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Hi! I'm Stephanie Ng, CPA.*

My CPA Exam Guide contains all the information you need to know to pass the CPA Exam on the first try!

There are over 100 colorful pages with detailed tricks and info!

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*Stephanie Ng is a licensed CPA, not in public practice. Stephanie is a CPA Exam guide author and the person behind this site.

How to Prepare for the CPA Exam

If you’ve been Googling “IPassCPA,” you’ve come to the right place! I passed the CPA Exam on my first try, and I only studied for 6 months! Afterward, I compiled all my tricks for passing the CPA Exam into this website, I Pass the CPA Exam. I figured out how to pass the CPA Exam—you can pass your CPA exams, too! 

The best way to prepare for and pass the CPA Exam is to study with a reputable review course. After all, the CPA Exam covers a lot of material. And without a good CPA Exam guide, you might feel overwhelmed and your studies will suffer. So if you’re planning to take the CPA Exam, do yourself a favor and purchase a review course that matches your learning style.

I’ve personally reviewed many of the CPA review courses on the market, and here’s a list of the courses I recommend.

Becker CPA Review

Becker has helped over 1 million candidates pass the CPA Exam and is our #1 rated review course. Becker CPA courses blend personal support, tutoring, live classes, and unique study tools to help you pass CPA Exam sections on your first try. For instance, Becker includes SkillMaster videos to explain how to solve the course’s task-based simulations, the hardest questions on the CPA examination. Plus, Becker uses Adapt2U A.I. technology, which helps you study more efficiently. 

As a result, Becker users who are “Exam Day Ready” pass the CPA Exam 94% of the time. In fact, I used Becker for passing the CPA Exam myself!

Surgent CPA Review

Surgent uses the best adaptive learning platform, A.S.A.P. Technology. In short, it has proven to save candidates hundreds of study hours while maintaining a high CPA pass rate. Surgent’s courses also have a READYscore that predicts, in real-time, what your CPA Exam score might be based on your quiz performance. And even though Surgent has plenty of practice questions, video lectures, and award-winning instructors, it’s also an economical choice to pass your CPA Exam.

Gleim CPA Review

Gleim has one of the biggest and best collections of exam questions in the Mega Test Bank. Gleim includes the test bank in the full CPA review courses, or you can purchase it as a supplement to other courses. And since the test bank closely replicates the real CPA exam, you’ll feel comfortable with the format on exam day. When you also consider Gleim’s detailed books, personal coaches, the Gleim Instruct Video series, and the SmartAdapt e-learning software, Gleim has everything you need to pass the CPA Exam. Gleim is affordable, too, especially when you use our exclusive discounts.

Wiley CPAexcel CPA Review

Wiley has several exam-prep courses for credentials in the accounting and business industries. Like Gleim, Wiley also has a large question bank with both multiple-choice questions and hundreds of task-based simulations. When you combine Wiley’s test bank with a substantial amount of online readings, plenty of video lectures, and other tools like digital flashcards, Wiley’s courses could help you pass the CPA Exam. For example, you may appreciate that students and instructors can interact in real-time in Wiley’s Virtual Classroom webinars.

UWorld Roger CPA Review

Although they include fewer practice questions than other top CPA test prep, Roger stresses quality over quantity. Moreover, Roger’s courses come with SmartPath Predictive Technology, which helps you study faster. As a result, Roger’s users passed the CPA Exam three times faster than candidates who study with other materials. What’s more, Roger Philipp leads all of the video lectures himself. He’s super engaging, and his upbeat style makes it enjoyable to study for the CPA Exam.

How I Passed the CPA Exam

 What do you need to pass the CPA Exam? I’ll be blunt: You need to study. There aren’t any real tricks to passing the CPA Exam. Instead, you must learn the content, understand how to tackle the different kinds of questions, and approach the exam with confidence.

Of course, that’s easier said than done. And before you jump into buying a review course, you should do some prep work and take stock of how to pass the CPA. Here’s a list of the first steps I took for passing the CPA Exam, and you should, too.

