Many people experience anxiety around high-stakes testing, and such nerves are especially natural when your professional future depends on your test results. That’s why, if you’re taking a major career exam, like the CPA exam, it’s important to have a clear preparation plan.

Achieve Your Goals: How To Ace The CPA Exam - prep program, function, exam, education, cpa, brain

Though everyone has their own studying and testing style, if you’re preparing for the four-part CPA certification exam, these 4 study tips can help you approach the test with confidence and boost your odds of success. Stay focused and positive, and give yourself enough time to prepare so that when test day arrives, you’ll feel confident and excited about the task before you.

Set Clear Goals

Back when you were in school – even in college – your instructors generally set goals for you. You knew when your tests would be, what to write your papers about, and what resources to use. This all changes in more independent learning situations, though. It’s time to emphasize self-direction and motivation.

Before you even start studying, take some time to set clear goals. Do you want to be ready for the exam by a certain date? Tackle a certain amount of material each day? Spell those things out and hold yourself accountable to the plan.

Choose The Right Prep Program

There are tons of CPA exam prep materials and study plans available online, but if you really want to ace your exam, you’ll likely want to invest in a formal study program. So, what program should you choose? You’ll want to choose a CPA test prep program that will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, prioritize your study time, and that has a proven track record in terms of helping students pass their exams. In other words, skip the free study schedules and second-hand prep books and invest in a comprehensive prep course. It will save you time and money in the long run.

Fuel Up

This may seem obvious, but if you’re studying for your CPA exam while also working, you’re probably pretty busy – and that means nutrition may not be your top priority. Well, it’s time to rethink your priorities because you aren’t going to perform your best on a diet of sugary cereal and energy drinks.

To help your brain function its best, you’ll want to prioritize foods that support brain function. That includes short-term alertness aids like caffeine or tea, rapid memory supports like citrus and turmeric, and brain health aids like avocado, fish, and leafy greens. This doesn’t mean you need to cook elaborate meals; just keep some oranges in a bowl, grab a salad from Sweetgreen, and savor your morning coffee.

Keep An Eye On Changes

While the four parts of the CPA exam are fairly standardized, the industry is changing rapidly, so it’s important to keep an eye on how CPA education is evolving and reshaping content areas. In fact, there’s a strong chance the exam will be changing in the near future based on industry and stakeholder research, so don’t get caught off guard. Know what’s happening with the test and in the industry – your future success depends on both.

To become a certified CPA, you need to pass all four exam sections within an 18-month period. That’s a challenging task, but it’s not insurmountable. Stay focused, study hard, and you’ll be ready before you know it.