Inconsistent CPA Study? Try These 4 Strategies

Inconsistent CPA Study? Try These 4 Strategies

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Struggle to find the time for CPA study consistently? In this SuperfastCPA episode, we cover 4 strategies that make it simple and easy to fit in enough study time each day, even if you’re extremely busy and feel like you have no extra time.


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Episode Timestamps

Episode Transcript

Nate: [00:00:00] If you have a hard time studying consistently for your CPA exams in this episode, I’m going to give you four specific strategies that will solve that issue.

But the real power comes when you combine all four strategies, then your process will become incredibly efficient and effective, and you’ll be done studying by the time you get done with work each day, so that you can take the evenings off from studying.

Nate: So these strategies are exactly what I did to pass all four CPA exams in three months, while working full-time, and only studying two hours a day with my review course.

And at this point, thousands of our customers have used these same strategies to build their study process around their normal day and go on to pass their CPA exams quickly and efficiently.

Strategy #1

Nate: So let’s go right into strategy number one, and that is to do a two hour main study session in the morning. So this will be your only main study session of the day on weekdays. Meaning, this is when you sit down with your main review course, whether that’s Becker, or Gleim, or [00:01:00] Roger, whatever it is, you’re going to do a two hour session in the morning before work. So locking in your main study session before work early in the morning. It’s easier and more effective, more efficient in every possible way than trying to study at night. When you try to study at night after work, your brain is fried, you’re tired, you’re fighting distractions, you’re fighting yourself.

You start looking through the material, watching the video lecture, and all you want to do is not be studying.

But when you study in the morning, like I mentioned, you’re not fighting distractions, at five in the morning or six in the morning, most likely your house or your apartment is going to be quiet, no one else is awake. It’s so much easier to instantly get in the zone and study, it’s also easier to study for two hours and stay focused and productive, than it is to try to fight yourself through a three to four hour study session at night when you’re tired.

And all you want to do is [00:02:00] relax and kind of veg out. I think anyone would agree that it’s easier to stay focused and productive and just accomplish a two hour study session, than a four hour study session, especially again, in the morning versus at night when you’re tired,

and the last thing you want to do is sit there and fight yourself through a four hour study session. Now as far as how to do these two hour sessions, that’s not the point of this video. But you would take the SuperfastCPA study strategies for our core two hour study session that you would learn in our Pro course or on our free study training webinars. The idea is, it’s basically a questions first approach, instead of confusing yourself and wasting two to three hours up front, watching a video lecture, you skip that and you jump straight into the practice questions and you start reverse engineering and making sense of the solutions.

In other words, working on “test day context”, because on test day, the only thing that matters is that you’re able to answer the questions and simulations you’re [00:03:00] going to see. So under our approach, that is what you spend 80 to 90% of your study time doing.

So, if you’ve never watched one of those free study training webinars, you will find that incredibly helpful.

It’s literally one hour that will save you months and months of time and frustration. The link to one of those trainings will be down in the description of this video, or in the description of the podcast episode.

The other thing I always say about once you learn how to study our way is that, you can get more done in a two hour session than somebody studying four to five hours, the normal way.

And the fastest way to prove that to yourself logically is just, how many times have you had to restart and rewatch a video lecture several times just to get to where you thought you understood it, so a half hour video lecture ends up taking one to two hours, and then you look at the practice questions and realize, that watching that video still didn’t teach you how to effectively answer the questions.

So when you take that one to two hour time savings of just skipping that whole [00:04:00] lecture process over dozens and dozens of topics, it’s easy to see how, from the get go, you can just chop off a huge amount of hours in your study process.

But again, our free training webinar will go a lot more in depth on that topic about how to study.

So going back to this, when you walk in your main study session for the day, it’s in the history books, it’s done, and you don’t have to worry about it and kind of dread it in the back of your mind all day. So it will make your workday a lot easier and stress free, just because it’s not weighing on your mind in the background, and you’re just kind of thinking about it, stressing about it, dreading it all day long.

Now, the next thing just goes along with everything else. Nothing can pop up and ruin it because you already have done it. It’s already in the history books, it’s done for the day.

Now the two hours in the morning, again, for all these reasons, it is so much easier to stay consistent. And this is a big thing about consistency that people don’t realize. When you are trying to pass these CPA exams, you’re not only trying to learn the [00:05:00] material for each exam along the way, the other critical factor is the effectiveness of your studying, like your personal study skills.

And there are very specific skills that directly translate to passing on test day. Which again specifically, would be the ability to make sense of questions, reverse engineer, and make sense of solutions, and just make those connections about, for this topic, these are the question types, this is how you answer them, this is how you solve them, same thing with the simulations. But most people following the normal study approach, they don’t think of this consciously, but they’re spending 80 to 90% of their time, just passively watching video lectures or highlighting the chapter, which, if you’re lucky, maybe 10% of that gets in your head.

