CPA Exam Study Group Quick Facts

  • CPA exam study groups can be a great resource given how hard the CPA exam is.
  • CPA exam study groups hold you accountable by creating a consistent study schedule that you’re motivated to stick to.
  • They also give you an opportunity to learn from others while discovering new studying techniques.
  • CPA study groups can meet in person or online.
  • You can find a CPA exam study group through work, school, friends, or social media.
  • If you can’t find a study group, you can always start one.
  • You can get the most out of your study group by understanding expectations, showing up consistently, and getting to know everyone in the group.

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

For most people, that means studying for hundreds of hours for weeks on end. Even so, the average CPA exam pass rate is roughly 50%.

You don’t have to take on the CPA exam alone. Forming a CPA exam study group can be a great way to find support, learn more efficiently, and improve your chances of passing the CPA exam on your first try.

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6 Reasons Why CPA Exam Study Groups Are Beneficial

Here are some reasons why CPA exam study groups are beneficial and how to make the most out of joining a group or creating one yourself.

1. Study Groups Hold You Accountable

Joining a CPA study 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

2. Study Groups Help You Consistently Schedule Time to Study

CPA exam study groups are also useful because they focus on the goal of passing the CPA 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. Nobody wants to be that member who doesn’t show up!

3. Study Groups Are Resources for Answering Questions and Addressing Concerns

Some sections of the CPA exam are complicated and can be confusing and/or especially hard to learn for new accountants. You might get stuck while studying on your own, but 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.

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4. Study Groups Offer Differing Perspectives

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.

5. Study Groups Offer New Studying Techniques and Approaches

Similarly, each person who attends the group will have a unique history and perspective when it comes 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, too.

Interested in accounting technology trends? They are always changing, and it pays to follow them in your accounting career.

6. Study Groups Offer 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.

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5 Places to Look For a CPA Exam Study Group

The following are great places to look for a CPA study group near you–and don’t forget you can always start your own! These places are also great areas to recruit people into your study group.

1. Look For CPA Study Groups Within Your Firm

Finding a CPA study group near you can be as easy as finding out whether other accountants in your company are also preparing to take the exam. Many firm-based exam groups like to meet after work at a restaurant nearby.

2. Reach Out to Your Graduating Class

If you graduated with a degree in accounting, chances are many of your classmates are also getting ready to take the exam. Most universities have alumni networks or social media groups you can use to connect with your graduating class.

3. Get Your Friends Involved

Talk to your friends and see if they’re interested in getting certified and studying together. You can strengthen your friendship by achieving a goal together!

4. Look For Groups on Social Media

You can also find CPA study groups on social media. Consider joining a group on LinkedIn or Facebook that is dedicated to studying or use 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 study tips from Wiley CPAexcel instructors, and gain early insight into exam changes. The only criterion for joining is that you’re using a Wiley CPA product.

5. Start Your Own CPA Exam Study Group

Bonus tip: If you’ve explored these areas and there are no CPA exam study groups that fit your needs, consider starting a group of your own.

5 Ways to Get the Most Out of a CPA Exam Study Group

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

1. Establish (or Learn) the Rules Up Front

Finding a CPA study group near you can be as easy as finding out whether other accountants in your company are also preparing to take the exam. Many firm-based exam groups like to meet after work at a restaurant nearby. First, make sure you set and/or understand expectations from the beginning. Groups function best when they have a consistent set of rules and objectives that everyone in the group agrees to follow.

Here is a brief checklist of questions to answer:

  • How often are you going to meet?
  • Who is the leader of the group? Will this person be in charge of scheduling meetings and contacting members?
  • 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?

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2. 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.

3. Get to Know Everyone 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.

Here are some icebreakers to help you get to know everyone from day 1:

  • Why do you want to become a CPA?
  • Have you taken the CPA exam before?
  • Which exam section are you taking next?
  • What is the hardest part of the CPA exam for you?
  • What is your top study strategy?

