How to find time to study for the CPA exam

How to find time to study for the CPA exam

Ryne Olson knows what it’s like to be busy. 

She works at Feniks & Co. LLC in Fairbanks, Alaska. When she’s not there, she’s running her own dog-racing team, Ryno Sled Dog Kennel. And earlier this year, her team competed in the Iditarod, the premier dog-racing event that spans the more than 1,000 miles between Anchorage and Nome in Alaska.

To top it all off, Ryne still needs to complete the CPA exam before she can earn her CPA license. But with all she has to do, how can she possibly find time for studying?

With four sections and a total of 14 hours of test time, the CPA exam isn’t the kind of test you cram for. Here are some time management tips from Olson and another accountant who recently passed the exam that will help you prepare for the test. 

Olson said that structure is key. Fortunately, that’s something that owning a dog-racing team helps with. She gets up early in the morning to feed the dogs and clean the yard, a process she repeats at night. That structure helps eliminate procrastination.

“There’s no sleeping in until noon, watching Netflix for an hour, and then saying, ‘I guess it’s time to get up and do something,’ ” she said.

Of course, not everybody races dogs. But having an activity that jump-starts your day is important, Olson said. That could be something as simple as going out for a run or walk or having coffee. Once you have established a structure, it’s easier to plan the activities that you’ll build your day around. In turn, you can structure those days—including studying goals—into weeks and, ultimately, into the months leading up to the exam.

Genna D. Notareschi, a CPA at Schroedel, Scullin & Bestic LLC in Ohio, just passed the CPA exam this past November. She agreed that it’s important to develop a schedule.

Notareschi studied between six and eight weeks for each section of the exam. On work nights, after getting home, she would tell herself to give it at least two hours. On the weekends, she would spend between six and eight hours each day studying. But she always gave herself one day a week off. Read more on the Journal of Accountancy.