Best Test Taking Strategies for the CPA Exam
Taking the CPA exam is much more than simply sitting down to take a test. Knowing what to expect as well as how to handle the unexpected can make taking the exam much easier. Having a test taking strategy that’s based on your experience, education, and preparedness can make taking the CPA exam a much easier process.
There are four sections to the CPA exam, each which must be passed within eighteen months of passing the first. Consider these best practices of those who have successfully passed each section of the exam.
- Choose your test prep format carefully. While there are many CPA review courses as well as a variety of formats, it is critical to choose the one that fits your needs and learning style. If you learn best by working in a group, then a hands on review class may be the best fit. On the other hand, if you are a visual learner, then reading material on your own, partaking in an interactive course may be the most effective option. Determining your learning style is a first step. CPA Review offers a multitude of course types and learning formats for every type and level of learner.
- Plan for the time investment. The most proficient test takers spend about thirty hours a week studying for each section of the exam. This will vary from person to person though. On average, test takers spend about 400 to 500 hours total preparing for the exam. Having a well thought out plan of study is crucial and will help prevent you from straying from your ultimate goal. The national average pass rates for each section of the exam during the first and second quarter of 2012 collectively is under 50%.Cramming the material simply won't work on this exam. There is too much to learn, so plan accordingly and budget your time.
- Take practice exams. One of the best ways to prepare for the CPA exam is to take computerized practice exams, which simulate the different forms of the questions found on the CPA exam. Seeing how the questions are worded and how to work through both multiple choice and situational questions will eliminate the surprise factor of seeing the questions for the first time on test day.
- Understand the format. The exam, presented in four separate sections, is broken down into sections of multiple choice questions and simulations. Each section covers different topics, questions, and different answer forms i.e. multiple choice, written communication, etc. Make note that once you compete a testlet you may not return to it.
- Know the tools. The computerized CPA exam format features a word processor and a spreadsheet, however be aware that they are not Microsoft software as is commonly used in the business community. We, CPA Review, do offer practice exams, material, and courses that function identical to the software that you will be using on the actual exam. Knowing how to efficiently maneuver the exam software tools will save you time, frustration and errors.
The CPA exam is an enormous undertaking, one that requires much more than simply taking college level classes.