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For CPA exam candidates, the final few weeks of the year can be a time of extreme pressure and/or procrastination. I won’t name names and bust any of our CPA Review students out (you know who you are) but I can tick off at least 25 people taking the exam today and next Monday, trying to squeeze in one last part before the New Year.
So how exactly is one supposed to show up for an exam the Monday after Turkey Day before the tryptophan coma has worn off?
• Plan better next time: This is a terrible time of year to be sitting for the exam but unfortunately it’s also the busiest. More candidates cram into the final testing window of the year than any other window so if you’re testing in the 4th quarter next year, keep that in mind when you’re scheduling your exams. Schedule early and don’t get stuck testing the week after Thanksgiving.
• Prioritize: Do you really need to hit your parents house, your in-laws’ house and your best friend’s grandma’s house for Thanksgiving? If you’re really serious about preparing through the weekend (which you should have already been doing weeks before this), cut dinner short, stick to one holiday meal and spend your Black Friday studying instead of getting trampled in the Wal-mart parking lot. It’s better for your brain and better for your wallet.
• You might have to have a chat with friends and family: If you’re trying to get a section in right when 2010’s first window opens up, you will be doing some studying through the December holidays and your absence might cause just a little bit of resentment. If you’re serious about getting the exam over with, sit down with loved ones and let them know that you need their support, not their shit. They have no idea what you are going through unless you tell them to back off and give you the time you need to study. And if that doesn’t work, coal for everyone in their stockings.
• My final point is this: it goes without saying that the holidays can be a stressful time for everyone and we all know what sort of stress taking the CPA exam causes. Mixing these two can be a dangerous cocktail of end-of-the-year misery if you don’t stay focused and plan your time accordingly. And look at it this way, you might get out of having to wear an ugly sweater or two.