New Year’s Resolutions For Accounting Students Everywhere

A brand new year is starting up, and with it comes a new spirit for college students to ramp up your current studies and ensure that you get your future plans moving. Getting more connected in current classes, joining groups for networking in your study area and balancing your current work time with your studies can all pay dividends in your future accounting studies.

For students seeking accounting careers, there are certain steps to take in the onward march toward an accounting degree. Looking ahead to the next year means finding new opportunities for end-of-term part-time or full-time jobs with corporations, accounting firms or small business opportunities.

Let’s take a look at some of New Year’s resolutions you can take to turn your 2013 study goals into practical, actionable opportunities. Try these out:

1) Sleep and Eat Well 

“Sleep is overrated!” is the rallying cry for many college students (and young professionals). In the drive to move up the ladder quickly and succeed, students are more apt to squeeze in as much into their waking hours as they can, forsaking a solid night of sleep in the process. But in fact, our bodies run on internal clocks that like and adapt well to routine patterns. So students should give their bodies the rest they need, and that will produce a more alert, more energetic student, firing on all cylinders.

2) Exercise and Get Healthy

This is almost an afterthought for young students, who routinely hit the gym and get the adrenalin  moving. Even if you don’t have a regular exercise schedule, it’s important to include fitness activities in your student life. It can be anything from walking the campus to burn calories as needed, or joining a sports league to ensure that your body and brain are collectively working as one.

3) Follow Accounting Industry Influencers

For accounting students, knowing what’s happening in their chosen fields of study is a good start toward a burgeoning career. Reading Accounting Today on a regular basis or following @AccountingBest on Twitter is a good way to start your New Year.

4) Secure an Internship 

Every semester, the Big 4 accounting firms and other small to medium accounting firms offer starter internships for bright, enthusiastic accounting students. Some of these accounting internships are determined by semester progress, year of study or the ‘who you know’ criteria. Some of the typical tasks will include accounting basics relevant to your future career, including working with tax returns, data entry, financial statements and more.

5) Strive for Good Grades

Are you taking your accounting classes seriously? If not, then one of your New Year’s resolutions should be to excel in your studies. Doing so provides a greater sense of purpose and fulfillment, especially balanced with your other work. Use the start of the New Year to chart out a progressive plan to get your grades up.

6) Avoid Cutting Corners

Don’t cheat yourself by cutting corners. If your accounting prof assigns you a project that requires loads of research, just do it.  Don’t try to skimp on the research or the analysis required. US News & World Report suggests that cutting corners means you may not realize the full value of your college degree, either.

7) Prepare for the CPA Exam

Becoming a Certified Public Accountant is a goal for nearly all who study accounting in college. Make a New Year’s resolution to prepare for the Uniform CPA Exam. Once you have the research prepared, you can join CPA study groups at your own college to develop networks and friendly study groups.

8) Networking More

As you develop networks, you can vow to ramp up your social and business networking both on campus and off campus activities. One such venue is alumni groups, which offer a connected forum to meet and greet with those who’ve studied accounting before you.

While in college as an accounting student, you can make plans to take the next step up on the ladder of success. Prepare for accounting work with a clear, more energized focus, and soon, opportunity will be knocking on your door.

10 Tips to Become Successful in Freelance Accounting

Whether you want to build your own business or just make a little cash on the side, freelance accounting is a useful and sought-after skill. If you haven’t considered trying freelance, you might pay close attention to the challenges potential clients can face. Your timing could be perfect!

  • IRS audits are a growing fear among individuals and companies. Accountants are the hired guns—giving clients that confidence and ability to breathe.
  • Self-employed clients have the complication of personal finances, which have to be sorted, simplified and the variables analyzed. Accountants are critical lifelines to entrepreneurs who need to focus on building their business.
  • Everyone wants to take advantage of tax deductions and that’s where a professional CPA comes to the rescue. You can truly shine and prove your worth by pointing out travel expenses, office/supply deductions, student loans, and other tax-saving advantages.
  • Tax forms have become suffocating and daunting. The complicated dance we all have to perform for the IRS is intimidating at best. If you fill out the wrong form or miscalculate the information, the fact is, you’re screwed.

