N.I.N.J.A Study Framework: Early, Lunch, Late

One of the most frequent questions we receive goes something like this: “I have a full-time job. How do I find the time to study?” 

Of course, other people have full-time jobs, kids, and a host of other responsibilities all needing some of their time and attention. 

Enter the Early Lunch Late (ELL) plan. I created this for myself because it’s what I needed when I was studying and, like you, had a number of responsibilities. 

This is all covered in more detail in the NINJA Study Framework, which you can download for free here.

But as an overview, with the ELL Plan, you will:

  • Exceed the recommended 130 study hours in seven weeks.
  • You will incorporate 25 hours of studying into each week.
  • You have an extra five hours of study time built in to allow for the unexpected.

The Early Late Lunch Plan is simple. The sacrifice is not. 

The idea is that you set a schedule, and make a habit of it over the course of the 7 weeks necessary to pull this off.

How it works:


Get up 1.5 hours earlier than normal. If you are already getting up at 4, don’t shake

your head in disgust. This plan isn’t for you. 

For those who normally get up at 6 or 6:30 am, start getting up at 4:30 or 5. Stumble to the coffee pot (which you loaded the night before) and hit the “go” button.

While the coffee is brewing, go take a quick shower and wake up. 

Head back to the coffee, grab a cup, and sit down at your computer and books (which you also

set up the night before).


Say no to the co-workers heading down the street to grab lunch and talk about how dumb their boss is for an hour. 

You take your lunch to your desk (which you also packed the night before). 

Start eating and hit play on your NINJA Audio.

Your legal pad and pen will get food smears on them while you take notes, as will your

mouse, but who cares. 

Same rule applies as the morning: no e-mail or Internet.

Study for an hour.


This is where it will differ greatly based on your home situation, based on whether you are single with no children, married with no children, or married with children but your spouse is at home, etc. 

Somewhere between the hours of 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., set aside the time to study. 

Study at a coffee shop, the library, stay late at work, do it at home…whatever works for your situation. 

Study for 2 hours. 

Do this four days a week. 

Have lunch out Friday and take Friday night off. 


On the weekends, dedicate 4 hours each day to studying. 

Again, the NINJA Study Framework goes into more detail and has some handy infographics that detail what your week will look like using this method, so if you don’t have that, go here to get your free copy. 

Let me reiterate, this plan is simple to understand but it is not easy to do…nothing about the CPA Exam is easy, though. 

Have a plan, put in the work, and you’ve got this.

Will NINJA Work For You?

At this point, you are likely wondering whether NINJA will be effective for YOU personally?

NINJA CPA Review is a complete course that has also been the #1 CPA Review supplement for over a decade.

Based on this, there are two paths forward, please choose the path that best suits where you are in your CPA Exam journey.


The NINJA Only path is for candidates who would like to use NINJA as their primary review course.

NINJA As A Supplement

The NINJA As A Supplement is for candidates who already have a primary course (Becker, Wiley, Roger, Surgent, etc) that hasn’t gotten the job done i.e. you’ve recently failed a section OR you want give yourself that little extra boost to avoid failing.