So I passed my last part of the CPA exam about two weeks ago and a lot of people asked me about advice on how to pass the exam. This a late post because life post CPA is amazing and I haven't had time for myself because apparently all the firms I applied to want to hire me. (Yay!) So please read on because this is going to be long but worth it.
1 - Identifying why you want to become a CPA is the #1 key of passing the exam. It will determined your resilience, meaning what you are willing to sacrifice to become who you want to become. It will also help you get back on track when you fail a part and want to retake it. Trust me, I am speaking from experience.
2 - Choosing the right study materials is the #2 most important key. Try all the materials out there and figure out which one matches your learning style (they all have free trials).
3 - Asking people what topics are heavily tested is a waste of time and will probably prepare you to fail because all exams are different. I know it is a lot of materials to process for only one part but the more you know/study/understand the higher is your chance of passing the exam. STUDY EVERYTHING!!! However, I know for FAR some topic are more tested than others.
4 - I know we all study differently and asking for advice from people who have already passed the exam on how they studied is okay. Just remember everyone is different, find the study method that works best for YOU.
5 - You will hear some people say "I passed this part in 3 weeks or 3 days" etc. DO NOT LISTEN to those people. If they were able to do it, good for them. I used to think maybe I was dumb because it was taking me longer to study for those parts. Some of us have a stronger background in some topics compared to others which made some parts of the exam easier to study for.
6 - MCQ'S, MCQ'S & more MCQ'S but in an efficient way!!! It is the only way you will truly understand the concepts. Practice the mcq's to understand the concepts you learned and not to memorize the solutions. It is important that you understand why you got an answer right vs an answer wrong.
7 - And while you are doing that think about the following:
a. What is the mcq really asking about? Read the question carefully.
b. When you choose the answer, make sure it is the answer that best respond to the mcq. (Especially for AUD)
c. Identify if you got an mcq right because you know the concepts or because you just guessed
d. If you know the concept and applied it wrong figure out why ( did I read the mcq too fast, was it because of I missed a word that changed the whole call of the mcq and didn't pay attention to it etc..)
e. Also read all the explanation to the mcq whether you picked the wrong/right answer.
8 - For help on some part of the exams now. BEC: The major thing people struggle with are all the formulas. What I did is write down the formula that I think will solve the mcq's for every single mcq that requires one. Writing the formulas ever time made then stick. Also know the idea behind it. Why should I use this formula vs another one.
REG: Know the tax and law rules by heart and you should be good.
I won't comment on AUD and FAR because.I didn't do anything special. If anybody out there have tips please share with us.
9 - Allocate your time wisely during the exam is important and the reason I failed Audit the first time. I left 40 min for sims and had a 68. The second time around I finished the exam with 40min to spare and had an 85. Well you see my point!
10 - I know going through the exam and having other responsibilities like work/kids make the exam even more challenging. I have a deep respect for those of you juggling all that together with studying for the exam. Things happen in life that we are not always in control of, I had my share and I can tell you that you can move pass it/them. One thing I want to share with you all for sure is the fact that you have to let go of the negative people/things and surround yourself with only positive people. Trust me it helps having a healthy mind to get you to your full potential and therefore pass the exam.
11 - These CPA study groups and the amazing people I had the honor to meet and even chat with were also one of my strongest assets in helping me pass the exam.
12 - Take all these advice from a girl who applied to sit for the CPA exam with a $500 scholarship, took a $5000 credit card to pay both for Becker and her exam fees, went through surgery and have not completely healed because of medical complications during the surgery, put her CPA in front of her health, was so broke that she couldn't pay for her bills/rent, had to borrow money from friends to take her last part of the exam and only had $20 in her bank account to survived as of three weeks ago. I gave the CPA exam my all and if i have to redo it, I will not change a thing. Good luck to you all.
Farah A., CPA Exam Club member
Original post can be found at the FAR Study Group on Facebook: