Studying for the CPA exam is practically a full-time job unto itself. Candidates usually spend a few hundred hours total studying for all sections of the exam. It’s extremely common to hear candidates say they use every spare moment they can find studying, whether it’s by waking up earlier, staying up later, studying through lunch, or devoting weekends to studying. Not only is all that studying exhausting, both mentally and physically, it can put a strain on your personal relationships.

Finding a healthy balance between work, family/friends, and studying can be one of the biggest challenges in preparing for the CPA exam, but it’s extremely important to find one so that you don’t get burned out. Burnout is more than simply being tired. Burnout does make you physically exhausted, but it also it makes it harder for you to concentrate and retain information. When it all adds up, it’s easy to lose confidence and lose interest in continuing to pursue your CPA certification.

As you get ready to take the CPA exam, you’ll see lot of information telling you how to study. But it’s very important to remember that not everyone learns in the same way. What works well for one person might not be right for you. While these might be good suggestions or guidelines, they’re not necessarily hard and fast requirements.

Set Achievable Goals

With so much studying to do, it’s tempting to set big goals for yourself. But could you maintain that in the long run? Setting the bar too high leaves the door open to frustration and burnout. Try establishing a schedule for yourself where you study for smaller amounts of time with brief breaks in between sections. Yes, it’s OK to take breaks! Breaks can actually be beneficial since they allow you to recharge your mental batteries so you can better retain information. Get a snack, get some coffee, go for a quick walk, go to the store, do whatever you need to do.

Take Care of Yourself

Studying can take a toll on your physical health, so make sure you’re taking good care of yourself. Try to eat healthily and get some exercise every day. While you may have to get up early or stay up later, be sure to get plenty of rest. Physical exhaustion will only make it harder for you to study in the long run.

Set Boundaries

Good time management skills are very important to taking the CPA exam and you’ll need them if you want to study as much as you need to. With all the demands you have outside of your job, like spending time with your friends or family, you have to establish personal boundaries so you can focus.

When you’re used to going out with your friends and family all the time, this is a big change. Make sure they know what’s going on so they don’t start feeling alienated. Talk to your friends and family about how important this is for you and fill them in on how much time and effort it takes to prepare. Many people simply don’t realize how challenging the CPA exam is, so if you explain it to them, they should be more likely to support you.

While it’s relatively easy to say no to your friends, it’s a lot harder to say no to family. Remind them that while you need to spend a lot of time studying right now, it is only temporary. Be sure they understand that earning your CPA certification would allow you to provide a better lifestyle and future for them.

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