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. 

With Surgent CPA Review, you skip the days of studying during summer and still have time for 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  

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: By making the most of your study time, CPA Review keeps you focused by recommending the topics you need to cover, every time you dedicate time to study.  
  • 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 read. 
  • Personalization: Surgent customizes multiple-choice practice questions to test your knowledge and prompt you to learn more challenging concepts with each round.   
  •  Efficient Studying: By making the most of your study time, CPA Review keeps you focused by recommending the topics you need to cover, every time you dedicate time to study.  

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

NASBA approved an amendment to the UAA, allowing state boards to extend the CPA Exam pass window from 18 months to up to 30 months, giving candidates up to an extra 12 months to pass all four parts once they pass their first section. This is independent from the one-time, 18-month extension for outstanding sections on Jan. 1, 2024. NASBA also redefined the start of the pass window to the date the scores are released and not the date the candidate sat for the CPA Exam. Both of these changes are advantageous to CPA candidates and will give them more time and flexibility to complete their journeys to becoming CPAs.

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. 

Finally, study for Taxation an Regulation (REG) next

Three down, one to go. Now that GAAP and general business concepts are 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 advised to complete this section near the end. 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 complexities 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 unpack 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 proprietary AI learning system 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. 

Since Surgent added intuitive multiple choice practice questions 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 the best use of your free time or elongate the process. The key to making the right decision is finding the course that recognizes your current knowledge base while accommodating 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: 

  • 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 available until you pass!
    • *Applies to the Premier and Ultimate packages only.
  • Unlimited practice exams: Testing anxiety can keep candidates from doing their best. By having access to unlimited practice exams, included in every Surgent package, can help calm the nerves and leave you feeling extra confident in your abilities.
  • 100% pass guarantee: Surgent’s systematic, technology-driven supports greatly improve your chances of passing the CPA Exam. However, if something goes wrong, Surgent’s pass guarantee means you don’t lose your prep course investment.
    • *Applies to the Premier and Ultimate packages only.

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!

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