Journey to CPA: Advice for Preparing for the CPA Exam from Julia Locke, Staff Accountant
Congratulations to our Staff Accountant Julia Locke, who passed the first of four parts of the CPA exam! At ShindelRock, we encourage our accounting staff to reach for their professional aspirations, and for many, that includes this rigorous but valuable designation: Certified Public Accountant. Our incentive program is even tailored toward this achievement; Julia has just earned another paid day off to take prior to her next exam!
We asked Julia for her best advice to young accounting professionals just beginning their own Journey to CPA:
- Make sure you meet the education requirements prior to planning out when you will sit for the exam. I was getting ready to apply and start studying when I realized I had to take an additional class. Michigan’s NASBA eligibility requirements are located here:
- If you are unsure of whether a class meets the eligibility requirement, talk to an academic advisor. If needed, they can suggest a course that can fit the requirement!
- https://www.thiswaytocpa.com/– this is another great resource when trying to figure out education and work requirements
- Follow the advice given in the Candidate Bulletin when applying and preparing to sit for the exam. It lays out the framework so you know what to expect during the preparation, application, scheduling, and testing processes:
- Get a study plan and stick to it. Purchase a review course. It helps to have a refresher on materials that were discussed in classes that were not taken within the past year.
- The course I used had a daily planner that helped me stay on track. I personally used WileyCPAExcel, but you should find the one that works best for you.
- Research a variety of study materials and determine which one would work best for you. Take advantage of any free trials if you’re uncertain and never pay retail price for your course. Many exam review websites offer coupon codes to purchase your plan.
- Some organizations offer scholarships to aid in the cost of purchasing your review course. Posted below are a couple of opportunities:
- Do not obsess over perfection. The goal is efficiency and making sure you understand enough to pass the exam. During my first few weeks of studying, I was dwelling over the smallest details. It took me longer than forecasted to complete topics that were tested at a basic level on the exam.
- Review the CPA Exam Blueprint to see how in depth a topic will be tested. If it is only tested at a basic level, don’t fret and move on to the next topic. The most important part is that you know enough of the material that could be tested to successfully complete the exam.
- Take time for yourself when studying. If it is a beautiful Saturday but you need to study, take the time to take a short break and enjoy the outdoors. Self-care is everything!
- You are not alone during this process. There are many people that are going through the same experience. The NASBA has a forum where CPA candidates can talk about their experiences together: https://www.facebook.com/groups/cpaexamforum. Use this as a tool to connect with other candidates and ask for additional help!
- I am fortunate to have great coworkers as a resource. If you know anyone who has taken the exam, ask them as many questions as possible:
- What was their study process?
- What order did they take the exams in and why?