Using the NINJA Method to Ace the CPA Exam

    Joshua GraunkeJoshua is a NINJA CPA review blogger

    At this point in studying, it’s all about the calendar. I am over halfway through my FAR book, employing the NINJA method of studying, and it is starting to feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day.

    Every missed opportunity to review a flashcard or listen to Jeff’s audio feels like it will be the reason I get a 74 instead of passing this miserable test.

    I find myself taking longer lunch breaks to get a little more studying in and try to nail one more concept before I go back to my desk.

    I missed a day this week studying to celebrate the Stanley Cup, and now it seems like I shouldn’t have even watched the game, much less partied long after the game was over.

    It has definitely been a learning experience. Life has now become a mish-mashed pile of work and studying, with the occasional gym visit to relieve the stress of this exam (seriously, die consolidations).

    I have learned that the best way to get through this is simply to block out the outside world and use 100% of your free time to learn or refresh a concept.

    I keep looking up at my clock during the late night study sessions and think “another hour closer!” I read the A71 forum for near 8 months before starting and still didn’t quite grasp the breadth of this undertaking.

    I plan to wrap up the final chapters over the next 10 days and begin the second “N” of the NINA method and try to get as many MCQs done as possible.

    My girlfriend has been a trooper about the process, and has even had me explain certain things to her while she looks at the book to help reinforce it in my memory.

    Little things like a supportive significant other can make all the difference in my energy and enthusiasm to study, so I am thankful she is willing to trek through this with me.

    I’ve found that there’s no secret cheat code for the CPA. The only thing that gets you through this is constant vigilance and commitment to the process.

    I just need to keep moving forward. One more flashcard, one more listen through of the lecture. Keep focused. 37 days to go.

    Surviving CPA Score Release

    Carolina2

    Carolina is a NINJA CPA review blogger

    Grrrrr!!!!!! Another failure. A lot has happened since I last wrote. I failed AUD and BEC both with a 58.

    I knew I was not ready when I took those tests, but I was hopeful for a miracle. I did not study as I was supposed to.

    I was more upset by my AUD failure than for my BEC. I studied a lot more for AUD, and when I got out of the testing center I felt like I had a good chance of passing.

    After I saw my score, I cried the entire night and the morning after. I saw my score at 12:52 am ET, and I made a promise to myself that I will never stay up late to wait for the CPA Score Release, for I could not sleep the entire night and went to work feeling miserable.

    I took BEC four weeks after I took AUD, but I got my AUD results two days before my BEC test. I do believe that this score affected me because I didn’t want to study anymore.

    I really considered quitting. I felt like I don’t have what it takes to pass these tests. I felt tired and didn’t want to continue with this journey.

    Thankfully, I came back to my senses, and decided to make a new study plan. My plan is to take FAR in July and stick to one test until I pass.

    I failed FAR by 4 points, and I believe I have a good chance of passing it next time around. I just need to force myself to study and have the same dedication I have in other aspects of my life.

    I just keep telling myself, study harder and you’ll pass.

    I wish you all the best of luck!

    New Plans to Become a NINJA CPA

    Rollie S

    Rollie is a NINJA CPA review blogger.

    My fellow NINJA CPA hopefuls, I digitally stand here today to inform you that I have failed again with a 64 on AUD.

    Being the loving husband that I am, I deferred telling my wife the news until the evening, which, in retrospect, was probably not a good idea.

    Instead of hearing the “Sorry honey, you will get it next time,” I got the “You waited all day to tell me?” talk. It was pretty special and helpful towards drowning my sorrows of the failure….

    I guess I am back to gouging my eyes with rusted spoon to retake AUD early July…The good news is that my state board just sent an email on score release day to inform us that they have decided to raise exam fees.

    Hopping off the sadistic and sarcasm train, my plan is to switch back to AUD and take it before the 4th of July. I am retaining a lot of what I learned plus I feel like I am able to help others in the study group on the forum.

    Some of my best test scores in college were when I would lock myself in a room and talk/write on the whiteboard to teach myself the materials. Granted there were no windows, so others did not get to witness myself looking like a crazy person.

    I plan to again pound the NINJA MCQs, but actually work on understanding why the other 3 answers are incorrect or just not the best options. In the last week, I have started taking the time to look at why the other answers are incorrect and I am starting to learn a lot more.

    Being home and spending time with my wife becomes more difficult as I continue this journey. The duration is beginning to take a toll on the quantity of quality time and my frustration and stress level does not help.

    I listen to some podcasts and one of them is about marriage and tips to keep and grow a healthy relationship. One of the key tips that has been prominent through the episodes is making time to relax and play.

    Whether playing a board game or taking a walk, these times are set to just have fun and not talk about bills, CPA exam, children (we don’t have any), etc.

    This is time to reconnect and then you can go back to attacking the list of mounting items that need to be completed.

    I may begin to try this to see if I can re-connect to the quality time we had in the past and to stop myself from focusing on auditing assertions.

