Balancing Work and CPA Exam Preparation: Strategies for Busy Professionals


US CPA is a professional accounting and finance certification administered by AICPA, which can be pursued while working full-time. When preparing for the US CPA certification exam, you must have a proper study routine, planning, and constant motivation. Balancing work and studies can be stressful if a proper study routine is not planned. US CPA exam preparation requires mental clarity and guidance, which aspirants often lack during their preparation. It can become overwhelming, especially for working professionals who must align their studies with work commitments.
In this blog post, we have gathered some useful US CPA exam preparation tips for working professionals to help make their decisions easier when it comes to managing their time for studying and working.
US CPA Exam Preparation Tips for Working Professionals
US CPA, or Certified Public Accountant, is a popular accounting course for those who want to pursue public accounting and excel in their career. It can take about one year to clear the US CPA certification exam with ample preparation and guidance. However, working professionals may find it difficult to cope with the pressure of work and studies. Therefore, having a proper plan is essential to navigate through the busy days of life.
Here are some useful US CPA exam prep tips for working professionals to help you effectively balance your preparation with work.
  1. Set Your Priorities and Goals
Before you begin your CPA exam preparation, clearly envision your goals and priorities. Begin with your commitments and goals regarding your friends, family, and yourself. If required, jot them down to remember where your priorities lie. Categorize the time you will get outside your job and list your studying commitments' priorities and goals. This approach will encourage you to keep working to achieve your targets while clearly demarcating time utilization for CPA exam preparation, work, and personal life.
  1. Create a Detailed Study Plan
Now that you know how much time you can dedicate to your US CPA exam preparation, you can create a study plan accordingly. Start by clearly understanding the syllabus, then chalk out the areas that you are most comfortable with and the ones wherein you would need to put more effort than others. Here, you must remember to be realistic and also that it requires a bit of self-reflection and scrutiny to have a proper idea of the topics in which you need more practice.
When you're done with this differentiation, you should make a study plan to follow. Break down the topics of each paper into manageable chunks and allocate proper time for them. Some topics may require more time and attention than others. So, here are some tips to make a detailed study plan for CPA exam preparation:
  • Don't overwhelm yourself by setting unrealistic goals. Choose and mix topics to fit into your daily schedule. For example, you can choose one topic you're strong at and another where you need more time to study. This way, you can revise your strong areas while giving enough time to study newer or weaker topics without overwhelming yourself.
  • You must be flexible in your routine. Some days you may need an extra push, while on other days, you may complete your targets easily. So don't limit yourself or don't force yourself, and allow yourself to relax on days you feel you need some extra time.
  • Make use of study guides available online or enroll in a CPA course. Specially arranged classes for working professionals may help you get continuous support from mentors and aspirants like you.
  • Keep time for mock tests and revision, as this will be an extremely important part of your preparation to ensure you can manage your time effectively during the exam. 
  1. Set Achievable Targets
You can set daily or weekly targets according to the syllabus. It can pertain to your studies as well as your mock tests. It is okay not to do well during the initial mocks. With time and preparation, you must also be able to do well in mocks. But you shouldn't pressurize yourself or set strict targets, be flexible and try to achieve them gradually. 
It is also important to take breaks in between the study sessions. At the same time, it may seem like an excellent idea to keep studying and clear the US CPA certification exam as early as possible. However, fatigue and exhaustion from overwork can push you away from effective CPA exam preparation. Take a pause, evaluate your progress, and then proceed again. 
When you set your exam dates, you must be flexible with your preparation to complete your revision on time. You can talk to your employer to grant you some time off or adjust your working hours for some time before the exam. 
  1. Use the Right Resources
Whether you're preparing independently or have enrolled in the most recommended US CPA certification course, it is important to follow the right sources to amplify your CPA exam preparation. You can use online CPA guides or enroll in a CPA certification course to obtain target study material. Before committing to any form of preparation, understand what type of study resource suits you better video format guides or written study material. It can make a huge difference in your preparation and also help you make a decision about choosing the right US CPA course for yourself.
You can join discussion forums and connect with coaches and other aspirants. It will help you stay in the loop of recent developments in the world of accounting while having connections with people who may help you in your US CPA exam preparation.
  1. Track Your Progress
Setting targets is as important as following them and tracking how far you have come in your preparation. You must track your progress through mocks and review tests to ensure you are utilizing your time properly. Occasionally quiz yourself on topics that you have covered, and take help from your friends or family members. If possible, make snippets of what you have learned throughout the day. It will help you in two ways: one, it will fortify your learnings by writing them down, and two, it will act as a form of summary for future revision before the exam. Hence, it will save you the time and effort of making your notes or summaries separately. 
  1. Stay Calm and Focused
It is normal to become exhausted and overwhelmed during CPA exam preparation, but you must not lose sight of your goals. To help yourself stay focused, it is important to prioritize self-care by taking care of your physical and mental well-being. Take small break sessions while studying, reward yourself for completing weekly or monthly targets, and maybe take a day off for yourself. You must also never ignore your meals and sleep. Staying away from or minimizing the use of social media during this time will also be beneficial. 
These were some of the best recommendations from the top US CPA mentors for effectively balancing the work and CPA exam preparation. Busy professionals can benefit by following these tips and focusing on their career goals. Now, let's get to the most frequently asked questions.
Q1. How to pass the US CPA exam while working?
Working professionals preparing for the US CPA exam can pass it gracefully by making a complete study plan keeping in mind the work-life balance and committing to it religiously. They can take help from a CPA course to aid them in their preparation.
Q2. Is it possible to study CPA while working?
It is possible to study for US CPA while working full-time. You need to have a proper plan of action dedicated to your work and studies. You must clearly understand your strengths and weaknesses and work on them accordingly.
Q3. How do I focus and study for CPA easily?
Staying focused during US CPA exam preparation is essential. Staying away from social media, connecting with other candidates, setting small and achievable targets, and taking breaks in between while studying are some ways to keep focus on the CPA exam syllabus. Taking care of health is also important during the preparation phase to be able to focus on studies. 
Q4. How many hours to study for CPA?
Studying for 300+ hours for the US CPA certification exam is recommended. Ideally, each section must be given 80-100 hours for proper preparation so you can plan your studying time accordingly.
Q5. Can I do CPA by self-study while working?
Working professionals who want to pursue US CPA can prepare on their own. They must follow proper study resources and a regular study routine to complete the CPA syllabus before the exam and revise properly. 
The US CPA offers a very rewarding career to certified professionals, and it may be your dream to become one too! But it requires quite a lot of dedication, effort, effective time management, and a good study plan to succeed in the qualifying exam for such a highly sought-after certification like the US CPA certification. It can be difficult to balance everything when you're a working professional. Therefore, you can take help in your CPA exam preparation from top mentors, like M. Irfat Sir at NSA, who has helped over 15000 students to achieve their dream goals. 
There are several exciting benefits of enrolling yourself in a US CPA certification course at NorthStar Academy, such as the provision of comprehensive study guides, access to live classes and pre-recorded video classes according to your preference, and bundle discounts on exam fees, among many other perks! With the placement assistance facility of the NSA, fulfill your dream of becoming a Certified Public Accountant by enrolling yourself in the US CPA course today!