How to Study for the CPA Exam

Here’s a video from Another 71 which provides what I consider to be sound advice for studying for the CPA exam. I came across this method before it was officially dubbed the NINJA Study Framework and adopted key components from it. I definitely can attribute this method to successfully passing each section on my first attempt.

My 2 cents:

Nail the videos – I definitely am in agreement. Focus on getting the videos out of the way first because you’ll have to work the questions again anyway to refresh your memory. Initially with FAR (which was my first section) I tried to work all of the required MCQs for each topic (I used Yaeger CPA review) before moving on to the next topic of lectures. I found that it was taking up a lot of time and I was starting to grow restless. Going forward I only worked the MCQs that the lecturer went over in the videos to reinforce the topic that was just covered. I then worked all required MCQs (even the ones they covered in the lecture) at the end during my final review.

Intense notes – Yes! Listen to Jeff…put the highlighter down…well, for the most part. I used it on occasion in conjunction with post-it flags to tag something that was important to review, but too lengthy/detailed to write in my notes. Otherwise, I wrote an insane amount of notes over everything that was covered in the lectures. I had at least one notebook full of notes for each section of the exam. In the end you pretty much have all the info you need condensed down instead of having to refer to the book. It was tedious, but well worth it. Writing everything out allowed me to really digest the information and retain it better. I didn’t re-write my notes, but I did refine them and re-read them a few times during my final review.

Non-stop MCQs – After watching all of the lectures and writing my notes it was time to face the MCQs. As I mentioned before, I did all of the required MCQs topic by topic. I would review my notes for a topic and then do the questions. Any questions I got wrong I would make a note of it in my notebook in such a way that I would increase my chances of getting it right should I see a similar question.

Just re-write it – I can see the benefit in this, but it was something I never did because of time being a factor. As Jeff mentions in the video you really have to allow time for this in your study schedule. I believe you can still be successful without completing this step, however.

All comes together – This is the time to go over MCQs in areas that may still give you a little trouble and read over your notes as much as you possibly can. You should be pretty well prepared at this point if you put in the work on the front end. Keep in mind that now is NOT the time to cram.

Are you using any of these study tactics now? Are they working for you? If you’re not using them, do you plan to implement any of them into your current study strategy? 

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