Disclaimer: This is not a best practice, but if you're under the gun, it can save your butt – and your 18-month credit that is expiring. I personally used this strategy to cram for Auditing in less than three weeks.
You wake up one sleepy Monday in August. June is a distant memory. July was a blur. In your groggy state, something begins to nag at you.
What happens in August?
Mental inventory: Car tag renewal … kids go back to school …
… and then it hits you.
“AHHHHHHHH – I have FAR in 20 days!!!”
Your significant other pauses while brushing their teeth; tossing a weird look at you.
You're slightly embarrassed, but not as embarrassed as the time you thought you could sprint to the end of the driveway in your underwear to grab the newspaper, only to find your retired neighbors from three doors down are walking their poodles at 6:15 am and they're in your yard.
“Why are they letting their dogs drop bombs in my yard?”
“Why is this moron in his boxers? Kids these days…”
The N.I.N.J.A. Framework
- Ditch your CPA Review videos. I understand that you dropped a small fortune on your video course, but hey – you procrastinated (we've all been there) and you have a lot riding on this next exam, so we're down to only the absolute essentials over the next two weeks or so.
- MCQs, MCQs … and More MCQs. Set aside those long CPA Review videos and instead hammer out multiple-choice questions until you abhor NINJA MCQ. Do some more.
- Take Notes. As you work a ridiculous amount of MCQs, know that each question presents four learning opportunities – why one option is correct and why the other three are wrong. If you get the question wrong, or if you think you'll forget it over the next fortnight, write it down. Your grueling MCQ sessions should last 7-10 days.
- Re-Write your Notes. You are now at approx. ten days out from your exam. Take the next three days and re-write the notes you took during your marathon MCQ sessions. Some people like to take the NINJA Notes and re-write them because they don't like the set of notes that they created for themselves. Granted, this is tedious, but here's the deal: you will absorb the material much better if you re-package it and re-consume it mentally that if you just glance over the material.
- More MCQs. You're now approx. a week out from your exam and it's time for some MCQ sprints. Think about what topics you hate their worst and pray you don't see them on exam day and start with those. Do a random set of 20 of these questions to start. Let's say that you are absolutely lost on Not-For-Profit Accounting (FAR), then do that first set of 20 and just click around on the answer explanations. Then, do another set of 20. Rinse & Repeat until you're scoring 70-80% and then move on to the next topic you hate.
- Notes, Notes, Notes. You are now carrying your study notes or the NINJA Notes with you everywhere you go. Every spare second is spent studying. Driving somewhere? You're cranking your NINJA Audio so loud the Cops will pull you over (this actually happened to one candidate). You also continue to do problem-spot MCQs leading up to the morning (I'm a big fan of the 1 pm time slot at Prometric, btw) of your exam.
- PASS. You're rolling into the exam center and instead of throwing a Hail Mary – you're prepared. It wasn't ideal. It wasn't fun – it was 3 weeks of study hell, actually. As you sit there and dominate on exam day – it was worth it.
- Do a better job of scheduling your study time so that your next section of the CPA Exam isn't this stressful. 🙂
Jeff Elliott, CPA (KS)
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