The 6 Key Ingredients to Pass Your CPA Exams

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In this episode, we’re going to walk through the six key ingredients of a winning CPA study routine. Now, where this came from was doing all these interviews with recent successful CPA candidates. You know, and we’ve done over 50 of these interviews and counting. But it was about after the first 10 or 15, I started realizing, OK, there are basically these six things that they all mentioned, that they, they all did some version of these six things. And looking back at my own study process, it was the same thing. I had done all six of these things, again, some version of these six things. So that’s what we’re going to cover in this episode, the six key ingredients of a winning study routine.

Episode Transcript

Introduction

And over the course of a, you know, six to eight week study timeline, that is over 100 extra hours of exposure. So when I say it like that, that obviously pays off and improves your score. This one strategy can easily be the difference between like a 68 or a 78. This strategy is worth 10 points all by itself, easily.

Welcome to Episode 60 of the CPA Exam Experience podcast from SuperfastCPA. I’m Nate and in today’s episode, it’s going to be a solo episode where I’m going to walk through the six key ingredients of a winning CPA study routine. Now, where this came from was doing all these interviews with recent successful CPA candidates.

You know, and we’ve done over 50 of these interviews and counting. But it was about after the first 10 or 15, I started realizing, OK, there are basically these six things that they all mentioned, that they, they all did some version of these six things. And looking back at my own study process, it was the same thing. I had done all six of these things, again, some version of these six things.

So that’s what we’re going to cover in this episode, the six key ingredients of a winning study routine. And I really do think that if someone’s missing one of these, this is where you have someone that, you know, keeps scoring in the low 70s. They’re just they can’t get over the hump because you really need some version of these six things.

Get the Full Free “Study Hacks” Training for FREE

Now, before we jump into it, this is what we cover in detail or in more detail than what we’re going to cover here in our free CPA Study Hacks training. So these are webinars where we walk through the perfect two hour study session and we overlay these six key ingredients on that. So if your study sessions are extremely effective, it’s going to include these six key ingredients or these six elements. So to sign up for one of those trainings, go to our main site at SuperfastCPA.com, it’s the main thing you’ll see at the top of the home page.

Ingredient #1: A “Doable” Daily Study Routine

So the first key ingredient is going to sound obvious, but there are some elements to it that most people miss and they don’t realize why they have such a hard time being consistent. So that is what it is, a daily routine that happens the same way, the same time, every day. So instead of trying to hold yourself to four to five hours and you’re trying to do it after work, when you’re tired, you know, you’d rather be in bed, your brain is fried from working all day.

Try doing a two hour morning session and then what I call “mini sessions” throughout the rest of your day. So you do a high impact two-hour morning study session so that it’s locked in before you do anything else. Then you simply use your phone to study throughout the rest of your day.

Now, the thing is, sometimes people have a hesitation about that, like, “well, can studying from my phone actually be effective?” Yes, it can. It can be incredibly effective. And you’re looking at your phone constantly all day anyways. You know, you get your screentime reports on Sunday, and it tells you that even if you’re extremely busy, you still found a way to mess around for three or four hours a day on your phone.

So what I’m saying is substitute some of that time with either reading review notes on your phone, taking quizzes, and then the big one. That’s just obvious that you should be doing no matter what is listening to audio notes. Whenever you’re commuting, whenever you’re in your car, whenever you’re preparing meals, you just want to take advantage of all that spare time that you could be getting repeat or extra exposure to the material you’re trying to learn, through audio.

Now, of course, these two hour sessions, the way that we teach our clients how to study, you can get more done in these two hours than someone studying four to five hours the normal way. I won’t go into all of the strategy here… If you want that strategy, that’s what those free trainings walk through in detail.

So, again, go to our main site. It’s the main thing at the top of the home page. But this is key point or key ingredient #1: a daily routine that happens, that is feasible, that’s short enough that you can actually accomplish it, but you need to be consistent. It happens every day. And of course, this two hour session is a lot easier. It’s twice as easy, right? Twice as easy to accomplish as four or five hours.

