How to study CPA while working full-time

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    Sea Summer

    I have recently started studying for the CPA exam after getting enough credit hours to be eligible as a CPA candidate. I have tested one time for AUD but getting a 65. I have tried to use the Becker for preparation. I am seeking some recommendations on how much hours are needed to improve from 65 to 75. Considering working full time, my challenge is that after the entire day of working and the evening time is not very productive. I have tried to use the weekend to study as much as possible but would like to make sure I do not burn myself out.


    You got a time frame when you want to pass all test? I passe mine in exactly a year.

    Don't over burn yourself in the evenings and weekends. Instead, try to squeeze in the time on the morning and in the middle of the day, every possibility. For example: watch the lecture when you are on the mill. Reading your CPA questions instead of reading newspaper with breakfast. Print a stack of questions and put in the bathroom/best hangout place. Take a page everytime…

    Also, I won't say “how much time”, instead come up with a progressive plan and say “do 100 mcq per day”. This is much more rewarding cause when you finish you can go relax and play. There's no point sitting in front of the book and daydream for two hours. If you set a certain # of questions, you will focus, speed up, and be more efficient.

    I will also recommend telling all your friends family coworker boss that you are working up to study, to make sure they cheer you up when you are burn out. Find at least another serious studying buddy and study together,or a CPA that can answer all your questions…

    NY - CPA
    Sea Summer

    @JFKGY, I really appreciate your advice. I will try to see if I can squeeze in time for early morning and mid-day to get the exam preparation going.

    Any suggestions on how to diagnose where I should spend more time on? I have tried to use the Becker mock test to figure out where I should spend more time. The previous AUD exam results were not very helpful to indicate where I should spend more time on.


    You should have received a result page from NASBA which tells you about your score in each category. Use that. A 65 is already very close to 75, so I'll just say in general keep doing test sets to make sure you see all sort of questions.

    I will also recommend you GOOGLE other CPA questions online and see what other available (free) questions hanging out in the internet, just to make sure you didn't miss anything that Becker didn't mentioned.

    Probability tells me that the more different perspective I see something the higher chances I will see an “almost the same question on the exam”. (Which in fact, I did see the same exact question on the actual test).

    Old granny will tells you to read the last 10 years worth of test questions. Reason being: They don't write completely new questions every year.

    NY - CPA

    Do you realize you are not 10 points away now but a full 75 points away? You need to study everything again. No shortcuts of anything like that.

    AUD - 82
    BEC - 80
    FAR - 81
    REG - 82
    FAR - 74 first attempt

    It all comes down to what is going to work best for you. I have heard from a lot of friends that Becker can be pretty dry sometimes. If you find that you still aren't passing after putting as much time as you possibly can into studying, the common variable may be your study materials. I'm pretty dead set on using Roger CPA Review. I really like how energetic the lectures are and the smartpath technology. Smartpath tells you exactly what you have and haven't mastered, so you can study most efficiently. It's really similar to Quizlet's testing function which has helped me through a ton of classes.


    I totally get where you’re coming from. I’ve been at this exam on and off and doing it while working full time is really difficult, especially if you’re in public accounting. Here are some tips that worked for me..

    10-12 hours of PRODUCTIVE study per day each weekend for 4-6 weeks. Start early so you can savor the weekend nights. I would hammer out as much MCQ as I could on Becker and finish out the MCQ until it was 90-100% correct. During this period, I would rewrite ninja notes during the weekday since energy and motivation was low after work and this doesn’t require much of it. I would also use the ninja mcq to try and study what I went over the weekend before. The notes helped a ton and I made sure to completely finish rewriting the whole set before I took the exam.

    2 weeks before the exam, take the Becker exam 1 to see where your weaknesses are and do more MCQ on those. I’d also start hammering out as many all topic ninja mcq too once I was done with Becker during this two week period. Repeat 1 week before the exam and week of exam using Becker exams 2 and 3. Also be sure to take advantage of the AICPA released questions that Becker/Ninja provides. The AICPA website also provides practice exams and the simulations are VERY helpful for preparing for the exam.

    Like someone mentioned up top, studying a little bit to get a 10% bump isn’t going to cut it most of the time. At that point it’s just better to start over since they can throw anything at you and your memory on other topics would probably have deteriorated.

    I was able to finish in about a year after buckling down with this approach.

    Good luck!

    AUD - 80
    BEC - 84
    FAR - 81
    REG - 87

    So I studied while working full time…

    So for me I set up my program to study 1 hour a night on week nights and then did 4 hours on Saturday & Sunday. I also recommend using Ninja as a supplement with whatever program you buy. I used Wiley as my main course. I used Gleim test bank for REG & AUD. I used the ninja notes and just read them. I did a section a night for about 4 weeks. I also would get up and read them before work (like 30 minutes). That extra time pays off. If you can't do it in the morning than read them at lunch I did that too. I also left myself at least two weeks for review. I am waiting for my AUD score at the then end of the month and hopefully I am done!

    AUD - 82
    BEC - 76
    FAR - 81
    REG - 82
    The darkest hour is always just before the dawn
    *-Lost Credit
    I did 2.5 year of night school then 2 years taking the exam!

    I passed all four parts while working 60+ hour weeks. I struggled every step of the way. I'm very good at learning on the job, and not so good at reading something and answering questions on the topic. With that being said – what worked for me is this:

    I learned that unless I ate slept and breathed CPA questions in my down time, I would fail. I studied every night of the week from 6ish-9 or 10. Saturday's would be work for a couple hours in the office and then study until 10-11pm. The gym helped me stay sane, but I ran out of time to go…I would say “I'm going to do X number of practice questions – for every MCQ I get wrong, I do 2 pushups after”

    I ate breakfast, lunch and dinner at my desk in between MCQs. I gave myself very few days off. I drank more coffee and redbull than I ever had before. For me, I struggled with my exams – it was something that I wanted to do from a professional standpoint, but also just to prove that I could. I don't say this to scare you – I say it because for some people it takes a lot more…if you are that person, you need to buckle down. I didnt want to get burn out either, but I did – and I passed, and to this day it is the happiest and most accomplished I've ever felt. No one can take away the hard work I put into that, and then success I feel because of it.


    Working full-time and studying for the CPA exam would feel like working 2 full-time jobs. I'm currently doing a masters degree, working part-time and studying for FAR, however the CPA exam part is the least stressful part. I use Roger and he has all those features that are perfect for people who are in school/working full-time. First there is the “cram course”, it's basically like the regular lectures but in a condensed form which is perfect if you're short on time. Also Roger doesn't fill the videos with fluff, he cuts right to the point and doing it in a way that is really easy to follow. Lastly, their mobile app is absolutely amazing, I can watch lectures, do mcqs, make flashcards… you name it.. All from my phone. This is great when I have some down time at work or break between classes then I can sneak in a lecture or two and some mcqs.

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