How to Start Studying for the CPA Exam

start studying for the cpa exam

There is no denying that CPA Exam preparations take a lot of time and effort, but the sooner you begin, the sooner you can pass! How do you start studying for the CPA Exam? First, learn all about the exam in this free guide. Then, follow these five steps.

5 Steps to Start Studying for the CPA Exam

These straightforward steps will help you get your studies off on the right foot.

  • Make sure you’re at the right stage in the CPA Exam process.

Before you start studying for the CPA Exam, you should check these items off your list. If you’re anxious to make some progress, you may be tempted to get your studies underway, but you’ll waste time and burn out faster unless you take these exam steps in order.

      1. Choose and apply to a CPA state board of accountancy.
      2. Receive approval for your CPA Exam application.
      3. Determine your CPA Exam schedule.
      4. Create a CPA Exam study plan.
      5. Schedule an exam section.

Completing these steps also increases your commitment to the CPA, and you’ll need every ounce of motivation you can muster once you’re in the thick of studying.

  • Find and purchase the right CPA review course for you.

The CPA Exam is not easy, and studying for it without a review course makes passing much more difficult. If you attempt wading through the depths of content outlined in the CPA Exam Blueprints on your own, you almost certainly won’t pass within the 18-month window. You might spend half your time figuring out what to study! There is too much accounting information for one person to sift through, and that’s why a CPA review course is critical.

Every major review provider employs experts on different aspects of the exam, so once you purchase a review course, all you have to do is follow their guidance and learn the material. The products they offer may seem expensive at first, but when your career advancement hinges on a multi-hour, multi-part exam that can take a year or more to finish and you’re as likely to fail as you are to pass, you want someone in your corner.

To find the best CPA review course for you, assess your options according to

  • Customer reviews and testimonials,
  • The value for the price,
  • The provider’s longevity in the industry,
  • The provider’s customer service and support, and
  • Which course components offered fit your learning style.

Additionally, some courses include interactive study planners that make creating your exam schedule easier. For help with your study plan, purchase a review course sooner in the exam process.

  • Find the best place to study.

What do these places have in common?

      • An amusement park
      • A concert
      • An escape room

These places may be good for entertainment, but they’re bad for effective studying. To maximize productivity and minimize distractions while studying, you must combine your review course with the perfect CPA Exam study environment. Try out places like your home office, local coffee shop, and library to find out what works for you. At the very least, ensure your study environment contains comfortable seating, a tolerable temperature, sufficient lighting, and a calm atmosphere. (Restroom facilities are also pretty important.)

  • Follow the instructions in your CPA review course.

When used correctly, a CPA review course saves time, money, and hassle. We know it sounds unimaginative, but trust the system! Review providers spend weeks, months, and years refining their teaching techniques, and the body of experience they have to pull from keeps growing.

But different people have different study needs. Some providers offer a 30-day money back guarantee (or something similar) if you’re not satisfied, so you should apply yourself right away and confirm you can stick with the course you purchased long-term.

Working through the system as intended is particularly important for adaptive CPA review courses. An adaptive course analyzes your performance on each topic and continuously adjusts its quizzes to focus on your knowledge gaps, making sure you achieve mastery of the relevant material. Straying from course suggestions lengthens the process of strengthening your weak areas and requires more work from you.

  • Determine your weak areas.

Focusing on your weaknesses is the best way to study for the CPA Exam. It enables you to study only what you need for as long as necessary. When you review all of the exam content, you study excessively, waste time, and risk burnout. Strengthening your weak areas allows you to master every exam topic efficiently, so use this strategy to bolster your exam studies.

Finding your troublesome topics is standard operating procedure for an adaptive course. But if you’re not using the best adaptive CPA exam prep on the market, you can focus on your weak areas by

  1. Taking a diagnostic quiz before approaching a new topic,
  2. Going back to the basics of the content you struggle with, and
  3. Consistently quizzing yourself on that content.

Periodically revisiting troublesome topics through practice quizzes will improve your recall and mastery of that topic over time. Once you’re comfortable, begin phasing those concepts out of your practice sessions to make room for new and other difficult topics. Just make sure you drill yourself every now and then before the exam to make sure the information stays fresh in your mind.

Everything You Need to Start Studying for the CPA Exam

You don’t have to navigate your exam studies alone. Trust the SmartAdaptTM technology of Gleim CPA Review to reveal what to review until you’re ready to pass. You can also depend on the Gleim CPA team to supply advice for getting started and support for staying motivated. See how we can help target your weak areas by accessing these free CPA Exam questions, which include a topical score breakdown and detailed answer explanations.