How to Pass the CPA Board Exam in the Philippines

How to pass the CPA board exam in the Philippines? The Certified Public Accountant (CPA) examination is a licensure exam prescribed by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) and given by the Board of Accountancy (BOA). The exam covers 7 subjects (Theory of accounts, Business law and taxation, Management services, Auditing theory, Auditing problems, Practical accounting problems I and Practical accounting problems II). In this article, I would like to share my own tips and secrets in succeeding the said difficult examination – though it’s not difficult at all if you will hardly and wisely prepare for it.

In climbing a mountain, the more you climb, the more you reach the mountain’s peak. It’s the same with passing the exam, the more you study and practice, the more you get the highest score. But we all know that reading, studying and practicing can make you a successful CPA examinee. We also know how to read, study and practice. The steps and procedures are provided to us by our instructors and reviewers. What we don’t usually know is how to motivate and influence ourselves to go on reading, studying and practicing the CPA materials. The following are tips to prepare your mind, body and spirit for passing the CPA board exam in the country.


How far or near are you from passing the exam? Compare yourself from other candidates who are making it to the top of pre-examinations or mock boards. If you are leading them, determine how you can maintain your lead. If you’re behind, reassess your review program, review materials, time budget and effort exerted. Consider increasing them to accelerate your review and outrun the other candidates. If you’ve evaluated yourself that you don’t have any more time and resources or you can’t pass the board exam now, consider extending your preparation and take the exam in the following schedule. You should be able to measure your level of confidence.

Goal setting

Is your target specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-framed? It must be a SMART goal. Example, you will want to aim an average rating of 85%, which you consider achievable because your ratings in the pre-examinations are not far to that score, plus you still have enough time to attain such score. You should also set a deadline (example: 2 weeks before the date of exam) when you can already say to yourself confidently that an at least 85% rating is already achievable. You can increase your target score any higher than 85%, let us say 97% to become a topnotcher. However, be sure that you also have enough time, resources and abilities to achieve such target, or else, you will only become frustrated and may even fail to achieve the passing grade. The key here is to be specific and realistic.

Your steps

Make your steps and procedures align to your objectives. If you aim a harder target, make harder steps. So if you target a higher score, make longer, harder and deeper study procedures. Of course you cannot hit a far target if you will only do a weak pitch. Moreover, you should put some extra fun on your steps and procedures in your review program. For example, you will reward yourself every time you get closer to your target.

Review materials

Read your textbooks before you study your review materials. It is also advisable to enroll in a competitive review center, where you can be surrounded by more competent reviewers and co-candidates. This will expose you to a more competitive environment. Review materials are provided to you by your review center. Listen and follow your instructor and reviewer – they are your coaches.

Become a spy. Check what review materials or books are used by other CPA candidates who are always making it to the top of the pre-examinations. Invest money to have them. You can also use the internet for researching the fundamentals of accounting and auditing. Remember that book authors are not perfect. They are just like you before they become expert in their field. Thus, think like an author, do a deep research to understand the WHY’s and fundamentals of accounting, auditing and other related subjects.


The CPA board examination is considered as one of the most difficult professional examinations in the country. Thus, it requires a lot of preparation, hard work, patience and confidence to successfully pass the exam. You need to find a solution on how to battle indolence, procrastination, impatience and worries, which are hindrances to achieving your goal. To overcome indolence, you should make your review program interesting. Put some fun on it; don’t create a boring program. To overcome procrastination, you just need to start it – simple as that (it’s a no brainer task; just do it!). You don’t need to wait for your momentum; grab it!

To defy impatience, you need to have a great inspiration. Make your target a very important thing in your life, which you can be ready to sacrifice anything just to achieve it. And lastly, to overcome your worries, you need to calculate the risks, eliminate or reduce them, and come up with an accurate confidence. Just imagine the confidence of people who are riding in an airplane. It seems too dangerous and helpless being in a metallic aircraft thousands of feet above the ground. But because of calculated risk and accuracy, people are confident to ride an airplane rather than travel on a bus. You need to gain that kind of accurate confidence to pass and attain your target rate on the CPA board exam.

Additional tips

Here are additional tips I want to share:

1. Simultaneously study the 7 subjects in a week. You can focus one subject per half day. Don’t study on a single subject only for a week or a month. It may cause you to forget the other subjects. Remember that most of the seven subjects are interrelated to each other. Hence, it would be wise if you can connect them.

2. Have enough sleep. Study on the day, not on the very late night. Remember that the tests are held on the morning and afternoon. If you’re brain is used to be active on evening, you may find yourself too sleepy and dull during the actual exams, which are on the morning and afternoon.

3. Don’t drink too much water before the exam if you don’t want to be bothered going out to the comfort room for personal necessities. Examiners are also very strict when it comes to going out of the assigned rooms.

4. Visit your assigned room before the day of the exam to familiarize the place.

5. Use your most comfortable calculator, and bring another one for reservation.

6. On the few days before the exam, you must already be ready and well-prepared to take the exam. Don’t be a last-minute student. You should already be confident, excited and relaxed on those days.

7. Believe on the power of our Almighty God. If God can make Heaven and Earth, how much more can He make you a CPA?

I hope this article can help you become a Certified Public Accountant in the nearing days. Thank you for reading. Have the best process… to have the best result.

Victorino Abrugar is a retired CPA practitioner, a blogger, speaker, and an entrepreneur. He's the President of Optixor, Inc., a digital marketing company based in the Philippines. Follow him on Twitter at @viclogic.


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