CPA  or Certified Public Accountant designation in the USA is the equivalent of CA in India.  They are regulated by the United States at the state level. CPA or certified public accountant are governed by the AICPA or the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. They have expertise in both the federal and state US tax laws, regulations and US GAAP accounting.

Getting a CPA degree could be one of the most advantageous move for your career.  According to the United States department of labor, the employment of CPA’s is projected to grow at 11% from 2014-2024; i.e. faster than the average of all occupations.

CPAs are recognized globally, this is because CPAs are conversant with both the IFRS and the International financial reporting standards as well as US GAAP (Generally accepted accounting Principles). Due to the advent of global reporting standards, now even Indian MNCs are recognizing the need for a qualified CPA. This expertise is being acknowledged by the accounting community worldwide.

Become a global AccountantCPA degree is one of the most well respected degrees in the world. It earns this status due to its high quality course content and learning. CPAs across various countries work for the fortune 500 companies. In India, CPAs work for Multi National Companies, BIG4s and also Indian MNCs. CPAs, besides being an accountant can take on the role of strategic business advisors, Chief financial officer, taxation expert, Auditor, financial reporting Manager, planning and budgeting officer for any company of their choice.

Once the aspirant decides to sit for the CPA exam; he/she must first make a comprehensive goal plan and start by answering some basic question which would help the aspirant in organizing his/her steps.

  1. When to Schedule the Paper?
  2. What is the current level of the Aspirant?
  3. What does the exam pattern look like?
  4. How much time can be devoted for studying of each paper each week?
  5. Are you following the plan to reach the end goal?

Let’s look at each question in detail:

  1. When to Schedule the Paper?

Setting a time-line and registering for the exam gives you a goal to look forward to. It is like setting a deadline for the preparation of the exam, this would help to motivate you for your studies. This also helps in figuring whether all of your requirements are in place which are laid down by the AICPA or the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. You can visit the Prometric website to schedule your exam after you have completed the registration process. Registration process for international candidates requires certain procedural steps that needs to be followed.

  1. What is the current level of the Aspirant?

This question really helps to set your pace. This question would give you insight on what skills and knowledge you have and which ones are you lacking. This question would also help you in answering, what topic you should be focusing more on. Accordingly, you can devote time on information and expertise that you require. If you work for a regular 9-5 job, you would need to assess your time and manage it effectively i.e. on which days can you devote larger chunks of time and how can you better schedule your time to study after and before office hours. If you are a student, then you can have the convenience of planning time.

  1.  What does the exam pattern look like?

CPA examination is divided into four segments namely:

  1. Auditing and Attestation (AUD)
  2. Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)
  3. Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)
  4. Regulation (REG)

CPA Exam

All these sections have a 4-hour exam each which includes multiple choice questions, task based simulations (TBS) and document review simulation (DRS). Let’s look at the various topics included in the 4 sections:

I. Auditing and Attestation (AUD)

This section is considered as one of the most difficult section to prepare for in the CPA exam. It covers the basic principles of auditing and designs of audit plan. Some of the major topics included in this section are understanding the entity and its environment and evaluating audit findings, communication and reporting.

II. Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)

This section deals with the business and economic concepts. It covers financial management, corporate governance, operational management , economic concept and analysis, strategic planning and information systems and communications.  Majority of weight age is given to the topic of financial management which is around 23% while the least is given to operational management which is around 12%-16%.

III. Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR):

This section has the most extensive material. Due to its sheer volume and time consumption, it is generally advised to prepare and take first the FAR exam. FAR, as the name suggests covers various aspects of financial reporting. It also covers the key difference in the reporting standards such as IFRS and US GAAP. Highest weight age in this section of approximately 27%-33% is given to the following topic: Financial statement accounts: recognition, measurement, valuation, presentation and disclosures.

IV. Regulation (REG)

This section covers the federal taxation and business law. It also includes business ethics.  This regulation covers the taxation concepts relating to individuals, corporations and  partnerships. You would also understand the various tax forms and their line items. Other topics covered are business law, federal tax process, procedures, accounting and planning.

CPA examination is available during specific points called testing periods, there are four testing windows i.e. March, June, September and December. There is no minimum number of sections that must be completed in a testing window. Aspirants can take sections in any order, and one does not have to pass one section prior to applying for another. Some of the experts from the field recommend that one should take the tests in the following order: FAR, AUD, REG and BEC. Though this is not a mandate and depends on what the individual prefers.

  1.  How much time can be devoted for studying of each paper each week?

After understanding the structure and composition of the exam one can understand how much time one can devote to each section. Though it can be different for different individuals for e.g. a professional who is  working in the audit department of an organization might be better equipped with some concepts of the AUD paper already. She/he can progress faster and might need to spend lesser time on the AUD section compared to other section. Therefore time division for every individual would be unique. AICPA recommends 300-400 hours of studying to crack the CPA exam. One can customize their time according to one’s level and situation. Even if you are a working professional, you can crack the exam within 3 months time, if you are able to put in 35-40 hours per week for 3 months and follow this plan. Safest bet for all aspirants would be to buy a review course and chase it through the end.

  1.  Are you following the plan to reach the end goal?

Once your blueprint is complete and sorted, all you have to do is now execute this plan and follow it to a tee.  You need to be committed to this plan to fetch good results. For that you would want to become a more disciplined version of yourself. You would have to stop procrastinating and take every day with positivity and enthusiasm to make it productive. Since you will have to remember many concepts and information, you can take small breaks, when preparing for the exam. This would give you a breather.

One also needs to practice a lot of Self-control. We live in an age where we are bombarded with lots of information every second. Many applications on the mobile phones and Ipads doesn’t make it any easier. Try mobile applications such as Concentrate, Notational Velocity, Track-time, focus booster to focus on your exams and its preparation. With the help of the focused and centered preparation, you can also start managing time wisely. This time management would help practice many questions available in the Wiley CPA excel course.

One of the best review courses is offered by Wiley Online Training and it is called Wiley CPA excel course. The course is recognized globally as the best preparatory material for CPA. It comes with planning tools and test banks which are constantly upgraded to keep up with the changes in the exam. With the course you don’t require any external help or coaching to pass the exam. With the plan guide and the study guide, even the professionals caught in 9 to 6 jobs can qualify the CPA exam in 1st attempt itself.

 Wiley Online Training is among the global leaders in international training for CPA, CFA, FRM, Data Science & Analytics. It has helped over 500,000 professionals across the globe. With Wiley Online Training, 9 out of 10 students pass their exams. Want to find out more? Call us at 0120-6291100/01 or drop us a quick message here.


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