Ok. So how difficult is the CPA exam to pass, really? Is it harder than the bar? Let’s be honest. The CPA exam crazy difficult compared to the bar exam. It sucks. Anyone who says it was a piece of cake and they passed by only studying for a few hours is a total liar. The information you need to memorize is endless, the exams are grueling, and the stress can be unbearable. If you are fresh out of college and thinking about getting your license, BEWARE. You have been warned. LOL
How Difficult is the CPA Exam?
In all seriousness, it’s probably the most difficult test you will take in your life. Just look CPA exam pass rates if you want some evidence. This is a good thing through. The exam is kind of like an initiation into the CPA club (Wow that sounds nerdy). We’ve all had to take it and once you pass the exam, you’ll be one of us. Don’t get discouraged. Anyone can pass the exam. You just have to try.
Why People Fail
The vast majority of people who fail the exam don’t fail because the exam was too difficult. They fail because they didn’t study. Sounds crazy, right? I know, but it’s the truth. A lot of people don’t give the exam the respect it deserves. They treat is like another college test or an end of the semester final. It’s not. It’s a totally separate beast that needs to be treated as such. If you approach it like a standard college exam, you will fail it every time. The first step to concurring the CPA exam is acknowledging how difficult it actually is. Once you know how bad it is, you can start to study properly.
I talk about many different ways to study properly in my 6 Month CPA course, but it all starts with putting in the time. Each section of the test is comprehensive. That means it is supposed to cover everything you are supposed to know up to this point in your accounting career. For example, the FAR section covers information from your 100, 200, 300, and 400 level financial accounting courses. It also covers IFRS rules and even government and non-profit accounting. It’s everything you have ever learned about financial accounting all rolled up into a nice 4.5-hour chunk of your life. Like I said, give it some respect. There is no way you could possibly memorize everything that is covered in a section, but you should know enough to work through the questions and problems logically.
Get in the Right Mindset
Once you are in the mindset to work hard, go for it. A lot of people ask me how long should I study for the CPA exam. The truth is there’s no official answer. You should study the information until you know it. I suggest studying about 100 hours for each section over the course of 6-8 weeks. That ends up being a little over 2 hours a day. That’s all it takes really—2 hours a day. That, and a big goddamn poster. (Shawshank).
If you are dedicated to passing, you will. Get a CPA review course that works for your study style and schedule and you won’t have a problem. If you haven’t picked out a course yet, go to my comparison page where I break down all the pros and cons of each of the most popular courses. You’ll be able to find one that will help you pass in no time.
Hang in there and stay motivated. The stress, pain, and boredom of studying for the exam is temporary, but the benefits of being a CPA will last for the rest of your life.
Author, Educator, Entrepreneur
Shaun Conrad is a Certified Public Accountant and CPA exam expert with a passion for teaching. After almost a decade of experience in public accounting, he created MyAccountingCourse.com to help people learn accounting & finance, pass the CPA exam, and start their career.