Everyone is always asking us, just how hard is the cpa exam? There are four parts to the Uniform CPA Examination. Each part assesses a candidate’s skill in depth following the AICPA Blueprints, with a focus on critical thinking on all four parts.
It is widely regarded as one of the most difficult exams to pass in order to get standardized professional qualifications. The Uniform CPA Examination is one of the most challenging professional credentialing exams, with national pass rates hovering around 50%.
Therefore, it is critical to study efficiently and effectively in order to ensure that you clear each of the four exam sections and continue on your journey to earning your CPA license as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Why Is The CPA Exam Hard?
Let’s take a look at the exam itself to see what it is that makes it so difficult.
In the CPA exam, there are four sections: Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Regulations (REG), and Business Environment and Concepts (BEC).
Each exam section focuses on a different aspect of accounting knowledge and assesses your understanding through the use of question styles such as simulations and multiple-choice questions.
It takes 16 hours to finish the entire CPA Exam, with a four-hour time limit on each section.
The reason that this exam is quite difficult is because it covers a large amount of information, and therefore requires a huge time commitment and personal determination to pass.
CPA Exam Time Commitment
It should come as no surprise that consuming all of the content will take a significant amount of time given the volume of material to be studied.
After everything is said and done, you’ll likely spend more than 300 hours studying for the whole CPA Exam. If you’re like the majority of people who take the exam, you already have a full-time job that requires you to work 40 or more hours each week.
Fitting more than 300 hours into your schedule needs a significant amount of dedication. Remember, there are only 24 hours in a day. You can’t MAKE more hours. The earth’s orbit already does that! But you can TAKE more hours to study. This means you swap out things like most of your social life, your 60 minute lunch hours at work, your t.v. time at night, etc, for study time.
At Yaeger CPA we urge our students to get the support of their family before undertaking this career-changing task. We believe you can’t underestimate the value of family support.
Time Management on Exam Day
When it comes to passing or failing a test, it doesn’t matter how well you study or how much you know about the subject matter.
Your ability to keep track of the clock on exam day could be the key difference. Each exam section lasts for 4 hours and contains 5 testlets.
Two of the 5 testlets contain multiple choice questions (MCQ)-you should spend no more than two minutes on each MCQ. Some of the MCQs you will be able to answer quickly; others will require computations. The number of MCQs varies slightly on each Exam part.
The remainder of each Exam contains 8 Task-Based Simulations (TBS) included in 3 testlets. You should spend no more than 15 minutes on each SIM. We recommend when you open a SIM Testlet (which will contain either 2 or 3 problems), quickly review the problems, and work first on the problem you feel the most confident to tackle. This will help you preserve some time for the other problem(s).
What Is The Hardest Section Of The CPA Exam?
The topic on the CPA Exam that is the most difficult for you will be determined by your accounting background.
While many candidates find the FAR portion to be the most difficult, you may find AUD to be more difficult if you’ve never conducted an audit, or REG to be the most difficult because of its emphasis on taxes and business law.
In the end, it is not a certain topic or segment of the CPA Exam that is difficult; rather, it is the sheer scope of the exam as a whole that is challenging.
Each task highlights a critical knowledge or skill that CPAs must possess, and these tasks are graded according to their difficulty or skill level, respectively.
Suggestions To Prepare For The CPA Exam
Set An Efficient Study Schedule
Note that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all study schedule. That’s why, at Yaeger CPA Review, Phil Yaeger personally talks to candidates and suggests a study schedule for them, and then a week later, he evaluates how well the schedule is working.
Most review courses use mnemonics to aid memory, but never choose mnemonics. A limited number of mnemonics are okay. They help you to remember important facts. Also important is to maintain a healthy diet and a consistent workout routine in addition to adhering to your daily schedule.
Over-studying Is Just As Bad As Understudying
Nothing could be more damaging to your CPA exam preparation than pushing yourself past the point of fatigue.
Yes, it’s important that you get started on your studies with a sense of urgency and purpose, but going too hard for too long might lead to burnout. A daily and weekly schedule can help you remain on track with your studies and guarantee that you meet your goals.
Over-studying isn’t any more effective than under-studying, and both can produce equal results when it’s time to take the test.
Quality over Quantity
At Yaeger CPA Review we point out to our students the importance of quality rather than quantity. What this means is, if after 2 hours of studying you feel like nothing is making any sense, then it’s time to stop studying and not push yourself to reach your 3 hour goal. Two hours of really learning the material is better than 3 hours of, “I don’t remember anything I’ve been looking at.”
Find A CPA Review Course Based on How You Learn Best
Although there are a multitude of companies that provide CPA study materials, this does not imply that the same resources are effective for everyone.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to learning. Each collection of resources has a unique technique for preparing you for the exam, so you’ll need to select the one that best suits your learning style and preferences.
A good, reputable, CPA Review course should have demos easily available on their website for candidates to watch before choosing the review course that will best fit their personal learning style.
The CPA Exam is HARD, but with the right materials to study from, the right review course to guide you, and a good study plan in place, it is PASSABLE.