As a Registered Tax Return Preparer (RTRP) candidate, what would make you happier where you stand right now? Completing the review of any of the 7 domains of the RTRP exam outline?
I guess that is the same as asking you, will you wait until you reach the goal of earning $100,000, $500,000 per year to celebrate, or will you celebrate incremental increases in earnings of $50, $100 or $1,000 a week or a month, until you reach your desired goal of $100,000 or $500,000, knowing that without the smaller steps you may not reach the larger goal, anyway?
The point is, more often than not, great accomplishments result from an accumulation of smaller successes.
New research from Stanford and Harvard University Business School has determined that people feel better with incremental accomplishments than by attaining grand goals all at once. That brings to mind the fact that a sense of incremental but steady progress is the real source of feeling good about any area of our lives. In that sense, daily progress, or small steps, tend to lead to greater accomplishments.
Applying the above concepts to the RTRP exam, it is the positive action of adding incrementally to the preparation process that builds you up to the possibility of passing the exam on your first attempt a realizable goal. A string of small successes is powerful and increases your self-confidence to work for the big goal.
Following are some small steps you could take in your preparation for the RTRP exam. As you complete each step successfully you will feel better incrementally and by the time you complete your preparation you will feel confident that you will pass your exam on your first attempt.
Step 1: Study or review thoroughly, the content of each of the 7 domains of the IRS test specification outline. Concentrate on the topics you feel less knowledgeable about rather than the ones in which your knowledge is solid. What you know today, you will remember in the exam day.
Step 2: Take extra notes as you study and use them for quick reviews as often as time will permit you, say, for example during your lunch breaks at work. Repetition during the quick reviews will increase your ability to recall the information quickly, when you need it most.
Step 3: Practice, practice and then practice some more using a suitable multiple choice test bank. This will familiarize you with solving problems similar to those you will be confronted with in the test center.
The simulated exam practice will help you gain confidence about the exam process, navigating through the computer in the exam room, the format of the questions, and moderate your expectations about exam day in the Prometric center.
By preparing step by step, becoming fully informed and aware of the entire exam process you gain command over it and you have a better chance of passing it on your first attempt.
Whatever else you do to prepare yourself for your exam day, keep in mind that there is no fast track to passing the RTRP exam. You pass the exam by answering all the questions whose answers you are sure of, and remembering that there is no penalty for guessing, especially if you guess right. The point is, leave no question unanswered. Passing the exam is about clicking enough answers correctly in the time allotted to accumulate a score of 70%. It is about adding points to your final score with each click.
All that said, passing the RTRP exam requires more than just studying tax-related topics included in the exam outline and practicing with simulated exams. Well prepared, knowledgeable exam candidates can fail by allowing themselves to be overcome by test anxiety for lack of an exam strategy to handle the challenges of being in the exam room. Fortunately, the many fears that may hold you back can be diminished, if not totally neutralized, by acknowledging them beforehand and then taking steps to implement appropriate action to restore your confidence on your exam day.