TMCnet Feature
May 17, 2019

How To Become A CPA in Your Spare Time

Becoming a certified pu
blic accountant (CPA) is a life-changing decision that requires dedication, commitment, and self-motivation. While the journey is difficult, you can still become a CPA in your spare time. The sense of accomplishment it gives you is well worth the struggle, but the level of respect you command from achieving this is also amazing. Moreover, there will be many opportunities for advancement in your career that will open to you afterward.

Here are a few tips on how you can become a CPA utilizing your spare time.

1. Schedule Your CPA Exams

Before you start studying for the CPA exam, scheduling your exam is the first thing you need to do. However, this whole process isn’t as straightforward as most people assume. Start by submitting your exam application to the relevant state body. Keep in mind that each state or jurisdiction has different requirements to take the exam.

After applying for the CPA exam, you’ll receive the Notice to Schedule (NTS (News - Alert)) from the testing authority. You will also have between 6-12 months to sit for the sections you applied for, depending on your state. However, it’s easy to get confused if you’re not carefully following the detailed instructions. Here are just a few pointers to help you stay goal-oriented:

  1. Review your state’s CPA exam requirements.
  2. Find and apply for a review course to help you in your quest.
  3. Get copies of your academic transcripts, then submit them to the state accountancy board.
  4. Pay the exam fee to receive the NTS (Notice to Schedule).
  5. Schedule the exam at your local Prometric testing center.

2. Choose The Best CPA Review Course

Like most CPAs will tell you, the key to passing the exam lies in a good CPA review course. However, with so many CPA exam courses available online, it might be a little daunting to find a course that works best for you. Let’s look at a few tips to find a valuable CPA review course:

  • Look for a course that replicates the CPA exam experience. Some courses offer realistic exam simulations, while others give you test question in an exam format. The important thing is to ensure you are completely familiar with the exam format to ease your test experience.
  • Get a clear explanation of what the course guarantees. The details might be a little complex and confusing in some cases, but be sure to ask all the necessary questions to know what you’re paying for.
  • Ask other CPAs what course they took to pass the exam. Learn what they liked and what didn’t like about the courses. You can also ask for suggestions and recommendations.
  • Check if the course has real-time instructors that you can consult if you have any questions or need help with the content.
  • Consider if the course is flexible enough to allow you to combine live and online classes, and that ensures your normal work schedule doesn’t collide with your classes.

3. Studying For The Exam While Working

Now that you’ve already scheduled your exam and purchased a CPA review course, it’s time to study for your CPA exam. It's often the biggest hurdles for many people trying to become a CPA, while working a full time job. However, don’t let this be an excuse for not becoming a CPA.

To pass the exam while studying part-time, you’ll need to have a positive mental attitude, and be willing to make sacrifices. However, it doesn’t mean you need to avoid fun in your life. The key is planning and discipline. Give yourself enough time to study for your exam and engage in some fun activities.

Here are several tips to save you time and help you study more effectively for your CPA exam:

  • Focus on your best learning methods and spend most of your time strengthening the weak areas.
  • Skip lecture videos that replicate the same knowledge in your textbook to avoid feeling bored. The lectures are still great resources for the areas you feel weak, but the instructor might take a lot of time to explain a simple concept that can be explained by your textbook.
  • Avoid retaking the same multiple choice questions as you can easily memorize the answers, making this counter-productive to passing the exam.
  • Start with the topics you’re familiar with, and then advance to the complex ones to avoid confusion and time wastage.

Bottom Line

If you treat your CPA exam like a normal college test, then you will most likely have a bad experience. Passing the exam requires a more concrete study plan, not just highlighting and memorizing data like a robot. It’s all about making your study technique effective while minimizing the amount of time so as to fit your schedule. Keep in mind that some sections may take more than just one attempt to pass, so so don’t let that stop you.

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