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How many hours do I need to study to pass the CPA exam? How many hours should I study to pass the CPA exam? How long does it take to pass the CPA exam? Can I pass all four parts of the CPA exam in one year?

I would be a millionaire if I got a dollar every time someone asks these questions.

I get these questions and variations of them on a regular basis from future CPAs on my website, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram or via email ( The answer is not simple. Continue reading.

There are 10 fac tors that influence how long you study or how many hours to study in order to pass the CPA exam.  Please note that these 10 fac tors influence the variations in the time you spend studying, not your success rate on the exam

1) Education:

Starting with your education. What school you attended matters. Why? Well, if your accounting program is rigorous, dynamic and challenging, as well as AACSB accredited, then you are more prepared than other students that attend a school with less rigor. Now, how do you know if your accounting program is rigorous? On, I have the average scores for different schools. If the pass rate at your school is 60%, then your school is above average. If the pass rate of your school is 30 to 40%, then your school is below average. Remember this is only an average for your school.

2) GPA:
The second fac tor is your GPA. if your GPA was 4.0. Do you study the same amount of time that a person with a GPA of 2.5 or 3.0? Of course not. A person with a GPA of 4.0 will study less because he/she is more prepared in college. Also remember that GPA could be inflated. So, ask yourself, “How much did I learn when I went to school?” If you are well prepared in college, regardless of your GPA, you will spend less time preparing for the exam than a person who was less prepared.

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3) Time Gap

The third fac tor is the time gap between your education and sitting for the exam. For example, if you graduated in May of 2020 and you sat for the exam in June of 2020, you are going to retain more information therefore you will spend less time studying for the exam. if you graduated May 2020 and you waited until June 2022 to sit for the exam then you will need to study more because all the information that you learn in college most likely you forgot. So, the time gap between your graduation and the time to sit for the exam matters. This time gap also influences the pass rate. The longer you wait to take the exam the higher the probability you will fail the exam. This conclusion is based on data from the NASBA and the AICPA.

 4) Age

Age is a double-edged sword. Age may work for you or it may work against you. Evidence shows that as we age, we absorb and learn the information slower than younger individuals. That might be true but also as we age, we become more mature therefore more motivated to understand the material, especially from a practical perspective. As far as I know, there is no evidence that shows that age has any influence on the CPA exam. Maybe something I will need to study down the road.

5) Experience:

What could offset the age fac tor and the time gap between your education and sitting for the exam is the amount of experience you have in the real world. So, if you have 5 to 10 years of experience in public accounting where you worked on audit, tax, payroll, adjustments, compilations, reviews etc., then you are going to absorb the information much faster than an individual with no work experience. Also, experience in the real world will help you tremendously on the simulation, especially with the Document Review Simulation (DRS). Not all experiences are equal. If you have experience in taxation, then you will spend less time studying for the Regulation section. If you have more experience in auditing you will have less time studying for the audit section. If you have experience in financial accounting then you will have less time studying for the financial accounting and reporting exam. So, experience in the subject matter also matters.

6) International Candidates

If you are an international student, you might find more difficulty or need more time to pass the exam. This does not mean that international students do worse on the CPA exam than US students. On the contrary, international students in some cases have higher pass rates and higher average scores than US candidates. For example, in 2018, CPA candidates from Lebanon had the highest pass rate and the highest average score on the CPA exam. It might take international students more time to prepare for the exam, especially the Regulation section, because they likely would not have a familiarity with the US tax code. Farhat Lectures can help.

7) English as second language:

For some candidates in the US, English is their second language. These students might have to spend more time to understand the material. This does not mean that students with English as a second language have a lower pass rate on the CPA. Students with English as a second language might have to spend more time studying.

8) CPA Review:

Some review courses are longer and more time consuming than others. I am not saying a longer or a shorter course is better or worse, but you are taking a particular course to get a passing score on the exam. Your ability to focus your time and attention will determine how much time you spend on studying.

9) General Academic-Ability

• What is your academic ability? How fast do you learn or absorb the information? If you are Sheldon from The Big Bang theory, it may take you a week to pass all four sections of the CPA exam, but the average CPA candidate is not Sheldon and there is a variation in the academic ability of different individuals. This could explain why some individual will spend more or less time learning the material. I am not implying that your academic ability will influence your success on the CPA exam or your success in the real world, but your academic ability will influence how long you will have to study. For example, an individual with weak academic ability may take them more time to absorb the information, but once they absorb the information, they might be able to apply it better in the real world than a person with a better academic ability.

 10) Motivation:

If you are determined to pass the CPA exam and become a licensed professional, then you will put in the work necessary to get the job done. Whether that motivation comes from self or others, it will help you to focus on the task.


As you might figure by now, there is no answer for how long you must study to pass the pass everyone will have different circumstances. Whatever your circumstances are: Farhat Lectures can help you compensate for all of them. Many CPA programs/coach/trainer try to “box you” in to a time frame. Everyone is unique. Do what works for you.



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