What is the Best Order in Which to Take the CPA Exam?

The certified public accountant exam, better known as the CPA exam, is a professional licensing exam given to students who complete all the necessary prerequisites and requirements. You cannot take this exam until you completed a set number of credit hours at the college level, and you will need to take four years of college classes as well as one year of graduate courses. As the exam features different sections, you need to get an idea of which section to take first and what order to use when working on the test.

Sections on the Exam

According to the Association of International Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), the structure of the exam includes questions in four different sections. The first section is on auditing and attestation and includes questions about reporting, auditing, professional ethics and and risk assessment. A second section goes over business environment and concepts, while the third section covers financial accounting and reporting. You must also complete a fourth section on regulation that includes questions on federal taxes and business law. This section will ask you questions about filing federal taxes on the behalf of individuals, private companies and nonprofit organizations.

Take Practice Exams

The college that you attend should offer test prep classes that prepare you for taking this exam, but some schools also encourage students to form study groups and work together before taking the test. These courses should give you access to practice exams. Practice exams include questions found on previous editions of the test that are quite similar to those used on the current version of the exam. When you take the exam, you will see where you are the strongest and where you are the weakest. This tells you what you need to study more of before taking the real test.

Two Schools of Thought

There are two main schools of thought relating to the order in which you complete the exam. Some people say that you should start with the hardest section or the area where you scored the lowest in your practice exam. The idea is that you will get the hardest part out of the way first and that you can then focus on the easier parts of the exam. Others claim that you should start with the easiest section first and work your way up to the section that you struggled with on the practice exam.

What Order Should You Follow?

The best order in which to follow when taking the CPA exam is easiest to hardest. When you start with the easiest section, you can whip through the questions with ease and feel more confident about your skills. Those questions can also help your brain form connections and bring other information you studied in class up, which will come in handy on the later sections. Once you get the easiest sections out of the way, you can devote yourself fully to the section you have the hardest time with and really focus on each individual question.

To work as a CPA in any state in the country, you must have a license, which you can only get with a passing grade on a licensing exam. Colleges now offer prep programs and courses to help you prepare for the exam. When taking the CPA exam, start with the section you feel more comfortable with.