22 Best Tips and Tricks for Studying for the CPA Exam

Studying for the CPA Exam is no joke. It takes a lot of time, effort, and sacrifice to pass this exam. You have to be committed and stick with it if you want your dream job as an accountant! This guide contains some useful tips that will help you study for the CPA Exam. These are tried-and-true tips that have helped many on their journey toward becoming a Certified Public Accountant.

1. Use the Right Study Tools

When studying for the exams, you will need to use some sort of study tool. There are several options that you can choose from. You can use physical books, digital books, or online courses. It is often recommended that students use a physical book since it is easier to highlight key concepts and flip through the pages when doing review questions.

Many students own a laptop or tablet device, so digital books are also an option. However, many students claim that the digital version of the book is hard to read since the text is usually displayed small on their monitor. If you do not own a laptop or tablet device, you can purchase a discounted online access code to complete your exams. This is often much cheaper than purchasing an actual online course.

2. Be Prepared for Difficult Questions

When taking the CPA Exam, you will notice that some of the questions can be very difficult. It is best to learn how to approach these types of questions ahead of the exam. Sometimes the question may have more than one correct answer, or it is possible that there isn’t a right or wrong answer! It’s up to you to round out your knowledge by researching and learning as much as possible. You can also ask your instructor to give you some “tougher” practice questions that are very difficult but don’t count toward your grade!

3. Don’t Memorize but Understand

Many students make the mistake of memorizing a bunch of terms and definitions without actually understanding what they mean. This does not help you in your studies! It is more helpful to learn how to break down key concepts and understand why they are essential. This is the only way that you can successfully pass this exam. If you never fully understand the material, you will probably fail.

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4. Get Plenty of Sleep

Make sure that you are getting enough sleep regularly. There is nothing worse than taking this exam when you haven’t been sleeping well for several days in a row. You will not pass the CPA Exam if your brain is not fully functioning! Don’t cut out sleep to study more because it will not help you. You need to take care of yourself so that your mind is sharp and ready for this exam.

5. Study in Short Study Sessions

Studying for the CPA exam in short sessions is the best way to go. You need to sit down with your books or laptop and concentrate for a couple of hours at a time. It’s not healthy taking long breaks between study sessions. If you feel burnt out, it might be time to take a break from studying. This is a great way to help you stay focused and on track with your CPA studies.

6. Read the Material Before Practice Exams

Studying the material before taking practice exams is a great way to learn efficiently. If you already know what will be on the test, it makes it easier for you to narrow down which topics are most important. It also makes it easier for you to organize your notes to highlight all of the most relevant points. Reading the material before taking practice tests is a great way to study and prepare for the exam.

7. Memorize Your Notes

Memorizing your notes is also a great way to study. It helps you lock in the information so that it’s easier for you to recall when you’re taking practice exams. This is also really helpful if you are fresh out of college and don’t have any work experience. People who are fresh out of college tend to struggle with passing the exam. Memorizing your notes is a great way to get started!

8. Study at Least 30 Days Before the Test Date

Revisiting your study materials for at least 30 days leading up to the test date is a great way to get started. If you want to learn responsibly, these are the best study habits to start with. You should make sure you take your first practice exam before this timeframe. It’s always better to be over prepared than under prepared! Closely reviewing your materials for the 30 days leading up to the exam can help you stay super-prepared and confident.

9. Study in a Quiet Location

Reading in a quiet location is the best way to learn. If you’re surrounded by distractions, it’s going to be difficult for you to concentrate. A calm area also helps your brain soak in the information without getting distracted. Try reading your study materials at home in your living room or at a coffee shop if you are unable to study at home.

10. Take as Many Practice Exams as Possible

Taking practice exams is a great way to study! Practice tests mimic the format of the CPA Exam and help you prepare for what you’ll be seeing on test day. Repeating practice exams will help you feel more confident, build your stamina, and improve your score. Take as many practice exams as possible to feel more confident and prepare for the CPA Exam.

11. Use Flash Cards

Flashcards are great for helping you memorize the material. Whenever stuck in traffic or have a few minutes to spare, pull out your flashcards and go through them! It’s really helpful when it comes to reviewing your notes in multiple ways. Flashcards help to memorize the information better than taking regular practice exams!