Think about your learning style

Everyone learns differently. Therefore, the CPA test prep that worked for me might not be the best for someone else. Consequently, it’s important to think about how you like to learn before dropping thousands of dollars on the wrong CPA review. For instance:

  • Did you enjoy your college lectures? If so, consider a course with live or live online classes, webinars, or engaging video lectures.
  • Do you want options to talk to an expert when you have a question? Then look for courses with lots of personal support or tutoring.
  • Are your old textbooks covered with notes and highlighted text? Some CPA candidates—like me!—prefer courses with hard-copy textbooks with enough space to take notes.
  • Are you short on study time? Courses with an e-learning platform can help you study and pass the CPA Exam faster.

Pick the right review course

Once you answer the questions above, start reading reviews of the best CPA courses. You’ll find plenty of reviews on the IPassCPA site, but don’t just take my word for it. Despite my personal experience, you should go with the course that best suits you. So once you have a course in mind, see if the company offers a free trial. Besides, most courses let you try out their materials for free for a few days.

After selecting a course, check out my CPA discounts because I might be able to save you some cash!

Create a good study plan and stick to it

Many CPA Exam courses come with customizable study plans. Basically, they help you map out the days you can study before your scheduled exam. With this information, your course will create study benchmarks to reach in order to review all of the content in time.

However, creating a study plan is just one of my CPA Exam prep strategies. For example, you also need to carve out study time in your busy schedule. In other words, the best plan in the world won’t help if you don’t prioritize studying. 

How to Pass the CPA Exam

Of course, in addition to purchasing a review course, you need to know a few things about the study process, how long you should study, and the overall timeline for passing the CPA Exam.

How Long to Study to Pass the CPA Exam

Passing the CPA Exam is no easy feat, and most candidates spend hundreds of hours studying before they take the CPA Exam. Furthermore, candidates usually study longer for the FAR and REG sections, and less time for the AUD and BEC. However, I’ve broken down how long to study, including info about how long to study for passing CPA Exam sections by part.

Although my estimates are only averages, they should help you understand the journey that is before you.

Can I pass the CPA Exam in a year?

Absolutely! I think you can pass CPA Exam sections in under a year if you study with a good review course and follow your study plan. In fact, my guide for passing the CPA Exam includes suggestions on how to pass CPA exams in as little as 3 to 6 months.

How to Study for the CPA Exam

I passed the CPA Exam by creating a strict study plan with a good review course. But that’s just one study strategy for how to pass CPA Exam sections. For example, you also need to understand the format and content of the Certified Public Accountant exam. Most importantly, you’ll need to find a good time and place to study each week. And make sure that your study place is quiet and free of distractions, too.

And after working through your review course, try to take at least one mock CPA exam before you tackle the real one. All things considered, one of the biggest challenges is answering all questions in time and maintaining your focus for hours. Practicing with a mock exam will get you comfortable with the exam’s pace. 

How to Pass the CPA Examination in 18 Months

Although the CPA Exam doesn’t have testing windows, you absolutely must understand the requirement to pass all four exam sections within the required timeframe. In short, you must pass the entire CPA Exam in 18 months. This 18-month rolling window starts the day you pass your first section. Afterward, you have 18 months to pass the other 3 sections. I have more details about this requirement in my Complete Guide to the Certified Public Accountant Certification

How to Take the CPA Exam

Registering for the CPA Exam isn’t a difficult process, but you have several steps to complete. Plus, the process and requirements can vary slightly from state to state. Therefore, be sure to know the CPA requirements in your state

How to Apply for the CPA Exam

Before you take the CPA Exam, you must apply first. Your CPA Exam application must be submitted to either your state board of accountancy or NASBA’s CPA Exam Services. (Here’s one example of why you need to know the CPA requirements by state.) If approved, you will receive an NTS (Notice to Schedule), and that document allows you to actually schedule your exam.

How to Schedule CPA Exam Sections

Once you receive your NTS, you can schedule to take the CPA Exam. In fact, you must schedule to take each section separately, even if you plan to take them back-to-back. You take the exam at Prometric Testing Centers, which are located across the globe.

