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How Long Does It Take To Study For The CPA Exam?
By Griffin Quick Updated on January 3, 2024
Scott Furbershaw, CPA Scott Furbershaw, CPA

How Long Does It Take To Study For The CPA Exam?

When considering the next move in their accounting career, many students and professionals wonder how long it takes to prepare for the CPA exam

If you are planning on taking the CPA exam, you’re probably wondering how many hours you’ll need to study before taking the test. There are a few things that factor into the preparation timeframe, such as prior knowledge, your test taking skills, and work experience. So, how long will you need to study for the CPA exam? We help you answer that question in this detailed guide, along with a few helpful tips.

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How Long Does It Take to Prepare for the CPA Exam?

There are several things that factor into the length of time it will take you to be fully prepared to take the CPA exam.  If you work a full or part-time job, you will probably have less time each day to commit to studying, so instead of being ready in 6 to 10 weeks, for example, it may take you 15 weeks

how long to prep for CPA exam

If you have a more open and flexible schedule, you may have longer study sessions. Longer study sessions, frequent practice tests, and consistent review of the material may be able to shorten the overall amount of time it takes you to be ready to take the real CPA exam.

Even though being able to commit to longer daily study periods, it is important to take breaks and get adequate amounts of sleep so you retain the information you’re studying.

How Many Hours to Study for the CPA Exam?

Getting ready to take a major test like the CPA exam can be nerve-wracking. You don’t want to forget to cover anything, but you also don’t want to over-study.

For the average candidate, you should plan to commit a total of 300-400 hours to your study and review period across all 4 sections in total. 

The goal of 300+ hours of studying gives you 80 to 100 hours for each section of the test. You may find that you need to focus more study hours on one area over another, which is totally fine. The key to successful studying is consistency, so be sure to squeeze frequent study sessions into your schedule to keep the information fresh.

Why It Takes Some Students Less Time to Study

Not every entrant is going to need the full 300-400 hours to study. For those with prior knowledge and experience, they may be ready to move on to the next section in less time than expected, cutting down the overall length of their entire studying time span.

Some things that can impact how long you’ll need to study are your educational background, how long you’ve been out of college, how much you know about accounting, and your work experience.

Before trying to speed up the studying process and taking the test before you’re really ready, keep in mind that the CPA is a difficult test. The difficulty of the test is intended to make sure certifications are only granted to candidates who are truly qualified and have a strong grasp of the roles and responsibilities of a Certified Public Accountant.

In fact, less than 50% of candidates pass the CPA test. Be sure to take your preparation seriously and commit enough time to ensure you are completely ready to take and pass the exam.

How Long Does It Take to Study for the FAR CPA Exam?

The FAR CPA exam section is considered the hardest of the four sections, with 8 task-based simulations and 66 multiple-choice questions. This portion of the test covers the widest range of information and touches on many different accounting topics, which is why many deem it to be the most difficult section

CPA Exam How Many Study Hours

Due to the vast amount of material covered in the FAR, it is recommended that examinees spend 100-120 hours focusing on studying for this test. Due to the broad range of topics, it can be hard to know exactly what to study.

The FAR section covers extensive subject matter, so you could come across just about any accounting subject, which is why many past examinees recommend spending a little extra time studying for this section.

How Many Hours Should You Study for the REG CPA Exam?

The REG CPA exam is full of random unrelated facts. You’ll excel in this section if you are good at memorizing information. Overall, you should plan to spend 90-110 hours reviewing for the REG section. On the REG CPA exam, you will be answering 76 multiple-choice questions and 8 task-based simulations.

One thing you will notice when taking practice tests, as well as the test itself, is that the range of topics covered by the questions is quite expansive. Some of the subjects you may want to brush up on are professional and legal responsibilities, federal taxation, business ethics, and business law.

How Long Does It Take to Prepare for the AUD CPA Exam?

The AUD CPA section is another large, difficult section, with 8 more task-based simulations and 72 multiple-choice questions. The AUD is another section where people report struggling, since it requires such a large amount of memorization in regards to auditing procedures and internal accounting controls.

Another challenge to the AUD section is the wording of the questions. They are often worded in suggestive ways and need to all be carefully evaluated before choosing, since some answers may be technically partially right, but not entirely correct. The recommended study time for AUD is between 70 and 90 hours.

how long to study for CPA exam

How Many Hours of Studying Are Needed for the BEC CPA Exam?

The BEC section of the CPA exam is usually perceived as the easiest, but with a pass rate of just over 60%, that definitely doesn’t mean that you should skip the studying. The BEC has been lengthened in recent years and now includes 62 multiple-choice questions, 4 task-based simulations, and 3 written communication simulations.

Since it is not known as a particularly difficult or lengthy exam section, but still a significant challenge to pass on the first window, the experts say a study prep of 55 to 75 hours should be sufficient to pass the BEC.

You may want to consider putting a few extra hours into the written portion since many candidates say they struggled with the unfamiliarity of the format.

Final Thoughts

The key to effectively prepping for the CPA is developing a study plan and using quality materials. When developing a study plan that is right for you, you might want to consider the use of CPA study guides and commercial review courses. Be sure to check out our Best CPA Review Courses, researched and compiled by our team of experts.


How long to study for CPA exam?

How long you need to study for the CPA exam turns on a number of factors, including how good you are at taking standardized tests, your experience in the field, and what you remember from school. Plan to spend several weeks studying for each section though.

How many hours does it take to prep for the CPA exam?

Most CPA exam takers report having spent over 300 hours studying for all four sections of the exam. Some sections require more than others. FAR and AUD may take you more than 100 hours each in studying, while BEC and REG might take just 50 hours.