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Preparing for the CPA Examination: The Best Way to Study for the Test

Derrick Hohbein

So you are a recent college graduate who has big dreams and aspirations on becoming a CPA and don't know what the best way to prepare for this uphill endeavor is. Hopefully this article will give you some insight to best prepare yourself for this challenging task.

The first thing is to get in touch with your local state board of accountancy. They can be found at  and each state's requirements may vary a little. A majority of states require individuals to fill out an application, get references, and submit a sealed college transcript. Each state will have different requirements before being able to sit for the examination, so make sure you have accomplished all the prerequisites (some require feats such as 150 college credit hours) before attempting to apply for the exam.

After the board approves your application, you will have to apply to the AIPCA for each section that you want to take. You should receive some paperwork from the board. After the USCPA approves the section application you should receive some confirmation numbers that you use to schedule your exam at your local test taking facilities (which can also be found on each individual state board of accountancy website).

Once you have been approved to participate in the examination process, and have scheduled your examination date (hopefully a few months into the future) the task at hand changes to studying. There are numerous CPA preparation programs, and two of the leaders are Bisk and Gleim . Both programs have a high percentage of success rates, but both can be expensive. Some of the resources they offer are review books, computer software, and videos. The more resources you want, the more expensive it is.

The best way (in my opinion) to prepare for this exam is to take it slow and prepare for one section at a time. You have a period of 18 months after passing the first section, so there is ample time if you take it slow and prepare yourself properly. The best way to prepare for the test is to study, study, and study some more. The test is set up to be a very challenging and intimidating endeavor, the main goal of which is to wean the best from the rest.

No matter how many countless hours that are spent studying will never fully prepare you for walking in to take this exam. Expect to leave this exam heartbroken and feeling like you just wasted three months of your life studying for nothing. I was lucky enough to pass all four exams on my first try with scores of 91, 86, 81, and 79 and not once did I believe I had a chance at passing after walking out of the room. The best advice is to keep your head up, think positive, and move on to the next section assuming you passed the last one. If you wait for your score to arrive, valuable studying time will be wasted.


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