CPA or Certified public accountant designation is the equivalent of CA in the United States of America. 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 Asccountants. They have expertise in both federal and state US tax laws, regulations and US GAAP accounting. CPA examination is conducted online and twice in every quarter. If one is determined to sit for the CPA paper, a concrete blueprint is required. While training to qualify for the CPA exam, we recommend the candidate to follow the 3Ps namely Plan, Prepare and Practice.
They say “A goal without a plan is just a wish“. When your goal is to qualify the CPA exam, then you needs to have a solid plan. Once, you are convinced that you would want to appear for the CPA exam, all you need after that is the commitment to crack the paper through proper planning. CPA education requirement differs on the basis of jurisdiction in the United States. For e.g. One might need 120 hours of total semester hours to qualify while the other state may need 150 semester hours; also one state might require 24 semester hours in accounting and 36 semester hours in business while a different state may need 33 semester hours in accounting and no minimum requisite for business. Therefore one must be very careful and accurate when looking at the requirements for a particular state.
Also, if you are taking the exam internationally, you need to make sure all the requirements are in place. Citizens, permanent residents and long-term residents of Egypt, India, Jordan, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen may sit for the Examination in Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon and the UAE. Citizens and long-term residents of Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela may sit for the Examination in Brazil.
Once the requirements are sorted, you can now move on to plan your schedule for studying for the exam. A proper planning requires knowing yourself and your skills. You should know what works for you and what doesn’t. Before even setting a studying schedule, you have to understand your strengths and weaknesses.
You also must understand how much time needs to be devoted on each section. You should also consider your prior knowledge and experience. There might be some topics that might be easier for 1 person according to his/her expertise while difficult for someone else.
You would also want to schedule your exam date. This would help you in planning your timeline. If you can clear all the tests at one go, you can crack the CPA exam within a 7 month time frame. AICPA recommends 300-400 hours of studying to crack the CPA exam, hence you need to put in approximately 30-35 hours per week for 15-16 weeks if you have around 4-6 months. You can spread it out according to your convenience and time availability.
CPA exam is a 16 hour online exam with following segments divided into 4 hours each:
- Auditing and Attestation (AUD)
- Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)
- Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)
- Regulation (REG).
Examination is available during specific periods called testing periods, there are four testing windows i.e. March, June, September and December. Aspirants can take sections in any order, and one does not have to pass one section prior to applying for another. There is no minimum number of sections that must be completed in a testing window. So you have the liberty to decide which exam can be taken in a particular testing window. This is a very critical part of your plan. 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.
Each paper is broken down into 5 Testlets i.e. testles 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. You would be given a standardized break of 15 minutes. Testlet 1 and 2 (MCQ’s) is for 55 minutes each, testlet 3 consisting of task based simulations (TBS) is for 30 minutes and Testlet 4 and 5 (TBS and Written communication) is for 50 minutes each. A total of 4 hours plus a 15 minute break.
AICPA publishes the uniform CPA examination pass rates every quarter. The ‘17Q2 and ‘17Q3 pass rates reflect those of an Exam with a new passing standard. Cumulatively around 49% have cleared AUD, 52% passed BEC, 45% passed FAR and 48% cleared REG. An increase in passing rate simply means that the candidate is better prepared.
Prepare to study and study hard. Now that you have a proper plan in place, now is the time to start preparing. One of the major decisions you’d have to make is the buying of the study material. We highly recommend the CPAexcel course by Wiley. This course by far has the best content as it is prepared by the professors from the leading accounting universities. It is recognized globally and contains more than 7500 real CPA questions with comprehensive clarifications. There are bite-sized lessons on various exam topics in convenient sessions that allow you to master the material in as little as 30-45 minutes and then move on to the next topic. It also provides for practice exams, flash cards, video lectures and great customer support to help you through this CPA journey. Mobile application is also available for candidates who make the purchase of this course. Though a free trial is also available for those that are interested in buying. This application makes it very handy and easy for you to keep a tab on the assignments and to maintain a schedule. Practice sessions and metric syncs can be done across all devices. This course helps in tracking the completion of various assignments and provides you with alerts and reminders to keep you on track with your plan. Best part is that the course is pocket friendly and value for money. If you are a working professional you can watch lectures on your mobile application and also make use of the ‘Flash cards’ while commuting to work. You also NEED to stick to your plan to achieve results.
You can check out Rebecca Wuorio’s schedule when she was taking the CPA exam and get inspired. Here’s a link:
Practice makes perfect.
Understand the concepts clearly instead of memorizing them. Once you have done that, attempt questions to enhance your aptitude. This way, you will not only remember the concept but will also be able to apply it. There are more than 450 task based simulations and DRS to practice from the course. Wiley provides you with unlimited practice tests in one of their packages. This helps you to practice multiple questions giving you an edge in the exam.
Another very important point is to practice time management. Since the exam is online, you need to be mindful about the time. Therefore a rigorous practice of the sample tests is essential. Also, practice overcoming procrastination. This is bound to creep in at some stage of your preparation. Procrastination is one of the major reasons candidates stray from their path. To be productive, you would need to practice self-control. You would have to turn down the volume of all distractions such as social networking sites, mobile and the internet. You would want to stay completely focus towards your goal. So push yourself, because no one else is going to do it for you.
Also, don’t be too hard on yourself, take breaks as and when required. Do what makes you feel good: exercise, run, walk, eat your comfort food and don’t forget to breathe.
After following all the steps, be rest assured that you are equipped with the invaluable knowledge and skill. Have full faith and confidence on your abilities to crack this exam. All exams are tough and complex and so is the CPA exam, but with the right kind of preparation and attitude, you are sure to conquer it. Consistent studying and practicing will help you achieve your goal with ease. Keep your eyes on the price for extra motivation and enthusiasm.
Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain or difficulty.”
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