Everyone tells you to take the CPA Exam after graduation, but you aren’t sure where to begin or how to balance the exam with life, work, and summer plans. Chances are, you’d rather spend your summer doing things other than study.  

But you can have it all: beach, passed sections and a life. It all depends on choosing the right study tool to get you there. While other exam prep courses say you’ll need 450 hours of study for the CPA Exam, Surgent CPA Review students, on average, are ready for all sections with only 89 total study hours – less than 30 hours of study time per section. Surgent students have access to a remarkable suite of adaptive learning technology that assesses existing knowledge, shores up weaknesses and uses the award-winning ReadySCORE™ tool to let students know when they’re ready to take the test and pass. 

This is the right time to tackle the CPA Exam because the CPA Evolution takes effect Jan. 1, 2024. Any previous, still-valid credits earned from passing test sections before the transition will carry over, but do you really want to be straddling the change in systems?  

With Surgent CPA Review, you skip the dog days of studying summer and still have time for summer fun. Of course, you need a strategy to reach your goals. Follow this suggested road map, and you can complete all four sections of the CPA Exam before you’re ready to start your accounting career in the fall.  

How to pass the CPA Exam this summer  

Check your state’s requirements. States differ in the requirements needed to qualify for taking the CPA Exam. Depending on where you sit, your prerequisites could differ from those of your friends and classmates, so make sure you know exactly what your state requires before you apply for the CPA Exam. For details, visit Surgent CPA Review’s handy links to board of accountancy requirements by state 

Enroll in a CPA Exam review course. This is the difference-maker. Your goal is to pass the CPA Exam before the CPA Evolution takes effect while making the most efficient use of your time – and who doesn’t want that? Choose an exam review course that streamlines study time and puts you on the fastest path to success.  

These Surgent features will help you get there: 

  • A.S.A.P.® Technology: Adaptive learning technology assesses your existing knowledge, so you don’t waste time studying things you already know well. 
  • ReadySCORE™: With ReadySCORE, you get a remarkably accurate prediction of your score if you were to sit for the section that day. You don’t waste time by taking the test too early or long after you’re ready. 
  • MyMCQ™: Cookie-cutter practice tests don’t help you learn. MyMCQ delivers multiple-choice questions customized to help you stretch your knowledge base. 
  • Daily Surge: Random study is not strategic. Daily Surge saves time by suggesting the areas you need to study every time you log in.  

These best-in-class features combine to shave hundreds of hours off your study time. In fact, the AICPA says that successful CPA Exam candidates spend an average of 400 hours on studying. Surgent’s adaptive technology can get you exam-ready in 89 hours.  

How to apply for the CPA Exam

Start at the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) website, where you will apply for the initial authorization, submit transcripts and pay application fees. 

After you receive your Authorization to Test (ATT), you choose which exams you want to take and pay the sitting fees. While you wait for your Notice to Schedule (NTS), it’s time to start studying. Once you identify which sections you want to take and in what order, all that’s left to do is schedule the dates. 

When you receive your NTS, go ahead and schedule your dates via the Prometric website. Mark these dates in your calendar, because they are the key to creating a study plan that works. Commit to dates you know you can make. Your best friend is getting married on the first weekend? Maybe don’t schedule an exam for that Monday. You have a two-week break where your young siblings will be away at camp? Try and use those weeks for exams and study sessions. 

Create a road map and study schedule

The CPA Exam is unlike any test you’ve ever taken. You must pass all sections of the four-part test within 18 months. Each section probes your mastery of a different specialty. Even the order in which you take each section contributes to success. A realistic study schedule coupled with Surgent’s adaptive technology helps you reach your goals. Surgent CPA Review even adapts to your chosen exam dates, helping you prepare a study plan that works on your timeline. Establish a study plan in June, and you’ll be ready to pass all four sections by then end of September. 

Start with Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)

Get this section out of the way, because it’s the most comprehensive and — students report — most difficult. It covers a range of topics, from how to calculate depreciation to which financial statements are required for governmental organizations. You’ll be asked to recall and apply financial reporting concepts and prove you have the knowledge required by CPAs. 

 Another reason to take FAR first: The topics tested here, such as GAAP, commonly show up in the other three parts, so you get a study-time two-for-one 

Study for Audit and Attestation (AUD) after FAR

The AUD exam is indirectly related to your GAAP knowledge, so you’re better equipped for this section if you just studied FAR. Remember, audited financial statements are frequently prepared under US GAAP. 

The AUD section covers audits, attestation engagements, and preparation, compilation and review engagements. Unlike the other three sections, AUD tests your ability to assess problems and use judgment to draw conclusions. These skills are paramount in the auditing profession, and this section tests your ability to accurately and ethically judge situations encountered by CPAs. These judgment questions make AUD the most text-heavy of the sections, so you can focus more on concepts and less on calculations. 

Audit focuses more on memorization and conceptual understanding so it is a nice break from the heavy math and financial focus of FAR. It will give you a confidence boost heading into your next exam section. 

