Passing the CPA Exam: Tips from Grace College Accounting Graduates
At Grace College, earning an accounting degree means receiving a high-quality education from professors who are passionate about the subject matter and the students. We pride ourselves on preparing our students for a career and giving them every tool possible to excel in their field. And for an accounting major, one of the most important steps in his or her career is passing the CPA exam.
You may be asking, why does the CPA exam matter? Passing the CPA exam is the best gateway into the accounting field. It will give you a wide range of career options, including jobs with accounting firms in the public sector, the private sector, and the government sector. Passing the CPA exam proves your professional competence and your depth of knowledge in the field. After all, accountants play a vital role in the life of a company. You’ll be entrusted to review a company’s financial statements and be the keeper of the accounting “playbook.”
We asked some of our successful accounting graduates to give their advice about how to pass the CPA exam.
1. Understand the theory, don’t just memorize the answers.
There is no winging it; you won’t pass the CPA exam by putting in half effort, so put in the work. Specifically, study the areas of the exam that you do not want to see a question from. Grace and Dr. Stichter did a great job of teaching me how I studied best and giving me a very solid base to launch my critical thinking. Dr. Stichter invests so much into his students and the investment he made into me as a person means much more than any degree or title I’ve earned. He’s the best teacher in the game.
Auditor at Crowe LLP
2. Create a plan based on your goals.
My goal was to pass all four exams from the time I graduated (May) to the date I started my full-time job in November. When I mapped out my time from May to November, I realized I needed to average about 25 hours per week of studying which gave me the freedom to get a part-time job. My time at Grace was super helpful, especially taking the accounting courses with Dr. Stichter. He made the class challenging to match the difficulty of the CPA exam, which I believe was one of my keys to success.
Audit Associate at RMS
3. Put the time in.
I personally recommend taking the summer off and studying for the exams full time, if you can afford to do so. There are simply not enough hours in the day if you’re working full time while trying to study. The content on the CPA exam is generally beyond the scope of most accounting curriculum, so it is important for prospects to realize that they have to be mentally prepared to learn entire textbooks of information. I feel that Dr. Stichter did a great job of preparing us for passing the CPA exam by helping us develop our studying skills in our Intermediate and Advanced Accounting courses. I also feel like the MBA courses did a great job of diving further in-depth on some topics that I found on the CPA exams.
Federal Income Tax Staff at Crowe LLP
4. Know how you learn best.
When you are studying, you need to have strong willpower to persevere when working through difficult concepts and good study habits to learn effectively. Because your CPA exam studying will be largely self-directed, try to learn now what works best for you. This may be through reading, watching videos, flashcards, or studying in a group. Not the same things work for everyone, so try to make your study time as efficient as possible! Take ownership of your learning, and it will definitely aid in passing the CPA exam.
Audit Associate at BKD
5. Take the practice exams.
The practice exams offered at the end of the study materials are very similar to the actual exam. The questions in the practice tests are usually the most important questions….so taking those practice exams multiple times is smart.
Assurance Staff at Ernst & Young
6. Set a study schedule and stick to it.
The exam is all about perseverance and dedication to studying for it. It’s not necessarily a technical skill exam. Probably about 90% of what’s on the exam, you’ll never use in your day-to-day work. It’s about the process of learning how to sit down for it. You just have to do it. Figure out what works for you, and say no to other things when you have to. Personally, I studied for two hours after my full workday Monday-Friday, four hours Saturday, and I gave myself Sunday off.
Partner at Capin Crouse
7. Communicate your study schedule to those closest to you.
This helps your support group be aware of your plan and helps foster understanding when you are busier than usual. Studying for the exam is difficult, but with the right amount of time dedication, I know you can do it!
Senior Associate at Dulin, Ward & DeWald, Inc. (DWD)
As the top-ranking small program college for passing the CPA exam in Indiana, Grace College is the place to prepare for a career of excellence. Click here to learn more about our high pass rates.
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