How Hard is CPA? 7 Tips to Ace CPA

You’ve heard rumblings in the accounting community about the CPA, a notoriously difficult task that destroys the shining career of an accountant. Some even say that it is more difficult than other professional exams, like the BAR exam.

But, despite being one of the hardest professional certifications to earn, you can still pass the CPA Exam if you prepare well and use a calculated approach!

What the CPA Exam Looks Like?

The CPA Exam has changed significantly, with important adjustments set to go into effect in 2024. There used to be four main sections. The current format, however, has three core sections and offers candidates the option to select from one of three discipline sections.

The processes and guidelines used to verify the accuracy and completeness of financial statements are the main focus of the Auditing and Attestation (AUD) section. It evaluates a candidate’s knowledge of gathering evidence, audit risk, and internal controls.

Some, however, believe that the most difficult section is the Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) section. It assesses a candidate’s understanding of US GAAP and how well they apply it to different kinds of financial reporting. 

At the same time, business law, taxation, and ethics are all explored in the Regulation (REG) section. Candidates are put to the test on their knowledge of business law, professional ethics for CPAs, and federal tax regulations.

In addition to the aforementioned three sections, candidates may select and work on one of the three available disciplines. The first one is called Business Analysis & Reporting (BAR), and it focuses on the abilities required for data analytics, financial analysis, and reporting.

In contrast, the Information Systems and Controls (ISC) discipline concentrates on the information systems and internal controls that are essential for protecting an organization’s financial data. The candidates’ comprehension of IT risks is also assessed.

Finally, candidates have the option to select the discipline of Tax Compliance & Planning (TCP). It delves further into planning techniques and tax compliance. Further, it evaluates a candidate’s proficiency in tax planning strategies and the preparation of multiple tax returns.

Since there are four hours allotted for each section of the CPA Exam, time management becomes a vital part of success. Exam questions are still mostly multiple-choice and task-based simulations, though the exact question types have changed slightly.

Additionally, which the introduction of different disciplines to the exam, selecting your exam order becomes crucial. It is best to begin with the section that you find the most difficult. It can also be advantageous to take one after its matching core section.

Usually, studying takes 300 to 400 hours spread over several weeks. Creating a study plan is crucial if you want to increase your chances of success. More importantly, make sure you bring all required paperwork, including your ID and Notice to Schedule (NTS), on exam day.

What Makes the CPA Exam So Difficult?

The difficult nature of the CPA exam is demonstrated by the national average pass rate, which ranges from 45 to 55%. At roughly 44%, the FAR section presents the largest challenge, emphasizing the commitment needed to pass this exam.

The amount of content being tested is not the only factor in difficulty. The depth and breadth of knowledge required in each subject area is one of the biggest challenges facing candidates. It requires you to apply the fundamentals to the analysis of complex cases. 

Imagine that you are faced with a complex financial scenario that involves several companies and tax considerations. To analyze the problem and come up with a sensible solution, you’ll need to apply your knowledge of accounting principles and pertinent tax laws.

The exam’s format adds even more difficulty to the task. The in-depth scenarios necessitate a multifaceted approach, meaning that you won’t be able to identify pertinent details and draw a well-supported conclusion if you lack critical thinking abilities.

The time constraint adds yet another level of difficulty. Because there is a strict time limit for each section of the CPA exam, effective time management is essential to success. When working on intricate computations and simulations, this pressure increases.

Effective time management becomes an essential skill that calls for an ability to maintain focus under pressure. Juggling the need for accuracy with the running clock is an important challenge that all CPA candidates must overcome.

In conclusion, a number of factors contribute to the difficulty of the CPA exam. The challenge is made worse by the large volume of content, the requirement for application and analysis, the strict time constraints, and the variety of question formats.

How to Ace the CPA Exam?

Although having a strong accounting background and natural talent can be advantageous, passing the CPA Exam demands careful preparation. Here’s a breakdown of practical strategies to increase your chances of success on the exam, which covers a wide range of subjects.

1. Structured Study Plan

Start by setting aside time for each of the four sections according to your strengths and limitations. Break up the allotted time into digestible portions and include weekly objectives to guarantee progress. It’s important to be consistent, so make studying a priority.

2. Strategic Section Order

Think about starting with sections that go well together. For example, BEC provides an overview of business concepts that are useful in comprehending the accounting principles covered by FAR. Basically, to build momentum, pick a starting section you feel confident about.

3. Pacing Yourself

Before the exam, try not to jam as much detail as possible into brief periods. Throughout your journey, space out your studying and make use of practice exams to pinpoint areas that require improvement and modify your study strategy accordingly.

4. Invest in Study Materials

Having the right study resources can greatly improve your readiness. Look into the many resources available, including online study tools and CPA review courses. Search for study materials that complement the structure and subject matter of the current exam.

5. Prioritize Sleep and Well-Being

As important as dedication is, make sure you prioritize getting enough sleep and leading a healthy lifestyle. Your concentration and memory for information improve dramatically when you are well-rested and in good health. Plan your breaks to prevent burnout.

6. Seek Support and Guidance

Think about collaborating with other CPA exam candidates in a study group. Peer support can be greatly enhanced by discussing ideas, asking each other questions, and exchanging experiences. Additionally, see if you can find a mentor who can provide advice.

7. Strategic Exam Scheduling

Once you’ve selected a testing location and confirmed the date, make a plan for completing each section of the exam. When deciding how much study time you need, take into consideration things like your individual learning style and the intricacy of each section.

The Takeaway

After all, the tremendous professional value that a CPA certification offers balances out the exam’s difficulty. While passing it is undoubtedly challenging, you can improve your chances of passing by using a methodical study strategy. 

Keeping up with advances in the field and interacting with a network of professionals and peers who are supportive can help you prepare even better. As always, keep yourself properly maintained and motivated, and best of luck for your CPA exam!


Review Summary

0.0 out of 5 stars (based on 0 reviews)
Very good0%

User Reviews

There are no reviews yet. Be the first one to write one.

Share Your Experience