Best Order To Take The CPA Exam


One of the most widely asked questions about taking the CPA exams is about what order to take them in. Well, there’s really no “best” order, it’s really up to you and your preferences. However, there are a few key things you should consider to help find your most optimal order:

1. Keep Your Strengths In Mind

Many CPA exam takers are straight out of college and most likely just took a class relevant to one of the exams. You’re already in study mode and you just took Financial, so take FAR first. Or if you took tax, then take REG. The information will be fresh in your mind, you’ll have the confidence to pass, and it will be an easier transition into the remaining exams.

2. Motivational Roll

Maybe you aren’t coming out of school and thus are not ready to dive head first into one of the bigger exams. If you’re one of those who needs a motivational boost to get started, then start with one of the exams that cover less content like BEC. Once you pass your first test, then you’ll have the confidence and motivation to tackle the more comprehensive exams like FAR.

3. Logical Order

Maybe you’re looking to take the exams in a more logical manner and go with how the information is presented. Then I would suggest taking FAR first, then AUD, REG, and finally BEC. FAR is the most comprehensive of the tests and will allow you to build a strong foundation of accounting principles and financial statement knowledge. During my studies, I noticed that the other three exams build on the foundation established by FAR. In both AUD and REG, I learned that they hit upon subjects such as financial statements and accounting concepts, but not in as much depth as the information coming from FAR. BEC would logically come in last since it’s a catch-all for the first three exams taken. It pulls a little bit of everything and the written memos touch upon information learned in the other exams.

The exams can be taken in any order so customize your order to what you feel comfortable with. Personally and regretfully, I didn’t follow any of these paths. I stuck to the order that Becker’s live classes were set to and that was a big mistake! Once I failed my first test, I moved onto the next test that was being taught instead of retaking it a month later in the next testing window. I bounced around in order to stick to the live classes and ended up taking FAR as my last exam.

For me, FAR was the most overwhelming and was absolutely the worst choice to leave as my last exam. I was burnt out, exhausted, and verging on insanity by the end. Whatever the order you choose I would just highly suggest that you don’t leave FAR for the end. It’s sort of like seeing the finish line of a marathon but having to climb a mountain before you’re done. So stick to what you’re good at and what you’re comfortable with and you’ll put a major beat down on those exams!

Here’s a quick rundown of the CPA Exam Sections that you’ll need to decide your ‘plan of attack’ for:

Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)

Structure: 4 hours
50% – 66 MCQs
50% – 8 Simulations (TBSs)

Content on FAR CPA Exam:

Conceptual Framework, Standard-Setting, and Financial Reporting; Select Financial Statement Accounts; Select Transactions; State and Local Governments

Audit (AUD)

Structure: 4 hours
50% – 72 MCQs
50% – 8 Simulations (TBSs)

Content on Audit CPA Exam:

Ethics, Professional Responsibilities, and General Principles; Assessing Risk and Developing a Planned Process; Performing Further Procedures and Obtaining Evidence; Forming Conclusions and Reporting

Regulation (REG)

Structure: 4 hours
50% – 76 MCQs
50% – 8 Simulations (TBSs)

Content on REG CPA Exam:

Federal Taxation; Business Law; Ethics, Professional Responsibilities, and Federal Tax Procedures

Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)

  • Structure: 4 hours
  • 50% – 62 Multiple Choice Questions
  • 35% – 4 Simulations (TBSs)
  • 15% – 3 written communication memos

Content on BEC CPA Exam: Corporate Governance; Economic Concepts and Analysis; Financial Management; Information Technology; Operations Management


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How to Get Your CPA License

You BEAT the CPA exam! Whew!!! Now take that big breath of relief, celebrate, and let your friends and family know that it’s all over. All those countless and agonizing hours of hard work have finally paid off. But now what’s next? Of course the license application process isn’t all that clear cut and yes, you’ll be paying more fees.

So let’s break it down and make that process a little bit easier. Here are the next steps to obtain your license.

Completing the CPA License Requirements

First off, you must prove that you have met the requirements for obtaining a CPA license. Just like the requirements to sit for the exam, requirements to obtain a license vary from state to state. If you live and work within the US, then you are required to get your license in the state you live and practice.

Refer to your state’s Board of Accountancy website to ensure that you have met the appropriate requirements. Also refer to the basic State Requirements summary chart.

1. Education Requirements

In most states, you are required to have at least a bachelor’s degree and 150 semester hours of education (applicable to candidates passing after December 31, 2013). Each state varies but you are required to have a specified number of accounting, business, and ethics units. See your State Board of Accountancy website for the specific unit hours required in each area of study.