12. Set a Squeaky Clean Schedule

It’s always better to have a squeaky clean schedule. When trying to balance work and a personal life with preparing for the exam, it’s best to set a schedule and stick to it. Keeping a clean schedule is the best way to stay accountable for your studies. Consider using your smartphone to help manage time more efficiently! It’s important to be on top of your game when it comes to studying, so clear your schedule to stay super-productive.

13. Set a Study Schedule

It’s always a good idea to come up with a study schedule! This helps identify what days and hours work best for you. You can also use this as a guide when setting aside time for your practice exams, flashcards, etc.

Set aside time on your calendar on your computer or write it down in your planner so that you have a visual representation of the time you have to dedicate towards studying. It’s incredibly helpful to use a calendar or planner when preparing for the exam.

14. Take Practice Exams in Test-Like Conditions

Taking practice exams in test-like conditions is the best way to study. This means there should be no distractions around you when taking your practice tests. It’s helpful to have someone else proctor your exams so that there are no interruptions, either. Try taking a practice test without breaks or snacks if possible. Trying to take practice exams in test-like conditions can be tough to manage but it’s important to make sure you take your practice exams with the same rules that the exam will be enforced.

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15. Practice With Timed Sections

When practicing for timed sections on practice exams or problems, hold yourself to that time limit! This will help you stay more focused and improve your time management skills for the exam. Practice problems are great ways to improve your speed because it simulates what you’ll be doing on test day.

It’s important to take timed practice exams and problems to increase your speed, especially when taking the CPA Exam. The more practice problems you solve under the pressure of time limits, the better you will perform when taking your actual exam.

16. Keep a Journal

Keeping a journal can be extremely helpful when it comes to studying for the exam. If you’re having trouble with specific topics or need some extra guidance, take some time to write about your problems in your journal. Journaling helps you think more clearly and will enable you to figure out how to solve different questions! Always consider writing things down or journaling about your CPA journey before and after you take the actual exam.

17. Invest In a Good Calculator

You should always invest in a good calculator for the exam! Certain calculators can be preprogrammed with specific calculations, so these can prove to be incredibly useful and save valuable time. It’s essential to check with your state board before investing in a calculator, though. Each year, the AICPA publishes its list of approved calculators to each of the state boards. Verify that your preferred calculator is approved by your state board well in advance of your test date.

18. Keep Things Simple

Keeping things simple is an excellent motto to live by, especially when taking the CPA Examination. Your best bet is always to go with the most straightforward answer instead of making things more complicated. If you aren’t sure if a solution is right or wrong, go with your first instinct. You’ll learn quickly that keeping things simple with your preparation is the best way to go.

19. Create a Set of Rules for Multiple Choice Questions

When creating rules for multiple-choice questions, make sure you follow the directions! The AICPA sets an exact set of guidelines when it comes to multiple-choice questions. Specific topics cannot be tested on, and every question should have exactly four choices – no more or less. Make sure you always follow the directions when studying for practice exams with multiple-choice questions!

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20. Be Timely In Your Studies

It’s important to study in a timely manner when preparing for the exam. This means that you should start studying early and not wait until the day or week before your test date. There’s nothing worse than waiting until the last minute when it comes to taking practice exams and problems, so make sure you do at least three weeks of studying leading up to the test date.

21. Invest in an Outline

An outline is a great way to organize your studies when preparing for the exam. If you’re having trouble remembering topics in a particular section, follow an outline! Strategies from online providers are useful because they are extremely informative and convenient. You can access them anywhere and anytime, which means that reading them will never get in the way of your life.

22. Get a Study Partner

Reviewing your notes with a study partner is one of the best ways to improve your practice exam scores. If you find that studying alone isn’t working for you, getting a study partner could be the difference between passing and failing! Try to find someone whose goal is to pass the CPA Exam, as well, and this will help make things much more manageable.


The more you know about preparing for the CPA Exam, the more it will benefit you when exam day comes. Make sure you follow all of these tips so that you can maximize your time and effort when preparing for exams and problems. These are some great ways to get started on your journey towards passing the exam.