In the past, you could only take the CPA Exam during certain annual testing windows. However, that has changed. So now, you’re able to sit for the exam whenever your local Prometric center is open.

How to Take the CPA Exam

The CPA test is computer-based and can only be taken at a Prometric site. Furthermore, you can’t take notes into the testing room since the CPA Exam is not an open-book test. Remember to take your NTS and several pieces of ID with you—Prometric won’t let you take the exam without these items. And before exam day, read these Prometric mistakes to avoid.

How Many Attempts for CPA Exam Sections

If you fail an exam section, don’t fret. You have an unlimited number of attempts to pass CPA Exam sections. But also keep in mind that you must pass all four sections within 18 months of passing your first section. If you fail to pass the remaining 3 exam sections within that 18 months, you will lose credit for the first section you passed.

Of course, each time you schedule a section, you must pay CPA Exam fees. To avoid re-take fees, pick the review course that’s right for you, stick to your study plan, and pass all sections in 18 months. 

FAQs and More CPA Exam Information

Which CPA Review Course Is the Best?

I personally used Becker CPA, and I passed the CPA Exam—all 4 sections—on the first try. So I highly recommend Becker! I also have discounts on the best CPA review courses, most of which are exclusive and include the biggest savings available. 

What Is a CPA?

A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is an accounting professional who has earned a CPA license from a state board of accountancy. (The federal government does not grant the CPA license.) Basically, a CPA is a trusted financial advisor. 

What Does a CPA Do?

CPAs are auditors, accounting consultants, business advisers, decision-makers, tax accountants, and more. In fact, a CPA license opens many doors of employment, including:

  • Assurance services
  • Consulting services and business valuation services
  • Environmental accounting
  • Financial planning
  • Forensic accounting
  • Information Technology (IT) services
  • Litigation services
  • Taxation services

Furthermore, CPAs can hold executive positions such as:

  • Accounting Vice President
  • Assistant Director of Finance or Assistant Director of Financial Operations
  • Chief Accounting Officer, Chief Executive Officer, or Chief Financial Officer
  • Controller
  • Director of Financial Operations

Why Become a CPA?

When you earn the CPA, you’ll experience many major career benefits, including:

  • Higher income (CPAs earn better salaries than regular accountants)
  • More job opportunities (CPAs can work for private companies, government agencies, educational institutions, non-profits, international firms, and more)
  • Greater job security (CPAs’ skills and abilities are always in demand, and you can work for yourself or start your own firm, too)

What Are the CPA Requirements?

To become a CPA, you must meet the specific CPA requirements of your state board. Furthermore, state boards have slightly different expectations for the CPA license. But almost every state board has a variation of these requirements, known as the “3 E’s”:

  • Education:  150 credit hours of higher education (a bachelor’s degree + 30 additional credits including accounting and business courses)
  • Experience: 1-2 years of professional accounting experience
  • Examination: Pass all four sections of the Uniform CPA Exam (some states have a CPA ethics exam requirement, too) 

What Are the Requirements to Take the CPA Exam? 

State boards also have requirements for taking the CPA Exam. Usually, the state boards want candidates to have 120 credit hours (a bachelor’s degree, basically) in order to sit for the CPA Exam. Therefore, candidates can sometimes sit for the exam while still in college, depending on how many credits they have earned.

How Long Does It Take to Become a CPA?

The time required to become a CPA depends on your education level, experience, and even the state where you will obtain your license. But in general:

  • If you don’t have 150 credit hours of education, your university coursework will take 5-6 years.
  • Studying for and passing CPA exam sections can take 1+ years, but many have passed in 6 months or less. (I did!)
  • And finally, depending on your state board, you’ll need to accumulate 1-2 years of accounting experience.

However, if you tackle several requirements at once (like studying for the CPA Exam while working full-time), you can get your CPA license much faster. Of course, if you fail one or more sections and miss your 18-month rolling window, your journey could be much longer.

How Do I Become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA)?