If you have the skill, you have an advantage. So what does it take to become a successful freelance accountant? Here are the top 10 tips to send you on your way.

1) Top of the Class

Stepping into the ring with other professionals, what will define you and make you stand out? Your foundation and advantage is your knowledge. You have to know your stuff and know it well. Clients are willing to pay good money for those facts, definitions, rules and regulations jammed between your ears.

2) Find the Right Pond

You’re not the only one who’s thought of going freelance, so don’t be shocked when other accountants pop up around you. Take the time to carefully think about, define and focus on your niche. The trick here is to target a specific industry, maybe even a company, and become indispensable to your clients.

3) The Power of the Geek

One of the advantages you have today is technology. I have several friends who run successful businesses out of an office that fits in their backpack. With just a laptop, software, a portable printer and the Internet, you can do just about anything. In fact, using today’s technology, your clients don’t even have to be in the same time zone to take advantage of your services.

4) Stay Limber

If you want to have an unfair advantage over your competitors, consider offering the services other guys don’t. Go the extra mile. Add extra perks, such as delivery, mailing or consultations in the clients’ home and/or business. Be personal and professional while adding a dash of convenience.

5) Become Invincible

Protect your information and client base by preparing for the worst. You never know when disaster can hit, which is why you need to be extra mindful of backing up data and creating copies, both virtual and physical.  Your laptop should always have an external hard drive attached. Perform weekly, even daily backups, burn DVDs weekly and store them in secure locations. Don’t forget to backup online, either.

[More accounting career tips...]

6) You Can’t Catch a Cold without Exposing Yourself

The only way you’re going to get clients is by networking. This is the key to generating a good income and building your business. Join small business groups, online forums, meet and greet associations—which are all good starts. Here are a few important networking tips:

  • Keep your pitch to 45 seconds or less. Potential clients don’t want to hear your life’s history; they want to know what you can do for them. Keep it simple and concise.
  • Stay upbeat. This does not mean spewing emotional vomit or sob stories, no matter how tough it’s been for you; be positive and professional. No one wants to hire a grumpy accountant.
  • You have two ears, use them. Listen more than you talk and ask questions. Focus on the other person, reinforcing their needs with the services you offer.
  • Stay focused. All conversations should be to the point and professional. Don’t discuss offbeat subjects that would make the conversation awkward or uncomfortable.
  • Know when to leave. Don’t suck up other people’s time—that’s as bad as ignoring them. A key is to be the first to “let people go.” Be the one to end the conversation by shaking their hand and saying, “It was great meeting you! There are some folks I promised to get in touch with while I was here,” and excuse yourself.  Be kind and gracious when networking and offer to make introductions.
  • Just a taste, not a buffet. Don’t dump your resume on people, online or off. This is about making and building relationships, which means a short email and a business card can go a long way.

7) Pick Up the Slack

A great way to build relationships and clientele is by providing your services as a backup to established accountants. Whether it’s a firm or an individual, offering your services, especially in niche markets, enables other professionals to outsource and offer referrals. Don’t forget to refer in kind.

8) Be Selective

Two issues that can put you out of business: Biting off more than you can chew and over-promising. Be very selective of your clients and make sure you can complete the job expected of you. A key to success is to make a habit of under promising and over delivering.

[Become qualified to freelance with an Accounting degree...]

9) Always Ask For Referrals

Every time you complete a job, it should be done with the goal of earning a recommendation and referral. Collect letters, post comments from satisfied customers on your website and always ask for introductions and referrals to potential clients.

10) Dress For Success

You won’t be expected to wear an Armani suit, but you should dress professionally to build confidence. People may not buy a book by its cover, but it does make them pick it up and consider. Clean cut with a nice suit or suit jacket, always accompanied by a genuine smile, will open doors, soothe feelings and help increase business.