Ingredient #2: “Planting the Seeds” for New Lessons

Now, #2, key ingredient #2, is a effective way of covering new material, effective being the key word. Now, as you’ve probably figured out, the the general or the universal CPA study strategy of watch the video lecture, read the chapter, then do the practice questions. It’s really not that simple. Or I guess it could be that simple, but that format is what results in the fifty percent fail rates that you see on the CPA exams.

So the way that we teach our clients to cover new material, we call it “planting the seeds”, so you go through new lessons quickly. You’re also not trying to completely master it your first time through, because the second part of our study strategy is a portion of your study day is dedicated to re-review constantly coming back and re-hitting all the previous lessons you’ve already been through.

Now, of course, you do that in a strategic way. Again, that’s covered on those free trainings. But the general idea is that when you plant the seed or if you’re trying to grow a garden or a whole field, if you’re a farmer, I mean, whatever, you plant the seeds and then you can’t just leave them alone and come back three months later and have a full healthy crop, you know, ready to harvest. You have to deal with that plant, that seed, on a daily basis. It has to be watered. It has to be fertilized and sprayed for bugs or whatever you do to grow a garden. I don’t really know.

But everyone understands that analogy. So these CPA lessons are the same way. Instead of just going through it one time and thinking that you’re good, you go through it once you plant the seeds, but then you’re constantly coming back and reinforcing and improving your retention and understanding. So again, we go through in more detail how to do that in the free, the free training.

Ingredient #3: “Capture the Understanding”

Now key ingredient #3 is an effective method for “capturing the understanding.” So when you come across topics that are hard for you to understand or that you keep forgetting as you keep doing practice questions from previous lessons, there is a huge difference between reading an explanation and thinking, “oh yeah, OK, I forgot, but I understand it”, versus being able to actually explain it to someone else.

So most people, they think it’s sufficient to, you know, just if they keep missing the same type of question, they read the explanation and they’re like, oh yeah, I, I get it. I remember now. But then the next time they see that kind of question, same thing happens. So instead of just moving on like that, when you keep missing questions on a certain topic or a type of question, or there’s some kind of formula or framework, that’s really hard for you to understand for whatever reason, you take the time to explain that back to yourself out loud and you keep explaining it to yourself until it clicks and you understand it.

Then you take that explanation and you write it down in your own words, of course, you write down the explanation you came up with on a flashcard. Now, if you do this diligently throughout your study process, by the end you will have all your own struggle or weak areas, but written down in explanations that you understand in your own words, this is absolutely invaluable. You know, it’s not that revolutionary of an idea to to do this or to make flashcards in this way.

But after I failed FAR the first time, for some reason, this was one of the distinct ideas I had of putting the things I struggled with into my own words. That’s totally different than just using the flashcards that came with your review course, because that’s an accounting professor’s technical explanation, and it’s just not in your own words is really the main thing. You take the things you personally struggle with and you write them out in your own words after you’ve been able to explain it to yourself. That one idea is a major game changer. Also, when someone has really struggled and I mean like really struggled, they keep getting like pretty bad scores like 50s or 60s on the same exam – this is the piece that they are most likely missing.

Ingredient #4: Spend 80% of Study Time Doing What You’ll Do on Test Day

The next key ingredient, #4, is to spend 80 percent of your time doing what you’ll be doing on test day. So this is just more of a big picture idea that you keep in mind at all times that kind of helps tailor your study approach to spend most of your time doing what you’ll be doing on test day.

So the most basic idea of this is on test day, you’re going to have to answer a bunch of multiple choice questions and answer a bunch of simulations. You’re not going to be graded on how well you can highlight a chapter or, you know, watch a video lecture. And another thing that seems obvious that people don’t realize, but answering CPA exam questions is very much a skill, meaning you can get good at it.

That is why our approach, our study approach is so heavy on doing practice questions and doing them in a certain way and then practice simulations as well, because it’s based on this idea. Practice what you’ll be doing on test day. Most candidates, they don’t even realize it. I mean, they think they’re being diligent. They think they’re studying. But 80 percent of their study time is used up by messing around with the video lectures, just watching them over and over because they don’t understand it or they watch it, which takes forever, and then they go to the practice questions, they still don’t understand it, so they think the solution is to just watch the video lecture again.

