CPA Hot Topics 12/16/11 – Schedule Your Exam Early

Garrett Gleim sends CPA candidates bimonthly emails concerning different aspects of the CPA exam. Candidates can see the most recent email and all the archives here on the CPA Candidate Forum.

When the CPA Exam became computerized in 2004, it went from being offered only twice a year to being available during four, two-month testing windows. Candidates sitting for the exam in the U.S. can register and take the exam at any time during these windows as long as the testing center has appointments available. The AICPA made this change to make taking the exam more convenient, but, as I talk with CPA candidates, I have found that many are more likely to procrastinate knowing they have so many future dates to choose from.

Your goal is to pass the CPA exam as quickly as possible. When you delay taking the exam, you prevent yourself from being able to take advantage of the benefits of being certified. To combat this problem, register and schedule exams as early as possible within the limits of how long your Notice to Schedule (NTS) is valid, which is usually 6 months. Registering early establishes a finish line. If you are studying with the mindset that you will take the exam at some vague future time, it allows you to procrastinate. If you have no target, you are less likely to succeed. On the other hand, with a firm date set in advance, you can study each day to reach your goal of passing the exam on the date that is convenient for you.

When planning out your next section, map out a calendar of what you will need to study each day leading up to the desired exam date. For example, if you already have your NTS and you wish to take the Financial section in April, create a study schedule, and decide what will be a suitable date for you. By immediately registering for and scheduling your exam well in advance, you will have (1) a date that is convenient for you and (2) a finish line that forces you to focus throughout the year, even in the winter months when you can be distracted by holidays and school vacations.

Therefore, if you are studying for a section and have not scheduled an exam date or you are thinking about studying for a section, I suggest that you use the Gleim CPA Review System and work with your Personal Counselor to create a study plan together. Once the study plan is complete, you should immediately schedule your exam date. Much of the battle of getting through the CPA exam is keeping yourself focused. By planning early, you get the dates you want, you commit to studying regularly, and you pass the exam.

Do you have any questions or comments about this week’s Hot Topics article or the CPA Exam? Email me at hottopics@gleim.com. Gleim Personal Counselors are available to help you develop a manageable study schedule and help you pass the CPA exam. Contact them at 800.874.5346, ext 498 or personalcounselor@gleim.com. Take advantage of the opportunity to get help from our extraordinary team!

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