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Study Plan Ideas to Organize Your 2022 CPA Exam Goals

Last week I introduced you guys (and gals) to the joys of bullet journaling with some suggestions on how to whip up some spreads to organize your 2022 CPA exam goals, and we went over the basics of setting up your first bujo. This week I’m throwing a few study-specific spreads at you in the hopes it may inspire you to create your own, or you can just straight-up copy these because, honestly, it’s not like copyright lawyers are going to come confiscate your bullet journal and sue you.

First, let’s talk about a concept called time blocking. You may already be using this method and not even know it. Here’s an exceptionally detailed breakdown on what exactly it is from Todoist but the gist is — as the name suggests — organizing your day into blocks of time. So let’s say you make 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. a block you set aside to answer emails instead of dealing with them throughout the day as they come in. During that block, you do nothing but answer emails. You might need several blocks for whatever it is you’re blocking time for, but the point is accounting for (heh) your day and corralling your tasks into blocks rather than doing ALL of them as you feel like doing them. This method is highly dependent on actually being able to set aside time; of course, some of you might be stuck with micromanagers who think you should respond to every email immediately as if each one is a critical life or death situation. If that’s you, I’m sorry.

Anyway. Here’s time blocking in action:

via Todoist

Make sense? OK good.

What does this have to do with studying for the CPA exam you’re asking? Yeesh, y’all are so impatient sometimes. Welllllll — and those of you who are constantly saying you can’t possibly find the time to study for the exam should pay particular attention to this next part — by taking an inventory of your entire day you can squeeze in some time to study that might otherwise be spent fighting with strangers on the internet, watching bad reality TV, or sitting on the toilet at the office crying into your iPhone. You know, the important stuff. The key to time blocking is sectioning off your day to make time for things.

Alright, so how do we put this into action? Check this out:


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A post shared by cindy 🌻 (@cqlettering)

This is a college schedule @cqlettering made to help her study for midterms that you can adapt for your own purposes in a weekly spread — just block out time for work and study. For those really struggling to make the time to study, I suggest you take a more detailed inventory of your time and account for every waking hour. I mean, you don’t have to block out time to take a dump or anything, but if, say, playing a few rounds of Apex Legends after work is important to you (no judgments), then go ahead and account for it!

Here’s a similar spread that shows time blocking in action:

This is another nice one with a little less flair than the first two that allows for a bit more precision with your time tracking. Its creator has a bazillion bujo ideas on her Insta if you are interested.

boho.berry via House Beautiful

At this point in the article, I can hear all of you groaning “But Adrienne, I’m not creative! Mine won’t look like this!” I already know this, if you were creative you wouldn’t have majored in accounting. Look man, I am creative and mine don’t look like this. My handwriting looks like a doctor with Parkinson’s riding a rickety bus through the Peruvian Andes. No one’s saying you have to do exactly this. The people who make these spreads for public consumption have practiced hours upon hours to get their journals to look this pretty, many of them do lettering as a side gig hawking pretty place cards to brides on Etsy and whatnot. Ain’t nobody got time for that. So let’s not worry about them, it’s the concept we’re talking about here and this is about making something that works for you not something that will gain you Pinterest street cred. To make my point, I threw together this quick sample schedule in my sketchbook in just a few minutes using a single pen and a couple highlighters.

*Obviously not my actual schedule, I spend more time mindlessly scrolling Reddit than that

In the above example, you can either write directly on your highlighted blocks or make a little key at the bottom that tells you yellow highlighter = wasting your life on the internet. Or in your case, studying for the exam. You get it.

Alright so let’s say you’re pretty good at time management already and you just want to track study time to make sure you’re getting those hours in. If you don’t want or need advanced daily time tracking, you could try a monthly study spread instead. Like this:


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A post shared by jeanne ashley yoon (@signedjeanne)

Now here’s another idea. You could take the semester log below, change “semester” to whatever exam section you’re studying for, and track your CPA review course videos, practice questions, and practice tests over several months. This would work for more than one section at a time too if that’s what you’re doing just as she did with her multiple classes — just grab a second highlighter. For example, let’s say you have FAR scheduled for March something-or-other. Today’s the 13th of January so you’d quickly throw down grids for January, February, and March and either list out your review lessons as you complete them or you could get extra organized and plot them out ahead of time and check them off as you go. The benefit to this kind of spread is seeing your entire study plan at a glance rather than in pieces distributed throughout monthly and weekly spreads.


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A post shared by @bujo.diaries

Lastly I wanted to share this page from Sweet Planit with a ton of suggestions for study spreads, including some nifty YouTube tutorials. There’s way too much there to summarize here so just go over there if you are craving more.

I realize this post may seem abhorrent to those of you who despise the Pinteresting of basic activities and that bullet journaling isn’t for everyone, and no doubt there are some of you out there who much prefer letting iCal manage your study time for you, and that’s great. Still others of you think this is a complete waste of time, and I get that. But studies show that physically putting pen to paper helps with memory ,and I know for me bujo has really helped me to get organized and stay on top of the tedious unfun stuff that I’d rather forget to do. If this helps just a single one of you better prepare for the CPA exam then it was entirely worth the server space to store this article.

For those of you who do find all of this helpful, next time I’ll show you a step-by-step guide to take everything you learned in these last two bullet journal posts and get yours up and running in no time. Happy studying!