May 25, 2021 at 4:02 pm #3303631RobOhParticipant
I was thinking today how helpful I thought it was when others posted their study strategy that helped them pass the CPA exam and realized that I never did the same to return the favor. So here we go two years late and sorry for how long winded it is. When I decided to change careers and study for my CPA exam it had been 20 years since undergrad and 10 years since getting my MBA. I worked full time, traveled on the road 25% for work, and have a wife and my son was in high school at that time. I started out using Wiley and got so frustrated with how many errors they had so I decided to switch to Becker and found their study material to be much better for me. In hindsight, I should have used Ninja as my main study material or to at least supplement with my Becker material.
1. My first step was to make a plan based on when I wanted to take the exam. I looked at how many modules there were to study for the section and then broke it down to how many I had to study each day or each week. For example, 60 modules would mean that I needed to cover 1 module each day to take the exam in 60 days. Tack on a week or two for final review period.
2. Work Week – Made a couple flash cards each day and then each morning before I left for work I spent no more than 15 minutes reviewing flash cards that I made to memorize formulas, acronyms, concepts, etc. for those items that I felt I needed to memorize. Look at that card for three days, and then I would put that card in the weekend pile (will explain later). This does NOT mean that you should not learn, as you should always understand what it means, why is it used, how is it applied, who performs it, when is it done, and where does it go on the financial statements etc.
3. I would go to work early and for one hour I would do MCQ’s and SIMS cumulatively for the material that I had already studied. I found this to be extremely helpful for myself and probably the most important step. This way I really didn’t need a final review and I would not go a few weeks and forget the material I previously knew. This would help me to know what areas I needed to relook at. If I could not look at those areas before I started work, then I would either go over those areas that I needed to relook at either lunch time or after work before I went home. For those that say it is bad that you memorized the question, I disagree. That’s a good thing as long as you know why it is right and why the other choices are incorrect. I do agree with doing more and more questions because it helps you to answer it if the question is asked differently.
4. At night, I would find private time and if needed I would maybe go to a Panera or Starbucks if there were too many distractions at home. This is where I would cover the modules. This part of my studies was not based on time. It was based on how many modules I needed to complete that week. I had an unconventional approach. I would look at the MCQ’s for that module first, and I would look at the question and if I did not know how to answer it in the first five seconds I would go to the solution and look at why the question was correct and why the other choices were incorrect. When I either listened to the video or read the text, I found this to be very helpful because it helped fine tune and focus on what was important based on the MCQ’s that they asked. I would try to do both the video and then read the text for that module, but sometimes I was just too tired. Then I would study the SIMS. I treated this time for MCQ’s and SIMS as studying them and number 3 above was where I would treat it as answering the question to test my knowledge. I was not a huge note taker, but if I needed to I would print out the outline for the module and write on that if I felt a need to expand on the area. I would read the text with the annotations and underlines that Becker already did.
5. Weekends – I would look at my flash cards from number 2 above for 30 to 60 minutes on Sat. and Sun., if I did not know the answer I would put it back in the week day pile. I would do MCQ’s and SIMS for about 2 hours on the modules that I had already covered. Then I would cover the modules that I needed to meet my goal for the week.
6. I would spend the last week of my review pounding MCQ’s and SIMS. I would review the material if I needed to but honestly I didn’t feel that I needed to because step number 3 made a final review process unnecessary and I did not feel like I forgot material that I previously studied.
7. Be honest with yourself and tweak the plan if needed, postpone if needed, just try to stay on course because that 18 month window does sneak up on you quickly.
8. Good luck and do what works best for you. Hopefully you find at least one of these points helpful. Everyone is different “Success is preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”May 25, 2021 at 8:53 pm #3303670CPAHOPEParticipant
Thanks for the tip!May 26, 2021 at 8:38 am #3303697TonyParticipant
Thanks for this. I am just starting to study FAR so I am struggling to find out what will work best for me. I too, have kids, a family and work full time as a senior associate so time can be hard to find, esp during busy seasons.
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