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Tackling the CPA Exam

There are a few scary terms in an accountant’s career: “busy season”, “the balance sheet isn’t balancing”, and “the CPA exam”. With graduation fast approaching and job start dates not long behind, the time has come to start conquering one of those scary terms – the CPA exam.

NC State’s MAC program has a goal to have the members of our class pass all parts of the exam before beginning work. To encourage this goal, the program provides a suggested schedule for when to review and sit for each section. This schedule, created around the layout of our classes, is followed by many students. Of course, it can be edited to fit your personal preferences and choices.

The program recommends sitting for BEC in January or February after spending December and January reviewing for the exam. Personally, I chose to take December off and spend time with family, so I will be taking BEC in April (sadly, March is a blackout month and doesn’t offer the exam – more time for me to study!).

The following three things have helped me in my studying for the exam – hopefully they will help you too!


I am a person who lives by schedules – I use 4 different calendars at all times! Even so, making a set study plan helps you manage the amount of material you need to learn and review in manageable blocks of time. Becker helps you create this schedule online by setting the date of your exam, the amount of time you plan on studying each week, and when you want to be done with reviewing. Of course, life (and the MAC program) happens, so the schedule is easily adjusted to get you back on track.


Home is my library. Work and studying is always done in my living room or at my desk (and maybe even my bed sometimes). For CPA review, I try to change up where I study to minimize distractions and be in a different atmosphere. One of my favorite places to go is Lucky Tree, a coffee shop not far from campus. I am fully convinced that changing your location helps you connect to material better, because your brain is in a different setting which allows you to make these new connections.


When studying for anything, but especially the CPA exam, I am a firm believer in using bite-sized pieces of study time rather than long, monotonous sessions. Research shows that you absorb more from the beginning and the end of study sessions, so the shorter the session, the more you remember! I try to study for no more than an hour at a time. Once I complete an hour, I will take a break to do something unrelated to accounting or school work. Sometimes it’s grabbing a cup of coffee, calling my mom, or watching a funny YouTube video or two with my roommate. This allows you to destress and absorb more than you would in a long study session. Plus, it doesn’t make you hate studying as much!

Although these tips won’t guarantee a passing score, hopefully they help you in your goal to achieve one. Good luck!

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