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What can I do to prepare for the CPA exam?

I'm a junior in high school who wants to get into accounting, and I'd like more information on the CPA exam.

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Garrett’s Answer

If you're in high school yet, the CPA is several years away as you won't be able to sit for any of the four exams until you have completed all or enough credits in college. To build a successful career in accounting though, I would recommend starting now! I was a junior in high school when I started working at mid-sized CPA firm. This helped me build my network in the industry and gain exposure to the type of work I might be doing as a CPA. Seek out the firms near you and try to get hired as an office assistant, they likely need all the help they can get during the upcoming busy season. Just ensure that over the next couple of years you can see audit, tax, and consulting opportunities in the field so you know which area may interest you long term.

Garrett recommends the following next steps:

Research firms in your area
Get connected to the office managers of each one you want to apply for (linked in connections or emails from website)
Message the firms about your interest and include your resume
Start working and make a difference
Thank you comment icon I'm excited to put your great advice to good use! Michelle
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Steven’s Answer

Most of your CPA exam preparation will occur in college as most states require at least 120 college credits to take the exam. As a high school student it maybe helpful to take an introductory accounting course if it's offered at your school. Below is some general information about the CPA exam and you can visit the AICPA website for more information as well.

1) The CPA Exam is a comprehensive exam that tests the knowledge and skills of aspiring certified public accountants (CPAs) in the United States.

2) The CPA Exam is administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA).

3) The CPA Exam is a computer-based exam comprised of four sections: Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), and Regulation (REG).

4) The CPA Exam is offered year-round at testing centers in the United States, and candidates can take one or all of the four sections at a time.

5) To be eligible to sit for the CPA Exam, candidates must meet specific education and experience requirements set by their state board of accountancy.

6) The CPA Exam is considered one of the most challenging professional exams, and many candidates choose to prepare for it by enrolling in a review course or using self-study materials.

7) To become a licensed CPA, candidates must pass the CPA Exam and meet additional state-specific requirements, such as obtaining a certain amount of work experience in the field.
Thank you comment icon I am really grateful you took the time to answer this question. Michelle
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Lauren’s Answer

Consider purchasing a study guide such as Becker. This can help guide you on your studying and provide you all the materials you need to be successful on the exam
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grant’s Answer

This is a great question. I prepared and took the CPA exam several years ago so I understand that the exam may seem daunting and overwhelming. With proper preparation you can set yourself up for success. Here are some steps you can take to prepare effectively:

Understand the exam structure: Familiarize yourself with the structure, format, and content of the CPA exam. It consists of four sections: Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), and Regulation (REG).

Check eligibility requirements: Ensure that you meet the eligibility requirements to sit for the CPA exam in your jurisdiction. These requirements typically include educational qualifications and completion of specific accounting coursework.

Create a study plan: Develop a comprehensive study plan that covers all the exam topics. Break down the material into manageable sections and allocate time for each subject based on its weightage in the exam. Consider your personal schedule and set realistic study goals.

Gather study materials: Collect study materials, such as textbooks, review courses, practice questions, and supplementary resources. You may want to invest in a reputable CPA review course that provides comprehensive content and practice materials specifically designed for the exam.

Follow a structured approach: Follow a structured study approach, starting with the foundational concepts and gradually moving to more complex topics. Understand the underlying principles and theories, and then practice applying them through examples and practice questions.

Practice regularly: Consistent practice is crucial for success in the CPA exam. Solve a wide range of practice questions and sample exams to enhance your understanding and time management skills. Utilize resources provided by review courses or online platforms that offer practice exams similar to the actual CPA exam.

Join study groups or forums: Engage with other CPA exam candidates by joining study groups or online forums. Discussing concepts, sharing study strategies, and seeking clarification on difficult topics can enhance your learning experience.

Simulate exam conditions: Prior to the actual exam, simulate exam conditions by taking timed practice exams. This will help you become familiar with the format, build stamina, and assess your performance under time pressure.

Review weak areas: Identify your weak areas through practice exams or self-assessment. Allocate additional study time to these topics to strengthen your understanding and improve your performance.

Stay updated: Keep yourself updated with the latest changes in accounting standards, regulations, and exam content. Subscribe to relevant professional publications, follow accounting organizations' updates, and review recent pronouncements.

Take care of yourself: Maintaining a healthy lifestyle during the exam preparation period is essential. Get enough sleep, eat well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, and take breaks to avoid burnout.

Familiarize yourself with the exam process: Understand the logistics of the exam, including registration procedures, exam fees, testing centers, and exam day requirements. Familiarize yourself with the exam software to ensure a smooth experience on the day of the exam.

