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1. NTS Scheduling - Suppose that you will test at the end of May 31st and have 90 days from April 1st to take the exam.  You receive the bad news that you failed the section on June 10th.  After recovering from defeat you gather yourself and reschedule the exam.  Well there might be a problem.  Since your NTS doesn’t expire until the end of June, you cant reschedule until then.  Depending on your test center, the available dates may fill up and your ideal date becomes unavailable.   Therefore, as soon you know you’re ready to take an exam and have the study materials and money to pay for the exam, schedule your exam sooner rather than later.

2. Maybe start your CPA journey with an easier exam – This may sound counterintuitive or against conventional wisdom but there is an argument to be made here.  Suppose you pass an “easier” exam and one of the worst things happens - the exam credit expires.  Retaking an “easier” exam would be less painful than taking a “harder” exam.  I do understand the reasoning behind taking a “harder” exam first and is to give yourself a greater chance of passing all parts within the 18-month window.  However, this strategy deals with how to minimize a “worst case” scenario (i.e. expiring credit).  If your confident that you can pass all parts in the 180-month window, then maybe this strategy isn’t for you.

3. Create cheat sheet without using time – I’m not sure if this was going to work when I first tried but it did.  I haven’t done this too often because I’m too anxious to take the exam so I take a deep breath, relax myself and jump right into test without the cheat sheet.  However, here’s the tip.  When you first sit down at your computer, type in your launch code and confirm your information.  However, don’t proceed to the next screen.  Write out your cheat sheet and THEN proceed with next screen.  This way you have created a cheat sheet without using any of your test time.  If you’re unsure about this and rather take an alternative path, then just practice writing down your cheat sheet prior to taking the exam that way it just flies out of your head on exam day and you reduce the amount you took to write down your cheat sheet.

4. Don’t waste an NTS – So you scheduled and paid an exam but life happened and really didn’t study at all. If it’s too late for you to get a refund, then simply go and take the exam if possible.  You will get the experience so when you’re truly prepared, you have an idea of what to expect.

5. Supplement your review program – It’s common to use one review program and supplemented with additional questions from other programs.  However, what I’m referring to is to use non-CPA review material.  For example, when studying Business Law for Reg, maybe a basic book on contract law may help by only studying the relevant areas.  Another example is studying a cost accounting college level textbook for BEC and so forth.  The supplemental material doesn’t have to be another CPA review course but just make sure your studying the relevant areas and aren’t going too far into the subject.

6. Don’t compare your CPA journey to others – This can be discouraging at times.  I’ve heard of people that have passed all parts on their first attempt in about four months.  If you have failed sections like I have, it can certainly make you feel bad. However, we have all strengths and weaknesses, have different academic backgrounds, aptitude, and personal circumstances that may or may not allow one to fully concentrate on the exam.  Remember that standardized tests don’t necessarily translate into being an excellent Accountant in real life.  The only time I think I would let myself compare my journey to others.

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