Effective CPA Exam Study Schedule

Updated: May 23, 2023 You’re our #1 priority.
100% of the time.

We believe everybody should be able to make online purchases with confidence. And while our website doesn’t feature every test prep company or review course in the universe, we’re proud that the advice we offer and the information we provide is accurate, truthful, objective - and entirely free.

So how do we actually make money? It’s simple, our partners compensate us. While this may influence which products we review and write about, and where they show up on the site, it absolutely does not influence our recommendations or guidance, which are formed by hundreds of hours of research and analysis. Check out our partners here.

What’s the bottom line? We’re on your team and are passionate about helping you achieve your career goals, even if it means we don’t make a dime.

Effective CPA Exam Study Schedule

I was two months into my new accounting job where I sported the glamorous job title of intern and was given the opportunity to utilize my God given skills of data entry.

But honestly, I was just happy to be one of the few people who had a job coming out of college, even if it did pay less than my previous occupations of waiting tables and working construction.

Due to my boss’s demands to complete tasks I had no idea how to do, I was no stranger to working 50+ hours a week. Perfect time to take the CPA exam, right?

Two weeks of scouring the internet for the right CPA review courseand I still had nothing to show for it. By telling myself I couldn’t start studying until I found the perfect course I managed to trick my subconscious into delaying the inevitable without feeling a trace of guilt.

Finally, after getting the opinions of my colleagues about their CPA review courses, I decided on Wiley CPA feeling confident with their course after using it throughout my free 2 week trial.

Immediately I found their bite-sized lectures to be a huge advantage to my busy work schedule.  I was able to complete a section during my lunch break, eat, and still have enough time left over to post what I just learned and ate on Facebook 🙂

The smaller sections also made it easier to digest and absorb the information and made studying much less of a burden knowing that I could complete a section in about 30 minutes and then put it aside.

Weekday Study Plan

After refining my study habits, I would study around 1.5  hours a day during the weekdays, usually doing the bulk of it after dinner, not allowing myself to indulge in any activities or even go to the gym until I finished.  At first it seemed grueling and I found it hard to even find time for the most mundane tasks like laundry and grocery shopping.  This forced me to look at my daily routine and run through it with a fine toothed comb of efficiency.  It was time to get lean, trim the fat off unnecessary activities, and figure out a way to make life work again.

This simplest and most effective thing I did to support my new study plan was canceling my cable and selling my TV and DVD player on Craigslist.  Being a year round sports fanatic, I expected myself to go into some sort of catatonic state of depression.  I mean seriously, what would happen if Lebron James goes for 40 points and 20 boards against the Lakers and I don’t even hear about it??

Absolutely. Freaking. Nothing. That’s what.

Coming to terms with my sports addiction wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be once the TV was out of the house. This single change added 2 extra hours a day to my life and also made it much easier to study at home knowing being a couch potato and watching Sportscenter was no longer an option.

Weekend Study Plan

On the weekends I would aim to study for around eight hours, typically all on Saturday, reserving Sundays for my social life and enjoyment. Giving myself one day off a week to do whatever I wanted without having to think about work or the CPA exam proved to be one of the best things I did for my personal and work life.
It felt like I was hitting the refresh button on my life every Sunday, leaving me full of energy,  ready to tackle the week again when Monday morning rolled around.  It also gave me something to look forward to all week long and served as a solid crutch to lean on when things got stressful and seemed almost unbearable.  Suffering and sacrifice are a lot less painful when you know there’s a reward waiting for you in the near future.
Sticking to this study plan helped me pass all 4 sections on my first try in less than 9 months. Everyone learns differently so you should experiment with your study schedule until you settle into a routine that best fits your needs.
It doesn’t matter if you decide to study everyday, or every other day, the most important thing in order to be successful and pass the CPA exam is to stay consistent and stick to your plan!

Bryce Welker, CPA

Bryce Welker is a regular contributor to Forbes, Inc.com, YEC and Business Insider. After graduating from San Diego State University he went on to earn his Certified Public Accountant license and created CrushTheCPAexam.com to share his knowledge and experience to help other accountants become CPAs too. Bryce was named one of Accounting Today’s “Accountants To Watch” among other accolades.   As Seen On Forbes