2. CPA Experience Requirements

Most states usually require that you have one or two years of experience under the supervision of an active CPA. Your supervisor must hold a valid active license to practice public accounting in the US and is required to sign off on your experience forms.

3. CPA Ethics Exam

Most states also require you to take and pass an ethics exam. Many Boards will accept the AICPA’s comprehensive ethics course and exam or your specific state Board of Accountancy will specify where else you can fulfill this requirement (example: California residents must fulfill this requirement through CalCPA).

Please note that every state has different requirements and the process can be confusing without any universal rule among the states to obtain licensure. Once you’ve determined that you’ve met your state’s requirements, fill out the application and send in any other form or fees that go along with it. Your state Board of Accountancy should include all the necessary forms that must be submitted.

Once these steps are completed and have been processed by your state BOA, you’ll be receiving your license in a few weeks. Hint: You’ll be listed as a CPA with an official license number on the license lookup before getting your actual license in the mail. Also, if you’re lucky you’ll get that gigantic CPA certificate to hang up somewhere. It’s completely obnoxious but be proud of it and flaunt it. You’re a CPA now and everyone should know it!

I was licensed in the state of California, so I’ll go through that process just as an example:

1. Education requirements

I have a Bachelor’s degree and was able to sit with 120 units. I passed all four exams before December 31, 2013 and was able to obtain licensure with only 120 units. (That rule has since changed and California applicants are required to have 150 units completed.) These units must include 24 semester units of accounting subjects, 24 semester units of business-related subjects, 20 semester units of accounting study subjects, and 10 semester units of ethics. My transcripts were already sent over to the California Board of Accountancy in order to sit for the exams and I was already approved. Check! Step completed.

2. Experience requirement

One year of general experience and 500 hours of attest experience completed under a supervisor with an active CPA license. Supervisor certified my experience, completed, and signed off on the Certificate of General Experience and Certificate of Attest Experience forms. Check! Step completed.

3. Ethics requirement

Took and completed the ethics exam through CalCPA which is an approved course through AICPA (most states require the AICPA comprehensive ethics course and exam available through their website). Certificate of completion was submitted electronically to the California Board of Accountancy. Check! Step completed.

Once these three steps were completed, I was able to submit all necessary forms. Transcripts and ethics exam results were already on their way. I filled out the application and sent it with the Criminal Conviction Disclosure form, Live Scan background check ($74), $250 application processing fee, and both the Certificate of General Experience and Certificate of Attest Experience were sent in by my supervisor. At that point, it was all in the hands of the BOA for pending approval.

Note: Fill out your forms completely! I left the end date of my job time range blank since I was still a current employee and received a deficiency in my application. I had to get my boss to amend it and say that I was “current” and resend it back in. Picky picky! Three weeks later, I got the official approval that I met all the requirements and had to send in the $120 initial licensing fee. Another two weeks after that, I got my giant license in the mail with my official license number.

Please note: These are just the requirements for a CPA in California. If you are in another state some of these forms and requirements may not be applicable. This is only an example! Refer to your state Board of Accountancy for other requirements that must be completed or submitted (live scans, criminal conviction forms, oaths, etc).

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Top 3 Steps To CPA Licensure 

1Education – Most states require at least a Bachelors Degree.
2Experience – Typically 2 years minimum
3Ethics – Most states also require you to take and pass an ethics exam


Should I Get a Tutor for the CPA Exam?

CPA exam tutoringTaking the CPA exam is a big commitment, both in terms of time and money. It’s easy to get frustrated when you don’t see the desired results on practice exams after hundreds of hours of hard work. If you’re struggling to make progress while studying, getting a CPA tutor is probably your best bet to help turn things around.

The preparation required for the exam calls for a CPA review course, at the very least. Very few people can pass using just a book of practice questions. In fact, many CPA candidates hire personal tutors to help them with the material so they can get that passing score. CPA tutors can help you in a number of ways and can make the whole process go faster. So how do you know if hiring a tutor is the right idea for you?

Is a CPA Tutor Right for You?

Did you recently earn your accounting degree? If so, your recall on CPA exam topics is strong and you’ll have an easier time studying the material since your college courses are still fresh. If it’s been several years since the college days, it’s a good idea to hire a tutor to help you stay on top of every issue that’s covered in the CPA exam, especially if you hit a wall during your studies (see my CPA Exam Study Tips to help get past this).

If you’re working as an accountant, a tutor could be a great option to help you cover the areas you don’t practice in your job. For example, if you are an internal auditor, the auditing test will look similar to the topics you work with everyday. While you might be a master in audit, you probably struggle with recalling tax concepts. A tutor will help turn those weakness into strengths so a CPA license is within reach.

