CPA Exam study tips from Elijah Watt Sells Award winners


We all know how taxing the CPA Exam can be - months of diligent preparation go into earning  those esteemed three letters. While a passing score is 75, a select group of CPA candidates will earn scores that lead to their recognition as Elijah Watt Sells Award winners. 

Among the most prestigious awards for accounting students, the Elijah Watt Sells Award recognizes CPA candidates who achieve a cumulative average score of 95.50 across all four sections of the Uniform CPA Exam and pass all four sections on their first attempt. Out of 75,000 test takers in 2019, 137 candidates earned this honor. 

From 2005 to 2019, more than 90% of all Elijah Watt Sells winners have prepared with Becker CPA Exam Review. A great way to prepare for success on the CPA Exam is to learn from the highest exam scorers. Here are 10 study tips from Becker CPA Elijah Watt Sells Award winners. 

Study tips from Elijah Watt Sells Award winners

  1. Practice, practice, practice your MCQs.
    Practice makes perfect! As you complete the multiple-choice questions, it may be easier to understand which sections you’ve mastered and which sections need a bit more study time. Furthermore, MCQs and practice tests will give you an idea of what to actually expect on the day of the big exam.

    “The important thing with MCQs is not necessarily to do as many as possible, but rather to do as many as you can while fully understanding why the correct answer is correct and why the incorrect answers are incorrect. This is the only way to know if you truly know the information, or if you’ve begun memorizing answers.” - Carson Angress, former Becker student

    “The multiple-choice questions made it much easier to gauge my understanding of the topics.” - Brandon Heggan, former Becker student

    “The most beneficial thing from Becker was taking the multiple-choice questions at the end of each module. It helped me to see if I really understood the topics and helped me solidify concepts.” - Carson Lord, former Becker student
  2. Be flexible in when and where you study, and don’t forget to take breaks!
    While it’s important to set aside as much time as possible to review your CPA Exam Review materials, it’s equally important to keep your mental health in check. This may mean adding some flexibility to your study schedule and location in case your routine grows too mundane.

    “I studied everywhere from the comfort of my bed doing multiple-choice questions, to a cozy corner in a cafe with a hot cup of coffee. I can't imagine studying any other way.” - Elizabeth Gregori, former Becker student

    Take breaks to do what you love, so when you return to your desk you’re feeling fresh again.

    “Your mental health has a huge impact on your studying. If you keep your mind and body right, you can study efficiently and make the most of every minute you are studying.” - Alec J. Weissman, former Becker student

    “I studied on the weekends on occasion, but I made sure to still have social and leisure time to decompress. I think it’s important to give yourself some breaks to be able to absorb the material.” - Kara Killingsworth, former Becker student

    “One thing that helped me stay motivated was taking the weekends off from studying. I would put my books away and try to do something fun to let myself recharge.” - MacKenzie Pask, former Becker student
  3. Lean on your support system.
    The CPA Exam is tough - lean on your support system to help you stay focused on your goal.

    “I was lucky to have supportive family and friends who were understanding of my situation and encouraged me to focus on my studies.” - Carson Angress, former Becker student
  4. Set realistic study goals.
    Some weeks you’ll hit your targets and some weeks you may fall behind depending on your personal or work calendar. The key: setting realistic goals based on your study planner so you have ample time to get back on track.

    “Setting daily goals for myself was helpful in maintaining a balance between studying and my other priorities. Sometimes I would make more progress than expected; other times I would fall behind schedule. The key was to set practical goals to keep myself on track while still budgeting for some fun and relaxation.” - Seth Levitt, former Becker student
  5. Take advantage of Becker’s Final Review before exam day.
    Becker’s Final Review reinforces understanding of the most challenging concepts on the CPA Exam - a great opportunity to optimize the final hours of study time.

    “They were very helpful in retaining everything I had studied in the previous weeks. I believe the confidence the Final Reviews gave me was very important when it came to test day.” - Collin Moeller, former Becker student

Over one million professionals have prepared to advance their careers through the Becker CPA Exam Review, by leveraging a combination of accomplished instructors, comprehensive and adaptive learning tools, and a unique array of study options designed to accommodate each candidate’s lifestyle, work schedule and preferred learning methods. The large percentage of Elijah Watt Sells winners who have prepared with Becker speaks to the level of quality in our study materials and the expertise of our instructors.

“Passing the CPA Exam is a significant accomplishment earned through months of hard work,” said Mike Malee, President and Managing Director at Becker Professional Education. “I commend this year’s Elijah Watt Sells Award winners, who have risen to a truly exceptional level of content and mastery. We’re proud of our students, and honored to have provided the instruction and resources that led to this success.” 

Ready to start your CPA journey? Here’s how to get started.

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