Anyone who has gone through the struggle of obtaining their undergraduate and graduate education in accounting knows very well the pain and agony that comes with it. So, you’d think that with all this education, they would leave the institution, ready to obtain work experience and find a position in an accounting company. Well, the pain and agony don’t stop there. Before future accountants can go into the workforce, they have to go through their final right of passage: the CPA exam. At first glance, for those that didn’t do any prior research about the exam, most likely think the exam is just a light review of everything they learned. What they don’t know is though that’s true, the questions are ten times harder with over 324 of them to answer. For students, this exam takes months and months of preparation, daily studying, and the constant stress that goes along with it.
Unfortunately, the CPA exam isn’t something you can call in sick and skip while still receiving accreditation. The CPA exam is the final step to become a certified accountant, something which all these students worked and strived to be. Though the exam is hard on its own, the support for students studying the exam isn’t where it needs to be. You may be thinking that it’s the student’s responsibility to prepare themselves for the exam, and we’re not arguing that. At the end of the day, the only person taking the exam is the student themselves. However, being provided with the proper support would allow students to better prepare for the exam and achieve a higher rate of success as only 1 in 5 people pass the entire exam on their first try.
Throughout university, accounting students were not reminded that their university scores will not necessarily translate to the success of their CPA exam. Students, instead of hitting the book prior to the exam are felt that their high scores during university are enough to make it through the exam. Which at first glance makes sense, but the universities are failing to emphasize the weak correlation between university success and CPA exam success. Rather, feeding students false hope and sending them along their way without any dose of reality.
On the other side, you have students which are aware of the difficulties that lay ahead of them with the CPA exam and spend time and money preparing themselves with CPA review courses. Though many of these review courses are well designed, students struggle with choosing CPA review courses for their learning style. This is a huge problem as it results in wasted money and the inability of them to learn properly. This is challenging as many students don’t know their learning style, even though they’ve been in school for years and years. But this is the problem. These students have simple been studying and lack the actual knowledge of how they study and what form of studying is effective for them. Which becomes a problem when you have thousands of students leaving educational institutions without the proper knowledge of how to learn.
Thus, they choose review courses which aren’t in their best benefit. Students preparing for the CPA exam should focus on choosing review courses which focus on a specific type of learning such as video instruction or self-study and make sure that the review course is providing features such as customer support, money-back guarantee and personalized learning which will be able to narrow in on the student weak areas, focusing on improving them.
Though these may seem like minor issues, when you’re a student whose future is resting on the success of one exam, these problems are no longer minor as they hold weight to your life. So what should be done to better prepare students for the CPA exam? Yes, you have the university education and the review courses, but students need the dose of reality during their university experience. They need to be aware of the weight and complexity that this exam holds and be provided support when it comes to choosing review courses, for example. There are thousands of students who are completely adequate to become an accountant, however, struggle with the CPA exam. Why is this? Like stated previously, it all comes down to the support provided. When going into the exam, students know that accounting firms and clients are looking for the best of the best. The amount of importance placed on the CPA exam carries immeasurable amounts of stress which can crush a student during the exam. This is why even the best students are walking out of the exam room with long faces, knowing that they bombed the exam. But this doesn’t have to be like this. If the educational community focuses on providing works on providing proper support for their students, they’ll see not only students with less stress on their shoulder, but a higher success rate for the CPA exam.
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