Study for Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)

BEC tests general business knowledge as it relates to finance, economics, cost/managerial accounting, information technology and corporate governance. BEC focuses on many AUD topics, such as internal controls, but from the viewpoint of management instead of the auditor. BEC’s written component can include topics from any of the four sections, but focuses more on form than content. 

Most importantly, BEC the past few years has had the highest pass rate (almost 60%) of any of the four sections.  And because this section is being eliminated in the CPA Evolution, you will want to give yourself time to schedule to test before the transition as spots will likely fill up leading into 2024.  

Finally, study for Regulation (REG) next  

Three down, one to go. Now that GAAP and general business concepts are  is done, it’s time to reorient toward tax-focused financial statements and reporting. As tax reporting is wholly different from traditional financial and cost accounting, it’s good to save this section for last. This section is often broken into two parts: taxation and law, including business law and federal tax procedures for a variety of entities.  

The topics are relatively similar, but the breadth within each is expansive. Your study should target a firm understanding of tax concepts and how to apply them, and knowing the ins and outs of business law. 

4 tips to help you pass the CPA Exam in less than 4 months

Find small windows to study time in your daily life

You’re starting a career and working full-time, or you’re studying for the CPA Exam while you finish college. After a long day of work or classes, you’re hardly motivated to block out hours of study time for the CPA Exam. Fortunately, the right study tool makes it easy to pack small but powerful study sessions into your day.  

Surgent CPA Review sets the stage for short, focused sessions, thanks to the Daily Surge feature. The Daily Surge appears on your dashboard every time you log in, immediately directing you to bite-sized video lectures, reading material and multiple-choice question sets. You aren’t wasting time sorting through every chapter or lecture to find the material you need to learn. Your suggested materials are chosen by Surgent’s adaptive learning algorithm based on your study progress.  

Take a few minutes on your commute, during your lunch break, or while you’re on the exercise bike to review your Daily Surge content. You will be surprised at how quickly the minutes stack up. 

Don’t waste time on what you already know

Where do you even begin? When there’s so much to learn, the last thing you want to do is waste time rehashing the material you already know. Surgent CPA Review cuts to the chase by taking adaptive intelligence to a new level with the innovative MyMCQ™. 

Surgent not only delivers content designed to fill your knowledge gaps. It also adjusts the difficulty level of your practice multiple-choice questions, or MCQs, based on your current level of proficiency. If you’re just learning a new concept, the questions are basic. As you approach mastery, the difficulty of the questions automatically increases, efficiently pushing you toward the advanced competency levels you’ll encounter on the exam.  

Since Surgent added MyMCQ to its exam review, students reduced their already-efficient study time by an additional 17%! 

Know when you’re ready to pass

Sitting for exams is nerve-wracking, no matter how prepared you feel. To send you into the exam with full confidence, Surgent created ReadySCORE™. From the end of the assessment phase through the review phase, ReadySCORE™ tracks your progress and continually updates an estimate of the score you would receive if you were to sit for the CPA Exam at your current knowledge level. Adaptive technology makes the score precise and accurate. 

ReadySCORE is calibrated to actual CPA Exam scoring and, on average, Surgent students’ ReadySCOREs fall within four points of their actual CPA Exam score. In fact, Surgent students who achieve a ReadySCORE of 75 or higher pass the CPA Exam 92% of the time – far better than the average national pass rates of around 50%. 

Choose the review that adapts to you

The CPA Exam is changing. Now is the time to get it done, but remember that the review course you choose will either make excellent use of your time or drag the process into doomsday. The key to making the right decision is finding the course that recognizes the knowledge you start with and accommodates your progress.  

The course that adapts is Surgent CPA Review. With Surgent, a few months is all it takes. Look into what you’re paying for, and you’ll see that Surgent CPA Review’s sophisticated technology makes your study time matter. Remember these unique features that customize the learning experience: 

  • A.S.A.P.® Technology: Adaptive learning crafts study sessions according to your knowledge levels. You pass the CPA Exam up to four times faster than you would with other providers. 
  • ReadySCORE™: It’s the industry’s only accurate measure of CPA Exam readiness. You sit down when you’re ready – not before or after. Imagine the peace of mind! 
  • Full access until you pass: Surgent CPA Review materials, including free content and software updates, are there for you every step of the way. 
  • Unlimited practice exams: Relieve that test anxiety by taking practice exams as often as you like — included in every package. 
  • 100% pass guarantee: Chances are, you will pass if your ReadySCORE says so, but Surgent doesn’t succeed until you do.  

It’s time. There are so many good reasons to take the CPA Exam now, and with Surgent CPA Review, it’s off your bucket list in a matter of a few short months. Maximize your study hours, and in the time it takes to say “beach volleyball,” you can find yourself ready to start the next phase of your career. Learn more and start a free trial by visiting Surgent CPA Review today!