For most CPA Canada students, the greatest challenge with the exams is finding the time to study. Between full time jobs, family commitments and other priorities, most of your spare available time is spent studying. Here are some helpful tips to make this process smoother and optimize your balance with work and study.
1. Define your priorities
In order to begin to know how to manage your time best, you have to first determine what is important to you. For example, let’s say you’re taking CPA Tax and Assurance electives but you know Tax is your weaker subject so it’ll be important to spend more time on this. Or let’s say you have family events every Friday evening. If this is important to maintain, plan your study schedule around this day of the week. Identifying your priorities during a demanding time will help you determine what items can be sacrificed and what cannot.
2. Create a study plan and schedule
Once you have established your goals and priorities, you can begin to organize these accordingly. This would include mapping out hard timelines, such as CPA module deadlines for cases, appointments, work events, etc. As you highlight these important dates, you become more aware of your workload and the value in managing your time efficiently. Make sure you’re being flexible with your schedule too, and avoiding late minute cramming or overworking yourself on certain days. Ensure you’re making time for the critical materials: case writing (uninterrupted), debriefing, and technical overviews.
3. Get into a routine
Staying disciplined with your study schedule will eventually become a habit. This will help you feel more in control and at ease with balancing your study, work and personal commitments. Find the best time of day for you to study and be consistent with it daily.
4. Make use of your free time
To ensure you’re maximizing all your time, short intervals of studying such as on the commute home or on a lunch break at work prove to be productive. Taking even a small step towards your goal of passing the CPA exams makes a difference if work consumes most of your day. Also, find opportunities to carve time out for yourself, including relaxing, socializing, and exercising on a regular basis. This will make your study time more productive because you’re less burnt out.
5. Consider available resources
Establish what resources are available to you and how they can best target your studying. This may include your facilitator, D2L forums, study buddies, peer study groups, courses, video tutorials, extra cases, etc. Mapping out what resources you can utilize each step of your study schedule will ensure you are studying the material in the detail required.
While it can be difficult to find motivation to study in CPA Canada’s PREP and PEP programs on top of working several hours, keep your mind set focused that this is temporary until you successfully pass the CPA exams. If you need support or coaching, get in touch with Gevorg for a free consultation call.