If you are interested in accounting, chances are you’ve heard of the CPA exam at least once in your academic career. The CPA exam (or Certified Public Accountant) are a series of exams designed to test prospective accountants on subjects ranging from auditing to financial reporting. To earn your CPA, you have to pass all four categories: Auditing and Attestation, Business Environment and Concepts, Financial Accounting and Reporting, and Regulation. In the United States, people who want to become public accountants must take this certification exam to get their accounting license. Given that the exam has around a 50% pass rate and is considered one of the most challenging career proficiency exams, it can be overwhelming to think about even the preparation for the exam. Luckily, accounting major Catherine Ford (23′) sat down with us and gave us insight into her personal experience with the CPA as well as how to prepare early and efficiently for all four exams.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. What encouraged you to pursue accounting and take the CPA exams?
CF: “I decided to major in accounting during my first year at Bentley because I felt I could excel in the field. There are many career opportunities with a degree in accounting, which are even greater with CPA licensure.”
How did you prepare for the CPA exam that you took? What resources do you believe helped you the most during preparation?
CF: “I used resources from Becker, a company that makes textbooks, review problems, and practice tests for each section of the CPA exam. I found their resources helpful while studying, and I would definitely recommend Becker to anyone who plans on taking the CPA exam.”
What was exam day like?
CF: “Exam day can be stressful, but all the information you need is on your Notice to Schedule, which is the document issued to you once you have been approved to sit for the exam. I recommend getting to the testing site early so you don’t have to worry about traffic or parking. I would also recommend eating something beforehand to focus during the exam.”
Why would a student want to take the CPA? Does the result affect their employment opportunities?
CF: “Being a CPA opens many doors for career opportunities that would otherwise not be available. Some job positions or promotions are not attainable without CPA licensure, and statistically, CPAs earn more during their career than individuals with accounting jobs who are not CPAs.”
Finally, what advice would you give future CPA exam takers you wish you had known when you took the exam?
CF: “A piece of advice I would give to students who want to take the CPA exam in the future is not to submit your application and paperwork at the last minute. It can take several weeks for your documents to be received and your application to be approved, so give yourself enough time to avoid any unnecessary additional stress.”