By Jake Bailey, III, FP&A
When I decided to sit for the FP&A Exam, I feel like I had a bit of an advantage. I was already in “study mode”, having just completed my MBA. Getting into that frame of mind isn’t easy, especially if you haven’t studied for a test in a while. Fortunately, there are a few ways that you can ease yourself back into that mindset.
Take it one step at a time.
When I was studying, I tried to do about one section per week. If you try to do more than that, you’ll probably become overwhelmed. So just take it easy and don’t rush through anything. Make sure you grasp each section before you move on to the next one.
Study throughout the day.
If you have the option, study when you have some downtime at work. I have three people who work under me right now that are preparing for exams, and I give them permission to study throughout the workday. The reason I bring this up is, it’s hard to work for eight or nine hours, and then go home and study for another three hours. For me, I’d rather work 10 hours and intersperse about an hour of study throughout the day.
The grind I went through with the MBA program had me working for 10 hours and then going to class for four hours. That’s pretty brutal. So if I’m going to have a 10 to 12 hour day, I’d rather break it up. If you have the flexibility to do that, that’s what I’d recommend.
Study for the entire exam.
I took parts one and two of the FP&A Exam on back-to-back days. I know there are some people who felt that some of the materials on part one should have been on part two, or vice versa. I disagree with that, but part two is continuous. So if you know part two, you know part one. It just solidifies what you studied for in part one. So I would just say to study all of the review materials before the test.
Ultimately, you have to do what’s right for you. You might have a completely different way of switching your brain into “study mode” than I do, but this is what worked for me. So good luck. Try not to stress too much, and don’t spend too much time on any one question.
Jake Bailey, III, FP&A is controller and director of finance for Tana Exploration.