For me, and many of my fellow accountants, writing is a big challenge. The BEC section of the CPA exam is the only part that requires written essay questions. A tutor is a great way to conquer this specific area, as it will boost your score and limit your stress. It’s a smaller portion of the exam, but a couple quick tutoring sessions can get you those extra points you’ve been needing to pass.

CPA Exam Failure Is Not an Option

CPA exam tutoringNothing is more defeating than failing the CPA exam again and again, or even just one section once. If you just can’t seem to pass and it feels like you’ve tried every CPA review course, a tutor could be your golden ticket to a passing score. Some tutors even have guarantees that you will pass with their help.

CPA tutors can be expensive, so before you start working with a tutor, make a list of areas in which you are struggling. You can gauge your weaker areas by making a study plan with a CPA test prep course. After you have put in the suggested time studying for each test, you will be able to see what areas are more difficult for you to grasp. Knowing your weakness will greatly reduce the cost of hiring a tutor and increase the effectiveness of each tutoring session. If you took the exam and did not pass, you’ll receive a test report that outlines what areas had the lowest scores that you can share with your tutor.  

I recommend you book an hour with a tutor and go through your list of weaknesses. Do some research on the many different tutors out there to make sure you find someone who is easy to work with and can be flexible with your learning style. After discussing what you need help on, your tutor will be able to set the groundwork for your assisted study plan to get you that CPA license. Don’t forget to maximize the success of your study plan with one of the best CPA courses!


Crush The CPA Study Guide Review

crush the cpa exam study guide reviewCrush The CPA Study Guide Rating: 

Taking the CPA exam is quite a time-consuming and financial commitment. Only 20 percent of candidates pass all four sections of the CPA exam on the first try and if you fail just one section, you can expect to study for an extra 50 to 100 hours.

If you want to save yourself time and money, you’ll need a comprehensive study guide that’ll take you step-by-step through the process and properly prepare you, so you know exactly what to expect on exam day.

Bryce Welker, founder of, has just launched a new CPA Study Guide guarantees to reduce your total study time, keep you on track with a weekly study plan, and provide you with invaluable hacks and insider information to increase your scores. And if you don’t pass on the first try, you’ll get your money back. No questions asked. This Study Guide is the real deal and will drastically improve your chances of passing.

In a recent interview Bryce said, “I wanted to create a study guide filled with all the information I wish somebody would’ve told me before I started on my CPA journey, so that’s exactly what I did.”

Minimize Study Time & Focus On What’s Important

The expert techniques found in this Study Guide are an invaluable resource for making studying manageable and giving you the greatest chance of success on your CPA Exam. You’ll be able to reduce your study time by over 100 hours, while simultaneously increasing your scores on each section.

These tips and tricks will help you retain more than 80 percent of what you study and be able to recall important facts and figures instantly. If you want to trim the fat on your study habits and spend time concentrating on what you’ll actually be tested on, instead of the unnecessary details, this is the CPA Study Guide for you.   

CPA Simulations Preparation

Representing 40 percent of your total score on three out of the four exams, the CPA simulations can be the difference between passing and failing. The simulations test a candidate’s ability to apply learned concepts in a business environment. Being able to budget your time on these sections is extremely important and this guide will give you advice on how to leave enough time for the simulations, while also preventing you from getting stuck and bogged down.  

Weekly Study Plan

When studying for the exam, sticking to a consistent schedule can be difficult, especially if you have important commitments like a family, a full-time job or school. Bryce’s proven weekly study plan will help keep you focused and motivated by mapping out a daily ritual that best fits your study habits. Whether you study better at night or in the morning, or focus better at home or at a coffee shop, this guide will help you be more efficient.Best CPA Study Guide

Final Review Game Plan

The way you spend your last 72 hours before your CPA Exam can make or break you. This guide will help you become laser-focused, put your mind to the grindstone and fine-tune everything you’ve learned. From which day to schedule your test to shutting off from all outside distractions, these final review tips are not only a chance to go over important information that’ll be found on the test, but a great boost of confidence.

Special Bonus Offers

The special bonuses offered with this study guide are unmatched. Applying to take the CPA Exam can be tedious to say the least and this guide includes a free CPA Application Guide to walk you through the process step-by-step. By simplifying this process and providing you with all the information you need to know, you’ll spend less time worrying about getting approved and more time actually studying for the exam.

One of the most challenging parts of the BEC exam is memorizing all the formulas you have to use, but an included CPA Formulas Cheat Sheet will help you retain the 40 most important formulas that you’ll have to remember for the BEC exam.

