The most appropriate time to take the CPA exam
September 6, 2021

When Is the Best Time to Take Your CPA Exam?

Accounting is an excellent field to decide to enter in. The work prospects remain sunny despite the increasing harshness of the job market. As well, it’s a field in which careful attention to detail and a good sense of numbers can quickly translate into promotions and career opportunities.

However, if you’re concerned about salary, then your major aim should be to get a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) certification. To do so, you need to take the CPA exam. This is a difficult test that will push you to the limits of your ability, and to see if you qualify for the higher rank and commensurately larger pay that it entails.

So, when should you take your CPA exam? That’s what we’re here to help you answer.

CPA Timing for the Student

This article will be broken down into the different life situations that you might find yourself in and how they should each tackle the CPA exam.

So, let’s start at the beginning and assume you’re still in college. The first thing to know is that eligibility for the test might differ or change depending on your graduation time and program. Therefore, make sure to check this and figure out what window is even open or available to you. (This is a fairly in-depth area that you should consider, and it falls somewhat outside of the purview of this article.)

Once you’ve cleared this hurdle, you may desire to take the exam during the fall semester of your graduate year. We recommend not doing this because you will almost certainly be swamped with school-related assignments during that first semester and while you’re adapting to the workload.

The ideal time to take the first part is immediately following your winter break. Most schools will give you a month or more for your holiday, meaning that during that time you can treat studying as a job, and as something you’re consistently and constantly focused on.

Then, the second part can fall within your spring semester, when you’ve become used to the workload, and have one CPA exam part already completed. This will give you confidence and drive. Studying should become easier at this point, and you won’t forget what you already learned.

Finally, you want to deal with the third and fourth parts. These should be scheduled during the summer following your graduation. Since you likely will still be hunting for a job at this point, you will have time to study and knock these two out of the park, thus setting you up perfectly to jump into the world of work right after.

The Working Accountant

Next, there’s the question of timing to a completely different situation: that being when you’re already working in the field part-time, but without any exam sections passed or under your belt.

Don’t stress! It’s not too late no matter what your circumstances may be. What is important, however, is that you pass your CPA exam as soon as possible so you can get to a higher income level.

To do that, you must strategize and plan what months you will be able to study, and when you can take time off to take the exam parts. Some companies might even let you take time off to prepare if you inform them of your intentions.

The key for the full-time accountant is the strategic utilization of vacation time if your company isn’t willing to help build your skills. Assuming you have around 4 weeks of vacation, there’s a lot you can do.

Regardless of how much time you have, though, all of it has to go towards the CPA exam. It’s not going to be fun to give up your vacation, but it’s the only real option if you want to get this over for good. Focusing on an intense sprint of time makes more sense than letting it drag out for ages with your knowledge ebbing and flowing.

Instead, figure out your busy season, then schedule a maximum-sized block of vacation time. From there, commit all that time to acing all parts of the test, and getting free to live life and do everything you want professionally and personally. 

Closing Thoughts

The truth is that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for when to take your CPA exam. In reality, it depends heavily on your life situation. Students have to think about timing it around their workload, maximizing breaks, and downtime. Alternatively, working professionals need to think about their vacation time, sacrifice some freedom, and figure out the perfect time to take off. Regardless of the situation, if you keep timing in mind, you’re sure to get the edge needed to succeed in the CPA exam.

If you’re looking for CPA help in Ontario, the best place to start is with the experts who know what they’re talking about when it comes to making it in the world of chartered accounting. So if you’re interested in this field, why not get help from AHK Accounting Recruiters? We can be reached at 833-399-1663 or via our website. 

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