Remember, everyone's study approach may vary, so adapt these steps to fit your learning style and preferences. Dedication, discipline, and a structured study plan are key factors in preparing effectively for the CPA exam. Good luck!
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josh’s Answer

If you are in high school, you are about 6 years early from the exam. That said, I would advise taking some accounting and finance course in HS. Also, look for any jobs or internships in that space. The thing about the CPA exam is that you really teach yourself over again about every topic so you could come in with limited knowledge and still pass all the exams.
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much, josh! Michelle
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Daniel’s Answer

Hi, great question. I love accounting and a big thing that has helped me prepare for the CPA exam is having like minded friends as we pursue our professional certifications. The exams can be rigorous but by joining with professional organizations, student organizations, and collaborating with firms you should be all set.
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much! Michelle
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Alexa’s Answer

Once you graduate high school, and you start your accounting classes in college, I recommend getting involved in accounting in a number of ways. The first way is to obtain a part time job or volunteer in the accounting/finance field. For example, as a Sophomore in college I worked as an assistant to a bookkeeper and worked at the front desk of a tax firm. I was able to get exposure to tax, accounts payable, client service, etc. this way and make some extra money! During my Junior and Senior year, I obtained a different job in the accounts payable department at a local company. This exposure really helped my accounting knowledge and allowed me to network and build my resume! If these options don't work for you, you can volunteer to help with taxes in your local community (this is typically your Junior/Senior year of college).

I would also recommend joining an accounting/finance/business society at your University. I joined Beta Alpha Psi, and it really helped with my networking.

Once you meet the required college level credits to qualify for the CPA exam, you will typically have already interviewed with firms or have had some exposure. Many firms will cover the cost of CPA prep courses. I highly recommend researching your options! The CPA exam is 4 parts, and has incremental requirements depending on the state you live in. I recommend taking the time to take as many exams as you can before starting at any firm full time. There are a lot of resources available to you and it's important to utilize them to help to have your most successful career! Many firms will support your development, encourage study time, and offer incentives for passing the exam.
Thank you comment icon Thank you, this is really helpful. Michelle
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Jerel’s Answer

Hi Michelle and thank you for your questions. Based on some of the other responses, it seems like sitting for the CPA exam is still pretty early for you. Nevertheless, I wanted to share some helpful tips you can leverage for other exams as well.

1. Understand the exam format: Familiarize yourself with the format of the exam, including the length, structure, and types of questions that will be covered. This will help you understand what to expect on exam day.

2. Use study materials: Make use of study materials such as textbooks, practice exams, and review courses to help you prepare for the exam. There are many study materials available, and you should choose those that best fit your learning style and schedule.

3. Create a study schedule: Make a schedule for your studies, breaking down the material into manageable sections and setting aside dedicated time for studying each day or week.

4. Focus on your weak areas: Identify the areas in which you need the most improvement, and focus your studies on those topics. You may also want to consider getting additional help, such as a tutor or study group, to improve in these areas.

5. Practice: Take practice exams regularly to assess your progress and identify any areas that still need improvement. Try to simulate actual exam conditions as much as possible, including timing yourself and taking breaks.

6. Stay organized: Keep track of the topics you have covered, the questions you have answered correctly and incorrectly, and any areas in which you need further improvement.

7. Take care of yourself: Make sure to get enough sleep, exercise, and eat well. Taking care of yourself will help you perform at your best on exam day.

Remember, the key to success on the CPA exam, or any other exam, is consistent and dedicated effort. It is also important to stay motivated and focused, and to seek help when needed. I hope this helps. Good luck!
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much, Jerel O.! Michelle
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Su’s Answer

Hi Michelle, it is great that you are considering obtaining a CPA license early in your career. I am currently a CPA licensed in Florida, and started researching about the certification in my junior year during college and it has opened many opportunities for me once I graduated.

The CPA license requirements differ by each state, so you should research the state requirements if you are planning to take the exams in California.

I would suggest looking at the following next steps:

Su recommends the following next steps:

Here is the California CPA webpage: https://www.calcpa.org/cpa-career-center/cpa-requirements
You may ask the California CPA any questions on the license: https://www.calcpa.org/cpa-licensure/licensing-questions
This is information on the California CPA on the Becker website (one of the major study programs available): https://www.becker.com/cpa-review/california-cpa-requirements
Thank you comment icon Thank you, this is amazing! I really needed it. Michelle
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Tex’s Answer

You should check this website, it provides details.
https://www.aicpa.org/resources/toolkit/cpa-exam
https://candidateforum.cfp.net/home
Also, the CPA exam is very comprehensive so you would need to putting in time in understanding all the components of finances.
Thank you comment icon Thank you, Tex! Michelle
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Megan’s Answer

Hi! I'm a CPA in the states of Texas and Missouri. I found this website incredibly helpful when I started college: https://www.thiswaytocpa.com/ It is provided by the AICPA! For more state specific questions, refer to: https://nasba.org/licensure/gettingacpalicense/howtogetlicensed/ Best of luck!
Thank you comment icon I am really grateful you took the time to answer this question. Michelle
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Alex’s Answer

Take college accounting courses and network with local accountants about the process. You should prioritize doing well in school in order to get into a strong accounting program in college. They will provide additional guidance into getting a CPA and what career options that entails.
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Chujun (Joyce)’s Answer

All the answers given so far are truly amazing!
I'd like to contribute one more tip on time management. Effectively managing your time is crucial, as it can greatly benefit all your objectives!
Here are a couple of excellent books to help you improve your time management skills:
1. Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time, by Brian Tracy
2. Getting Things Done, by David Allen
Additionally, the Pomodoro Technique can be incredibly useful for studying or working. This time management method involves 25-minute periods of focused work, followed by five-minute breaks. After completing four work sessions, you can take a longer break, usually between 15 and 30 minutes. Each work session is called a "pomodoro," which is the Italian word for tomato (plural: pomodori).
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