Review
Becker CPA: Payment Plans for the #1 Rated CPA
UWorld Roger CPA Review Save $570 off Premier!
UWorld Roger CPA Review Save $400 off Premier!
Lambers CPE: 20% off 2-Year & 10% off 1-Year
Surgent EA Ultimate Pass Review Coupon – Save $300
Surgent EA Premier Pass Coupon – Save $140
$509 off Surgent CMA Ultimate Pass Review!
Gleim CMA Premium Review Discount – Save $160
New Year Sale! Save 22% OFF PPI2PASS SE Review
New Year Sale! Save 22% OFF PPI2PASS PE Review
New Year Sale! Save 22% OFF PPI2PASS FE Review
Save $300 off School of PE PE/SE/FE Engineering Courses
Save 30% OFF Aceable Agent Premium Real Estate School
Up to 30% OFF Mbition Real Estate Appraisal, Home
Save 25% off The CE Shop Real Estate
Save 20% OFF Prep Agent Real Estate Course!
10% Off AYPO Real Estate
Save $1,000 off Surgent CPA Premier Pass!
Save $700 off Surgent CPA Essential Pass!
PM PrepCast CAPM Discount
$200 off Surgent CMA Review Premier Pass
$100 off Surgent CIA Review Course
New Year Sale! Save $200 off Wiley CIAexcel Review
Get $400 OFF CMA Exam Academy!
Save 70% on Grey Campus Self-Learning Courses
Save 10% on Grey Campus Self-Learning Courses
Save 10% on Grey Campus Live-Online and Live
Save 20% on Grey Campus Live-Online and Live
The Agile PrepCast Elite for PMI-ACP Discount
Surgent EA Premier Pass Coupon – Save $140
Get Gleim EA Review
Lambers EA – Save $300 & 1-Year FREE CE
Lambers EA 1-Year FREE CE
Brain Sensei $50 OFF PMP Course!
Brain Sensei $50 OFF CAPM Course!
10% off Exams PM PMP & CAPM Courses
Save $300 off Edumind PMP/CAPM Review
Save $300 off Edumind PMP Review
Save $100 off Dooey.org PMP/CAPM/PMI-ACP/Lean Six Sigma Review Courses!
Edumind ARE Review 65% off
Save $300 off Blueprint LSAT 12-month Self-Paced
LSATmax only $67/month
Save 10% off LSATmax Review
10% OFF Alpha Score LSAT Coupon Code
Princeton Review Ultimate LSAT Coupon – Save $250
Save 10% off Wize LSAT Exam Review
Save 10% off LSAT Lab
Save $120 On Kaplan LSAT
10% OFF ExamsPM Offer (PMP or CAPM Certification)
$87/month Master of Project Academy PMP and CAPM Courses!
Save $320 off Velociteach PMP, CAPM, PMI-ACP Classes
Save 10% off Crushendo Bar Prep Products
Save 10% off Bar Prep Hero Bar Review Products!
Save 10% or up to $100 off Quimbee Bar
Princeton Review Ultimate GMAT Test Prep Promo Code –
Save $90 on Kaplan DAT
Save 10% off Wiley CFP Review Course
Save 10% off Wiley CAIA Review Course!
Save 10% off Wiley CMT Review Course
Save $200 off Prep Expert PSAT 4-Week Course!
Save 20% off Analyst Prep CFA/FRM Review
Princeton Review CFA® Coupon – Save $200
Save $300 off Wiley CFA Platinum Review Courses.
$48 Off Gleim CIA Review Discount
10% off Achievable Series 7 Exam Review
Save 20% Off Surgent SIE Essentials Pass
10% off Achievable SIE Exam Review
Save 10% off Series Exam Prep at Securities Institute
Save 20% off Securities Training Corporation
Save 10% off ExamFX Securities Exams
UWorld Roger CPA Financing Offer
Surgent CPA 5-Day FREE Trial Offer
Princeton Review Ultimate ACT Test Prep Promo Code –
Princeton Review Ultimate DAT Test Prep Promo Code –
$400 Off Prep Expert SAT Courses!
$200 Off Prep Expert SAT Courses!
$200 Off Prep Expert ACT Review Course!
$200 Off Prep Expert ACT Review Course!
20% off OnCourse Learning Continuing Education
Save 20% Off All New License and Exam Prep
Save 20% off OnCourse Learning Mortgage Education
Here’s What I Did
I followed this same format when I took the exam and passed all four on my first try. Here’s my order: AUD, FAR, BEC, REG
All of this obviously comes down to personal experience and knowledge of the individual topics. That’s why this theory makes way more sense than any other standard theory. Why should everyone strive to take the same parts in the same order when we all are better and worse at different subjects? We shouldn’t. We should choose the right section order based on our own individual knowledge and skill sets.
Another side note, my theory only works if you are willing able to put in the time required for this order. Life happens and you may not be able to take a difficult section in the next quarter. You may have to take two easier sections back to back because of work or because you have the nerve to maintain a social life.
Either way, this is my take on the subject and it worked awesome for me. I’m sure you’ll do just as well if you follow this strategy too. You have to proper order now. Get out there and kill it.
Summary of the Order to Take the CPA Exam
- Easiest Section
- Hardest Section
- Second Easiest Section
- Second Hardest Section