Passing the CPA Exam can set you apart from the pack of fellow professionals jockeying for position among the business world. The reason it sets you apart is because of the accreditation, the knowledge it takes, and mainly the fact that not just anyone gets it. Passing the CPA Exam is extremely difficult.
So difficult in fact that you may be finding yourself needing to take the CPA Exam again (and again) because you've failed to pass a section. This can be disheartening considering the time and money put into the endeavor of passing, but you are not alone. Many CPAs share stories of failing to pass a certain section as well as what it felt like to finally pass. Passing is not the only thing that matters, however. Passing promptly, especially early on in your career, can prove to me vital in the trajectory of your career.
The AICPA is a great resource to help you familiarize yourself with the difficulties you may face while taking the exam as well as content changes and blueprints to help you know how to navigate the tests. There are a few factors that will help you pass the exam quicker.
The best way to get a feel for the exam is to talk to someone who has taken it. While accountants who have been in the field and have had their CPA License a long time are great resources you want to make sure to talk to those who have recently passed as they will have the best grasp on the current state of the exam. Ask them how they felt about timing, what difficulties stuck out about each section, and simple logistics about where and when and how to spread out the dates you take the exam.
Check out the Exam Blueprints
Detailed information about the exam sections has been released by the AICPA. These may be the most straightforward way to help you as you can see and align your studies towards the skills to be tested. More details than ever have been released so you can get a better grasp on the challenges that lay ahead. Also, make sure whoever you are choosing to study with has a good grasp on the changes as well and are overhauling their study materials to ensure all new material is covered.
Practice Sample Tests
There are a few tests made available by the AICPA but taking practice tests is one of the best ways to prepare yourself. These simulations give you instant feedback on your progress and let you know the areas you need to work on. Make sure to take sample tests at all phases of studying. Not only is it encouraging to see yourself improving but it allows you to notice trends and avoid future mishaps in your studying style.
Create a Plan and Stick with it
Start slow and stay steady. It can be easy for students to start studying, even buying study materials, and be very intense and motivated for a short time before their motivation fizzles out. Make sure you analyze the challenge ahead and implement realistic goals and schedules. Go in with gusto but also with the expectation that it will be hard. The worst thing to do would be getting discouraged too early.
Remember, there are many routes to getting your CPA License. All those routes will look a little different, but the end result is the same as long as you don't give up. You want your license as soon as you can get it but having to retake a few sections along the way is just fine.