Lastly, you’ve worked hard and sacrificed your social life, time, and money to become a CPA. What do you do now? A Post-Exam Career Guide will help you create the perfect resume for that dream job you’ve been looking for, give you networking pointers and help you navigate your continuing education requirements.


The Crush The CPA Exam Study Guide is truly a one stop shop where you can find answers to any questions you encounter. No matter what stage of your CPA journey you’re in, this Study Guide will help you prepare like a pro. From reducing your study time to creating a final review game plan, these tips and techniques will help you pass your exam on the first try.

With three special bonus offers and a 100 percent risk free, money back guarantee, this is a value-packed offer that you won’t want pass up, especially if you’re serious about becoming a CPA.


Let’s Crush The CPA Exam

Crush The CPA Study Guide Review
Written by: Beat The CPA
5 / 5 stars

Top 3 Ways to Beat the CPA Exam Simulations

Simulations are by far the most difficult and overwhelming part of taking the CPA exams. They’re meant to test your knowledge in specific areas but you never know what they’ll test you on!

First of all, just take a deep breath and get yourself in the right mindset before diving head first into the sims.

Here are just a few helpful tips to get you ready:

1. Plan Your Time

Before even hitting that start button, do yourself a favor and plan out your time. Each section includes three multiple choice testlets and one simulation testlet. Simulations are worth 40% of FAR, AUD, and REG and 15% of BEC which is the only written communication testlet.

At the minimum (minimum!), leave yourself these recommended amounts of time for each exam:

Four Hour Exams (7 sims):

FAR – 1 hour and 30 minutes

AUD – 1 hour and 30 minutes

Three Hour Exams:

REG (6 sims) – 1 hour and 15 minutes

BEC (3 written memos) – 30 minutes

2. Start With What You Know

One easy way to maximize your score is to start with what you’re most comfortable with. By sticking with what you know first, you’re less likely to waste time on a question you don’t know and you’ll also earn more points if you happen to run out of time. If you’re stuck, just move on. Time is precious!

There were times where I got so overwhelmed with the sims that I just started with the research question. The trick is to select unique words that will narrow the results down in the Authoritative Literature tab. By getting the easiest question out of the way, it was a confidence boost to move onto the harder questions and easy points. However, at the end of the day, you want to be comfortable with difficult questions, so make sure you choose a top review course to maximize your preparation.

3. BEC Memo

The simulation portion of BEC requires you to write three business memos or letters in a professional format. Most candidates seem to panic on this section mainly due to lack of time. First, go back to tip #1 and plan your time accordingly.

Second, the written portion is graded based on writing capability rather than content. I’ve noticed that when people are running out of time they admit to writing facts out in bullet points. Graders are actually looking for correct grammar (use the spell check!), complete sentence structure, and organization. No need to just spew everything you know about that topic! That won’t get you any points.

When I took BEC, I had less than 30 minutes so I went through and quickly formatted each memo with an introduction with a relevant thesis sentence, the body with a few supporting points, and a conclusion. I was able to go back and build on one memo but the other two were left as bare boned formatted memos/letters. Even though my memos were pretty basic I kept it professional, precisely formatted, and on topic and thus, was able to score higher on sims than on the multiple choice.


These are just a few helpful tips that worked for me. Do what works for you and beat those simulations! Don’t get discouraged. Going through the sims just means that your exam is almost over. Muster all your energy and keep in mind how much work you put into this exam. You’ve got it!

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CPA Exam Simulations

ExamMinimum Time 
FAR1 hour and 30 minutes
AUD1 hour and 30 minutes
REG (6 Sims)1 hour and 15 minutes
BED (3 Written Memos)30 minutes


How to Get Ready for CPA Exam Day

You’re done studying for your upcoming CPA exam and the big test day is approaching! What should I expect? What do I bring? How does it work? Don’t worry, let’s break it down and get you ready to Beat The CPA exam! Here are a few tips I learned along the way to help prepare you for your CPA exam.

1. Last Minute Review

Use the entire week leading up to your exam to re-review the material that you haven’t completely grasped and re-do all the practice questions related to those topics. By giving yourself enough time to do a proper final review, you’ll feel much more confident about passing your exam without any last minute cramming. If you need some questions, consider getting a question bank from the top CPA prep courses.

