Succeeding on the CPA Exam: 2020 Elijah Watt Sells Award winners weigh in

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The CPA Exam is arguably one of the most challenging professional credentialing exams that exists. In fact, the cumulative pass rates for 2020 hovered from 49-65% for each of the four sections, highlighting that passing, especially on the first try, is a difficult feat. However, each year, a select few test-takers not only pass the exam sections on their first try, but do so with flying colors.

The Elijah Watt Sells Award recognizes CPA candidates who achieve a cumulative average score of 95.50 or greater across all four sections of the CPA Exam and pass all four sections on their first attempt. And from 2007-2020, more than 90% of all Elijah Watt Sells Award winners have prepared with Becker. 

Hear from this year’s Elijah Watt Sells Award winners and former Becker students what study strategies and techniques brought them to CPA Exam success, and how you can use their advice to better prepare for the CPA Exam. 

Plan and balance your study schedule 

It’s important to have a plan of attack when approaching your studying. Many students establish regular schedules for reviewing CPA Exam material, to ensure they are dedicating enough time to reviewing.

However, when you’re planning your study time into your personal calendar, make sure to establish a realistic schedule that isn’t all work and no fun - otherwise, you’ll quickly become burned out and might even study less effectively.

“Schedule each exam, create a realistic study plan, and stick to it. Leave enough room in your plan to study hard but also have time to spend with friends and family. Above all, stay motivated and positive.” - Jessica Lam, former Becker student 

“I utilized the online study planner provided by Becker, and am a first-hand witness of how helpful this tool is. Since I was working full time, I usually studied 3 hours every night and did practice sets during the weekend. The online study tool helped me keep on track with my schedule.” - Hannah Faye Krystle Reyes, former Becker student 

“I tried to limit my study sessions to a reasonable amount of time each day (usually about 2 hours daily). When I started a new section, I planned out what modules in Becker I wanted to complete each day using the time estimates provided on the Becker website. Planning out small goals that I could check off each day helped the end goal not seem as daunting.” - Kristina Warrix, former Becker student 

Choose a trusted review provider 

With a number of CPA Exam Review provider options available to choose from, it’s important to select a provider that will provide a comprehensive CPA Exam Review experience and has a well-regarded reputation for preparing students. Becker’s Elijah Watt Sells Award winners have nothing but positive experiences to report with their studying:

“Given the chance and flexibility of [review provider] options, I would still go with Becker because of its brand and its history of success. The simulations, multiple-choice questions and practice exams provided by Becker almost exactly mirror the actual CPA Exam and made my Elijah Watt Sells award possible.” - Hannah Faye Krystle Reyes, former Becker student 

“Becker covered everything I needed to know for the 4 sections of the CPA Exam. My scores on the actual tests were better than the Becker mock tests, and the Becker coursework gave me the preparation I needed to take the exams with confidence.” - Kristina Warrix, former Becker student 

“Becker made studying for the CPA Exam quite formulaic. I liked how I could always tell if I was on track by using the planning feature. Also, the instructors were great, there are more than enough practice questions included, and the material is laid out in a clear and concise manner.” - Julie Baker, former Becker student

“Becker really focuses on teaching you the information that will be tested, and it provides great tools, like the study planner, to help keep you on track. My favorite tool Becker provides is the three simulated exams within each section. In my opinion, these simulations were more difficult than the actual exam, so doing well on the simulations gave me a lot of confidence going into exam day. Tools like these are why I believe I was able to score so well. I firmly believe I could not have passed my exams without Becker.” - Erin Krysinski, former Becker student 

Use your CPA Exam Review to the fullest

It’s important to take advantage of every feature that your CPA Exam Review has to offer to maximize your chances of success. Certain review providers include specific or exclusive features, which you’ll want to make the most of if you’re investing a significant amount of money and time in review materials.

“I went through each chapter's material, following along with the videos and taking the quizzes at the end. Once I had gone through all of the material, I would do a ton of practice tests - I used the three simulated exams for each of the sections as well as using the personalized review sessions that featured a specific number of questions and were focused on certain sections of material. The practice tests were very helpful in understanding how to use documents in the simulations and understanding the flow of the test. I would say doing a ton of practice questions was the most helpful for me.” - Jared Nielsen, former Becker student 

“My advice to CPA candidates is to try your best and leverage every resource Becker has. I appreciated Becker’s resources that weren’t related only to CPA Exam material, but also to helping you in every step of the process, such as how to create a [study] schedule, request an NTS, what to expect, how to manage time during the exam, etc. Becker has thought of every single step on the way, both in material content and all events leading up to and on exam day to help you be prepared and take away any exam day anxiety.” - Michaela Peterson, former Becker student 

It’s clear that passing the CPA Exam is no easy feat, and requires a large time and energy investment. However, by using the advice of these accomplished CPA Exam candidates, you can set yourself up for success on exam day.

Learn about the prestigious Elijah Watt Sells Award criteria and more here. 

Ready to start studying? From 2007-2020, more than 90% of all Elijah Watt Sells Award winners have prepared with Becker. Explore Becker CPA Exam Review.

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