If receiving your EA designation is one of your New Year’s resolutions for 2018, you might be feeling overwhelmed and maybe even a little nervous. Relax; we’ve got some tips for you. You already know the benefits of passing the Enrolled Agent exam: enhancing your career, reinforcing your authority as an expert in tax preparation, and, of course, helping your paycheck! Now is the time to get serious about preparing for the Enrolled Agent exam in the new year.
1. Plan study breaks.
Pushing yourself too hard at the start of your studying process can be detrimental to your success. That might sound counter-intuitive, but starting off strong can cause early burnout, which is a common problem in any New Year’s resolution. Schedule breaks from studying just like you would schedule the study sessions themselves. This will ease you in to the difficult task you’ve set before yourself.
A big issue with the Special Enrollment Examination is time management. It’s important that, as each of the three parts of the exam draws near, you schedule less breaks for yourself. This will help you get used to the rigorous 3.5 hours of straight testing for each part of the exam. You’re technically allowed to take a break during the exam, but the clock will keep running. It’s most advantageous for you to develop the ability to sit and work for the entire 3.5-hour session to get as much time as possible with the material.
If you’ve already started studying, allowing yourself to take breaks will make it easier to slide back into the habit of studying. Your schedule was almost certainly thrown off by the bustle of the holidays. Don’t give your brain whiplash by going zero to one hundred on January 2.
2. Develop your study plan based on your real life, not your fantasy life.
It’s not realistic to plan to study four hours a night, every single weeknight, and another eight hours on Sunday. Few people have the time or energy to do that even if they are full-time students. Perhaps plan for two hours of studying three nights out of the week and on Saturday and Sunday. If you can’t sacrifice that much time on weeknights, split the 2-hour sessions into two 1-hours sessions: one in the morning before work and one at night right before bed. Spreading your studying out makes your big New Year’s resolution much more manageable.
When the holidays end and you’ve sufficiently celebrated the new year, your schedule will probably return to normal and become more predictable. Take advantage by sticking to the same study schedule each week. Find a schedule that works for you; study a little bit every day, or take an entire day out of the week to get deep into the material. Gleim generally recommends you study for 10-20 hours per week. This will vary depending on how far out your exam is, but for a comprehensive review, you should plan on around 260 total hours of studying. Find the number of hours per week that will get you prepared in time and break that into manageable chunks. Do this and you’ll steadily move forward toward your ultimate goal: your EA designation.
3. Use Technology to Your Advantage
Our phones can be incredibly distracting. If you’re like most people, you regularly find yourself on your phone instead of getting work done. Keep yourself on track with a goal-setting app. There are many free apps on the market that will send reminders to your phone. When you find yourself on your phone scrolling through the news or other photos, a notification will pop up letting you know it’s time to study. Alternatively, if self-motivation isn’t your strong suit, use peer motivation. There are apps you can find that keep you accountable to your goals by using peer motivation. Your friends can check in on you to see if you’ve completed your study session for the day, and remind you if you haven’t.
If you’d really rather not look away from your phone, don’t worry, the Gleim EA Review Course is mobile friendly. You can access study materials and thousands of review questions anywhere on any mobile device.
Keep in mind that the first few days of studying consistently will be the hardest. You’re developing a new habit and using an app will help that habit stick. Once you’ve overcome the tough step of getting started, sitting down to study will get easier. Just get through one day at a time and you’ll get the momentum going. Remember – a body in motion tends to stay in motion. So get that motion started.
4. Motivate Yourself
Give yourself a concrete record of your accomplishments. This could be a poster-board listing of the concepts in Parts 1-3 with boxes you check off as you progress. Or, it could be a spreadsheet app on your phone that tracks your work. The point is to show yourself that you’re making progress through the material. Once you see that you have studied the majority of the concepts, you might feel inspired enough to power through and finish the rest of Part 1 a little early. When you have everything completed and checked off, take a moment to acknowledge your hard work and reflect on all you’ve learned.
It also helps to have a concrete image attached to your overall goal. For example, if becoming an EA means you’ll automatically get a raise in your job, decide what you want to do with that extra money. Do you want to travel and see the world? Do you want to finally buy a car that’s less than 10 years old? Find a picture of that country you’ve always wanted to see or that new dream car—anything that will help you visualize your ultimate goal—and tape it to your monitor. Seeing that picture every day will give your unconscious mind continued motivation to keep working. You’re not working for an ephemeral “something” wafting around out there in the ether. You’re working toward no more weekly trips to the mechanic, or getting to eat sushi in Tokyo.
Why not make the most important resolution first? Pass the Enrolled Agent exam. Prep for the exam by being practical and using all the help you can get. Then you can choose the exam on the date that works for you and get your study plan in motion.
Pass the Enrolled Agent Exam by Choosing the Right Review Course
The best time to start your New Year’s resolution is now. Get your 2018 EA exam plan started by accessing our unlimited free demo here.This will give you access to the #1 Review Course on the market with our EA exam-emulating platform, the largest test bank of exam questions, an online review, and more to get your new year off to a good start!
Meta description: Four easy steps to form and stick to your New Year’s resolution to pass the Enrolled Agent exam. Start studying for the Enrolled Agent exam in 2018 and use these tips to keep an effective study plan. Gleim’s EA Review Course will help you get there.