So it’s a lot of hours spent, that’s very, very inefficient and ineffective.

Again, with consistency, if you think about something like trying to learn the [00:06:00] guitar, this instantly makes sense. If you sporadically, practice the guitar 10 minutes one day, 20 minutes three days later, and then an hour on Saturday, you’re never really going to get good. There’s so many nuances or things that just have to happen for you to learn how to play the guitar. But when you do it consistently for two hours, every single day, you get good, really, really fast.

And your skills, as it relates to the study process itself, is exactly the same way.

Now, of course, the only downside to this plan of two hours in the morning is that yes, you do have to get up early. But, as all the benefits start to unfold and you start to feel like for the first time, this is finally working, I’m getting through the material, it’s actually making sense, I don’t hate my life because I have the evenings free. You will quickly start to like all the benefits, more than the small downside of having to get up early.

Strategy #2

Nate: Okay strategy number two: mini sessions throughout your [00:07:00] day. So, what I want you to do is pull up your screen time report in your phone. And that will show you that you are already programmed to do what I’m about to explain, or you already do this on a daily basis. No matter how busy you are, you already somehow find, two to three hours a day to look at your phone, and usually it’s not two or three hours all at one time, right? It’s this series of five, 10 minute chunks, even two to three minute chunks, but you do it so consistently, already, you’re already programmed to do this, that it adds up to 2, 3, 4 hours a day most likely, on your screen time report.

So the idea of mini sessions is to simply take advantage of all that time you’re already spending as you just go throughout your normal day.

So you can replace podcasts or music with audio notes. So primarily that would be like in the morning when you’re getting ready, you can just be playing the audio notes from your phone. When you’re in your car [00:08:00] driving, that’s another obvious time where you can just be grinding through the audio notes while you commute.

Audio is really, really helpful because it’s just so easy to fit in throughout your day.

There’s so many times where you could just press play, and be listening to the audio notes and the ideas to listen to them from start to finish, and just work your way through the entire section that you’re studying for, over and over and over. You’ve probably heard me say this a thousand times, but the way that you pass these exams and deeply understand the material so that you can do it on test day, is constant, repeat exposure, to all the topics over and over and over. And the study tools and this idea of mini sessions makes it very easy and very simple for you to do that.

Again, the only downside is just actually doing it and getting in the groove of doing it until it becomes a habit.

Okay, I just seem to not be able to resist all these side rants. So that’s what the audio notes, and then of course our other study tools are our review notes and our [00:09:00] mini quizzes. Our mini quizzes are probably the most overall helpful study tool that we have. Just because we use simplified questions with round numbers, the idea being that if you’re going to study from your phone, you don’t want to have to try to switch to your calculator app or pull out a piece of scratch paper. You want to be able to grind through questions, but still be practicing the concepts and calculations, and that’s what our quizzes are designed to do.

So throughout the day, anytime you would normally check the news or scroll Tiktok for a minute, you just replace that, or at the very least force yourself to take one of our mini quizzes first.

And again, the idea with these mini sessions is that as long as you’re consistent with them, they add up really, really quickly.

And then of course, whenever it would just make sense to read the review notes such as on your lunch break while you’re sitting there eating anyways, you know, you do that,

take the time to do that or use our follow along notes. Our follow along notes are a [00:10:00] recent new study tool where it basically, plays the audio notes, it shows you the text on the screen and follows it as you hear the audio notes. And they’re very effective because hearing it and seeing it at the same time, kind of locks down your focus and kind of forces you to focus on the, on the material.

And we created these because we kept hearing that idea from our customers specifically our most successful customers that we were doing the podcast interviews with, they would tell us that at night, while they were laying in bed anyways, they would open the review notes and read them and then play the audios so that they were hearing the audio is while they read the review notes, and so we created a study tool that just does both of those things for you, that’s what our follow along notes are.

So again, doing this and making it a habit. It gives you that constant rereview, you’re hitting the material from different angles or sources, in all these little chunks throughout your day, and you could compare this to learning language.

Because this makes this really easy for [00:11:00] anyone to understand the benefits. I think anyone understands, if you’ve ever tried to learn a foreign language, let’s say French, you could hire the best French instructor on the planet, but if he just gave you a series of long lessons, one time a day, even though he’s the best French instructor in the world, a few weeks from now, you’re not going to remember the first few lessons, you’re not going to have a functional command of the language whatsoever. And everyone understands that. The CPA material is the same way. It’s very dense, technical, and in a matter of weeks, you’re covering dozens and dozens of these difficult, hard to understand topics.

