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How is the CPA exam?

I was just wondering if someone can tell me what is the CPA exam like #accounting #cpa

Thank you comment icon It is divided into 4 separate content sections: Auditing and Attestation (4 hours) - planning the engagement - gathering the information - documenting the findings - preparing communications... Business Environment and Concepts (3 hours) - business structure - economic concepts - financial management - information technology... Financial Accounting and Reporting (4 hours) - financial statements - types of accounting transactions - reporting for organizations... Regulation (3 hours) - ethics - business law - taxation... You must pass each section with a score of at least 75/99. Most of these topics are covered in graduate level accounting programs. Oscar

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Kevin’s Answer

Oscar's information is correct. The exam is challenging but if you make it a priority and invest the time in preparing for it, you can do it. I would recommend starting with whichever one you think is going to be the hardest for you to pass because once you pass the first one, it starts a window that you have to pass the rest of them before you lose credit for the one you passed.
Thank you comment icon thank you for your help Arturo
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Nicole’s Answer

Hi Arturo! I will say that the CPA is definitely a difficult exam, but using study materials from a company like Becker will help you study and in the end, pass all of the sections! Many accounting firms will actually pay for your Becker study materials which is helpful for a recent college graduate. My biggest tip when studying for the CPA exam is to make sure you actually sit down, learn the material, and do all of the questions. Also do not procrastinate after graduating! There are some people who want to give themselves some time off after graduating, but if you decide to start working at one of the Big 4, you typically do not start working until August or September, so you have a few months to really study and pass a few of the exams. Studying while working is the worst so you definitely want to try to pass and exam or two before starting work! I know what I wrote might scare you a little, but it is all worth it afterwards!

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Jason’s Answer

Hi Arturo,


The CPA exam is challenging but something I have confidence you should be able to complete with enough studying. The exam has been summed up very well in the video within this link:

https://www.rogercpareview.com/lc/cpa-exam-videos/what-does-cpa-exam-look

This video explains the four parts of the exam and what material it covers.


I found it easiest to take exams as they corresponded to the classes I was taking. The first exam I took was REG. I took this right after completing a business law class. This helped to coordinate what I was studying in class with the CPA preparation I was doing.


I recommend you enroll in a review course in preparation of this exam. I used Becker but there are multiple different options at different prices. Additionally, if you get a job offer from an accounting firm they may pay/reimburse you for the course.

Thank you comment icon thank you for your help Arturo
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Michael Afshin’s Answer

The exam itself is not easy, but it's also not that difficult. I never took an accounting class in school but was able to self-teach the material using Becker's program (I qualified to sit because I'm an LLM graduate). Because you get to take the exam as four separate parts, it really lets you focus on one area of accounting and take the time to learn it.


I also recommend starting with whichever one is hardest. Not only because it starts the clock on your window to pass them all, but also because once you take the hardest one (FAR for many people) the rest feel a lot easier. Even though I failed FAR first, the next 3 exams felt much easier to study for.


Pro tip: When you get a Notice to Schedule (NTS), you pick which exams you want to take and then you have one year to schedule and take the exams from your NTS date. I picked all four exams thinking one year was enough time but I was wrong. I ended up taking the Audit exam with about a week of preparation and failed. If I could do it again, I'd only choose 2 or 3 exams at most in my first NTS instead of all four. The only downside of picking less than 4 exams in your NTS is that you have to pay a fee for every NTS (I believe $50), but that fee costs less than taking an exam unprepared and failing (which costs hundreds of dollars).


Good luck!

Thank you comment icon I second the pro-tip! I know many people that picked all four exams at once and did not allow for enough time to complete them. Rose Utterback, CPA
Thank you comment icon thank you for your help Arturo
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Betsy’s Answer

Great advice above. In addition to Becker, I also found the Becker flash cards totally worth the investment. I would walk on the treadmill for some exercise and run through flash cards! Best of luck, you can do it!

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Sarah’s Answer

Hi Arturo!


What would you like to know about the CPA? For example, what it's like studying for the exams, what the actual exam is like when you're taking it, etc.


Looking forward to hearing from you!



