Finish the Year Strong With These Quick Tips For Studying For the CPA Exam During the Holidays

Today is November 24, 2021 (in case you didn’t catch the tiny little publish date in the upper left-hand corner of this post) and with yesterday’s CPA exam score release, that leaves just one more score release for 2021 before we call this year a wrap. Where the year went is beyond me, but that’s a topic for another day.

With Thanksgiving tomorrow and with all of us still stuck in this weird time vortex that we were unceremoniously flung into like particles at CERN back in early 2020, I figured now would be a good time to talk about the subject of studying for the CPA exam during the holidays.

We’ve addressed the topic plenty of time before; for example, this 2010 post in which I suggested you take your CPA review books with you while traveling to see family because I’m a sadist who enjoys watching people suffer. Here were my five tips to stick with your CPA exam plan during the holidays:

Turn people down.Take your CPA review materials with you.Stick to your schedule.Turn your social aversion into a study tool.Use days off to study … MORE!

Here we are 11 years later and all of those still apply. Go figure! The phones may have gotten better and the jeans less skinny since then but the fundamental rules of sticking to a study plan remain. Only now you also have a bonus out: the Rona! Feel free to completely blow off your family to study instead of hanging out with them because ol’ Uncle Roy has been posting QAnon memes on Facebook all year and you simply don’t feel comfortable taking the risk due to the immunocompromised hamster living with you at home. Or whatever.

Historically — and this has been the case at least since I started in CPA review way back in 2007 and probably since the advent of computerized CPA exam testing in 2004 when testing windows were invented — the last quarter of the year is the most difficult to schedule because you aren’t the only one who looked at the calendar and realized “holy shit, how is it November already?!” and scrambled to sit for an exam part before the year is over.

Continuous testing — which was launched in July 2020 and somehow succeeded in a year full of failures and disappointments — should alleviate some of this year-end clogging, but let’s remember some Prometric locations may still be operating at limited occupancy depending on local conditions and mandates which means fewer open slots. You can see the status of these locations on Prometric’s website here and we suggest checking regularly when making study plans to make sure your preferred location is available. Additionally, winter is soon upon us and Prometric snow days are not unheard of. So there you have two specific wrenches in your year-end CPA exam plan to be aware of, on top of the handful of other unforeseen issues like lack of motivation, distractions, and the laziness that comes from gorging on sugar cookies and eggnog. Let’s not even get into the ongoing pandemic day-drinking and mental breakdowns.

Here’s my slightly less sadistic advice specific to 2021: either decide on a game plan and resolve to stick to it OR give yourself permission to take it easy for the rest of the year and pick things up again come January. No one is saying you have to study (unless you’re this guy and are for some odd reason constitutionally obligated to pass a professional licensing exam by a certain date) and you shouldn’t feel guilty if you don’t. It’s been another rough year and it’s a miracle if you even get through it. If you would rather finish the year strong and knock out a part or two before the Auld Lang Syne kicks in, then do yourself a favor and make a schedule, commit to actually following through with it, and don’t get distracted by the usual year-end lollygagging that leads to most of us phoning in our efforts for the last five weeks of any given year (I’m phoning this in right now, for example). Those of you in the latter camp are at an advantage this year what with everyone still acting like human contact is fatal, that might mean fewer invites to holiday parties and a distinct lack of other holiday season distractions. Not that it’s likely you as a CPA exam candidate had much of a social life anyway, but let’s assume you could, then we can assume the Rona could continue to put a damper on said theoretical social life and therefore open up lots of safe, socially-distanced study time.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, and no matter what you decide, I trust you’ll do whatever is right for you and your goals. Having guided CPA exam candidates and observed them scramble to sit during the holidays for more than a quarter of my depressingly long life, I will tell you this: you’re exponentially more likely to succeed if your heart’s in it. If not, well, take a holiday. Lord knows you’ve earned it.

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

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