2. Day Before

Take it easy the day before your exam. Review your notes, summary sheets or notecards for a few hours. Also, I advise staying away from multiple choice questions or practice tests the night before. Reason being, if I got a few wrong, I would start doubting whether I was prepared enough for the daunting day ahead of me, and would spiral straight into panic mode. It is absolutely essential that you try to relax and get in the mind set that you have done everything you can to prepare yourself to pass. After around 8pm let yourself unwind and set aside a normal amount of time to get a good night’s sleep.

3. What To Bring

On the day of your exam you are required to bring your NTS and two valid forms of ID that must match the name given for your NTS. If you do not bring these items or your name does not match to the NTS, you will not be allowed to take the exam. The NTS provides instructions on preparation for your appointment, valid forms of ID, and prohibited items in the testing center. Be sure to read the instructions!

4. Arrive Early To The Testing Center

Per your NTS instructions, you are to arrive 30 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment. This is meant for time to sign in, put your belongings in the lockers (phones are required to be left in your car), scan your fingerprint, take your picture, and go through the wand metal detector. I recommend that you arrive even earlier! Unexpected things can happen (traffic, weather, etc.) so plan to arrive 30 minutes to an hour early. Take your textbook or notes with you for some last minute review while you wait.

5. How Testing Works

When you’re finally done with the whole check-in process, you’ll be led into the testing cubicles (where you will be continuously monitored by video) and directed to log in. Using the launch code given to you on your NTS, log in and begin your exam within 10 minutes of entering the code. If not started within that 10 minutes, your exam will be forfeited.

You will be taking your exam in a room full of other exam takers so there are noise-canceling headphones available for each cubicle. One item that is allowed in the testing room is a pair of soft ear plugs. I found the available noise-canceling headphones to come in handy. Either I was super sensitive to noise on exam days or other exam takers were there to write novels because it seemed like I was seated next to people who were testing how loud someone can pound on those old-school keyboards. Shh!

Also, be aware that you are allowed to take breaks during each of the testlets. However, your time clock keeps ticking! If you leave the room during a testlet then you will be required to go through the whole check in process again to get back in (wand, fingerprint, signature, checking of pockets). If possible, avoid taking a break. Use all the time you can get because you’re on a tight race against the clock!

6. Tips During Exam

Go in feeling confident! You’ve done all that you can to prepare by this point. When you’re seated, take a breath and start writing down your formulas and mnemonics on the note boards that are provided by the testing center (just remember to login within that initial 10 minute period before your exam is forfeited).

Begin your exam and remember to keep track of your time. You’ll be surprised at how fast a three or four hour exam passes by. Click here to see time allotted for each exam.  Time management is a priority! Strategize beforehand on how much time you would like to leave yourself to complete the last simulation testlet. For each exam, leave at least a full hour to complete the simulations. At least! During the first three testlets, don’t let a multiple choice question waste your time. If you’re stumped, move on and go back to it before your testlet is completed. You are not allowed to go back and forth between testlets.

7. You’re Done!

Before you completely let out that huge sigh of relief when you’ve finished, write down the simulations that you were just tested on. This will act as a reminder of the kinds of topics that are tested in the simulations on the off chance (key word: off chance) that you need to retake that same exam. This is just in case though! You were so prepared that you won’t even need to revisit these notes or retake the exam. Right?!

Ok Go Ahead. Relax!

Take a breath. Take a nap. Let your friends and family know that you survived. Drink a beer. Do whatever you want for the next day or two and unwind. And then on to the next exam so that you can continue on your journey to become a CPA!


How to Get Ready for CPA Exam Day – Checklist!

TipsExam Day Breakdown
1.Day Before: Take it easy
2.Do A Last Minute Review
3.Bring Your NTS and two valid forms of ID
4.Arrive at least 30 minutes early to Testing Center
5.Pay attention to exactly how the testing works
6.Read our tips for how to stay cool during the exam


You Failed The CPA Exam – Now What?

Ok, so you just failed a section of the CPA exam… Yes, it’s heart wrenching and entirely frustrating, but it’s not the end of the world! I give you full permission to take a day to pout and feel sorry for yourself.

Go ahead, just one day. Then get over it! Reschedule and retake the exam as soon as possible so it’s still fresh in your brain (keep in mind that you can only take one section in a single testing window). Now it’s time to break it down and figure out why you didn’t get that perfect 75.

Lack of Effort

Come on, be honest. You just didn’t give 100%. Your study time consisted of having a book open and your computer on but you were really watching a sneezing baby panda or scrolling through pictures of your friends having fun without you on Facebook.

Anything but actually reading the material. You already know what you need to do. If you haven’t already done so, make a plan and stick to it this time. There’s no winging these exams, so it’s time to focus and put your all into it. Check out these study tips that will get you on track to passing those exams.