And that’s our list. If you feel that we’ve missed something, please feel free to leave a comment below and give us your feedback. If you have personal experience in this area, we’d love to hear your input!

Informational resources:

Freelance Switch

Instigatorblog.com

eHow.com

CVTips.com

About the Author: This article was written by a guest author. Dwayne Thomas is a marketer and staff writer for cabletv.com.  He welcomes your feedback on Twitter @DwayneThomas15. 

 

Eight Things To Look For In An Accounting Program

Are you considering pursing a degree and career in accounting? Before you make the decision of where to attend college, you have to evaluate the Accounting degree programs for the schools in your consideration set. There are several programs available to prepare you for life as an accountant, from Ivy league colleges to technical school programs. But, before you enroll you must ensure that you invest the time to research so you can find your ideal degree program match. Here are a list of the top eight things you should seek out in an Accounting program:

1) CPA eligible upon graduation: Gillian Kelly, 2009 Drexel University alumni, states that the most important aspect of choosing an Accounting program should be CPA eligibility upon graduation. Top schools offer training for your CPA examination within the curriculum and are certified for CPA prep. To become a licensed CPA, you must be declared eligible for the examination, and subsequently licensed, by the board of accountancy. A student becomes “eligible” for the exam by meeting specific requirements as determined by the board of accountancy for the jurisdiction (state) for which they are applying.

2) Placement percentage (Big 4 and non-Big 4): Senior Financial Analyst at Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, Brett Stier, asserts that the job placement for Big-4 accounting firms (PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Ernst & Young, and KPMG) versus non-Big 4 firms is something that prospective Accounting students should inquire about prior to applying. If your goal-post graduation is to work for a smaller firm or as an in-house accountant or bookkeeper, then you do not need to be as concerned with the placement percentage as those who want to start their career at at high-profile firm. Nonetheless, career placement rates speak for the program’s overall quality, so it’s an important consideration point.

3) Course offerings: The amount and specificity of course offerings is another aspect to consider when searching for that perfect program. Look for a school that offers not only CPA-prep type courses, but also general business classes. Finance, marketing, public accounting, and management are all important courses for building your business knowledge and making you a well-rounded professional.

4) Faculty knowledge: A teacher can make or break your learning experience. A teacher with industry experience is typically preferred to those who have been in solely academia their whole careers. Check with the school’s admissions office for faculty bios or research the school’s website to learn more.

5) Internship opportunities: As the workforce grows increasingly competitive, it’s more important than ever to inquire ahead of time with your “wish-listed” school about the internship opportunities available to its students. Colleges and universities today often have career services departments whose focus is to place students in internships and post-graduation employment. Ensure that the school you are looking at has some sort of internship placement assistance, for a student with no prior experience is at the bottom of the totem pole compared to more experienced peers.

6) Focus on practical knowledge: According to Ben Raley, Business Sales Consultant at Wells Fargo, one of the top things to look for in an Accounting degree program is the focus on career-practical projects over examinations. Many practicing accountants and financial professionals find that the more practical knowledge gained in their studies, the more prepared they will be for the real, working world.

7) Modality: Invest time and research on the various online degree programs that are available to you as an Accounting student. This way, you’ll be able to narrow down the program that is best suited for your life and needs. Many students these days enjoy taking a blend or all online-based courses, so they are able to maintain a work schedule while pursuing college.

8) The fun stuff: Is Greek life, student activities, student business organizations, or sports important to you? If so, put this in your consideration set as well.

How Do You Know If Accounting Is For You?

Deciding on a career is not like choosing what to eat for dinner. Your career choice comes with a heavy weight as it impacts your choice of schooling and life as you know it. We’ve compiled a list of questions to ask yourself so you can gauge if the accounting field is for you:

What is an Accountant?

It’s difficult to pinpoint what an accountant does because there are so many areas in accounting – tax, audits, and even real estate. It all boils down to this: an accountant has to take numbers and figure out what the meaning is behind those numbers. They must also be able to communicate that meaning to leadership and other sectors of a business. And then also make decisions that would be consistent with the numbers and consistent with company strategy.