    Goals for the week:

    • Focus while studying so I can get home sooner
    • Work on de-stressing
    • Date Night(s)
    • Hone in on my inability to determine what assertions the auditor is testing for (I know-I ended with a preposition)
    June 24, 2015 NINJA CPA Review

    CPA Review: Conquering the FAR Monster

    dustinski 2

    Dustin is a NINJA CPA exam blogger

    Hello NINJAs,

    I am gearing up for FAR. Just a couple of weeks left until I sit for this monster. Then it is on to my retake. If all goes according to plan, I will be done with this beast this fall.

    That is the goal. I think it is realistic and doable, but I just need the motivation to continue on. Very difficult to stay motivated now that the weather is warmer and all I want to do is enjoy the outdoors and golf.

    My golf game is taking a beating this summer (no time- too busy studying).

    I seem to remember a week or so ago being very down on myself about this whole thing. I was upset and frustrated. I was struggling through some difficult topics and wasn’t very hopeful.

    I was chatting with a friend and they said, “FAR is more like being a jack of all trades. Efficient and understanding in all, but a master in none.” It eases a little of the stress, but I still am nervous about the whole thing, which I think is normal.

    I am almost done getting through the material the first time and will have a decent amount of time to review, which is hopeful. So I had that juice to keep me running for a few days. Then I started get discouraged again.

    Two days ago I was frustrated and I looked over and saw a sign that my mother has in her house. It says, OPPORTUNITY is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like hard work. – Thomas A. Edison.

    Well didn’t he hit the nail on the head with that one? Now granted this shouldn’t be literal. I mean if overalls are your thing, then more power to you, but it makes perfect sense.

    I know tons of folks who have passed this exam, and then I know some on the other side, who have started and quit, and started, and then quit. I will not let myself be like that.

    I am going to strap on my overalls (thinking about getting some and rocking them like it’s the 60’s again) and push through this CPA review. I see my friends who have completed this exam going to the beach, hiking, vacationing, etc.

    I am peanut butter n’ jealous. However, they worked for it, and now are reaping the rewards. They are getting promotions and respect from colleagues, are able to enjoy their weekends, and can catch up on Netflix or going to the gym.

    We can do it to. It is a process, and the success and money will come. This pain (emotional, physical, mental) will pass. It is temporary. I am just excited about the prospects of that success. It is really what keeps me going.

    Ciao,

    Study hard, stay on track and I will try to do the same. You’ll look back on this and laugh. Actually, no you probably won’t. You will probably say that it sucked and was awful, but you only have to do it once. Keep working.

    -Dustin

    June 23, 2015 NINJA CPA Review

    CPA Exam Question Frustration

    Sarah Headshot New

    Sarah is a NINJA CPA review blogger

    If you’re looking for a pick me up to get you back on the studying wagon, you may want to skip this one…

    Lately I’m feeling really down about this whole process. I was flying high after I passed my last section, because all I’ve thought about for so long was my first goal of passing FAR.

    The most daunting part of studying for that was that it felt so completely impossible to even pass that section, and that whole time in the back of my mind all I kept thinking was “even if I ever pass this one – I have 3 more after it!”

    That’s where I am now, finally confronting that lurking sick feeling of “3 more….” I thought that maybe I would accomplish a miracle and pass AUD by only studying for 2 weeks after passing FAR.

    I had a great few weeks and hit it hard, and it seemed so much easier than FAR! I was really enjoying the material, and going into the test I was feeling like it all finally made sense – just FAR was a beast, and from here on out the CPA Exam questions would be much easier.

    The whole test seemed just easier, friendlier, and like it made so much more sense.

    I came out of the exam flying high and hesitant to tell anyone how well I thought it went… unfortunately I DID end up telling some people that…

    For the last 3 weeks while waiting for my score I have taken it easy – hoping against hope that I pulled off a miracle and passed it with such a short time of studying, and figuring that even if I didn’t pass, it wouldn’t be by much, so it would be a no problem to hit it hard for another couple of weeks and then get the extra few points to move past AUD.

    However…. that’s not exactly how things worked out. A few nights ago, I sat with my husband, who was going through some pretty severe anxiety over his father’s health condition, and we both sat expectantly waiting for 1am to roll around, iPad’s in hand, ready to get that score.

    As soon as I saw my 59, I just said “what?!” I was so confused… I clearly have no concept of what it takes to pass this section, and even less clarity of how I’m doing during the CPA Exam questions. I sincerely thought that all my SIMS were easy, and I flew through the MCQs. Apparently I completely deluded myself…

    This is obviously not one of my more chipper posts, because honestly I’m just feeling spent with this process. I went ahead and rescheduled a new test as soon as possible, and now I have about two months to get my head around this material and really see what I was missing (because apparently it was a lot).

    At least at this point I have a routine of just getting back on the horse through all the disappointment, but it’s starting to get old.