Lack of Time

You just ran out of time and couldn’t squeeze in enough study time. Totally understandable, life won’t stop just because you need to take the exams.

Problem: You couldn’t complete all the review work before the exam.
Solution: Finish off where you started and keep studying.

Problem: You were racing against the clock so you just reviewed the surface of the concepts.
Solution: Go back and practice all the questions. Don’t skim! Practice the questions until you feel comfortable with each section. Double back on the missed questions and research the correct answers.

Either way, if you don’t feel ready to take an exam then don’t take it yet. There’s no shame in pushing your exam back a few days until you’re ready (obvious warning: there is a fee to reschedule). But only a few days! Don’t run the risk of pushing it off indefinitely, or you’ll never be ready to take it. Setting a deadline for yourself provides a real incentive to get your studying done.

What Went Wrong!?

You thought you put in the time and the effort to pass but you just fell short. (SIGH). Time for Plan B.

1. Change CPA Review Courses

It may be time to change your review material. Everyone has different preferences and ways of learning, so your CPA exam review course just may not be catering to your needs. When I started studying again, I realized that I was skimming a lot of the information during my review. Not because I knew the information well, but because it was just familiar and I thought I knew it. This was useless and wasted a lot of time. I never actually changed review material because I personally liked the Becker notes, but I did supplement it with other practice material.

I ended up using the Becker final review, Gleim, Wiley, and Ninja audio for the extra practice. I wouldn’t recommend switching the materials you used as a foundation, but I would recommend going to other sources for practice to add to your foundation of knowledge. The extra practice is really what helped me pass each exam.

Take a look at my Top 7 review course comparison chart to see which course could work as a supplement or a full change in review material.

2. Keep studying. Don’t read, practice!

Practice, practice, practice! I can’t stress it enough. I found myself at times going back to review and just reading instead of practicing. If you read the material well enough the first time, then don’t read it again. Focus on the multiple choice questions and keep practicing those until you’re coming out with well over passing results (at least 85-90%). And by practicing, I don’t mean memorizing.

When reviewing and re-reviewing the practice questions, I found myself looking at the answers and memorizing those that I missed. Trust me, it’s a small chance that you’ll get these exact questions on the exams. If you get it wrong the first time, go back and investigate your material to find the right answer. Don’t just rely on the answer key for the correct answer. Look into why it’s the correct answer and understand why it’s right. Be efficient and effective!

Check out the average CPA exam pass rates per section.

However many times you fail or however down you’re feeling, just don’t give up! Don’t even think about it. Keep going because it will happen and you will pass! I won’t even say good luck to you all. It’s really not about luck, it’s about sticking to your plan and working your ass off!

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Top 6 Things To Try If You Failed The CPA Exam

RankWhat to do if you failed the CPA Exam
1.Change Review Courses
2.Keep Studying
3.Practice, Practice, Practice!
4.Focus On Multiple Choice Questions
5.Don’t Memorize
6.Don’t Give Up!


Best CPA Exam Study Tips

It’s no secret that I had a hard time figuring out what study methods worked best for me while preparing for the CPA exam. I went from not studying hard enough to locking myself away like a crazy person. It really wasn’t until I got myself organized and made some plans, that I started passing.

These are a few things I learned on my way that made my life a lot easier and helped me get my CPA license.


Top CPA Study Tips To Pass Fast

1. Plan Your Strategy For The Exam

The best advice I can give is to make a plan and stick to it. In college, I was one of those students who could start studying two days before a big exam and pass no problem. Cramming for CPA exams? Not possible. It’s all about actually learning and understanding concepts rather than memorizing the material (who knew!). So when the time came to start studying I would map out a plan to study so many chapters and review so many questions in one week up until my exam date. And I would try to leave at least one week before the test for final review. Schedule your exam as soon possible so you actually have that end date in mind.

Be as flexible as you can with your schedule because things can happen that are out of your control. So instead of planning day by day, I planned it by weekdays (at least 2 hours) and weekends (6-8 hours a day) separately. I learned that if I planned day by day and I couldn’t complete it (let’s face it, there are those days when you just can’t study or nothing seems to stick) then I felt like I was already failing. By breaking study time down to increments (but not micromanaging) it was a lot less overwhelming and it felt like I was achieving goals every week. Planning is also important in finding the test prep that’s perfect for you and within your budge. When the time comes for you to pick a CPA Review course, make sure you save your bank account by using one of our CPA discount coupon codes.