That’s not the solution… Anyways, this strategy we go… also we go in more detail on the free webinar training, the free Study Hacks training. But this is the general idea: spent 80 percent of your time doing what you’ll be doing on test day. This also forces you to be actively engaged and actively studying, whereas just watching video lecture, that’s a very passive form of studying, watching the video lectures – it has its place. But again, we explain that where it fits in, how to do it strategically in those free trainings.

Ingredient #5: “Re-Review” Multiple Times a Day

So key ingredient #5 is re-review and do it multiple times daily. So again, the two hour main session is 90 minutes planting the seeds, again, that’s explained in detail on the training, and then 30 minutes of re-review or we have you set up a re-review testlet, is what it’s called.

Then you also do mini sessions as much as possible throughout the rest of your day. So the mini sessions, again, is instead of looking at ESPN reading news about sports or scrolling through TikTok or Instagram, you would read review notes in these little five minute chunks all throughout your day. You read review notes or you take quizzes whenever it makes sense. You’re listening to audio notes, you know, in your ear or in your car or whatever.

This way you rack up – when you when you’re diligent about this, you rack up an extra two to three hours of exposure to the material every day. And over the course of a, you know, six to eight week study timeline, that is over a hundred extra hours of exposure. So when I say it like that, that obviously pays off and improves your score. If nothing else, it’s simply a way of trying to add insurance that you get a passing score. This one strategy can easily be the difference between like a 68 or a 78. This strategy is worth ten points all by itself, easily.

Ingredient #6: An “80/20” Final Review

So #6 is an 80/20 final review. Most candidates make the same mistakes in their final review as they do throughout the study process, which is: you get to your final review, and you know you have these like five or six areas that you really don’t understand. So most people’s solution is to go back and just try to do those lessons from the beginning, meaning starting with the video lectures again.

That is not the best use of your time, and that mistake is compounded by the fact that if you spend your final review going really deep on, you know, four or five topics, you have to realize the exam, especially something like FAR or REG… it’s going to ask you questions across 150 to 200 topics. So, again, your best use of time is constant repeat exposure from all topics. You do not want to spend the last week or two going deep on four or five topics. Again, on the free training that I keep talking about, we go more into the details of what a effective 80/20 final review would look like.

Recap

So to recap these six key ingredients, you have a two hour morning study session. This allows you or makes it easier to stay consistent and get it done every single day. It’s a lot easier to fit in two hours than it is four or five hours, which you’ve probably experienced. The two hours consists of 90 minutes of new material via the planting the seeds approach and then the last thirty minutes of a re-review testlet.

So you’re covering new material and you’re building in re-review to that two-hour morning session. Then you do mini sessions throughout the rest of your day, that’s an additional two to three hours. And then the idea alone of just constantly re-hitting all topics as you go instead of not looking back at anything til your final review… Just that idea, just understanding that and implementing that will fix most study processes by itself, just that one idea. But the mini sessions with the study tools makes that very, very easy and simple to do. It lets you accomplish that just as you go throughout your normal day. And that that one thing was the entire idea behind our study tools: highly effective study supplements that are optimized to be used on the go. That is what the SuperfastCPA study tools provides you.

But again, if you are interested in the deeper dive behind these strategies, also our best discount is only offered from these free trainings. So if you’re interested in our study tools, the best thing to do is get the strategies along with the study tools and the discount. So again, all things flow towards just watching one of those free training sessions. So again, you can sign up for one of those by going to our main site at SuperfastCPA.com. It’s the main thing at the top of the homepage. Sign up for one of those trainings, and then I will see you on one of the sessions.

So I hope you found these tips helpful, the six key ingredients – every successful process will have some version of this, of these six things. So thank you for listening. If you found this helpful, please leave a rating and review in the podcast app where you listen to this and we will see you on the next episode.

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