10 Motivational Tips from Top Scorers on the CPA Exam

4 min read

With the everyday stress of school, work, and personal commitments, it’s difficult to get motivated to study for the CPA exam. The good news is, you’re not alone! Even the highest CPA test scorers struggled with finding time to study.

Elijah Watt Sells Awards winners have passed all four sections of the Exam on the first attempt with a cumulative average score above 95.5. This prestigious designation is awarded by the AICPA each spring. Ten Watt Sells winners recently shared with us what they learned from their individual journeys and what advice they would provide to the next generation of CPA rock stars.

Marshal H.
  1. Put forth your best effort! “Just know that studying for the exam is temporary. If you have to spend time studying for the exam, why not put forth your best effort.” –Peter H.
  2. Limit distractions. “It’s very important to limit opportunities for distraction. I always looked for a reason not to study.” – Nathaniel P.
  3. Take exam preparation seriously. “If you’re going to be an accountant, might as well be a CPA. If you’re going to be a CPA, might as well finish the exams sooner than later. The more serious you are early on, the less time you’ll have to devote in total.” –Marshal H.
  4. Pace your studying. “I was able to stay motivated by pacing my studying over the course of a month or two for each exam. Long enough to have enough  preparation time, but not so long that you procrastinate until the end.” – Matthew B.
    Michael C.
  5. Set specific goals. “Set specific goals: how many hours you want to study, when you will do your studying, what time frame you want to complete the exams in. Have someone hold you accountable to these goals, and hold yourself accountable to study in the manner you set out. Always keep your eyes on the end goal!” –Michael C.
  6. Find the right study space. “The main aspect that helped me stay focused was the right study atmosphere and changing things up. I would rotate between different libraries and coffee shops to study at to break up the monotony, as sitting in one place studying for the CPA can be disheartening and distracting.” – Nicholas N.
  7. Strike a study/life balance. “Try to study somewhere without too many distractions and take breaks between sections if you feel yourself losing focus. Don’t deprive yourself of doing the things you love doing; studying shouldn’t be a punishment! I still took the time to go to concerts and spend time with my family and friends while I was studying for my exams. It’s hard to stay motivated if you let studying take over your whole life.” – Alexa K.
  8. Do it right the first time. “My mantra was that if I do this right the first time, I won’t have to do it again.” – Timothy G.
  9. Establish a motivating finish line. “My motivation was to finish the exam before I graduated from college and enjoy the summer off. Whatever I could do to be done with studying!” –Joe M.
  10. Take breaks. “Balance is key. If you’re too fast out of the gate, you risk burning yourself out quickly, which often leads to study breaks that last far longer than they should. People who become acutely aware of the notion that they’re then falling behind often panic, and while they study they’re more focused on how far behind they are than the material itself. That said, it’s important to lock down and tune out distractions, but it’s also important to give yourself some healthy mental breaks and spend some quality time with friends and family. You may be a CPA exam candidate, but you’re also a human being.” – Joseph R.

In 2017, 51 out of 58 Elijah Watt Sells winners confirmed they prepared with Becker CPA Exam Preparation. You could be next! To learn more about the CPA exam and the Watt Sells award, visit our web page.

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