So the only thing that does work when you are trying to learn a new language, is immersion, and just constantly being forced to use it all throughout the day, over and over and over.

Really the only way to get a practical command of a new language is to constantly use it, just immerse yourself in the material, and that is [00:12:00] why these mini sessions are so effective, as long as you actually do it. But again, once you make it a habit, you start to see the benefits and then the motivation to do it becomes easy, because you can tell that it’s all working.

The other thing is this gives you another two to three hours of very high quality study time, again, as you go throughout your normal day, so that you are done studying by the time you get done with work, you can take the evenings off. The only downside is of course, all these little chunks of CPA study, it’s not as fun, or it might not give you the dopamine hit that checking Tiktok does, but you’ll actually pass your process will be working, and again, it becomes this motivating cycle of events, when you do this two hour session in the morning, you do your mini sessions throughout the day, and as long as you’ve done that, you allow yourself to take the evenings off and do the stuff you normally do. And that makes this whole process much more bearable and makes consistency a lot more [00:13:00] realistic.

If your entire life is wake up, go to work and then fight yourself to study four hours every night, and then wake up and do it again for months on end, and half the time that doesn’t even work,

I’m referring to the 50% fail rates across the board, it just is very demotivating. If you’re putting in all this time, your entire life is crappy, and then you find out you failed the exam anyways.

So the thing that I’ve heard hundreds of times from different customer emails throughout the years, is that taking this idea alone with our study tools, adding it to their current study routine, they then score 15 to 20 points or more higher than they did previously.

And again, if you just extrapolate the numbers, two to three extra hours of study time each day on top of your main study session, over six to eight weeks, that’s over a hundred extra hours of study time. That’s clearly going to increase your score, versus what you would score otherwise.

Now, before we move on real quick, down in the comments, going to this idea of your [00:14:00] screen time report, you already spend a bunch of time looking at your phone. Just put down in the comments, what your current favorite time-waster is on your phone, if that’s Reddit or Tiktok or checking the news, whatever it is,

I just want to see what everyone’s response to that is down in the comments.

Strategy #3

Nate: All right. Strategy number three. I wish I had a better name for this. I just refer to this as your bedtime routine. So, one thing that we aren’t mentioning on this video. But you can refer to this video right here. Throughout your study process, you should be making your own flashcards. And that video goes into detail as to why. You’re capturing your personal weak areas, but in a way that makes sense to you as you go.

And then each night, half of your bedtime routine is going to be spending 15 to 20 minutes reviewing these flashcards you’ve been making, and then another 15 to 20 minutes using the follow along notes. Now I say the follow along notes here, just because they’re easy, you can [00:15:00] be laying in bed and you just press play on the track, and it follows the words on the screen while you’re hearing the audio. And again, it kind of locks in your focus, and I just heard this from so many of our successful customers, that we created a study tool that just did this for you.

And now that we’ve had them out for about a year, we just get a lot of really positive comments and feedback about these follow along notes and how effective they are.

And then of course the next part of your bedtime routine is to just get to sleep on time so that you can be up on time to nail that morning study session that we just talked about.

Strategy #4

Nate: Going onto strategy, number four, the weekends. So you want to aim to study for hours on the weekends, and again, we won’t really get into our specific approach or how to spend that four hours, that’s covered in our Pro course. But the big idea with the weekends, as you want to view the weekend as a safety net. So, ideally you study first thing in the morning again, but even if you get up at eight, you can be done studying by noon, and then you’re [00:16:00] done. And then you can always, of course still take the study tools with you, I mean, you’ll have them on your phone wherever you go, whatever you’re doing, you can be grinding through quizzes, if you’re at your kid’s baseball game or like John on a previous episode of our podcast, he detailed in his episode that he would mountain bike on Saturdays, on a three to four hour mountain biking trip, he could listen to the entirety of the audio notes for the section he was studying for.

So going back to the mini sessions. No matter what you’re doing on the weekends, you can still be fitting in all these little pockets of study time.

So going back to this, the core idea with the weekend is that, whatever topics you covered earlier in the week, if there was anything that was especially difficult or that you didn’t really understand, you want to re hit those on the weekends. And the key idea, this’ll be very helpful to you to just keep this in mind, you just never want to start a Monday feeling behind, on either your study schedule or just how you feel about any given topic that you covered that [00:17:00] week.

So the weekends are a “do what you’ve got to do” type of thing.

Now, a lot of times you’ll be able to get by with the four hour study session first thing, Saturday and Sunday, and then mini sessions as much as possible the rest of your day. And you’ll be fine. But, when you have done a especially difficult lesson or something that confused you personally, you do want to view the weekends as, I just need to do what I need to do to feel good about these topics before Monday rolls around and a whole new set of topics to cover for the week.

