Passing the CPA exam is a big deal, as any knowledgeable person will attest to, often making which test section to take first a moot point. If you ask more professionals, however, picking the right section of the CPA exam to take first is a big decision. Further, most experts also agree that picking the right CPA training course can help make this decision much easier. And, when you consider that picking the right exam part to take first can make the difference between passing the CPA exam on the first go-around and having to take sections multiple times before you pass, it’s important to give the multiple theories behind making the right decision some serious thought. Here is a short review of each school of thought.

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Which Part of the CPA Exam Should You Take First?

If you take a CPA training course you will learn that most people taking the part of the CPA exam will first take that part that they consider the most difficult part, which might seem the most logical choice. After all, isn’t that way it’s done? Well, yes and no. This thinking is great until you consider that the entire exam must be completed within the 18-month time frame. Said another way, this means you could take and pass the most difficult part of the exam but then find yourself struggling with the remaining three parts, and ultimately going past the deadline for doing so. This causes the first part of the exam you worked so hard to pass to expire.

Make the First Part of the Exam You Take Your Strongest Subject

The second school of thought on the subject is that you should take the section that is your strongest subject. Obviously, this choice will be different for each person but, for example, if your strongest subject is federal taxation and business law, the REG portion of the exam should be your first test choice. On the other hand, if you have not been in school for a while, and have a job such as auditing, your first exam choice might be something you have more recent experience with, such as the Business Environment and Concepts (BEC) section.

The overall idea is that whatever your strongest subject is should be the section of the exam that you take first, which will not only get it out of the way but also serve to build your confidence for taking the remaining sections.

Why Use This Approach in Taking the CPA Exam?

Admittedly, the approaches described above is a matter of opinion, but it is backed by many years of experience. It also stands to reason that passing the CPA exam is, to a great extent, a mind game that you can win by building your confidence early in the game. And, if you take the most difficult portion of the exam first and fail it, your motivation and confidence will probably be shattered for the remaining sections. Further, if you take your best subject and pass that part of the exam, but lose it due to the time window closing, you won’t be devastated because that is, after all, your strongest subject and can be passed again with ease.

It is important to remember that, regardless of how you choose to take the CPA exam, passing sections will give you a boost in the long run.

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