How To Be In Control – Part 1

CONTROL: How to Be In

Each time you attempt a new challenge, you must first develop a control system. Passing the CPA exam requires candidates to be in control during exam preparation and execution. The objective is to be confident that the best possible performance is being generated. Control is a process whereby you

  1. Develop expectations, standards, budgets, and plans
  2. Undertake activity, production, study, and learning
  3. Measure the activity, production, output, and knowledge
  4. Compare actual activity with expected and budgeted activity
  5. Modify the activity, behavior, or study to better achieve the desired outcome
  6. Revise expectations and standards in light of actual experience
  7. Continue the process or restart the process in the future

Every day you rely on control systems implicitly. For example, when you groom your hair, you use a control system. You have expectations about the desired appearance of your hair and the time required to style it. You monitor your progress and make adjustments as appropriate. The control process, however, is applicable to all of your endeavors, both professional and personal. You should refine your personal control processes specifically toward passing the CPA exam.

In the beginning, set an expectation of when you would like to take and pass the first section. Once you have a goal, look at your schedule and decide how many hours a week are available. Accomplish this by evaluating your available time and choosing activities you can sacrifice to help meet your goals.

As you move forward, you might find that you over- or under-budgeted, which can be expected. So, you will need to adjust accordingly (step 5 above). If each study unit is taking you longer to complete than you anticipated, you should evaluate the resources you have available and make use of those to ensure you meet your goal.

It is important that you have the ability to adjust your control systems based on the demands of your daily schedule. This includes any changes that occur in your professional or personal life that directly impact your exam preparation. Once you take the first section, immediately begin preparing for the next. Remember, evaluate your schedule and see where you might want to make adjustments based on new circumstances or insight gained from your previous plan.