And I just said this, you can obviously still do the mini sessions throughout the weekend. One idea that’s helpful, or to constantly keep in mind, is that, every mini quiz or every little three minute study session, or all these little mini sessions, any given mini session could literally be the difference between passing or failing.

Again, if you’ve listened to our podcast interviews, you’ve heard multiple people say things like, when I get into the [00:18:00] exam, I was seeing certain questions and I could just hear your voice from the audio notes, that all of a sudden it like hit me and I remembered it and I got the question.

Or some sort of comment with the same idea, but about our quizzes or our review notes.

But that constant repetition burns things into your brain. Now, another idea I forgot to point out earlier, this is one of my favorite things to point out, under the traditional study approach where you just go lesson by lesson over eight weeks and then a final review, you never look back at anything previously until your final review,

you’re only hitting each topic twice, really, if you think about it. And when you think about it like that and realize that, it’s no wonder why the traditional approach is so ineffective.

Now, with this approach, again, we didn’t cover the specifics of the two hour session, but it’s explained on our free training,

you end the last 30 minutes with a rear review set of all the topics you’ve previously covered, and then again, the idea of mini sessions, you’re [00:19:00] constantly grinding through all the topics over and over and over, as if you’re trying to learn a new language. So under this approach, you’re hitting all the topics 40 to 50 times or more versus just twice.

And again, it’s clear why that would work better.

Progression of Consistency

Nate: All right, so this isn’t really a tip or a strategy, but number five, just to point out the progression here of how this works. So in the beginning, of course, it’s going to require discipline or pulling something extra out of yourself, to just force yourself to commit to the routine, in the beginning. But as long as you do that, for even as little as seven days, it starts to become easier.

This builds your discipline muscles, so to speak, which creates consistency. When you have consistency, that helps you improve on the material, but also, and almost more importantly, the effectiveness of your own process, specifically the skills of breaking down [00:20:00] questions and just getting really, really familiar with the context of questions. Another idea that’s really helpful for you to realize and understand, or acknowledge, is that, when you watch a video lecture from your review course, we could call that, like “textbook context”, where everything’s laid out conceptually in order. But again, When you go to the practice questions, even if you feel like you understood the full video, when you go to the practice questions, the context is very different. So there’s textbook context and then there’s test day context, which really just means, the context of questions and simulations.

So again, there are a lot of just nuances and things to pick up and get good at, when you spend a lot of time on the questions and the simulations. When you spend the majority of your time on test day context, then test itself is going to be a lot easier for you. If you spend 80 to 90% of your time on textbook context,

well, then there’s [00:21:00] just this disconnect when it comes to the questions, especially on test day, when you don’t know what you’re going to get on your exam that day, especially on the SIMs.

So through consistency, which again going back to the beginning, this two hour session in the morning, is easier for your consistency purposes, along with the mini sessions throughout the day, and being able to take the evenings off, so it’s easier to be consistent, then you become much more efficient and effective at your study process itself,

so all of this builds on each other, as you can probably understand logically.

So at this point, you start to notice or realize, that things are clicking and working, and at that point, the motivation becomes easy, and you get a sense of momentum, and the entire process, it does become satisfying. It might be a stretch to call it fun, well, definitely not fun, borderline enjoyable, but it’s very satisfying to just know that, [00:22:00] okay, like your study process becomes formulaic and repeatable.

No matter the topic, you just surgically go through it, dissect the questions, the practice SIMs, once you learn how to do this, and you just kinda know that you’re going to pass. You don’t have this constant sense of dread, and overwhelm, and just feeling like you’re probably wasting your time because you have no idea if you’re going to pass or not, when all of that becomes the opposite, and you feel really good about your process, and the material, and your day to day routine, this becomes satisfying, because, you know you’re going to pass. So those are the strategies, again, any one of those can help you fit in more study time effectively, but the real power comes from combining those four strategies together, and that’s how your full day unfolds. Two hours in the morning, mini sessions throughout the day, and then the little bedtime routine as you’re going to sleep. So if you found this video helpful, please take a second to like the video, again, post [00:23:00] a comment down below either one takeaway you got from the video, or something you’re going to do differently. Some idea that you can apply in your own study process, or like I mentioned earlier, the favorite time-waster of yours that you’re going to try to reduce or give up, to implement this strategy. And again for the specifics of our study strategies and how to spend that two hours with your main review course, make sure to sign up for one of our free study training webinars, and the link to those are in the description. So thanks for watching or listening, and we’ll see you on the next episode.

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