CPA index by KnowledgEquity

Prepare a CPA index for your CPA exam so that you are ready for the open book exam style that CPA Australia use. KnowledgEquity can help you with your CPA studies with guidance on how to study effectively, and with our useful video tutorials, CPA practice exams, recorded webinars and module MCQs.

CPA summary notes

CPA index or CPA summary notes?

Students ask whether they should create an index (or just grab one from another student and use it) or if they should prepare summary notes.

In my previous post, I suggested that the first step is to create CPA summary notes for each module (

Here, we now explore the creation of a CPA index for your subject. We have prepared a detailed guideline with examples based on Ethics and Governance Module 1 which we think will be helpful for you.


Overview of preparing a CPA index

The benefit of indexing comes from:

  1. Spending time deciding on which words/concepts should be noted for special consideration
  2. Reviewing the index during your CPA exam revision period
  3. Quickly finding pages/references during a CPA exam to confirm your answers are correct

The key is to do it yourself – not borrow one from someone else, as a lot of the learning benefit is obtained during the creation process.

Steps for preparing a CPA index

Step 1: When reading your CPA study guide make sure you have a highlighter or pen/pencil ready. That way – each time you come across a word that seems important (or that you don’t understand easily) you can quickly highlight it. That way you have noted it to be put in your index. Here is an example from Ethics and Governance Module 1 Part A.

EG CPA index highlighting example

Step 2: When you get to the end of a section or a module, make sure you dedicate some time (30 minutes to 1 hour) to create your index for that section. You will be amazed at how this helps you remember things more clearly, because you are going over important points a second time.


When you read Step 2 I am sure you thought – hang-on. I couldn’t be bothered spending another hour on this. I am just going to borrow someone else’s index. This is not an hour wasted. This is an hour invested in studying, remembering, learning, knowing, understanding and mastering.

Stop looking for the easy path and just walk the right path !!


Step 3: Get your spreadsheet ready. There are different ways of doing this, but I like to have a column for page number, key word, definition/description, and then an extra column for any special notes or comments.


EG CPA index - Step 3


Step 4: Just get started. Type in the first highlighted word. Read the section, and type in a direct definition, or summarise it in your own words. If you need to cross-reference it to other sections of the materials, use the special notes/comments column.

Step 5: Don’t stop. Even though you might get a bit bored or tired. Just keep going. If you do this systematically after each study session you will be thrilled at how it just builds up over time.

Step 6: One week later, read through your index. You will be delighted by how much you already remembered, and it will help sink in further. Repeat each week (it will only take you about 15 minutes). By the end of semester you will have most of this locked into your memory.

Step 7: Before your CPA exam – print out the index in two versions:

  1. Version 1 – based on page number.
  2. Version 2 – sort by alphabetical order of the key term.

Most of the time in the exam you will want to rely on Version 2. But, there may be times when you can’t remember the ‘exact’ word, but you can remember the main part of the particular module. So – having it in page order can help you quickly scan to find the relevant area, and then find the relevant word.

EXAMPLE – CPA Ethics & Governance MODULE 1 – Accounting & Society – CPA Index

EG CPA index - Example



Now over to you…

PREPARING A CPA INDEX WILL TAKE YOU QUITE A LONG TIME. But, this is ‘studying’ not ‘reading’ and this is how you end up learning the material really well and not ‘forgetting’ it as soon as you put the book down.

 Then – when you start revising for your exam – you will have a detailed index – in your own words, and it will sink in much deeper than ever before.

Regards, Courtney Clowes


We are the Official Learning Partner of CPA Australia, and have highly qualified CPAs creating and delivering innovative content including live webinars, video tutorials, PDF resources to download and practice exams.

Our resources are available as Guided Learning via MYOL. It’s part of your tuition fees. Just go to CPA my online learning, select the subject you are enrolled in and find our link under the heading Guided Learning Support. It’s really that easy!

July 10, 2020

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