The Certified Public Accountant Board Examination is one of the most difficult licensure examinations. In order to pass, a candidate should be properly equipped with adequate technical know-how. He/she should have a very strong preparation coupled with an overwhelming desire to pass the exam. Here are some tips that you may take with you.
1. Begin with the end in mind
It all starts in the first year of your undergraduate school. The dream of becoming a CPA someday should have started in these times. You have to look far away into the future and start building your foundations in Accounting. Passing the board exam and becoming a CPA should be the only reason why you have chosen the field of Accountancy. The preparation for the exam doesn’t take 6 months or 1 year, it takes your entire college or university years. But in case you have missed this part and you are now in your fourth or fifth year and cramming away, don’t worry because there is still hope. I realized this when it was too late, that is why I got into so much difficulty during my review.
2. Have a plan
Let’s say you are now a graduating student and wants to take the board. Lay out your possibilities. Where are you going to take the review? Will you work and review at the same time or focus on the review full time? Your plan could go as far as thinking the possibility of failure. If you fail, would you still continue with your pursuit and never quit? If you are currently employed, would you quit your job for the full time review? What if you didn’t make it? These are the likelihoods that will definitely affect your preparation and should be addressed firsthand. Your exam preparation will take so much time and effort. I suggest going full time review. Working while reviewing would be very difficult and it will be your greatest excuse once you fail.
3. Develop your own strategy
One exam divided in several subjects. How you approach each subject during the review maybe different. This would depend on how you gauge yourself. Some are good in theory subjects and they like to memorize stuff. Others are beasts when it comes to computational topics. The idea is you should balance everything out. Make sure you do not focus too much time with one subject whether that subject gives you confidence or a subject that frustrates you. When it comes to study habits, they are anchored on your review school schedule. Review schools offer weekdays schedule while some have weekends. In my case, I had no choice because my school offered only weekends. So my strategy was to self-study during weekdays and attend classes on weekends. I studied one subject per day usually on topics to be discussed on the weekend.
4. Shut down everything else temporarily
During the review, strip out all the unnecessary noises. Get off the grid. Turn off social media. Be a hermit. Wake up, study, go to sleep. It may sound absurd but it’s all worth the sacrifice. After all, it’s only temporary and you can go back to your old self with your old habits after the exam. The reason for this is to achieve lasting focus. In this digital age, there are so many things that can distract you. Some of which are plain time wasters that you can do without. I remember during my review when I treated our house like an office wherein I have to time in at exactly 8 am to study and time out at 5 pm. Then time in again at 8 pm and time out at 12 midnight. With very limited cellphone and television usage. I didn’t have computer back then so it was not an issue.
5. Practice, simulate and pretend
Devote ample time on answering questions and practice sets. After you have studied a certain topic, go ahead and practice answering questions right away. Simulate the actual exam. Although they do this in review schools, you can also do this on your own. Select random questions or you can ask a friend to pick questions for you to answer. Take the exam and strictly time yourself. Mimic the actual exam as close as you can. Pretend to be your own teacher. I find this very helpful. I often got impressed by how good a teacher or instructor was. So when I go home, I visualize and pretend to be him explaining the topic to myself.
6. Fight, grind and crawl
This applies to the actual exam. Whatever happens, do not quit. If you are a first time taker, you will be overwhelmed by the experience but don’t worry because it’s normal. It’s going to be tough but you already know that because you are prepared. By this time, you have already accumulated enough knowledge and training during your preparation. Be confident but not too much. Feel the pressure but don’t let it cook you.
7. Dream and believe
Herein you should put all the emotional, psychological and philosophical aspects of your preparation. I’m not even sure how that will mean to you. But for me, because of the seriousness of my preparation, it brought a sense of deeper meaning on how I view life and the future. Since the preparation and the exam will not going to be easy, find ways to inspire and motivate yourself. Listen to that inner voice inside you that says “you can make it”. And that whenever you feel down and losing hope, or even when sometimes you think that you might fail, you still carry on and continue. Whatever belief system you have in your life, this is the perfect time to enrich that belief and to draw strength from it. If you continue to believe in that dream, your situation continually changes. You study more, you try harder and you strive better. Then eventually all your efforts will be translated into a successful CPA board exam.