We are often asked by CPA exam candidates how to best create a study schedule when balancing a career and/or a family and our answer is always the same regardless of the candidate's personal situation: you must be diligent in accounting for your time!
Many candidates make the mistake of saying "I'll study after work" or "I'll get it done on the weekend" without sitting down and making a list of all of their activities from the time they wake up to the time they go to sleep. A daily study schedule might look something like this:
6:00 AM Wake up
6:00 - 8:00 AM Multiple choice homework
8:00 AM - 8:30 AM Get ready for work
9:00 AM - 12:00 PM Work
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM Lunch/Review lecture
1:00 PM - 6:00 PM Work
7:00 PM - 10:00 PM Review lectures/practice MCQs and sims
10:00 PM - 11:00 PM TV time
11:00 PM Bed
It is imperative that you list all of your activities (you can skip "brushing teeth" and other activities that only take a few minutes, of course) from waking to sleeping and STICK TO YOUR SCHEDULE. It is too easy to put off studying until you have a free minute and if you are working, it's especially important to schedule your time to prevent procrastination after a long hard day at work.
We are also often asked about how many weeks or months it should take to study for a particular section. Because everyone's lives are different, it's impossible to say it should take x number of months to study for FAR. Instead, we use the AICPA's recommendation of 2 - 3 hours of homework per hour of lecture watched to create a general rule of hours spent studying that the candidate should then fit into their life.
FAR 32 hours of video + 96 hours of study = 128
REG 24 hours of video + 72 hours of study = 96
AUD 20 hours of video + 60 hours of study = 80
BEC 16 hours of video + 48 hours of study = 64
Keep in mind these benchmarks assume that you are watching each lecture or attending class one time and if you are watching your videos more than that, you should add additional homework hours accordingly. Also keep in mind that all candidates are different and depending on your experience, existing knowledge base and educational history, you may need more or less time on each or all sections. That's totally normal and it's much better to be realistic about your own individual needs instead of relying on what your colleagues and classmates have done for their own studies.
The CPA exam is a test of discipline but certainly not a test of how little a life you can have in the time you are studying - creating a schedule leaves you some wiggle room for social activities (in moderation of course!) as you will be able to see just how much time you are putting into studying and how much you are leaving for your actual life. It's entirely OK to plan dinner with friends on a Saturday or date night with your partner as long as you are still putting in the hours and sticking to your schedule. In fact, it's almost a requirement that you reward yourself for your hard work instead of punishing yourself by taking away all of the fun in your life just because you are studying!
We hope this helps but if you are a CPA exam candidate struggling to put together a solid study schedule, why not get in touch with us?