Let’s cut right to the chase and get into five things every CPA exam candidate really must have.
1. A good support system Maybe you’re lucky and your significant other has been supporting you all the way through this adventure to licensure but chances are he/she is pissed that you’d rather spend your evenings cuddling your CPA review book than them. Fine, don’t worry about them, worry about yourself and surround yourself with like-minded candidates who can support and inspire you. It can also be helpful to have someone to sit next to you on the pity potty when your scores come back less stellar than you’d hoped. Whether your support system comes from your social circle, coworkers or online forums, find one and use it.
2. A plan No kidding, you need one if you’re going to pull this off. That means scheduling your exams well in advance, plotting your course by creating a detailed study schedule and figuring out how to balance studying and everything else in your life. The better you plan ahead of time, the better you’ll do. I don’t have any figures supporting this so you’ll just have to trust me.
3. A Notice to Schedule I’m sure you already know you need an NTS if you’re going to get anywhere. What I mean is, if you’re actually going to take the exam you’ve got to start the application process as soon as possible and make sure you’ve met your state board’s requirements. Find out how long it takes well in advance of actually applying by reading up on your jurisdiction’s requirements and understand how long things take in your state. You can get a lot of this information first-hand from the CPAnet forums or by following the #CPAexam on Twitter. First-hand accounts from actual candidates will offer you more value than the official word from your state board, though their estimate may be somewhat realistic too. Schedule 45 days before your exam so you have one less thing to worry about when studying. If you’re having trouble figuring out how to apply or if you qualify, check out NASBA’s Accounting Licensing Library for help.
4. Faith Oh so cheesy but it works. If you believe that you can get through this, one way or another you will. If you doubt yourself every step of the way, you’re going to suffer appropriately. So it’s generally a wise idea to have some faith in yourself otherwise you’ll be needlessly miserable through most of this entire process. Faith is whatever you define it as, only you know what it means for your particular belief system. Adjust accordingly to your personal circumstances.
5. Discipline You don’t need talent, nor a high IQ, nor a good GPA to get through the CPA exam. You can be marginally skilled in your career and only somewhat intelligent to pass but if you do not bring discipline to the table you’ll never get through it.
Optional additions: a good CPA review program, a reliable caffeine connection, a miserable bastard or two to commiserate with, and/or a good distraction to reward yourself with after you’ve put in your study hours.