Studying smart

Maximize your study time with these tips

Okay, let’s say you’re planning a hike. Let’s say it’s to the top of Mount Everest. You’re not going to wait to pack until the last minute, right? Of course not. In fact, you’re going to be putting yourself through some hardcore training long before you buckle your seatbelt on the flight to Nepal. You’re going to have a master plan. A strategy. On everything from when to make the climb, to which preparatory exercises come closest to the real thing, to the gear you’re going to bring, and a hundred other really important details.

And like that not-so-quick trip up to the top of Everest, the CPA Exam takes a fair amount of careful preparation – at least for mere mortals. Here are some study tips that can help.

Know your strengths

Confidence is good, but so is honesty. Know where you’re good – and where you need to improve. From there, you can design a study plan that works harder for you.

Write out a plan

What are you going to study, how are you going to study, and when? Maybe it’s all in your head, but it can’t hurt to write it all out to make sure you stick to the plan.

Use the free stuff

You can spend a lot of money getting ready for the exam. Which is perfectly fine. But don’t overlook the totally free tutorials, sample exams and other tools provided by the AICPA. After all, we make the test.

Get a lucky charm or something

Hey, whatever works. We’re not above superstition.

Ask friends and family for some breathing room

You’re probably going to have to spend some weeknights studying for the exam, and even some weekend days. So the people around you need to make sure they give you enough room to succeed. So when you say “no, I really have to study this Sunday rather than go to the Super Bowl,” they understand. Otherwise, friends and family with the best intentions can really get in the way. Just remind them – and yourself – that this won’t last forever.


Sometimes the most basic study rules are the best ones. This old gem is still totally relevant for the CPA Exam.

Study some more


To help pace yourself as you study, use our CPA Exam Aid.

Please note: The AICPA does not publish examination review materials or endorse any specific review method or course. To obtain advice on whether to take a review course, which course to take, or which materials to buy, speak to faculty members or colleagues. Such recommendations are not available from the AICPA.

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