Below are 7 unique strategies for getting the most out of your CPA study sessions.
Brain Supplements – I began taking fish oil and eating blueberries daily to improve my memory. Studies show that the Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil may help improve memory. Blueberries also show signs of possible brain boosting compounds. Whether the fish oil and blueberries were effective in the short term, I don’t know. I just wanted to do whatever it took to pass the exams and thinking that it might give me a slight edge was enough for me. It was cheap investment for the self-confidence.
Brainwaves – Another off the wall thing that I did for studying was listening to brain wave videos while falling asleep and during studying. I essentially put on head phones while studying and listened to a few different brainwave videos I found on YouTube. I recommend using a noise canceling type of head phone. There are claims that listening to these waves can help boost cognitive function, reduce stress, and promote more restful sleep.
Below are links to a few of the videos I used on Youtube.
Working Out – The first was doing some sort of cardio workout before studying in the evening. Decreasing glucose levels can improve concentration. While studying for my first exam, AUD, I actually completed the 21 Day fix by Beachbody. It was really nice because the workouts were only about a half an hour long and the diet was easy to follow. The nice thing about the diet was that I had the whole week of meals planned out and it was one less thing that I had to think about. It was more time to think about the exam. Working out before studying was a helpful because it kept me in a routine. Find some sort of physical exercise you can do before a long study session even it is as simple as going up and down stairs for 10 minutes.
Scented Markers and Index Cards – Using your other senses to study can be a little trick to help with memory retention. This is a great one for government accounting in FAR or any section that requires a lot of categorization. For example, Government Funds are one scent, Proprietary Funds are one scent, and Fiduciary Funds are another scent.
Classical Music – If listening to brainwaves is not your cup of tea, listening to instrumental music may help. I personally rotated between classical music, brainwaves, house music with no lyrics, and opera. Set up a classical music station on Pandora or find classical music on Youtube and put your head phones in. Academic studies show that listening to classical music benefit the brain by improving concentration, lessening anxiety, improving short term memory, and helping sleep patterns. These reactions to the brain have been coined the “Mozart Effect”. A couple of my favorite classical music pieces for studying:
Mozart – Piano Concerto No. 23
Canon in D – Johann Pachelbel
There are plenty of Mozart playlists on Youtube that span for hours, so it is an easy search.
Cold Turkey Program – This is a program I have not personally used, but will probably fix 90% of people’s studying problems. Hours of people’s time are wasted scrolling through social media or other websites that do not contain information pertinent to studying for the CPA. The Cold Turkey program helps block these times wasting sites in increments of time. This can be the key for some people to pass the exam. Studying is only studying if you are concentrating. For a one-time fee of about $25 (about $2 depreciated), you can help resist the distractions that ruin your studying. However, if you have great self- control then you don’t need a program like this.
Giant Post It Notes – This is another cheap investment that really helps with memorization. While studying, specifically REG, I would write out the characteristics of the three types of legal entities. I would label three post it notes with the titles proprietorship, partnership, and corporation. I would then fill out the definitions of all these with bullet point characteristics. This is perfect for glancing at while you may be getting dressed or cooking. By the time I was ready to take the test the walls were covered in blue post it notes.