The CPA, or Certified Public Accounting, exam is one of the most important tests that you will take in your life. A CPA can open the door to better jobs and, in turn, higher paying salaries. It’s a fact that fewer than 30 percent of all candidates pass the exam on their first attempt. If you’ll be sitting for the CPA, it’s important that you are not only prepared, but that you are prepared in the right way. Here are five tips for passing the exam the first time:

Brenda and Jenni in a meeting

Brenda and Jenni in a meeting

1. Pay for a Review Course

While you may think that a review course is a waste of money, consider this: The CPA exam is comprehensive and difficult. While you can re-read your textbooks and your notes, this is method is not advisable. Why waste time studying material that you won’t see on the exam? A review course will provide you with over a thousand questions in its study bank, even more questions in its practice exams, and several dozen, or more, simulations.

2. Develop a Study Plan

Experts recommend that you dedicate no less than 120 hours of study time to CPA exam preparation and many experts suggest that you dedicate closer to 500 hours to studying for your test. When will you study? You’ve got to pencil in time to get it done. Consider that if you study for a single hour every day, you won’t be ready to take the test for at least four months. You can easily see how important scheduling study time is. Try to dedicate at least two to three uninterrupted hours out of your day for preparation.

3. Practice

Many tests that you’ve taken in your life have been passed because you re-read your class notes and chapters in your textbook. The CPA exam is a bit different. Instead of reading until your eyes grow tired, you should practice the exam. If you don’t take at least one practice test, you’ll have no hope of passing your exam. By taking practice tests you’ll have a better idea of the types of questions you will see on the actual exam; an incredible benefit to any test taker.

4. Attitude

If you spend your time worrying that you’ll fail, you will. Instead of assuming that you won’t pass the test, assume that you will. The more positive your attitude, the more determined you will be to pass. When you reach a certain level of determination, your motivation to pass will be at its peak, spurring you on to review and study even when you think you’ve got nothing left.

5. Strategize

Before you sit for the CPA exam, you should have a strategy in place. Taking practice exams will help you to develop your strategy. Will you go through the test and answer the questions that you are sure about first? Will you concentrate on the section at which you are most skilled? Test-taking experts suggest that by answering what you know first and then going back through the exam, you won’t waste valuable time. Additionally, once you’ve answered each question, allot a certain amount of time for each subsequent section. You don’t want to struggle with one section only to find out that you’ve run out of time to move on to the next.

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The CPA exam is an important step in your career. There’s no doubt that it’s one of the most difficult tests that you will ever take but, if you prepare well, you’ll be one of the few people that are able to pass it on the first try.