It’s already the end of May, and summer is upon us! That means it’s the end of the school year for some and graduation for others. As an accounting student, or recent accounting graduate, the summer is the perfect time to study for the CPA Exam, whether you have one more year of school left or you start your first job this fall. If you want to get a head start on the CPA Exam, check out these tips below to help you use this time off to your advantage.
5 ways to efficiently study for the CPA Exam
1. Figure out the requirements early
As in, right now! Knowing what’s required by your particular state as soon as possible will help you determine the steps you need to take for the CPA Exam. Check with your particular state board to see what the requirements for CPA candidates are.
Many states require a certain number of hours before you sit for the exam, and these hours typically have to be in specific areas. If you have one more year of college, now is the perfect time to research what your state requires so you can adjust your classes for next year accordingly if need be. Recent graduates will have to weigh their degrees and determine if additional schooling is needed or if they’ve met the necessary requirements to take the exam.
Keep in mind that the requirements to get licensed as a CPA may not be the same as the requirements to take the exam. You may be able to take the CPA Exam with 120 hours but you need 150 to get licensed; these are requirements you need to know early on in order to set yourself up to take the exam and get your license as soon as possible.
2. Get away for the summer
Whether you’re a recent graduate planning on taking the CPA Exam this summer, or you have one more year of school but want to get a jump start on studying, consider getting away for a bit. This doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but getting out of your college town and going home, or finding a more secluded place to spend the summer can help you avoid distractions and have quality study time.
This doesn’t mean you need to cut out all fun (as we’ll talk about soon), but if you’re serious about taking the CPA Exam, you want to give yourself the best chance possible of passing. Once you start your job or you start school again in the fall, it’s going to be much harder to set aside study time for the exam. Summer is a great time to get a jump start on studying for and passing the exam.
3. Create detailed time blocks
A great place to create time blocks is via your email program, which generally has calendar software. Alternatively, you can take a pen to paper or purchase a whiteboard and physically write in specific time blocks. Your time blocks should be consistent from week to week; what you do on Monday should typically stay the same for the entire summer.
More importantly, your time blocks should be realistic. Don’t create 9-hour time blocks every day dedicated to studying when you know you’re going to burn out in a few days. Consider how you’ve studied in the past and what works for you. Are you a morning person or do you like the evenings? Do you like to marathon study four days a week and have a long weekend or would you rather take lots of breaks throughout the day? This will help you create realistic time blocks and help you avoid burnout. Creating a specific schedule that works with your study habits will help you avoid spending time studying ineffectively.
You may notice we didn’t touch much on specific study schedules. A good CPA Review course will create a study plan for you, adapting as you go through the materials and helping you learn at a rate that works for you.
Thanks to Surgent CPA Review’s A.S.A.P.® Technology your performance informs a real-time algorithm, which ensures that your study plan continues to adapt as you master content through your studies. Consider signing up for a five-day free trial to see how Surgent can help you pass faster!
4. Have some fun
While studying all day seems like the perfect way to pass the CPA Exam, the reality is, it’s summer. The weather is going to be beautiful, and if you’re a recent graduate, it may be the last summer you have before you start working full-time. So, have some fun! This is why we created our time blocks above. Spending time with family and friends and doing activities you love will help you come to each study session refreshed and ready.
5. Keep testing windows in mind
The Q2 testing window closes on June 10th, and the rest of June is a dark month. You may not be able to take your first exam before July 1st, and that’s okay. Either way, you want to consider your testing windows if you want to take a few sections this summer. Scheduling your first section as close to July 1st as possible will set you up to take at least two exams this summer, possibly three, before the Q3 testing window closes on September 10th.
No matter where your CPA Exam path leads, keep in mind when you can actually take exams (between now and June 10th and between July 1st and September 10th), so you don’t accidentally set yourself up to take an exam section during a dark period.
Having said that, make sure you don’t rush through your study materials to make testing dates. If you want to keep an eye on your potential score, consider Surgent’s ReadySCORE™, which allows you to see what your score would be for each exam section as you study, helping you determine when you’re ready to take and pass the CPA Exam.
Benefits of studying for the CPA Exam as soon as possible
- If you just gradutaed
Passing the CPA Exam as quickly as possible after graduation will help you in several ways. Firstly, you’ll take a mountain of stress off your future self. Secondly, you’ll prove to your employer, or future employer, that you’re serious about the profession and are willing to put in the work to advance and grow. And lastly, many companies will pay a bonus to employees who pass the CPA Exam, which means you’ll have a little more cash in your bank account.Peace of mind is the biggest earner; if you pass a few parts of the CPA Exam the summer after you graduate, you’ll feel much better going into your first full-time job and will avoid most of the pressure of passing all four parts of the exam while working.
- If you have one more yearStudying for the CPA Exam now may not seem like a top priority, but if you’re serious about passing, now is a great time to at least start looking through study materials. Not only will it give you a leg up when you do start seriously studying to take the exam, but it will also prepare you for your Senior year of college. Many of the subjects you’ll take in your senior year, such as tax, auditing or other advanced accounting topics, correlate with the materials in AUD, FAR, BEC and REG. By studying now, you’ll not only be better prepared to take the CPA Exam next year, but you’ll be more prepared for your senior year classes. Just make sure you get a review course that never expires so you can use it when you do start taking exam sections.
- If you just gradutaed
Whether you just graduated or you have one more year of college, the summer is the perfect time to get started studying for the CPA Exam. If you’re ready to jump in and pass a few exams before fall rolls around, check out this course comparison to see how Surgent stacks up against the competition.
Megan Bierwirth graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and passed the CPA Exam within six months of graduation. She worked in both public accounting and industry while becoming a CPA and now runs a virtual bookkeeping company focused on preventive, integrative and complementary medicine professionals.