How to Study for the CPA

Updated February 21, 2017

To become a certified public accountant (CPA), you must first pass a stringent 14-hour exam known as the Uniform CPA Exam. The exam is broken into four parts: Financial Accounting and Reporting, Auditing and Attestation, Regulation, and Business Environment and Concepts. To pass, you must attain a score of 75 on a 0-99 grading scale. In addition, each state has its own educational requirements that you must meet in order to be eligible to take the exam.

Study the CPA Exam tutorials and sample tests. The American Institute of CPAs has exam tutorials and sample tests on its website, and the institute recommends that all CPA candidates review the materials.

Take a CPA exam review course. A CPA exam review course can be offered online, live, or as a self-study program. A review course will focus your study and give you the maximum chance of passing the exam. Review courses, such as the ones offered by Becker CPA or Wiley CPA, can cost about £1,950.

Review your class notes. If you have additional questions, visit your professors during their office hours to ask questions and to confirm that you have a strong knowledge of the material.

Buy a test prep book. CPA test preparation books, such as those offered by Barron's or Kaplan, will make your study time more effective. They offer sample questions and answers with detailed explanations.


The 2011 Uniform CPA Exam will be very different in structure and test format from the 2010 exam. Visit the American Institute of CPAs website for more information on the changes.

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About the Author

Based in Buffalo, N.Y., Jackie Whalen has been writing since 2007. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in religious studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is currently a third-year law student.