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Considering Taking the CPA Exam? Here are 5 Tips for Success

March 14th, 2022

If you’re reading this, you’re likely considering tackling the CPA Exam – and you’ve likely heard stories about how difficult it can be. It’s lengthy, requires hundreds of hours of studying, and covers an extensive amount of information. While it can seem like an intimidating process, there are many ways you can prepare to achieve success.

What is the CPA Exam?

In order to succeed, it’s important to understand the ins and outs of the exam. So, what exactly is the CPA Exam? It is a four-section, 16-hour assessment required to become a licensed CPA. The four sections are Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), and Regulation (REG). This exam is developed, maintained, and scored by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).

To pass the CPA Exam as a whole, you must pass all four sections with a minimum score of 75 within 18 months. According to the AICPA, the 2021 pass rates for each exam section are:

  • AUD: 47.98%
  • BEC: 61.94%
  • FAR: 44.54%
  • REG: 59.88

Tips & Tricks for CPA Exam Prep

The above process and statistics may be daunting, but fortunately we have hundreds of CPAs at The Bonadio Group who are ready to help! And who better to take advice from than people who have passed the exam? Let’s hear what our employees recommend for success with this challenging yet rewarding exam:

  • Commit to studying. “Make sure you have a plan for days and times you plan to study and communicate that plan with your friends, family, and co-workers so they can plan around those times and hold you accountable to maintaining that schedule,” said Kelsey Dempsey, Manager.
  • Figure out what works for YOU! “Do you study better at night or in the morning? Does it work better studying during the week each day or on the weekends?” stated Justin DeSalvo, Senior Accountant.
  • Take breaks! “Studying only helps if you’re retaining the information. Studying while exhausted is not an efficient way to retain information,” added DeSalvo.
  • Explore various study material options. “CPA Excel/Wiley worked great for me because it was broken down into much smaller chunks so I could listen to the lecture and do the questions a few times over and really review and study the areas I needed more work on. And the questions were the exact same as in Becker. Not to mention the cost was significantly cheaper as well,” noted Brandon Wheeler, Principal.
  • Limit your social life as much as possible. “Yes, it’s hard to keep saying no to things that sound fun, but if you stick to saying no, your friends and family will get used to it and won’t pressure you or make you feel guilty (hopefully they’ll even start rooting for you and encouraging you!). This will keep you focused and committed and allow you to pass sooner and get back to all the fun stuff,” said Kait Bloss, Principal.

CPA Exam Support and Resources at TBG

At The Bonadio Group (TBG), we believe in the importance of furthering our People’s education and career, and we are committed to providing support through the process. Last year Denise Gueli, CPA and Partner at the firm, established a CPA Exam study group for the Buffalo office to share study tips, resource materials, and even some frustrations.

“I started the study group with a small group in Buffalo. Many of the people in the group didn’t work on the same team, so I think it was nice to connect and share stories, tips, and support,” said Denise. As a result of the study group’s success, the firm is currently in the process of making this a firmwide initiative!”

Additionally, TBG provides a CPA Exam reimbursement plan. Currently, the firm reimburses employees for the up-front cost for all exam study materials. We also provide reimbursement for up to four exams, after the fourth exam is passed. And last, but certainly not least, TBG provides employees a passing bonus after the fourth exam is passed.

If you are considering taking the CPA Exam, don’t hesitate to reach out for more information, and consider consulting the AICPAs online tool kit for more information on the how the exam is administered, or to find sample tests, study materials, and FAQs.

And if you’re interested in a career in accounting, check out what TBG has to offer! We have accelerated growth opportunities, unlimited PTO, WFH flexibility, and more. today!

This material has been prepared for general, informational purposes only and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. Should you require any such advice, please contact us directly. The information contained herein does not create, and your review or use of the information does not constitute, an accountant-client relationship.


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Charlie Wood April 2020
Charlie Wood
Practice Lead, FoxPointe Solutions