Video: How to Study for the CPA Exam

17 Feb 2012



Welcome to the Ninja Study Framework, presented by The problem is that CPA exam candidates don't know how to study for the CPA exam, as crazy as that sounds. The CPA exam is not like any college exam. It's a completely different beast, and the method that you study is completely different than you would if you were taking a semester final at school. Candidates invest thousands of dollars in the review courses.

They get it in the mail, they open it, but they don't know how to study. They have hundreds of hours of accounting videos, and thousands of multiple choice questions, just sitting there in a box, but they don't know how to use it, and often times, the review course instructors, while they know the content, they don't know how to advise the candidates on how to use their product. Let's face it. A lot of them passed ten, 20, 30, 40 years ago, and that was back with a paper and pencil. They've never walked into a prometric testing center. They know the content, but they don't know how to advise their customers, their students, on how to actually effectively use it.

Is it really any wonder that 50% of the candidates fail any given exam? The solution to this problem is the Ninja Study Framework, and Ninja is an acronym. Candidates are using it, and it works.

The N in Ninja is for nailing the videos.

Watch your CPA review videos first before working any assigned homework questions. The CPA review industry says to watch a section of a CPA review video, and then work the accompanying multiple choice questions right after.

This perspective stems from the old school approach to the paper and pencil exam, where you had to sit in a live classroom, and learn from an instructor on weekends, but today, there is a smarter way to study. You don't have to go to a weekend live course. You can fire up your laptop on a Tuesday morning, and knock out two hours of material before you even brush your teeth.

If you work multiple choice questions in week one over your week one topic, guess what? You will work them again in week five and week six when you review, because you have forgotten what you learned. If you watch a video in week one, and score an 85 on the corresponding multiple choice questions, will you be able to score an 85 four weeks later? Not likely. You will need to work them again anyway, and it's not a smart use of your study time.

Instead, let the Ninja Framework guide you.

Intense notes.

Everyone, repeat after me. Put the highlighter down. Which method do you think will help you learn the material better? Painting printed words in a book with pretty fluorescent colors, or writing them down on a legal pad and thinking about the information? Grab a stack of legal pads, put the highlighter down, and start writing. Many people have said that instead of taking their own notes, they just rewrite the material inside of their Ninja study guide, which is fine, too. Some people just don't like taking their own notes.

Nonstop multiple choice questions.

Now is the time to start focusing on multiple choice questions, and to do them with a focused frenzy. Do so many multiple choice questions that you're absolutely sick of them. As you encounter little fact nuggets that you didn't know, or are prone to forget, write it down, and add it to your voluminous stack of notes.

Just rewrite (your Notes).

Granted, this is where it gets a little tedious.

This is also where the payoff happens.

You may be familiar with the fact that if you had a choice between $3 million and a penny, doubled daily for 31 days, the penny doubled for 31 days ends up tripling the $3 million. The payoff, however, doesn't happen until the 31st day. The road is long, but it ends up being worth it in the end. The same goes for rewriting your study notes.

The thought of grabbing that stack of legal pads and going to town rewriting what you've already written may sound like a ridiculous suggestion at first, but I am a firm believer in its impact. Merely writing down your notes, and then reviewing them before your exam, doesn't have near the impact as taking your furious scribbles, and converting them into repackaged, easily digestible fact nuggets.

Not only willy your notes mean more when you whittled away the non-essentials, but you're actually learning the material twice. Reprocessing the material by rewriting your notes is like getting the information to marinade inside of your mind. Just like a well-prepared steak, you will taste the payoff of this extra step, but plan wisely, because this will likely take up to a week to complete.

Finally…it All Comes Together.

You've watched your videos. You've taken ridiculous notes, and have done hundreds, or maybe even thousands of multiple choice questions, and you've rewritten your notes. Study that stack of review gold that's in your hands multiple times, and work multiple choice questions over your week topics, and study your notes even more, and then go in and pass the CPA exam. You can get your free Ninja Study Planner, where you can keep track of all of your progress, at




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