2. Find The Best CPA Study Method That Works For You

For the Visual learner:

  • Take notes while you’re studying.
  • Make your own flashcards. Flashcards from the review courses are helpful but sometimes it needs to be written in your own words.
  • Highlight the most important information in your review material. I followed Becker’s live classes and did their exact highlights. It turned out that pretty much everything got highlighted except “and” or “the”. Not that helpful. Only highlight the important information that you know you’ll need to review again.
  • I recommend Yaeger CPA Review for visual learners.

For the Auditory learner:

  • Listen to audio lectures.
  • Watch the self-study lectures.
  • Reread the information aloud that you just learned.
  • I recommend Roger CPA Review for Auditory learners.

For the Hands-On learner:

  • Study with a buddy or in groups and workout the material together.
  • Take live classes that explain material by demonstration rather than straight up lecture.
  • I recommend Wiley CPAexcel for Hands-On Learners

Just for CPA exam purposes, I was more of an auditory learner. I got the audio lectures for both FAR and REG and listened to those while I was at work or in the car. The information actually stuck with me since I just repeated the lectures over and over whenever I got a chance. I also found it helpful to hear myself repeat what I just learned out loud. Music was a life saver during my journey so I actually sang the information out loud. It really helped to hear the information to a beat. I know I know, that may not be for everyone but it worked for me. And I won’t even lie, I caught myself jamming to my beats while taking the exams (a very big you’re welcome to the Prometric exam watchers). Whatever works!

3. Find a Balance

You’ll find yourself saying “no” to more things than you’d like, but you don’t have to say no to everything. I let myself have one night a week and half a day on the weekend to not study. I spent my free time going to dinner with friends, going to music shows, or even just some “me-time” to make sure that I was still working out and eating healthy. Keeping to a plan will allow you to balance your social life with work and study. Cutting everything out of your life is pretty detrimental to your sanity. Trust me, crazy-town is not the business. So make that time for your friends and family and some fun that will keep you motivated and refreshed to keep going.

4. Take Study Breaks

Listen to your body and mind! If nothing is getting through, there’s really no point to keep pushing it. Take a break when you need to. If you’re like me and you take the stress of your job home with you, then leave yourself a good hour after work to just hit the restart button. It really got me going when I went for a run, went to yoga, or even just threw down a quick beer right after work. I swear it, a beer a day will keep those 74s away!

5. Study For The CPA Exam Everywhere!

Take your CPA study materials wherever you go. You’ll find that you have a lot of random downtime moments that are perfect for studying. I studied on lunch breaks, doctor’s appointments, car check-ups, flights, or that dreaded laundry time. There’s no wasted time when you have your materials on hand and at the ready.

6. Ask For Help!

When you need some help, ask for it! Whether it be from friends, family, or work, you need to let them know when you need their support. People who haven’t gotten their CPA license just can’t understand what we’re going through but it’s always nice to hear them tell you “you can do it!” or just have that support and understanding that you’re neglecting them for a good reason. If you’re lucky, then you have someone going through it with you where you can vent and they’ll actually understand the torture you’re going through. Or just utilize your resources and search out blogs or websites that have people who are going through it too. You’re not alone! A big reason why I started this site was so that I could help people who are struggling, like I did. I had a hard time reading blogs or websites about people passing all the exams on their first try. Yeah, it’s possible but come on. Shit happens!

At work, I just needed that all too valuable time and I had to ask for it. I had a boss who was completely understanding and let me take some time off to study when I felt that pressure being up against the clock. I mean, what’s the worst that can happen when you ask? They say no and you move on. Nothing can change if you don’t ask for it up front.

7. Keep That End Goal in Mind.

Why are you doing this in the first place? Always keep that reason in mind. I had a few things that kept me going to the end. I wanted my bonus, those three letters after the end of my name on my business card, and by the end I looked forward to the day that it was all over so I could have my life back. I kept it posted on my computer background screen “Imagine the day when it’s all over and you’re a CPA!”. It was truly a beautiful thought. And yes, the day when it was all over was quite magical!

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CPA Exam Study Tips
Written by: Jessica Davis
5 / 5 stars

CPA Exam Application Steps

CPA exam applicationNASBA, BOA, Prometric, AICPA?! Where do you even start the CPA exam application process?? Studying for the exams is stressful enough, so let’s make this easy and take it step by step from the beginning.

Are You Eligible To Take The CPA Exam?

