The first step to take to prepare for certification tests is to apply to the appropriate agency for permission to take the test. Be sure that you meet the criteria required to take the test before applying. For example, most states require that applicants have the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree and one additional year of study or an equivalent degree like a master’s before an individual may sit for the CPA Exam. Once you are approved to take the exam, you will have a limited window of time to report to the testing center and complete the test. For this reason it is best to study well ahead of the date you would like to take the test.
Some students do best by taking an accounting course like a review class specifically designed to prepare for the examination. This provides external discipline and helps people to make time to study. Others benefit from self-study guides and courses. No matter which method you choose, taking the time to work problems and write out essays will help you prepare well for the exam. Use practice tests and time yourself during these to be sure you can pace yourself well during the actual exam.
Most of the current tests are computer-based tests. In some cases you will not be able to go backward once you have answered a section. Take your time during the test and make sure you have read each question and understood it. Many of the questions will be multiple-choice. If you are unsure of the answer, don’t just guess. Try to rule out incorrect answers first, then choose the best answer from the ones that are left.
In the days before the exam, try to get enough rest so that you are alert and prepared for the testing day. During testing, you might be allowed to take short breaks. Take advantage of these at least to stand up and stretch. Drink water if it is allowed, as this will help you stay more alert. If you become anxious during testing, take a few deep breaths and focus on answering the questions that you do know. Sometimes a later question can help you remember an answer for an earlier question, if you are allowed to review earlier questions.
For essay questions and problems make sure that you review your work for spelling, grammar, and mathematical errors. How you communicate is very important, and these types of errors make your work less credible.