Exams are a vital part of our life. Knowingly or otherwise, we take a lot of exams daily. In education, examinations hold critical importance as they evaluate the learning process and reward students accordingly.
The difficulty levels of exams vary with the education and the educational level. Some exams are easy enough to pass by just going through the syllabus once, and some exams need months to prepare.
Accounting is one field that requires extensive study and extreme focus to clear the course and exams with honors. The exams are planned to give maximum flexibility to the students owing to the difficulty level.
Divided into different modules, students can take exams of those modules individually within a timeframe to clear their course.
Certified Public Accountant is an advanced field in accounting. Accounting professionals can become CPAs after completing four requirements: Education, Experience, Examination, and Ethics. A CPA acts in the public interest, and they have a great responsibility that demands a strict procedure for licensure.
If you are an accounting professional with the required education, you can also become a CPA. Your experience matters, and it will help you prepare for the process. You can also take help from various institutes that help you prepare for the CPA examination or find CPA study material to prepare at home.
This article will discuss some factors that need consideration when preparing for the CPA examination to perform well.
CPA Exam Structure
Table of Contents
To effectively prepare for a CPA exam, we need to discuss its exam structure to understand the various elements.
The CPA exam has four sections:
- Financial accounting and reporting (FAR)
- Auditing and attestation (AUD)
- Regulation (REG)
- Business environments and concepts (BEC)
The CPA exam has the following questions:
- Task-based simulation-28
- Written communication tasks-3
Scoring is done from 0-99, and a minimum score of 75 is needed in every section to pass the exam.
Now that we know the exam structure, we can analyze it and determine factors to help you clear the CPA exam.
Factors to Consider for CPA Exam Preparation
The following factors are essential when preparing for CPA exams:
- Preliminary Assessment
When starting your preparation, the first thing you need to do is perform a self-assessment. It needs to be done at the start because the rest of the preparation process depends on it. An effective self-assessment can contain:
The first thing you need to do is assess your knowledge and expertise in the four sections. It is essential to analyze your weak spots and devise a schedule to cover up for them.
Knowledge assessment will show you the knowledge level in every section. The next step is to make your schedule and allot time for subjects based on your expertise in them.
- Group Study
Knowledge assessment and scheduling alone are not enough to prepare for CPA or any exam. The CPA exam has multiple question categories that test your memory and problem-solving skills.
Memory-based questions can be dealt with by studying in a group; the problem-solving aspect of the exam depends on your experiences. Study in a group and share your learning material and experiences with other colleagues. You will learn from their experiences and gain valuable help during preparation.
- Methodical Learning
CPAs are expected to work for the public interests and have experience in public financial matters. Public matters are ever-changing. There are constant improvements and changes in the business models, economic methods, and new technological additions. CPAs must be vigilant and have strong core foundations that they can use for public interests effectively.
You need to take your time with the basic concepts and foundations of CPA exams; they will help you with the examinations and prepare you for the challenges of the field.
- Follow Your Schedule
Creating a prioritized schedule is not enough to prepare for the CPA exam. You need to follow the schedule strictly for optimal results. Once you have started following the schedule, your learning will increase with time. Consistent efforts are essential in this regard. If you are not consistent with your plan and start slacking off, you will not be able to prepare for the exam.
- Leave Room for Setbacks
CPA exams are tough, and not everyone can pass all the sections in their first attempt. There is an 18 months timeframe for you to plan your attempts at your convenience. To make the best of this time, you need to use the knowledge assessment, attempt the most challenging sections first, and plan future attempts accordingly.
You need to allow yourself some mistakes and learn from them. By utilizing the time effectively, you will clear the exams after multiple attempts.
- Use AICPA resources
Every examination body has official resources that are available online—going through those resources can help you understand the mechanism of the exam. They also prepare you for the different exam categories and allow you to evaluate your learning before appearing in the big exam. AICPA offers blueprints and sample tests to help you prepare for the CPA exams.
Blueprints are the exam content for CPA. They are released once or twice per year and explain the minimum knowledge and skills required for the initial licensure. They also contain the relevant exam preparation material for each section. Some of that material is as follows:
- The organized content and score weighting
- Task statement samples
- Skill level required
- Reference material
Sample tests are mock tests that you can take, and they can help you understand the format and the difficulty level of the CPA exams before you have to appear in them.
You can use sample tests as an exercise to assess your learning at different stages of your learning. One leading method is to take a mock test before starting your preparation and again after your learning session. You will see the difference and gain motivation.
To prepare well for your CPA exam, you need to have a good study plan, preferably with a study partner, for better learning. There are a variety of resources available, including official sample tests which prepare you for the big exam. There are also online courses that provide one-on-one mentoring, mock tests, and guided learning paths to ensure your preparation is as best as it can be.
Use the best resources available to you and have a good plan of attempting the four sections at your convenience, and you will be able to clear the CPA exams in no time.