How to Prepare for Your Enrolled Agent Exam

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The finance industry offers young professionals a variety of career paths, but an up and coming route that doesn’t require a college degree is centered on our tax system.

Enrolled agents are experts in tax law, and can expect to make lucrative salaries with the right career path. If you are pursuing a position as an enrolled agent, you’ll need to successfully complete the difficult EA exam.

Luckily, studying for this exam is not much different than studying for other rigorous exams.  Of course, it is important that you read all available literature, take mock exams, and purchase the best EA review course, but also consider these other essential tips for exam prep.

1. Manage Your Time

Despite popular belief, studying everything all at one time does not improve long-term retention of the material.  In fact, it is best to study in twenty to fifty minute increments in order to give yourself maximum information retention.  Do you find yourself daydreaming in the middle of your studies?  Take a break.  Maybe check your phone or take a walk to refresh your brain.

Another way to manage time is to shut off or put away any distractions.  If you are the type that can’t study with peers or around family members without talking to them, it may be best for you to pursue another study spot.

Likewise, if you can’t help but check your phone every five minutes, try turning off all notifications, or notifying your friends and family that you will not be available unless it is an emergency for a certain period of time.  Doing so will dramatically reduce distraction, and you may be surprised at how much you accomplish in that time.

2. Study in Different Places

Studying in different places has been linked to memory retention, according to some studies.  This may not apply to everyone, but changing up your routine can heighten your awareness of your surroundings.  Perhaps this is why so many people report that working in coffee shops increases their work output.  Unless you are highly distractible, working in diverse surroundings may be just what you need.

3. Avoid All-Nighters

Studies have shown time and again the link between sleep and memory.  Adequate sleep is linked to a host of things your body needs, including any internal repairs, retaining healthy skin, stabilizing mood, performing creative problem solving during R.E.M. sleep, and improving memory retention. 

Gone are the days when all-nighters were glorified as the best way for a busy person to study.  True, perhaps some people prefer to study this way, but there is mounting evidence to suggest that most people will not benefit.

Fortunately, if you are managing your time properly, it will not be necessary to cram all of your learning to the last minute.  Help your brain and your body by getting enough sleep.

4. Incorporate Moderate exercise

It turns out that a little bit of cardio can go a long way.  Even just taking a walk for twenty to thirty minutes can vastly improve your memory.  Cardio exercise is essential to heart health, as well as for supplying fresh oxygen and circulation to the brain.  It is also a great way to take a break from your studies to refresh your head.  Alternatively, you may enjoy scheduled exercise outside of study time. 

Whether you choose morning, noon, or night, creating a doable workout routine will help increase energy and elevate mood so you can think positively and dedicate more time to your studies.  If you have not found a method of exercise that works for you, consider the wide variety of options available. 

You can take dance classes, kickboxing classes, and weight-lifting classes, join a yoga studio, or even join a soccer or volleyball league through a local company like GoVavi.  If these do not appeal to you, get some outdoor time with a friend by going on a brisk walk in a scenic place, or even just around the block.

5. Eat Well

There is such a thing as brain food.  Regulating what you eat and when you eat it can make all the difference when it comes to exam day.  Consume healthy fats and vitamins during your meals and snack times to improve brain function.  Omega-3’s in fish and nuts are lubricants that protect against inflammation, for example.  A diet with balanced nutrition in fruit and vegetables will help elevate the body’s metabolism to heighten energy for a longer period. 

Be warned, however, against excess sugar.  Not only are artificial sugars inflammatory to the body, but too much natural sugar from food like fruit will hurt your body as well.  Make sure that if you decide to have a fruit smoothie, for instance, that you accompany it with a spoonful of peanut butter or a handful of almonds for healthy fat and protein. 

Written By
David Arnold is a contributor at Crush the Enrolled Agent Exam -- an online resource dedicated to helping professionals pass their EA Exams on their first try. They provide invaluable reviews, tools and study tips to fast-track the success of future Enrolled Agents.
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