What Does the Modern-Day Accountant Look Like?

The days of the accountant sitting in a cube crunching numbers are really going away or are gone. Accountants can work for the government on international missions to reconcile spending, they can work as independent auditors, they can assist with mergers and acquisitions; the list goes on.

What Traits Make a Good Accountant?

People with accounting jobs understand information systems and are skilled at working with computers to gather, report, and interpret information. Accountants with the natural ability to solve complex problems and communicate solutions are essential qualities as well.

How Much Schooling Do You Need?

It’s not a secret that a degree is needed to practice as an accountant, but your options vary greatly. You can earn a degree in two years with an associate’s degree in Accounting, or you can advance all the way up to the Doctorate level.

…And Three More Quirky Facts About Accounting

  • Bob Newhart began his career as an accountant before he became a comedian.
  • Jazz musician Kenny G, while continuing to play in Jazz bands professionally, decided to complete his degree in Accounting
  • Accounting is one of the top 10 safest jobs to have, according to Info Corner
  • The Ohio State University is home to the Accounting Hall of Fame which honors outstanding contributions to the profession
  • The first CPA exam was given in New York in 1896

Top Google Chrome Plugins for Accounting

Every accountant knows the secret to efficient, accurate work is having access to the right tools. With cloud storage, cash register applications for computers and tablets, and other current technology trends that have moved much of the accounting world online, some of the most useful tools on the market now come in the form of tech “extensions” or “plugins” that integrate with your web browser. The best Google Chrome plugins for accountants place essential tools at your fingertips without your hands ever having to leave your keyboard or mouse. Check out BestAccountingDegrees.com‘s favorite picks here:

Calculators

Perhaps the most essential tool in the accountant’s arsenal is a calculator, a luckily Google Chrome offers a calculator extension that makes it easy to do both simple and complex calculations without leaving your browser. There are several varieties of calculator available for Google Chrome, a couple of which offer features that set them above the rest of the pack. Calculator add-ons are ideal if you spend a lot of time working in online forms or spreadsheets. It is so integrated with Chrome that when you pull up the calculator and enter in the values, the result of the calculation automatically populates into a designated area. This allows you to quickly move through the fields of an online form and perform calculations without having to copy and paste the solutions from the calculator.

Cloudy Calculator is a calculator for Chrome built to emulate the calculator that is actually available in the Google search engine. It allows for basic calculations, math functions, and unit conversions. The main difference, according to the creators of Cloudy Calculator, is the ability to easily review previous calculations performed on the calculator. Use Cloudy Calculator Enhancer to add a keyboard shortcuts and maximize efficiency.

Finance Toolbar

If your accounting work goes hand-in-hand with investments or stocks, you’ll get plenty of utility from the Finance Toolbar for Google Chrome. The toolbar provides easy access to live, up-to-the-minute news on subjects in the financial sector, provides links to currency conversion, the Wall Street Journal, live stock quotes, and market statistics.

Scraper

When it comes to collecting numerical data from the Internet, no free extension may prove more beneficial to an accountant as Scraper. Just by highlighting and right-clicking a value on the page, you can set Scraper to pull any values that are comparable to the original value into a table for export, making it easy to import the data into a spreadsheet where you can sort and analyze it.

Expensify Web Receipts

Ideal for accountants who purchase of business supplies or services online, the Expensify Web Receipts extension for Google Chrome makes receipt and expense documentation a cinch. With Expensify, the financial information is pulled from the website automatically and uploaded to a user’s account, where it can be exported to Quickbooks or submitted as a reimbursement. It’s a good way for offices that require a lot of online purchases to keep all receipts in one place.

Finance41 Extension

Managing personal finances as an accounting professional is just as important as when you are at work. Simplify the process with Finance41, a Chrome extension that gives you quick access to enter, track and label your income and expenditures. The simple budgeting tool provides the ease of use accountants need to put work behind them in the evenings, while still keeping track of their personal finances.

