Best order to Take the CPA Exam: Sumit’s Strategy

best order to take the cpa exam

Sumit is our CPA exam blogger from India. He writes for us every Monday.

Folks – Thank you for visiting my blog.

Today I will talk about the best order to take the CPA exam.

There is no defined pattern or way of going about things in relation to CPA exams. I will talk about my experience and decision of planning for CPA exams.

In the month of November I decided to prepare for Audit and BEC with an assumption that I will sit for these 2 exams in January considering mid of January to April will be a busy time for me at work. Later I realized it will not be feasible for me to give 2 exams too early, there were 2 factors which led in the postponement of the exams –

  1. Lack of preparation – I was not 100% sure about the Audit and BEC concepts. I felt that I need to go through the course material once again to have command on these subjects.
  2. Delay in the evaluation report – Due to Christmas holidays and some other reasons my evaluation report has been delayed because of which my visa process will automatically be delayed.

Considering the above factors I reassessed the situation and have decided to give 3 exams (Audit, BEC, and Regulation) in the month of May 2016. This will give me sufficient time to prepare for these subjects and serve the busy period at work. This decision is made with a view to boost motivation level and gain momentum by clearing these 3 exams and leaving FAR as a last option considering FAR is not my strength.

There are few key points which can be considered while planning for the exams –

  1. Choose your strongest section first
  2. Plan and action according to your strengths
  3. Strategy of assessing the situation will be key
  4. Believe in yourself
  5. Respect your decision and stick with it
  6. Once the preparation is done – go for the kill

Watch out for the next Blog which will talk about “Total Expenses (with full description) to complete CPA for International students – is it worth it to spend money on CPA?”­

Note from Stephanie

There are two schools of thought when it comes to the best order to take the CPA exam. The one Sumit suggests is to tackle the one he has more confidence in — in his case, AUD and BEC, and also REG if he has to choose the third.

The other approach is to tackle the toughest one first (would be FAR in his case). I talk about this in more detail here.

I generally recommend the second approach because the 18-month rule doesn’t kick in until you pass the first part. In other words, in case you fail the first part a few times, it won’t eat into the 18-month window. It would also be a relief that you pass the toughest one.

But Sumit’s order work for a lot of readers too. This is especially the case for busy professionals who don’t have a lot of leeway in terms of time for preparation. Taking the ones they are stronger at helps building up the confidence. It is also less stressful. By the time Sumit takes FAR, he would have been mentally ready for the question type and style and this would make this seemingly difficult part easier for him.

Either way works, so it’s worth your time to think through which strategy works better for you. If you have questions for me and Sumit, feel free to drop a note below.


About the Author Sumit G

Hello, I am Sumit, an Audit Senior at KPMG Global Services in India. We serve Channel Islands team (UK) in their Auditing tasks. I have an MBA in Finance and I plan to start my CPA Journey in January 2016.

  • Manish says:

    Dear Sumit,
    Let me say a big thanks for sharing your views and about how to move forward..
    I would expect little more in this regard.
    Can you pls forward me the syllabus and other related papers, I would like to join with you..

    • Sumit G says:

      Hi Manish
      There are 4 subjects in CPA
      1. Audit
      2. BEC
      3. Regulation
      4. FAR
      The best trick is to buy study materials/video. Personally I am taking personal coaching considering I am a working professional. Find this option near by your area or buy books online which would not be too costly

      Kind regards

  • sabeen says:

    Good luck sumit,i wish we also have CPA exam centre in Pakistan

    • Sumit G says:

      Hi Sabeen

      Thanks for your wishes. You can sit for the exam in Dubai as well. I wish you all the best for your future.

      Kind Regards

  • Ronak says:

    hi sumit,

    would you please tell me which study material i choose,
    as my prefrence is low cost + question bank. i.e. some online pdfs, or copies.
    as i see the material available is quite expensive, and i can’t afford it.


  • Balaji says:

    Hi Sumit, Stephanie,
    If I wish to give exams towards last week of May and wish to start studying from this weekend, will it be possible to complete all 4 exams? I am a ACA from india and also CIMA from UK with enough working experience. Do please advise. Being an Intl candidate will be going to Dubai to write and need to go thru the process. Just got my completed Equivalent certification from NASBA confirming my eligibility. Have enrolled with CPA Excel and have a time planner but would still wish to ask the bloggers for their advice given that I am a busy working professional. Thank you.

    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Hi Balaji, assuming you haven’t started, it’s pretty tight I have to say. Back then when I also tried to take 4 parts at the same time, I studied the whole day on all Saturdays and Sundays for 6 months. I understand you have the knowledge and experience but there are quite a bit of concepts and stuff to memorize. Regards, Stephanie

  • Pranav says:

    I have registered for CPA excel coaching. Now I am planning to give all 4 papers in next November when new format of exam will be applicable. I will take exam in Dubai. What should be my strategy. REG and BEC would be relatively easy as I am a qualified CS from India.

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