Perhaps you’ve been working for 10-15 years preparing taxes and you’ve finally had it with your current station in life. Or, maybe you’re just trying to avoid reaching that point, and as a young professional in the accounting industry, you want to be catapulted up the corporate ladder.
There are many reasons why people take the EA exam, but there are just a few ways to study for the test in a way that will help you pass. Let us show you how to pass the EA exam with a limited investment of time and money.
Studying During Work Hours
Once you decide to embark on that journey to get your Enrolled Agent certification, which will help you advance through your organization, you need to create a study program. We would suggest using an EA exam review course, but that’s only half of the battle—you need to find some time to study. And, if you’re working full-time, that can often be much easier said than done.
If you’ve got a family, commitments outside of work, or simply are working more than 50-60 hours a week, it’s time to get creative. You need to keep your normal life, but you’re going to have to make some major adjustments.
The key to studying while keeping a full-time job is to prioritize your free time. Use an audio course to study on your commute. Bring flashcards with you to the gym for use on the treadmill. Bring your worksheets with you to your child’s play (you’re not missing much!). Do whatever you have to do to get those hours in. Remember, everyone who loves and cares about you will excuse you for a couple of months if you’re beyond busy, but they won’t like it if you’re always complaining about being stuck in a mid-level job.
Sign out of your social media accounts for a couple of months, tell your children and spouse that you need their support and understanding, and be prepared to rein in your social and familial life for a brief period of time. Making these adjustments can be extremely difficult, especially with all the initial doubt and speculation towards these changes. Combat these feelings with a strong game plan, which begins with choosing one of the best EA review courses on the market.
One of the biggest mistakes that we see with regard to EA exam failure is a lack of humility. You need to be humble about this exam—it’s way better to over-study than to under-study. However, any amount of hubris about studying isn’t what may drag you down. It could be that you simply don’t study the right way.
So, it’s a matter of finding out what type of learner you are. There’s the basic breakdown of auditory, visual, or kinesthetic (by doing), but there’s also a second component. You should be studying at least six days a week, but some people may prefer to do only an hour or so during the week and then load up on one weekend day. Others may favor the two to three hour per night approach, with more free time on the weekend.
Regardless of what your studying style and approach are, you need to take SOME time off. Plan on giving yourself one study-free day a week, but once again, don’t get too confident! Don’t think that because you’re familiar with taxes and IRS codes that you’re going to ace the test. Make sure you know what you are up against before taking this exam. One of the biggest mistakes that we see is the more seasoned accounting industry professionals failing an exam the first time around because they felt like their work experience would be enough preparation.
Smart Repetition Is the Solution
When you’re studying, regardless of the length of your session, try to avoid the wrong repetition. If you do know something, and you’ve done the aforementioned hubris check, MOVE ON. We cannot emphasize this enough: don’t over study the same material! There’s a difference between learning and memorization. For a test this big, you’re not going to be able to remember everything, but you definitely won’t be able to learn all of it either!
Try to learn as much as you can and then memorize certain tricks and learning devices to help fill in the gaps. This isn’t a brain teaser type of a test. If you take some time and actually learn the material, you should be fine. And, for the sections with which you’ve simply struggled to master, try to create a mnemonic or study tool that will help you come test day. For due dates, form numbers, numbers of years for things like NOL carryforwards or statute of limitations, you’re just going to have to sit down, read it over, and memorize the given numbers.
Take a little extra time, think about what you’re going to need to memorize and what you’re going to have to learn. If you can break up these two groups, it will help you organize your study plans. Use an EA exam review course to your advantage and work out a plan of attack.
You’ve got this, you just need to put in the effort. There’s no such thing as passing this test via shortcuts, it’s all about elbow grease and hubris!
Bryce Welker is a regular contributor to Forbes, Inc.com, YEC.co and Business Insider. After graduating from San Diego State University he went on to earn his Certified Public Accountant license and created CrushTheCPAexam.com to share his knowledge and experience to help other accountants become CPAs too. As Seen On Forbes