Accountants never want for work. Accounting firms, banks, corporations, and for-profit and nonprofit organizations need them. Governments, financial markets, and more hire them, too. And, colleges and universities everywhere enroll students in accounting studies.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts a 10 percent increase in opportunities for accounting careers by 2026. But Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) are a different breed. CPA candidates require 150 semester hours of formal education and a bachelor’s degree. They must successfully pass the Uniform CPA Exam and must complete supervised experience in the accounting field. Requirements may vary from state to state, but the Uniform CPA Exam is a standard requirement.
How to prepare for the Uniform CPA Exam:
- Know what to expect. The exam is divided into four four-hour sections, each with a different structure and expectations.
- 72 multiple-choice questions on Auditing and Attestation test accounting review services, audit engagement, ethics, general principles, personal responsibilities, and more.
- 66 multiple-choice questions about Financial Accounting and reporting target knowledge of financial reporting, financial statement accounts, select transaction, standard setting, and so on.
- 76 multiple-choice questions on Regulation cover business law, ethics, and federal taxation, professional responsibilities.
- 62 multiple-choice questions deal with Business Environment and Concepts issues regarding corporate governance, economic concepts and analysis, financial management, information technology, and operations management.
The four-hours permitted indicate the difficulty of the questions. But it’s more important to develop a disciplined through process for answering multiple-choice test questions.
- Develop a study discipline. Only you know your strengths and weaknesses in content. But you also have testing skills — or not. So you should practice those specific problems. For example, preparing flashcards will help fill in some of those subject matter gaps. But studying from flashcards disciplines your thought process for multiple choice options.
Dozens of sample tests are available online. The practice tests don’t give anything away, but they help you get the feel and rhythm of the testing. Another tip is to mix up the practice testing to create a challenge. Some recommend starting with the Business Environment and Concepts because it is allegedly the easiest, but it makes more sense to approach the sample tests as you will encounter them on the testing date.
- Invest in preparation. You will find scores of CPA testing preparation courses. Some are sponsored by colleges, graduate schools, and other formal resources. You can purchase programs with textbooks, videos, and feedback. But considering the out-of-pocket price to you, you should research the results and reviews.
Online courses like the MDS CPA Review offer flexible financing and an accelerated boot camp if you want or need it. Perhaps unique to this program, you can work directly with the CPA professionals who created it emphasizing upwards of 99% of the sample questions released each year in small digestible units.
The need-to-know about your CPA exam:
The IRS explains, “Certified public accountants have passed the Uniform CPA Examination. They have completed a study in accounting at a college or university and also met experience and good character requirements established by their respective boards of accountancy.” However, the IRS does not accept the cost of preparation as a deductible expense, so you must make your preparation count.