Trying to pass the CPA exam while working full time can be a huge struggle. Finding CPA study time when you’re extremely busy takes dedication, planning, and discipline.
However, I’ll provide two strategies so that your CPA study time fits into your normal day, instead of having to rearrange your entire life to try and pass the CPA exams.
How to Study for the CPA Exam While Working Full Time
Let’s start with a quote from the book Atomic Habits, that was written by James Clear. He says, “You do not rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems.” So, of course, anyone who starts the CPA exam process, their goal is to pass the CPA exams. But we also know from the published pass rates that only about 50% of candidates pass their exams and some large percentage of all CPA candidates eventually give up and never finish their CPA at all.
Now, everyone knows that you’re supposed to stay consistent, that you’re supposed to study every day, and trying to pass the CPA exam while working full time is no different. So where does this always go wrong? And typically what you’ll hear is someone that says, “life gets in the way”… And life does get in the way. People are busy. If you’re working full time, it’s incredibly hard to find four to five hours a day to sit down and study.
Now, if your life becomes: you wake up, you go to work, then you study, then you go to sleep, and then you do it over and over again, for months, life quickly becomes pretty miserable. In fact, going back to the book Atomic Habits, James Clear talks about how, if achieving your goals requires huge amounts of willpower that goes against your natural tendencies and you’re always fighting yourself to try and accomplish the steps that lead to your goals, you will not follow through.
How to Fit CPA Study Time into Your Normal Daily Routine?
So the question is, how do you make your daily CPA study routine doable? How do you fit your study routine into your normal daily life so that you don’t have to fight yourself every day to make time for it? So let’s go back to that quote one more time. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. Or we could say you fall to the level of your daily routine.
OK, so how do we do this? So the easiest way to make your daily study sessions easier to accomplish, make them easier to fit into your actual daily routine, is to make them shorter.
Best CPA Study Time #1: The Morning
To pass the CPA exam while working full time, what we teach our clients to do is to have a two hour main study session and on workdays, that’s all you do with your review course. So you do a two hour study session, you’re following our study framework and you do it in the morning so that your biggest task, your biggest mental hurdle, it’s done, out of the way, you don’t have to think about it and dread it all day long.
For example, the main study strategy we teach our clients for moving through new lessons we call “planting the seeds”. This is where you learn how to quickly identify the most tested parts of any lesson and you learn it backwards, which means learning it in the same context that you’ll actually see it on test day. And this can be done with any review course, once you know how to do it. When you know how to study like this, you really can get more done in two hours than somebody studying four to five hours the normal way.
Now, if you want more info on how to actually do this and our other strategies, then we have a free “Strategic CPA Studying” workshop that you can attend. It’s a webinar so it’s only at certain times, so click here to see the upcoming times…
So at the beginning, I said I’d give you two ways to find time to study for the CPA exam while working full time. That was the first way: a two hour main study session. You lock it in in the morning, you make it a morning ritual. So it’s done, you do it when your brain is fresh. You’re not trying to study for four hours after work, when your brain is already fried and you can’t even focus on the video lecture. It just works so much better in every way to do it in the morning. So that’s step number one to study for the CPA exam while working full time.
Best CPA Study Time #2: All Through Your Day
Step number two is then throughout the rest of your day, you continue to study from your phone using study supplements. Now we all get these screentime reports, which are shocking, to say the least. You know, you think, “how did I find three hours a day to goof around on my phone?” So what I’m talking about is simply taking advantage of all that time, even the busiest people, all of us.
We have these smartphones we carry around and we look at them up to a hundred times an hour. So even taking a portion of those little “mini sessions” on your phone, you replace all your time-waster time on TikTok, Instagram, Reddit, whatever your favorite time waster apps are, you replace that with reading review notes, taking quizzes.
Whenever you’re in your car, you listen to audio notes, when you’re preparing meals, when you’re just lounging around the house, you could be listening to audio notes in the background.
Now, I don’t just recommend this because we happen to sell the exact study supplements I’m talking about.
Study after study like this one proves that when you’re trying to learn a new topic or a new subject, whatever it is, when you study in small chunks multiple times a day, you’re recalling the information you’re trying to learn multiple times a day, it is dramatically more effective for your long term learning and your long term retention than one longer study period done just once a day. Now, for our purposes, it just so happens that it’s also a lot easier to do it this way.
I think you would agree that if you’re trying to pass the CPA exam while working full time, two hours a day is twice as easy as trying to sit down for four or five hours a day. Then you make up the rest of the time by doing the things you’re already doing.
You’re already driving your car places. You’re already looking at your phone multiple hours a day. You simply fit in the rest of your study time in all those little five to ten minute chunks. The big advantage is, you have put in four to five hours by the time you’re done with work for the day and you take the evenings off, you get to still do the things that you would normally do, so that you don’t go crazy through this process.
That alone makes this process much more doable. It makes it much more motivating. But most of all, it just makes it much more likely that you will actually stick to it.
Study for CPA Exam While Working Full Time Recap
So to recap, you do the two hour main study session with your current review course. It doesn’t matter what review course you’re currently using. You do two hours of CPA study time in the morning. If you want more info on how we teach our clients to study for the CPA exam while working full time, you can sign up for one of our free strategic study workshops.
So you do the two hours in the morning with your review course. Then you take study supplements and you keep studying throughout the rest of your day. This way, by the time you’re done with work, you’ve put in four to five hours, maybe even more, of quality CPA study time so that you can take the evenings off, so that you don’t go crazy through this process.
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