You’ve got a lot to cram into that brain of yours before you take that frightful CPA Exam, but before the cram fest begins, you need to figure out how you learn and study best – you know, so you can retain and comprehend the information, the first time.
There are 3 major categories of “learners” which go hand-in-hand with your senses – audio (hearing), visual (seeing), and kinesthetic (feeling). In case you were wondering, most people don’t learn too much about accounting by smelling and tasting - but you’re welcome to give it a try. Although we do hear that accounting literature has little to no nutritional value.
So how can you use your senses to study for the CPA Exam?
Audio learners tend to absorb information that they hear, so going to (and listening to) lectures and having discussions are important. If you’re an audio learner, it can be helpful for you to read content aloud to yourself or pair up with another audio learner to talk through the material. Listening to podcasts or watching review CDs repeatedly can also help you develop greater accounting genius. If you go to live lectures, you may want to use a digital recorder to record and listen to lectures later or tape yourself reading through your materials aloud. No one will ever know that you’re not rocking out to Bieber.
Visual learners learn best by reading textbooks or watching presentations. Diagrams and other pictures can also be really helpful in learning understand concepts, so draw out those T-charts. Making and using flash cards and re-reading hand- or type-written class notes are good study strategies for you visual learners. You can even write your review materials on a piece of paper repeatedly so you can “see” the answer (or at least where it was on your precious review sheet) when you’re taking the test. If you’ve learned mnemonics, practice writing them over and over so that you can jot them down easily when it’s exam time.
Kinesthetic learners understand things best when they can do or experience what they are learning. If you’re a kinesthetic learner, you can gain a lot by making flash cards and taking notes since the act of writing helps you remember the information. Pacing (yes, that thing they told you not to do in public speaking class) while studying can also help you retain facts better. Because accounting doesn’t intuitively lend itself to being studied kinesthetically (you can’t really ‘touch’ depreciation), you may have to get creative in your study methods.
Keep in mind that you may benefit from multiple learning styles, but you probably do gravitate toward one style more than the others. Balance your study methods with your learning style to get the best results and leave the textbook snacking to the rookies.