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Pass the Enrolled Agent Exam: How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolution from Overwhelming You [2020+]

pass the enrolled agent exam

If receiving your EA designation is one of your New Year’s resolutions, 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.

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 too 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.

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 2nd.

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.

NOTE: 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.

NOTE: If you’re studying a lot in one day, be sure to break your study sessions into smaller 1-2 hour sessions and take breaks between each session. This will help you stay focused and ensure you make the most of your study time.

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.

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.

For example, Google Calendar allows you to set goals just like you’d set events. This is incredibly convenient since it will allow you to schedule your study sessions while looking at the rest of your commitments all in one place.

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.

Motivate Yourself

Keep in mind that the first few days of studying consistently will be the hardest. You’re developing a new habit. 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.

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.

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 new year 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 adaptive-learning platform, professional-led videos, the largest test bank of exam questions, and more to get your new year off to a good start!