In order to take any of the CPA exams you must first qualify for eligibility. Effective January 1, 2014, the 150 credit hour rule is the only pathway to obtain a license in most states. However, the 150 hour credit rule is not necessarily required to be able to sit for the exams (check your State BOA website for sitting and licensure requirements). The general CPA licensure requirements include the following:

  • A bachelor’s degree
  • 24 semester units in accounting-related subjects
  • 24 semester units in business-related subjects
  • 150 semester units (or 225 quarter units) of education
  • Pass all 4 sections of the CPA Exam
  • Pass the Ethics Exam (not applicable for all states)
  • One year of general accounting experience supervised by a CPA with an active license

Once the educational requirements have been met, send in your transcripts to your state Board of Accountancy (BOA). Send these in as soon as possible because it can take a few weeks for the BOA to process and approve your eligibility to sit. If you send these in early, your application will be processed quicker.

How Do You Apply for the CPA Exam?

1. Submit the CPA application to your state BOA along with the required fees

  • Fees: (varies by state so please refer to your state’s BOA requirements)
  • Application (initial and repeat) fees range from $25 – 200

2. Receive the Authorization to Test (ATT)

a. State BOA:

  • Go to your State BOA CPA client account and select the exams you plan on taking (see warning below before selecting).


  • You will receive a Payment Coupon Notification (can be up to a week later or more) approving the exams selected through your state BOA account that directs you to pay for your chosen exams on the NASBA website (you have 90 days to pay for chosen exams before your application fee is forfeited).
  • Then, you will receive your Notice to Schedule (NTS) for those paid exams from NASBA.

*WARNING: The NTS has a validation period in which you must take the exams you paid for (most expire in 6 months). So unless you plan on taking all 4 exams within a 6 month period, I would highly suggest that you pay for 2 at a time and reapply for the next 2 when you’re ready for those. If not taken within that 6 month period, your NTS and fees for those sections will be forfeited! (Other validation periods: Texas – 90 days; California, Louisiana, Utah – 9 months; North Dakota, South Dakota, Virginia – 12 months)

  • Fees: Varies by exam and by state. Total exam fees range from $700 – 1,000
  • Again, see warning above! Seriously though, only take the exams that you plan on sitting for within that time frame and be realistic. I’ve seen it happen too many times that candidates misjudge how much can be accomplished in such a short timeframe and lose a ton of money. They take enough money out of our pockets for everything else, so don’t put more in their pockets for something that could have easily been avoided!

3. Receive the Notice to Schedule (NTS)

  • You are now officially eligible to schedule your exams with Prometric (your NTS will give you a direct link)
  • WARNING: You must bring your NTS and two forms of identification with you to your exams (or you will not be admitted!)
  • ANOTHER WARNING: The name on your NTS must match exactly to the name on your IDs (or you will not be admitted!)
  • It usually took around 3-6 weeks to receive my NTS (starting from the application remittance submission)

4. Schedule exam with Prometric

  • Enter the Exam Section ID given on your NTS and the first four letters of your last name
  • Important notes to scheduling exams:
    • You are not allowed to take exams during the third month of each calendar quarter (March, June, September, and December are blackout months)
    • You cannot take the same exam within one testing window
    • Rescheduling comes at a cost (of course)
      • More than 30 days away from exam – no fee
      • Within 30 days – $35
      • Within 5 days and up to 24 hours – More than $35 depending on which exam
      • 24 hours – fees are forfeited and you must reapply

5. Exam Time!

  • Once your first exam is passed, you have 18 months from the day you took the exam (not the day you passed) to pass the next three sections.
  • You can check the NASBA website for the score release timeline. So if you’re an insomniac like me and you’re in California, they usually always post the scores on your state BOA account on the Saturday before the target release date exactly at 5am!


Helpful Tips About The CPA Exam Application Process

1. Bookmark the website for your State’s Board of Accountancy page. Be sure that you’re following all the requirements specific to your state.

2. Keep an eye on the CPA candidate bulletin provided  by the AICPA- click here to get it.

3. Order your CPA exam study materials and start studying as soon as you can! Don’t wait until your eligibility and application have gone through all the hoops and have officially been approved. It took over a month and half from transcript submission to receiving my first NTS. Don’t delay, that waiting period is valuable study time!

4. Always have a backup plan! I found that the blackout months caused some problems in scheduling when I failed or in cases when I needed to postpone. Not that you’ll fail! But just have plan B in the back of your mind in case life or something gets in the way.

5. Just breathe! Don’t get frustrated with the whole application process. It’s confusing and annoying for everyone but you’ll get through it and you’ll soon be on your way to beating those exams!

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CPA Exam Application Process in 6 Steps

StepsHow To Apply 
1.Submit the CPA application to your state BOA along with the required fees
2.Entertaining Lectures
3.Course Textbooks
4.Memorization Strategies
5.Audio Review Course
6.Financing Options