CPA Exam Study Methods and Staying Motivated with a Head Cold


Elizabeth is a weekly Club 75 Blogger as she documents her journey through the CPA Exam. She has been a member of Another71.com's Club 75 since November 2010.

This week was filled with studying for the Regulation exam. I’m using the 2011 Wiley Exam Review and have so far made it through the Property module (which is about 1/2 way through the book). Since the content is similar to that of the Business Law classes I’ve taken, I’m using my thick 1,100 page Essentials of Business Law book as a supplement for any topics I need clarification on.

One thing I’ve noticed about the Wiley books is that they include a great sample of questions from past exams, but sometimes the brevity of the content sections leaves me feeling unsure that I’m really understanding the topic. That’s when the backup texts come in handy. If I don’t understand what agency by estoppel is from three lines of explanation in the Wiley books, I can look it up in my text, which provides at least a paragraph of explanation and possibly an actual case example, much more detail than the Wiley book could provide.

With that said, I try not to get too carried away with the supplemental texts or spending too much time studying one topic or concept. I often remind myself that the content covered on the exam is a million miles long and a foot deep.

Another important part of studying for me is finding a good location! Studying in my apartment is a big no-no because it houses all of my biggest distractions – food, Internet, boyfriend, dogs, the mess in my kitchen sink – all keep me from quality concentration and content retention. Since I live in the city, I have lots of great places to study within a short walk. Coffee shops are obvious choice when they’re not too loud and crowded and I notice sometimes it’s easier to study with a little background noise than complete silence.

Sometimes I head to my alma mater’s law library (how appropriate for REG!), which stays open most nights until 11. I’ve never had a ton of luck studying outside (usually too windy in Chicago) or on the train (can’t balance a book and notepad on my lap) but I’ve seen people do it! I can’t chalk everything up to environmental factors, but finding the right physical place to study really makes a difference in my exam preparation process.

With all that being said, how good can the best study texts and locations be if I have a head cold? I know I lost about 5 hours of studying this week because my head felt like a bowl of mush and every time I tried to read, my eyes would glaze and start watering. I did my best to recall all the sage advice I have learned about getting back to health – drink tons of water, vitamin C, eat super healthy, get rest, no sugar, etc. I took time to practice yoga to reduce stress and keep my PMA (positive mental attitude!) up. As I’m writing this post I’m feeling much better and plan to take advantage of my good health this upcoming week – I need to make up those 5 extra hours after all!

-Elizabeth