4. 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. CPA 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.

5. 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 meetups.

CPA Exam Study Group Activities

CPA study groups can provide essential support and increase the productivity and efficiency of your study sessions. And certain study strategies and group activities can be particularly helpful depending on which exam section you’re studying for.

CPA Exam Study Group Activities for AUD

The Auditing and Attestation (AUD) section of the CPA exam is all about understanding the audit process and internal controls. Noting how concepts are influenced by context will be important as your group is studying. Help each other learn and prepare for the AUD CPA exam with different learning activities.

CPA Study Group AUD Activities

  • Review flashcards together
  • Test each other on the different audit opinions
  • Review situations when explanatory language is required
  • Compare CPA practice exams and help with each other’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Time each other to make sure you’re getting through multiple-choice questions (MCQs) in less than 2 minutes each and TBSs in less than 15 minutes each
  • Have general Q&A sessions for group members to ask questions
  • Consider having an auditor come to a session to answer questions

CPA Exam Study Group Activities for BEC

For Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), you and your group will need to understand the business environment as it pertains to CPAs (Certified Public Accountants). The BEC CPA exam is the only exam part that includes written communication tasks, so make sure to work those into your group activities.

CPA Study Group BEC Activities

  • Practice with CPA Test Banks to compare practice exams and review answer explanations
  • Review good and bad writing samples and discuss how to organize, develop, and express your points properly
  • Compare practice exams and help with each other’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Have general Q&A sessions for group members to ask questions
  • Ask an expert to speak with your group about corporate governance, economic concepts and analysis, financial management, information technology, and operations management

CPA Exam Study Group Activities for FAR

To master the Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) section of the exam, your group needs to study accounts, accounting transactions, and accounting principles. Number-crunching is a big part of the FAR CPA exam, so prioritize activities that involve Excel and completing day-to-day accounting tasks.

CPA Study Group FAR Activities

  • Compare CPA Focus Notes and help with each other’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Use flashcards to test memorization of concepts related to conceptual framework, standard-setting and financial reporting, select financial statement accounts and select transactions, and state and local governments
  • Review journal entries together
  • Compare notes on how to use Microsoft Excel to complete different accounting tasks and math problems
  • Have general Q&A sessions for group members to ask questions
  • Consider having a governmental and/or non-profit accounting professional speak to your group as it’s likely the topic your group is least familiar with

CPA Exam Study Group Activities for REG

The Regulation (REG) exam covers federal taxation and business law. Your group should make sure to study the most current laws and regulations for the REG CPA exam as they are updated yearly.

CPA Study Group REG Activities

  • Use flashcards to test memorization of concepts related to ethics, professional responsibilities, federal tax procedures, business law, federal taxation of property transactions, federal taxation of individuals, and federal taxation of entities.
  • Compare practice exams and help with each other’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Have general Q&A sessions for group members to ask questions
  • Invite a business law expert to speak to your group about how you’ll apply this section in your career and answer questions.
  • Reach out to mentors within an organization, alumni from your school, or leaders in a social media group to find experts.

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?

CPA Exam Study Groups – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • Each section of the CPA exam calls for over 100 hours of study time. You can study with your CPA exam study group for a few hours a week to supplement your own self-study time.
  • The best way to study for the CPA exam is to be consistent. Beyond that, some CPA candidates prefer to study in groups, others prefer to study alone, and some enjoy a combination of both. Regardless, you should invest in a CPA exam prep course like Wiley CPA to provide you with the resources you need to study alone or together.
  • The most difficult section of the CPA exam is typically the one you have the least experience with, which is why it’s helpful to join a study group and perhaps study with people who have experience in what you don’t. Most candidates consider FAR to be the hardest section and it has the lowest pass rate to prove it.
  • Yes. You can self-study for the CPA exam, but some candidates find it easier to work with CPA study groups. Wiley’s CPA review course provides study materials for self-study and also has a Wiley CPA Study Group on Facebook.