CPALE topnotchers share their board exam tips for aspiring accountants

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CPALE topnotchers share their board exam tips for aspiring accountants
Taking the CPALE soon? Here's some top-notch advice.

For every would-be accountant, there is one ultimate rite of passage: the Certified Public Accountant Licensure Exam (CPALE). Known as one of the most difficult board exams in the Philippines, the CPALE is conducted twice a year and taken by thousands of accounting graduates.

PwC Philippines asked 13 accountants, who are now professionals at the firm, for pointers on reviewing for the CPALE and staying motivated throughout the preparation period. While there is no one perfect way to prepare for the CPALE, it may help to know what worked for these successful takers who topped the exams.

Tip 1: Find an approach that works for you

For Francis Matthew “Matt” Obligacion (Oct 2022, CPALE Top 1), it is important not to cram, even on topics you feel comfortable with. “Give yourself time to absorb and understand the concepts.” 

Megan Mendoza (Sep 2023, Top 6) tailored her study strategy according to her strengths. “You can alternate reviewing the subjects you find most challenging with ones that you find easier.” She adds, “Don’t be intimidated by the material; have faith in your education and in yourself.”

Tip 2: Pace yourself and take breaks 

For Hebban Tawantawan (Sep 2023, Top 1), incorporating breaks in between his study plan helped his preparations. He also used mnemonics, which made recalling specific topics easier.

Kate Marie Buencochillo (Oct 2022, Top 2) stuck to a schedule and took breaks to help avoid burnout. She enjoyed the process by changing her environment, treating each topic as a milestone and tracking her progress.

Tip 3: Practice makes perfect

Djohamie Denise Urayan (Sep 2023, Top 10) spent several months answering 500 questions per subject per day. Hamie explains, “A month before final pre-boards, I dedicated my most productive and motivated hours to review concepts for each subject.”

Advanced Financial Accounting and Reporting was the hardest for Romelyn Gabanto (Sep 2023, Top 9). Her study method included solving practice problems and understanding the theory underlying the formulas. 

Tip 4: Understand the underlying rationale

Paula Angela Magdugo (Sep 2023, Top 6) focused on understanding the whys and hows of accounting topics. “It is better to understand the rationale behind the standards, the laws and all the other rules, so that it will be easier to apply them in the problems.”

Christian James Millando (Sep 2023, Top 10) paid attention to the basic concepts. He also used the pre-board reviewers to assess his weak points, which allowed him to know what he needed to focus on and improve.

Tip 5: Stay motivated and be well

With preparations taking up so much energy, staying motivated can be tough. For Yanesah Ann Tumambing (May 2023, Top 10), it is but human to feel nervous. “Trust yourself and believe that success is within your reach.” Similarly, Joseph Angelo Ogrimen (Sep 2023, Top 8) viewed the board exam as a test of emotions and how well you act under pressure. 

For Marion Jasper Tagle (Oct 2022, Top 5), “This is not about how much you study or how smart you are, but rather, how much you trust and believe in yourself.”

Hebban also cites the importance of well-being. “I consumed nutritious meals and engaged in recreational activities to recharge. I believe nurturing a sound mind and body is critical in enhancing productivity and effectiveness in our pursuits.”

Remember what inspires you, Paula explains. “Whenever I thought of the people who were sincerely rooting and praying for my success, I could not stay still and do nothing to achieve my dream.”

Professional growth after the CPALE 

Now that they are part of Isla Lipana & Co./PwC Philippines, these professionals are seizing every opportunity to advance their careers as CPAs.

Cedric John Tayson (Oct 2022, Top 8) says his time at PwC has been both demanding and rewarding. “The firm provided me with meaningful industry exposure that allowed me to develop my technical accounting expertise. I had the opportunity to serve a diverse range of clients from various industries.” 

Marc Angelo Sanchez (Oct 2018, Top 5) says PwC gave him the opportunities to be exposed to different industries and engagements. Marc, an Assurance Assistant Manager, is currently on a secondment program at PwC in the United Kingdom.

For Matt, developing his soft skills has been a delight. “I have come to be more confident in initiating conversations and engaging with people of different backgrounds. It is easy to speak up and consult others in the welcoming community of PwC,” he shares. “There is much to look forward to once you hurdle the exams. If you are about to take the CPALE, we wish you all the best and look forward to welcoming you to the profession soon.” – Rappler.com

PwC Philippines values integrity, excellence, and working together, believing these are essential in delivering sustained outcomes and making a positive impact on their clients, their people and the communities they serve. If you share these values and are looking to join a team that is dedicated to making a difference, click this link to explore opportunities with PwC.


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Isla Lipana & Co./PwC Philippines

Isla Lipana & Co. is the Philippine member firm of the PwC global network. At PwC, our purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems. We’re a network of firms in 155 countries with over 284,000 people who are committed to delivering quality in assurance, advisory and tax services. Find out more and tell us what matters to you by visiting us at www.pwc.com/ph. PwC refers to the PwC network and/or one or more of its member firms, each of which is a separate legal entity. Please see www.pwc.com/structure for further details.