[More on Accounting jobs...]

Accounting Interview: Spotlight on Matt Johnson

We had the chance to interview senior associate at Alvarez and Marsal. Matt, who is an under-30 accounting professional, has a breadth of experience and shares a great perspective on the accounting profession and his education that has supported his career goals to date. Read his story and insights here:

What is your current role, and what was your professional path up to date?

I am currently work in the transaction advisory group at a consulting firm.  My focus is financial due diligence and my title is senior associate.  Prior to this I was an auditor at a big 4 public accounting firm.

How did college prepare/ not prepare you for the real world? 

College was instrumental in preparing me for the real world.  The subject matter in the classes I took was helpful in developing a base to lean on, however I probably benefited the most from four years of growth and maturity gained from all that college had to offer outside of academics.  The lessons learned outside the classroom helped me grow into the person and professional I am today.

[More on bachelor's accounting programs...]

What is the most challenging thing about accounting professions?  

I think one of the most challenging aspects is trying to figure out where you see yourself 10 years down the road.  There are so many different avenues you can take with an accounting background that its often tough to focus your energy on getting where you want to be 10 years from now rather than 1 year from now.  Its easy to take a pay raise and a new job tomorrow, but will that help or hurt your chances of being where you want to be 10 years from now?

Why did you choose the professional path you did?

I honestly ended up in accounting because my dad is also an accountant.  He encouraged me to give it a try during college and I enjoyed it.  I guess it runs in the family.  I ended up in the transaction advisory role because it is a very fast paced industry that also offers a lot of flexibility.

What advice would you give students currently pursuing a business-related degree? 

I would tell them to focus on getting a degree in a field they truly will enjoy working in.  Business/accounting degrees are often sought after because there are a lot of jobs available upon graduation.  However, if it’s not something that you will enjoy then it might not be worth all the time, money, and effort to complete.

[More on jobs in accounting...]

Tips For Landing Your First Accounting Job

As a recent Accounting degree graduate, you may be facing many unknowns. Just as you thought you were getting the hang of being a college student, you’re thrown out of your normal groove and into the workforce. You have to decide what area of work to pursue, what your specialization should be, where to even work, or even face the challenge of deciding to return to school to pursue your master’s degree in Accounting.

Here are some common questions during your time as a recent college grad and tips for navigating through your journey into the real world:

Where Should You Work?

Like most business-related majors, you have the option of working at a small or large company. The “Big 4” accounting firms you vie for include Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG, and PricewaterhouseCoopers. These companies may recruit immediately after graduation (or a semester before) and prefer someone with at least one internship under their belt. Larger firms tend to be more competitive than smaller firms or in-house accounting work, but nonetheless a large pool of entry-level accountants are hired each year at each of the organizations.

Small firms or in-house work is another option for college graduates. Working in a small business, you may be the only accounting professional employed but that comes with its benefits as well because you can get your hands on in multiple areas of the business. You may see that the structure of your workday is less rigid than at a Big 4 firm, but at the same time your opportunity for advancement may not be as clear.

Should You Pursue a Specialization?

There are a number of career paths you can take in accounting. It simply depends on your personal preference. Options can include tax accountancy, auditing, budget analysis, management accounting, and CPA employment. To practice as a CPA, you will need to pass the CPA examination. For other specializations, you have the choice of pursuing a degree specialization while in school, which can differentiate yourself from other candidates.

What if You Don’t Have Enough Experience?

Accounting firms you approach for a job may have different expectations about your level of experience (in addition to a degree). If you’re caught in this catch 22—no experience, but can’t get it without a job—consider volunteering at a non-profit organization and community association. Every business needs for an accountant – even nonprofit organizations – so this may be a great way to gain experience while serving the greater good.