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Jimmy’s Answer

The CPA Exam is beatable. Wanted to start out on a positive note here. Yes it will take genuine time and effort but before you start thinking it's impossible, know that thousands of people a year pass it. With each section you pass, you will become more and more comfortable with the format and preparation needed. You should also know that the majority of the questions you will see are multiple choice, so while yes study the textbook and lecture notes of whatever system you are using, but I recommend the main focus should be on multiple choice questions. Stay focused, study efficiently and you will pass this.
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Miranda’s Answer

The CPA is all about how you prepare. You get what you put into it. I have friends that did the bare minimum to study and thought they were the hardest tests in the world and failed. Then I had friends, myself included, who utilized all of the materials that I was provided, took every practice exam, and actually read the books, and we all ended up just fine. Personally, I could not have done it without Becker, but even with Becker, it is important to build a schedule, stick to it, and try your hardest, because when it comes time to take the exams you won't be blindsided. You will have seen it all before, practiced a million questions, taken practice exams, and know what is coming at the testing center.

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Sandy Y’s Answer

Hi there,

As many have given their advice, I would like to add that although the CPA is a difficult exam, it is not impossible to pass! It also does not determine your success in an accounting career completely. You also need to be sure you want to take these exams to get the CPA license. You can study and study, but if you don't truly want it, it will not work out. But if you truly want it, you will see that the studying, although overwhelming, it will feel rewarding for you. And once you pass all sections and complete the other requirements, getting those 3 letters after your name is an amazing feeling!
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Mackenzie’s Answer

Hi Arturo!

The CPA exam is definitely challenging, but doable. My biggest piece of advice for preparing for the exam is that the more time you commit to studying, the more likely you are going to get the outcome you want. I think if you set a disciplined thorough study plan then you will be setting yourself up for success for passing each part of the exams. From my personal experience, I would start with the hardest exam first because you do have a specific window that you must pass all four exams and passing the hardest one first is going to make it easier down the line. Overall, as long as you commit the time and effort into studying for the exams, I think you can pass all four and work your way towards becoming a CPA!
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Hongyun (Heley)’s Answer

Definitely challenging but it is also a well-rounded integrated system to look at accounting as a whole. Some exams are comparatively easier while others could be more comprehensive. It does require a lot time and effort to study, complete questions, do mock exams.

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Jacob’s Answer

I agree with Michael above, the exam is not the most difficult information to grasp, but there is a lot of information. The amount of material on an exam will generally be too much information for most people to "cram" in the final week of studying, so you need to give yourself time to get through the material.

Biggest piece of advice would be to give yourself enough time to study for each part as you need (1.5 -3.5 months). Obviously, this timeline can change based on different factors, but in general trying to fly through the exam to "just get it over with" can be a trap that can lead to non-passing scores and burnout towards the last few months when you need to finish strong.

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Rachel’s Answer

The CPA exam is difficult but doable. It's important to study, and I'd advise using Becker or something similar to prepare. Don't wait to start studying and don't wait to apply to sit for the exam either once you're eligible!

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Leeza’s Answer

The exam is challenging but that should not discourage you from pursuing the certificate. From my experience, the key is to set aside time to study and practice. I took 3 exams during my first year of working at Big 4, so the CPA exams are definitely doable. However, studying and working is difficult. Therefore, I encourage you to finish as many parts as you can before starting full-time work.


At the end, you will be glad you received the three coveted letters behind your name.

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Ben’s Answer

There is a lot of great advice already contained in this thread. The one piece of advice I always give people on the CPA exam is to treat studying like a job. If you have the ability to use the few months immediately after graduating college to study for the exam I recommend devoting as much of this time as you can to studying.

Thank you comment icon Hi Arturo - I will echo what Ben has said here. The challenging aspect of the exam is moreso being diligent with your study time and less about the material. Majority of the material on the exam is a reiteration of what you have learned in earning your degree. I would also highly recommend Becker, as many have said. However, noting Becker has a price tag on it, going with a more economic option will also get you to where you need to be walking into the exam. Allison Shelton
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Iman’s Answer

The CPA exam is a large time commitment for sure, I just passed my last exam in June 2019. It took me about a year from when I first started studying. Personally, I used Becker software to study and I think Becker did a great job of outlining all the materials in an organized fashion! I would recommend studying for 6-8 weeks for each exam and then each exam you are allotted four hours per exam to take that. It's a doable exam, but you have to be willing to put in a lot of time!
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