It’s the Busy Season, How to Balance CPA CFE Studies with Work

Sticking to CPA studies during the busy season is tough. If you work in public practice, whether Big 4, mid-size or smaller firms, you know the audit and tax seasons are grueling. In the industry, the year-end closure and audits are not much fun.

Here are 5 tips from Leela Pai, successful CFE writer from Sep 2021, to help you align yourself with your study schedule and not stress over the busy season.

1. Use a Planner

Set out your priorities for the week. Be it work related, study or personal time. Ensure you mention all things you need to complete for the week so as to be able to complete your work within the deadlines and at the same time ensuring your CFE studies are not affected. 

There will be days you won’t progress due to road blocks – don’t bog yourself down. You can always make adjustments to the schedules and that’s the beauty of a planner – quantifying all you have to do in the week, while being flexible. Here’s a sample study plan you can use:

2. List down the topics

Make a list of all those topics which you believe are challenging and those that you believe are easy. Jot them down and make the schedule in a way so that on hectic days you work on easy topics. Otherwise, you’ll feel like you haven’t studied for CFE – that guilt leads to more anxiety which would result in reduced productivity.

3. Take breaks and stay active

Ensure you take breaks.  Too much work combined with studies may burn you out way too early. It’s important to feel refreshed, especially when we read technical books or debrief cases, your mind should be fresh so as to retain all those concepts.

4. Write in your own words

Even though you may have summaries from mentors/classmates etc., I advise students to make their own notes as they are comfortable with their own way of writing. These notes should be as brief as possible so that you can revisit them during quick work breaks or when you have a couple minutes before bed, personal breaks etc. These personal notes work like flash cards and when it’s in your own writing, you tend to relate to them and remember much better

5. Make up your mind

Last but not least, it’s important to mentally prepare yourself. If you decided to write the May CFE, then there is no looking back. You might have to put in extra hours due to the busy season but this will allow you to enjoy your summer, compared with students who chose September CFE. The September CFE writers  will give up their summer to be able to prep for CFE. Take some time off, remember to breathe and decide if you plan to take it up – then abide by the saying “YOU CAN, YOU WILL, YOU MUST!”


Studying for the CFE during the busy season is challenging. If you need support or coaching, get in touch with Gevorg for a free consultation call.