No CPA exam preparation is complete without a final review. With all the information you have to process and internalize you simply have to go over it all again before the exam. Now we’re not talking about pulling an all-nighter before the day of the exam. Given the the type and amount of material we’re concerned with here you have to give yourself more time and be more methodical. Here are some ideas.
Gather as You Go Along
You need to keep in mind that you will be going over all this material again at the end. Therefore, make sure you take good notes along the way on the important material. You can use this information to create a guide for your final review.
Testing yourself with the MCQs and SIMs is crucial for your preparation. The ones you got wrong indicate your weak spots and what areas need more focus. Again, note these as you go along and take notes on the correct answers when you research them as these will also help you create a study guide for your review.
How Much Time?
When should you start your final review? This is a more individual call. It helps to think about it in hours instead of days because most likely you will be doing other things such as working at your current job. So, you won’t be able to spend 8 or more hours studying in any given day or session. Bearing this in mind, a good baseline would be a week (a full seven days) before the exam. On the other hand, whether due to the adrenaline rush or the sense of urgency, some people find cramming a couple of days before the exam more effective.
A popular way to structure the review is dividing your time up by chapters. For example, with the amount of time you have left how many hours can you devote to the review of each chapter of material and taking the practice test afterwards?
Lastly, don’t study with long-term retention in mind. You don’t really need to worry about that at this point. Remember, you’re just looking to get past the test. You’ll be learning the finer details of these things with the experience you gain on the job.
If you can, schedule the test for Monday afternoon so you have Saturday, Sunday, and Monday morning open to devote a big chunk of time to study right before the exam. You need to become a monk, essentially. Let people know you’ll be out of reach. Wall yourself off from the rest of the world and unplug any electronic distractions. A popular way to schedule this is four hours on followed by a three-hour break followed by another four hours on. For Monday morning go with 7a – 11a.