The CPA exam. If you’re playing a word association game, the ones that probably come to mind first are stressful, difficult, and intimidating. There are not many positive associations with this dreaded test except the feeling of relief and achievement once you receive that final passing score.
It is challenging to take the CPA exam at any point, but it’s especially hard when you’re working full-time. It feels like you have two jobs as you work all day and then study in the evenings and on weekends. Like many team members who start their careers at Kreischer Miller, I was in the process of taking the CPA exam when I began working. Throughout this journey I learned a lot and after passing the exam, I reflected on those lessons. Below are some of the lessons I learned and would like to pass on to those individuals taking the CPA exam while working.
- Get it done as soon as possible. It's not something you're ever going to "want to do" so buckle down and pass all four parts as quickly as you can, especially while your study habits are at their optimum level.
- Take the parts you feel will be most difficult for you first. For me, that was REG and FAR. Remember, the 18 month window for passing the exam starts from the date you pass your first exam.
- Make social sacrifices during the "x” amount of months you're taking the exam. This will be extremely difficult at times, but keep in mind that it's a short-term sacrifice for a long-term benefit.
- Don’t study until you drop. While it's important to dedicate yourself to studying, it's also important to recognize when you need a mental break. If it's late at night and you aren't comprehending the material, getting frustrated, feeling overwhelmed, etc., call it a night and start fresh in the morning. It's amazing what a good night's rest can do.
- Exercise! You'll feel like you have no time when studying for the CPA exam but for your mental sanity, be sure to exercise each day you study, even if only for a few minutes.
- Practice, practice, practice. The lectures are very beneficial but how you really learn and comprehend the material is by working through multiple choice and simulations. I recommend purchasing an additional test bank to work through additional questions.
- Persevere. The CPA exam journey is an emotional roller coaster. At times you'll want to give up, but push through and believe you can do it. The exam is as much a test of your determination as it is your intellectual ability. These may be some of the most difficult and challenging months of your life, but once you pass and have those three wonderful letters behind your name, it will all be worth it! You can do it!!
Sarah Koch is a senior accountant in Kreischer Miller’s Audit & Accounting group. She is also a member of the firm’s Distribution and Not-for-Profit industry groups. Sarah joined Kreischer Miller in 2014 upon graduation from Bloomsburg University. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, traveling, and horseback riding.