Common CPA Exam Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)

As an aspiring accountant, passing the CPA exam can seem like an overwhelming task. However, it can be reassuring to know that, in spite of the course content itself being of an advanced level, some mistakes that CPA candidates make are highly avoidable. The CPA exam is always going to be difficult, but there are some common pitfalls which once pointed out can soon become a thing of the past. Let’s discover 3 common CPA exam mistakes and learn about the best ways to avoid them.

Inadequate Preparation

The sheer volume of study material required for the CPA exam can seem demanding for even the most astute scholar. Aspiring accountants sometimes find the study process so overwhelming, that they leave any revision or exam preparation until the last minute. Consequently, managing the study time required for the amount of information needed to pass the exam is not something to be taken lightly.

Creating a detailed study plan is vital if you want to increase your chances of passing the CPA exam. Start your revision sooner rather than later by breaking topics down into smaller parts and then prioritise these parts according to any gaps in your knowledge. For example, if the Business Environment and Concepts (BEC) section of the exam consistently causes you the most difficulty, dedicate extra time to reviewing the relevant material and topics such as inflation or currency exchange rates to deepen your understanding.

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Turning Up Late

Believe it or not, year after year, CPA exam candidates are turned away after arriving to their exam late. Amongst the chaos of juggling everyday life with exam preparation, it can be surprisingly easy to sleep through an alarm or get caught in a traffic jam during the journey to your exam centre. Subsequently, it is important to note that refunds are not issued if you turn up late and are unable to take the CPA exam as a result of negligence on your behalf.

As soon as you know your designated appointment time, prepare your journey to and from the test centre. Ahead of the morning of your CPA exam, set several alarms and pack any belongings you might need the night before. Do not forget to get a good night’s sleep. The CPA exam requires your full focus and you do not want to be distracted by tiredness. Finally, plan your route to the test centre carefully and aim to arrive at least 30 minutes before your exam is due to start.

Lack of Strategy

As with any long format exam, securing a pass has a lot to do with your approach. When working through the CPA exam, allocate plenty of time to read through and understand the requirements of each question. CPA Review courses can give you expert advice and guidance on how to tackle each of the four exam sections.

The CPA exam is no longer in written form, so it can be useful to use noteboards, a computer tool, that allows you to jot down information as you work through a question. When reviewing your answers, you can then refer back to your workings. Additionally, a large part of the preparation process should include practice questions and exams. Although reading through CPA course material and viewing video lectures is important, it is only through putting your knowledge to the test that you can reinforce concepts and identify topics that need more work.

Ultimately, taking adequate time to prepare and review your CPA course material is the way to ensure you have peace of mind that you are ready for the challenge of the CPA exam. The CPA exam is an undeniable hurdle to an accounting career, but with effort and willpower, you can achieve success and avoid any preventable mistakes.

Accounting and finance often go hand in hand in the fast-paced world of business. Check out this blog post about five interesting financial career options to find out more information.


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