What is the CPA Test Prep? Less than half of the 1.4 million accountants in the United States hold a CPA certification, which is a highly sought-after credential in the accounting sector. Why? Because passing the CPA Exam is the most difficult obstacle to overcome in order to earn a CPA license.
As a matter of fact, according to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), the cumulative passing rate in 2021 for each of the four sections of the CPA exams ranged from 47% to around 62%.
What’s so difficult about it, exactly? In each section of the CPA exam, applicants are required to demonstrate a thorough understanding of a specific area of accounting, and they must do so in a timely manner. The sections are Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), Regulation (REG), Auditing and Attestation (AUD), and Business Environment and Concepts (BEC).
Candidates are only granted an 18-month window in which to complete all of these four sections of the exam.
So, how can you ensure that you pass the exam? Prepare for the CPA exam by following these suggestions:
Match Your Prep Method To Your Learning Style
Take into consideration your accounting education when deciding on a prep strategy to use. If you learn best through reading, consider purchasing review materials or DVDs. If you are struggling to stay motivated, the routine of in-person classes may be just what you need.
Do you need a little bit of everything? Consider taking an online course that includes reading a textbook, watching streaming video lectures, and doing drills and practice exercises.
Put In The Study Time
Plan on committing 275 to 325 hours to your studies. In other words, you’ll be spending up to 30 hours each week for 12 or 14 weeks. After passing the first section, you have 18 months to pass the remaining three sections; however, if you fail to complete all four sections by that time, you’ll have to start the entire process over. Thus, a strong level of commitment is required.
Your accounting knowledge may be limited to one or two areas because you’ve been out of school for a while, and accounting content changes continually. If you want to pass the CPA exam, you will need to master a lot of material – just not in great detail. It is necessary to study the content, and understand it, rather than simply memorize a collection of factoids.
Simulate The Exam
Consider taking a computerized sample test to familiarize yourself with the format of the CPA exam multiple-choice and simulation questions in advance of the real exam.
In the case of the task-based simulations (TBS) on the exam, you will be required to imitate real-world circumstances using spreadsheets and other communication tools as well as online research and reference resources. As a result, look for a review course that can provide you with authentic TBS to practice with. NOTE: the AICPA releases very few exam simulations to the approved CPA Review providers. Don’t be fooled by courses that offer thousands of task-based simulation, because that means that most of them are author constructed, made up by the review course and not the AICPA. Don’t be fooled.
It is not only about learning the subject, but also about using it in order to demonstrate your proficiency.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Maintaining a steady pace is essential. Each part has a tremendous amount of information. It is not possible to try to fit everything into one or two days. Studying for the CPA Exam is not like cramming or pulling an all-nighter before college finals. Plan to be studying approximately three months for each of the four parts of the exam. Review all of the material for each area several times to ensure that you are well-prepared for any situation that may arise.
Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about the CPA exam, which can help to address any remaining queries you may have.
How Is the CPA Exam Structured?
The exam is divided into four sections, each of which must be completed at a distinct time. Exam sections are divided into five parts.
There are two sections in the test that consist of multiple-choice questions while the remaining three sections of the test are task-based simulations. The total time to complete these five sections is four hours. These four hours may entail substantial research, writing, formulating, and calculating, all the while the clock is ticking. Within the four hours, there is a 15 minute break that does not count against the four hours. However, additional “bathroom breaks” will chip away at your four hours.
Each portion of the exam can be taken in any sequence, and candidates have an 18-month window after passing their first exam to complete all four sections of the exam.
How Do You Start The CPA Process?
The process of registering for the CPA exam is straightforward. Prepare and submit your application to the state board of accountancy of your preference.Check before applying to see if your state is a NASBA (National Association of State Boards of Accounting) – state. In that case, your application, transcripts, application fees, etc. all must go through NASBA. After that, you’ll have to wait 4-8 weeks for NASBA or your state to assess your application and transcript.
Which CPA Exam Section Should You Take First?
First and foremost, you should focus your efforts on the area of the CPA exam that you are most comfortable with. For example, if you have spent the last several years working as a tax accountant, you should most likely take REG first.
It will be easier for you to pass your most familiar section if you start with it first. It will also uplift your confidence for the next section. Additionally, it will serve as excellent insurance in the event that your 18 months are near expiration. Worst case scenario, you lose that first part and have to retake it. But it was your most comfortable part, and if you passed it once, you can pass it again.
If, on the other hand, you choose to take the hardest part first, this is how the scenario could play out. First, you may not pass it and that can be very demoralizing. Second, if you do pass it, but don’t complete the remaining three parts within the 18 month window, it will be this dreaded hard part that you’ll need to retake. If you have to repeat a part, better it should be a part you are most comfortable with.
Why Should You Become A CPA?
There are both tangible and intangible advantages to becoming a certified public accountant. This is the certification to pursue if you want to progress swiftly in your profession, beat out other candidates for competitive jobs, and land a job in a management position.
When comparing the average pay of an uncertified accountant with that of a certified public accountant, the latter earns approximately 30% more each year. Basically, if you want to attain the best potential success in the accounting profession, you should pursue certification as a CPA.
A CPA review course is available for everyone, regardless of their learning style. Whether you prefer audio explanations, video lectures, mnemonics, or self-study, there is a course for you – and many that have all of these features.
Explore your options before making a decision, because your study schedule will be based on the CPA review course that you select. If you are aware of your study habits and requirements, the appropriate course will guide you through these difficult months, keep you motivated, and ensure that your studying is as efficient as possible. Contact Phil Yaeger to get started.