If you’re interested in the CPA certification, you must follow these steps to becoming a CPA:

  1. Learn everything you need to know about the CPA process
  2. Select a state board of accountancy
  3. Earn the 150 credit hours with the appropriate amount of accounting and business courses
  4. Apply to a state board of accountancy to sit for the CPA Exam
  5. Pay the CPA Exam fees 
  6. Study for the CPA Exam
  7. Schedule your testing appointments
  8. Sit for and pass all 4 sections of the CPA Exam
  9. Pass the ethics exam (if applicable)
  10. Earn 1-2 years of professional accounting experience
  11. Apply to your state board of accountancy for the CPA license
  12. Celebrate your CPA status (!) and update your resume
  13. Maintain your CPA license by fulfilling the continuing education (CPE) requirements

What Is the CPA Exam?

All future CPAs must pass the Uniform CPA Examination to order to earn the CPA certification. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) creates the CPA Exam, and NASBA (National Association of State Boards of Accountancy) helps to administer it.

What Is the CPA Exam Like?

The CPA Exam has four sections covering a vast range of accounting topics. The CPA Exam question types include multiple-choice questions (MCQs), task-based simulations (TBSs), and written communications (WCs). Every exam section presents its questions in a series of smaller sections called testlets.

What Are the 4 Parts of the CPA Exam?

The four sections of the CPA Exam are:

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What Is on the CPA Exam?

The CPA Exam covers accounting information related to auditing, attestation, business, financial reporting, and regulation. The CPA Exam Blueprints outline all of the topics the exam addresses in each section.  

How Long Is the CPA Exam?

Candidates have 4 hours of total testing time to complete each section of the exam. Therefore, the entire exam lasts for 16 hours.

How Hard Is the CPA Exam?

The CPA Exam has a reputation for being very challenging because it tests candidates for deep levels of knowledge and skill. The exam does so in order to verify that candidates have the abilities necessary to fulfill the duties of a Certified Public Accountant. 

Moreover, what is the pass rate for the CPA Exam? Generally, the pass rates for each exam section fall within the 40-60% range. And though the pass rates for some exam sections have been rising, there is still about a 50% chance that you’ll fail the exam. The CPA Exam pass rates prove that this exam is hard.

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What Is a Passing Score on the CPA Exam?

The range for a CPA Exam score is 0-99, and the passing score is 75. These numbers do not represent the percentage of questions you answered correctly. Instead, your CPA Exam score is a scaled score, with some questions having more weight than others.

What Time Are CPA Scores Released?

When you sit for the CPA Exam, you will not receive your score right away. Instead, you’ll get your score on one of the predetermined target CPA Exam score release dates. These dates vary every year, but generally, there are several score release dates per quarter. 

What to Do After Passing the CPA Exam?

Depending on the order in which you complete the CPA requirements, you may need to finish fulfilling the experience requirement or education requirement after you pass the CPA Exam. But once you meet all of the requirements, you must apply to your state board for the license. After that, you will need to meet your state’s CPE requirements, so you can sustain the CPA license. The longer you keep your CPA license up to date, the longer you’ll experience the benefits of the CPA!

My Free CPA Exam Guide PDF Download includes over 100 pages of detailed information that covers:

  • Why you want to become a CPA now
  • How hard the CPA Exam can be & why that's good news for you
  • The secret to increasing your chance of success from 49% to 88%
  • How much time you need to study 
  • The best way to overcome your fear of simulations
  • CPA Exam Pass Rates
  • CPA Scheduling
  • CPA Exam Windows
  • The critical reason why you should take FAR first
  • The #1 study tactic you need to pass AUD
  • 3 great & proven strategies to beat the REG beast
  • Why BEC can be a nasty surprise & how to avoid others' BEC mistakes
  • Tips about exam updates and testing strategies
  • CPA Requirements
  • Info about AUD, BEC, FAR, and REG (the CPA Exam sections)
  • What to Do If You Fail the CPA Exam

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I have been answering questions on how to best prepare for the Certified Public Accountant Exam since 2010. I'm excited to help you pass the CPA Exam! Luckily, have all the CPA Exam information you need. You can find answers to the most popular CPA Exam questions right here, and if you have any other questions, feel free to contact me!