You can also set yourself apart from the pack by taking courses in technology or advanced mathematics, things that can prove very useful in today’s technology-driven economy. As a college student, you could choose to get an emphasis in these areas while pursuing your bachelor’s degree or obtain non-degree certifications.

What Else Can You Do To Position Yourself for Career Success?

Most employers are take the time to hold informational interviews with students or recent graduates. Take advantage of this opportunity, as you will learn insights into the profession and opportunities available within the company.

Another step you can take is heading to your college or University’s career services department. This is one of the most underutilized services in college. Resume help and career counseling normally cost a bundle, but the career services department will help you at no cost. Having someone with experience to coach you through the inroads of employment is invaluable.

Getting your first accounting job may not be easy, especially in a bleak economy. But, put these actions to practice, and you may see great career success!

Accounting on Twitter: Best #Hashtags

Marketing, advertising, and even business in general is becoming more and more driven by social media. Every major social media site has its own purpose and one of the most useful to business professionals, specifically accounting degree students or even accountants on Twitter. One of the best things about Twitter is the hashtag feature. This means you can follow a topic, or share information ON a topic without following people directly. For instance, if you are tweeting to share some accounting news or tips, you might add the hashtag #accounting at the end of your post. On the other hand, if you want to learn what others are saying about accounting you can simply read up on what others have posted about #accounting lately. While the #accounting hashtag is a good one, it is rather broad. Learn about some of the other top hashtags that those in the accounting profession should make sure and follow.

#tax – This tag is used not only by accountants but also by the general population around tax season. A good tag to follow for the latest tax codes and laws.

#CPA – You will find this one used quite often by accountant’s own marketing efforts, but can be a good one to follow for general news on accountancy too.

#smallbiz – This is the broad small business tag. There are often many accounting and tax related questions posted with this tag, which can make it useful for accountants trying to make connections.

#jobs – The job market is always of interest to accountants, one to follow that also poses many accountant related questions.

[More on Accounting master's degrees.]

#irstaxpros – This tag often accompanies information posted that is directly from the IRS, which is always useful for tax professionals.

#bookkeepers – This tag covers the bookkeeping end of the accounting profession.

#cpaexam – Accounting students and recent graduates can share test tips and even commiserate together with this hashtag.

#CFO – Many Accountants and those who have obtained an Accounting degree

This is just a small listing of the hashtags that an accountant may find useful. You can find a list of related hashtags and follow new tags as they become more popular at Hashonomy. This is an ever-evolving database of Twitter hashtags. By learning the tags that are most useful to your particular line of business, you can make new connections in the business world and easily stay up to date with the latest news in accounting.

[More on Accounting jobs.]

 

Myths About Accountants

Accountants are a group of individuals who are often misunderstood due to the general public’ myths assumes are true. Understanding the myths and the facts is an important part of determining if accounting is the right job for you. The reality is that many common conceptions about accountants are completely inaccurate, and even border humorous. Learn more about common myths of accountants:

The Walking Calculator

Many individuals assume that an accountant is someone who is good at math, understands numbers and can do complicated sums in his or her head. While this might apply to a mathematician, it does not actually apply to an accountant.

It is true that many accountants work with math, but that is also true of anyone who needs to add, subtract, divide or multiply in their work or daily life. Accountants do need to work with some math to determine commission rates, ensure that addition is correct when auditing company books or to calculate the amount customers must pay for services.

The level of math required by an accountant primarily relates to adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing. Accountants are not walking calculators and perform a wide array of tasks other than mathematical figures.

Accountants Are Not Good With People

The idea that accountants do not need to have people skills is a classic myth that is vital to dispel at any level. Accountants are constantly working with clients, representatives of companies and a wide range of other individuals. They must have excellent people skills to put their customers at ease while working on projects.

It is a myth that accountants are not good with people. Most accountants do work with their customers directly as well as teams of other accountants. The ability to work well with others and encourage customers to open up about their particular accounting needs is a vital part of working as an accountant.

