Sign up for a free CPA practice exam and see how prepared you are for the actual exam.

Studying for the CPA exam can be an exhausting task. Within 18 months, you’ll need to pass 4 different exam sections that cover the basics and advanced fundamentals of accounting and business.

For most people, that means studying for hundreds of hours over weeks on end. Even so, roughly half of the people who take the exam fail their first time.

One of the best ways to avoid this outcome is to improve your studying efficiency with the help of a CPA exam study group. Why are such groups so effective, and how can you find one?

CPA study group benefits

Why CPA Exam Study Groups Are Beneficial

There are several advantages to joining a CPA exam study group. They include:

Accountability and motivation. First, joining a group is a great way to hold yourself responsible for studying and can serve as an excellent source of motivation. If you know a group of people are expecting to see you and anticipate you will have learned more about a given topic, you’ll be much more likely to follow through with your study plans.
Consistent scheduling and time allocation. Groups are also useful because they focus on the goal of passing the exam. They meet regularly, like clockwork, and tend to allocate time as efficiently as possible to help all members of the group study and perform better.
Sources to answer questions and address concerns. Some sections of the CPA exam are complicated and can be confusing and/or especially hard to learn for new accountants. While you might get stuck studying on your own, when you belong to a study group you can turn to them for answers to those tricky questions. That way, you’re less likely to hit a dead end.
Differing perspectives and explanations. Not everyone will have the same takeaways from the learning material. A concept that seems foreign to one person will make instant intuitive sense to another. Joining a group enables you to tap into a diverse collection of minds and learn from them in ways you wouldn’t be able to on your own.
New studying techniques and approaches. Similarly, each person who comes to the group will have a unique history and perspective with regard to studying. This is a great way to learn new techniques for learning effectively. You might possibly share some of your own tricks with the group.
Mental and emotional support. Finally, studying for the CPA exam with a group is beneficial for mental and emotional support. Studying and taking the exam are stressful, and if you’re not well supported, the pressure could get to you. The people you study with are all going to undergo the same stress, so you can all support one another.

How to find a CPA study group

Where to Look for a CPA Exam Study Group

Do you know where to find a CPA study group? You can start by looking:

Within your firm. Are there other accountants in your company who are also preparing to take the exam?
Within your graduating class. If you graduated with a degree in accounting, chances are many of your classmates are also apt to be getting ready to take the exam.
Among friends. Talk to your friends and see if they’re interested in getting certified and studying together to achieve that goal.
On social media. You can also find study groups on social media. Think about the possibility of joining a group on LinkedIn or Facebook dedicated to studying or using a site like Meetup to find like-minded people. The Wiley CPA Study Group on Facebook is a great place to get peer advice, read tips from Wiley instructors, and gain early insight to exam changes. The only criteria for joining is that you’re using a Wiley CPA product.

If you’ve explored these areas and there is no CPA exam study group that fits your needs, you could think about trying to start a group of your own.

How to Get the Most Out of a CPA Exam Study Group

How to Get the Most Out of a CPA Exam Study Group

If you decide to join a study group, there are a few things that can help you get the most out of the experience:

Establish (or learn) the rules up front. First, make sure you set and/or understand the rules from the beginning. Groups function best when they have a consistent set of rules and objectives that everyone in the group agrees to follow. For example, how often are you going to meet? Who is the leader of the group? What will the study format be? What types of content are you going to review, and in what order are you going to tackle it? Is this group open to new members, or will there be a limit on the number of members? How are the members expected to participate within the group and outside it?
Be consistent. You’ll get much more value from the group if you engage with it consistently. That might not mean attending every meet-up session, but it usually means making yourself available at least once per week. The more often you talk to the other group members, and the more of a “routine” this becomes for you, the better.
Get to know the individuals in the group. Each person in your group will have something unique to offer. They may know one subject especially well or suggest a useful study technique you can use to learn more effectively. Try to hear from every member of the group and get to know them better personally.
Give and receive. Don’t treat the study group as your personal tutor, and don’t try to dominate the group with your own agenda. Study groups are effective because of the give and take between different members, so be prepared to give what you can and allow other people to give what they can.
Continue studying on your own. Again, the CPA exam study group shouldn’t be your personal tutor. Though you’re going to learn a lot in your group study sessions, they shouldn’t substitute for a personal studying regimen. Make sure you continue studying on your own in addition to going to group meet-ups.

Your study group can help you learn everything you need to know for the CPA exam. But how can you be sure you’re ready to take it? Sign up for our free practice exam today, and find out!