【N】CPA study tips

Hello Sharon!

As you know, I recently took my third CPA test (there are four parts to it–FAR, AUD, BEC, and REG), and I figured I’d share some of my study tips before I start studying for my next test. Not just to share them with other fellow candidates, but also to help myself organizing these ideas in writing. Hopefully this will somehow help me with my study plan for the next test?

I know everyone has different study habits, so what works for me might not work for you, please feel free to share any of your study tips with me too 😀 I will really appreciate it~ Oh and before you read on, I’m using Becker/Self-Study 🙂

Step 1
Listen to Chapter 1 lecture and highlight/make notes as instructed

Personally, I think Becker does a great job in the lecture part, it almost feels like being in an actual classroom. (Sharon-it actually reminds me of this math DVD that we used to watch in 6th or 7th grade, instead of going to the academy like every other Asian student lol) I can’t say that the material is interesting, but the instructors make the material at least a bit more comprehensible. What I like the most is that the instructor will tell you what to highlight and what to focus on for the test, they also have some mnemonics and memorizing tricks that I find really helpful.

Step 2
Skim through Chapter 1

So after I’m done listening to a chapter, I would go back and skim through section by section, and especially focus on the highlighting parts. I know some people like to read every single word, but I honestly just don’t have that patience…(that’s what I tried to do when I was studying for my first part of the CPA exams) It would just drag my study progress.

Step 3
Do Chapter 1 “Homework” & “Simulation” once–just once!


So this is the “tip” that I got from one of the seniors I met at Deloitte. After I finish each section or chapter, I would do the “Homework“, aka multiple choice practice questions. The way it works in the Becker software is that, you have to get every single question right in order to complete the homework. (For example, if there are 50 questions and you get 30 questions right for the first time, you will have 20 questions left and so on) So when I was studying for the first part (FAR), I would spend forever on one chapter because it does take forever to get every single question right…and by the time I finish every chapter and go back to review the first chapter, I honestly don’t remember anything from Chapter 1 anymore! So what I learned is that, it’s better to just do the homework ONCE first so you get an idea of where you are at and what kind of questions they have. But don’t kill yourself working the questions over and over again just yet…

On the other hand, some people like to go through every lecture first (e.g. Chapter 1~Chapter 6), and then do the Homework for Chapter 1, but I always think it helps to do the Homework once right after listening to the lecture, when the material is still kinda fresh in your mind. Plus, I just don’t have the best memory…as I said, what works the best for me might not work for everyone. For those people who have great memory or a great foundation in accounting, it might save them more time to go through all the lectures first then work through the Homework section.

Step 4
Move on to Chapter 2, 3, 4…, and repeat Step 1~3

Step 5
Skim through the textbook again and complete the “Homework” & “Simulation” section

So after I finish all the lectures and do the Homework at least once, I will go back to Chapter 1 and skim through the material again, and then FINISH the Homework section, meaning, working through every single question and getting them all correct. (Not the “Optional Questions” though–I don’t do those) At this time, if I don’t understand the question, I will go back to the material and review the textbook more thoroughly. My advice is, just read word for word for the part that you don’t understand, don’t actually read the whole textbook unless you have the time…

Step 6
Progress Test, Progress Test, Progress Test

These really help! Lots of multiple choice questions from the past exams and the so-called test banks.

If I have time, I would also make my own notes (I did for AUD)–if you have questions about making good notes for AUD let me know! Mine definitely helped me a lot, but I know most of us don’t have the time for this extra work =( Good luck everyone 😀

Nora ❤

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