[ More on accounting jobs and requirements]

An Accountant is not a Businessman

The myth that accountants are not also businessmen and women is a classic myth. While it is true in some situations, where the accountant is working for a large firm or is gaining experience at another company, many accountants eventually break out and start their own companies.

Any accountant who is running an accountancy firm is also a businessman or woman. He or she is working on every aspect of the business, including marketing and customer relations. The fact that the firm is design to provide accounting services is only part of the work performed.

Accounting is a 9 to 5 Job

Anyone who is looking for a career that has a reasonable work to life ratio often assumes that accounting is the perfect job for their goals. The reality is that some accountants will work the normal 40 hours per week and some will work much longer hours. Any accountant who is running a firm can expect to work as many as 10 to 12 hours per day.

The number of hours worked depends on the company an accountant works for. Those who are working in a company that does not allow overtime hours can expect the basic nine to five days. Other individuals will find that the company requires working longer hours every week. In some situations, accountants will work long hours at certain times of the year and shorter hours during the slower seasons for the particular company.

Accounting has a wide range of myths that are easily dispelled with a little thinking and research. Accountants are not necessarily everything popular belief suggests. Understanding the myths and the reality is a vital part of deciding on a future career.

[ More on a bachelor's in Accounting.]

Photo credit: Accounting Web

5 Tips for Aceing Your CPA Exam

Students that are attempting to successfully pass the CPA Exam may feel that they are overwhelmed.  The Certified Public Accounting (CPA) Exam is a challenging exam that tests a student’s true knowledge in various subjects that are relevant to the field of accounting. Fortunately, a student does not need to be completely overwhelmed and fear taking the exam. With proper preparation and a great strategy for taking the exam, a student can be on their way to being having the accounting position of their dreams. A student is highly recommended to follow these five secret tips to in order to ace CPA Exam without risking an individual’s sanity at that same time.

Keeping up with Confidence in Yourself

It is often said that successful individuals fake it to make it.  Faking it is one thing but having confidence can truly go a long way when attempting to pass the CPA Exam. The exam truly takes time, energy and confidence in order to be completed.  Students need to go one step further than just simply studying the material.  Students can benefit from taking a proactive approach when dealing with the stress that is associated with successfully completing the exam.  By believing in their capabilities and potential to succeed a student can surpass the doubt that is usually associated with failing in an exam.  Being nervous and not having enough confidence can lead to the student procrastinating when it comes to keeping up with adequate test preparations.  Calm nerves are a must when it comes to studying for the exam as well as taking the actual exam.  It is always helpful to remember previous academic success and obstacles that have been met in order to instill faith in the student’s abilities to successfully pass the exam.  Having confidence also helps a student avoid making mistakes that may be made without much thought.

Investing in Sufficient and Recent CPA Review Materials

CPA review guides and books should be an area of the CPA program that a student does not choose to cut corners and save their money.  It is important that a student purchased review materials that are relevant to the topics that will be included on the exam as well as making sure that the review materials are up-to-date.  Students that use outdated study materials risk missing out on material that will probably appear on the exam.

[More on Accounting master's degrees.]

Following a Schedule

It is extremely important for students to set a specific schedule when it comes to studying for the CPA Exam. Schedules should be made at realistic times and with the student being honest about their study habits.  Some students find it easier to break up their schedule into smaller blocks of times in order to make studying more manageable.

Test Format

A student needs to familiarize themselves with the test format. This is important because it gives the student an idea of how the actual test will be formatted.  It is never good to be faced with surprises on the day of testing. Formats such as multiple-choice and task based scenarios need to be encountered during study sessions.

Practice Makes Perfect

Practice makes perfect.  This saying is extremely true to for students that want to ace the CPA Exam. Practicing on a regular basis prior to the exam ensures that a student will actually retain a majority of the information that was practiced.  Practice also allows the student to identify area of difficulty so that they can further focus their efforts on a particular topic.  As a student continues to practice they can gradually increase their scores on practice quizzes and exams.  This will also result in greater confidence in their ability to take the exam.

Photo credit: AICPA.org