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Advice on Taking the CPA Exam From Actual CPA Exam Candidates

I am still in the process of soliciting and collecting CPA review surveys from you guys – if you haven't gotten in touch yet and want to participate in my little unofficial poll, please do so by Wednesday as I'm looking to get all the intel slapped up on the site by Friday. I haven't gotten very many Yaeger students to step up for the survey, so if you're taking Yaeger and want to throw in your 2¢, now's the time. Everyone else is still welcome – if not encouraged – to participate, your responses will go a long way to help other candidates looking for advice and feedback on the many review options out there.

Now, while I'm waiting around to hear back from all those I've sent surveys off to, let's take a look at some of the best CPA exam advice I've received from the candidates so far. I've included the review program used just for curiosity's sake. Notice the majority agree on one simple piece of advice: don't play around and just get it done.

"Don’t over cram at the end, you will burn out and not be able to focus. I went to the gym the morning of my exam and it calmed me down. Just being in the proper state of mind for a 4 hour exam is essential." ROGER

"Take the harder ones first, with one exception: Take AUD as soon as possible after completing your auditing course—if you are in a good program, AUD is basically a very hard, comprehensive final exam. Take as many as possible while you’re in school. Pay out of pocket and get reimbursed rather than waiting to be hired. Also, don’t be scared. If you’ve been getting As and Bs, then a test performance that gets you a 76 will feel to you like you bombed. When leaving the test center, you will feel bad about your performance unless you scored 90+, so if you feel like you failed, don’t panic, you probably didn’t." BECKER

"Take this exam seriously. This is considered one of, if not THE hardest professional exam out there. I’ve read quotes from lawyers who are also CPAs that the CPA Exam is much harder than the bar. My doctor told me he’d much rather take the medical boards than the CPA exam. So, pick a good review course, go with their study recommendations and then just do it." ROGER

"If possible, PASS IT BEFORE YOU START WORKING. Screw having fun your last summer. You get FIVE WEEKS OFF a year. And (at least for KPMG) sabbatical options. So better to have a not so fun 3 months than a miserable 1-3 (or more) years." CPAEXCEL

"Just focus on it. Turn down any social events, just get it done as fast as you can. I also drank heavily during that time, so it made the reviews a little easier." BECKER/BISK

"Do as many past exam questions as you can. Realize that the exam covers a lot of information, but doesn’t have the depth of material you may have learned in the classroom. Start taking the exam as soon as you are eligible. NIU I would suggest not purchasing all four sections at once. Sure you will save money if you do, but something will always come up in life that messes up your plans. For example, I originally planned on taking all four sections over the summer in 2011, but my job needed me to start in June instead of September so I had to push a few sections back. Luckily there were no major changes between 2011-2012 so I didn’t need to buy new materials, but it is something to consider." YAEGER

"I would say not to focus on details at all. Go over the materials using a high level review and work to grasp the principles first. There is no way to know what formulas you will need or what specific example you will need. The focus should be on exposing yourself to ALL of the material and grasping it. Once that is complete you can get into details if time allows. If you understand the principles you can get ¾ of the questions you don’t know using common sense/reasoning. Most of the serial failures I know tell me they “spent the last two days studying EPS” which is perfect for the 1 EPS question they may get. No CPA knows all the answers but they have to be good and making a decision supported by principles/reasoning. The exam does a great job of finding people that can do this…" BECKER/WILEY AUDIOS

Thanks, folks, I'm sure your fellow CPA exam candidates appreciate the sage advice. Anyone have anything to add?