    The one ray of sunshine that I can say is that even through my massive disappointment and sadness over that awful score, sitting there with my husband, who had some seriously pressing things on his mind, I was able to be immensely grateful that I’m even in this position to feel this let down over something like this.

    How many people in the world don’t even have access to education, let alone the world class education that I received that got me to the point that I can even be in the running for this kind of an accomplishment?

    Failing AUD isn’t the end of the world, and failing it again wouldn’t be either. I am grateful that I have a job that I love (that patiently lets me take endless time off to take exams and even study),

    I have a husband that is happy to let me study when we’re home together (and even works on his own projects quietly in the meantime so that I won’t be tempted to relax with him, AND cooks dinner for both of us a few nights before my exams so that I can just study without worrying about anything else!).

    I’m obviously very blessed, and sometimes I just need to take a step back from that countdown clock and get some perspective on what’s really important.

    Someday I will be a CPA, and I will think back to this time and be grateful that I made it through, that I NEVER have to take a test like this again, and that I didn’t let the exam steal my joy.

    June 22, 2015 NINJA CPA Review

    Finding Inner Peace in the CPA Study Schedule

    Ashley

    Ashley is a NINJA CPA review blogger

    Do any of you practice yoga? I started practicing about five years ago and fell in love. I’m no expert, by any means, but it has quickly and increasingly become one of my favorite pastimes.

    It is one place I can go and focus on me and truly be present in that moment. Letting go of all distractions. Letting go of work. Letting go of expectations, judgement, and comparisons.

    It is unquestionably one of the healthiest things I do for myself. I can feel my blood pressure lower for hours or even days after practicing.

    I feel a true sense of inner peace that only comes from taking the time to calm my body and my mind and just practice. Yoga is all about being present. Not focusing on yesterday or tomorrow, but where you are right now.

    I only ask because over the course of studying, my yoga practice has suffered tremendously. And I can feel it. My natural personality has a difficult time stopping to smell the roses.

    I enjoy my work and have a difficult time letting it go. The addition of my CPA study schedule made personal time nearly non-existent.

    Over the course of the past month, since my Controller resigned, I have naturally stepped up and taken on extra work.

    This doesn’t necessarily mean I am working tons of extra hours, because I am good at getting things done or delegating to the other members of my team, but it does mean I have been carrying around a slew of information, deadlines, and stress – and haven’t been letting any of it go.

    Because of this, my mind has been overwhelmed to the point that even the thought of studying is nearly unbearable. I’ve considered giving up because it just seems like too much for now.

    But you know what? It isn’t. And I am not giving up.

    A new yoga studio opened this past weekend just five minutes from my house, and they are offering an insane summer special!

    I sat down over the weekend, new yoga studio schedule in hand, and reworked my life for the next four weeks, until FAR test day.

    I realized that even with taking some time for me and the other priorities in my life, I still have enough time for yoga – every day, if I want it! I was ecstatic.

    I think that more than anything this made me realize how much time I waste when I am carrying around stress and not dealing with it by letting it go on the mat – my best de-stressor.

    I decided I have 24 hours each day like everyone else, and even though I am studying for these insane exams, I can still fit in time for 8 hours of work, sleep, an hour for yoga, 4 hours of studying, etc.

    It means I am not hitting the snooze. It means I am making myself take lunch. It means I am not working (too) late. For ELL. For now.

    For now, my sights are set on FAR, and maybe getting insanely lucky and getting promoted along the way. But for now, FAR. And after FAR, the rest will fall into place.

    Until next time, HIYA!

    Motivation for the CPA Exam

    Rollie S

    Rollie is a NINJA CPA review blogger

    Hello NINJAs!

    Tomorrow is the day of reconciliation at Prometric and another chance to see Lyle. Lyle is the guy that checks you in and out at my center.

    You know you been to Prometric too many times when you greet each other at the grocery store by name…

    I am hoping for a good experience like I had with BEC, except without the whole failing part.

    I am starting to feel good about Audit despite my extreme hatred for the subject and test questions.

    I am recognizing ways to narrow down choices in the MCQs and getting better at choosing the “best answer.”

    The “best answer” questions always throw me for a loop and are complete BS. It comes back to looking for the keywords and recognizing patterns like “always” and “all,” etc.

    After doing 2400 CPA exam questions, I feel that I have a good grasp on a lot of concepts and recognizing the tricks. My big problem is sometimes I forget to the read the WHOLE question or WHOLE answers.

    One word could be paramount between a correct and incorrect answer.

    If you have been following, you know that I recently failed BEC. I was really hoping for the pass to get motivation and momentum moving, albeit, I continued to push forward with AUD so I could get another exam in this testing window. I will retake BEC on July 2nd.

    Also, you probably understand my extreme hatred for Auditing and my piss poor motivation. What got me going back to the public library after work?

    What got me to sit down and pound MCQs? It was seeing the end goal and setting and a small reward for each day of studying: a little something to look forward to after a QUALITY study session-none of this study for 3 hours crap where I/you spend half of your time on the phone or Facebook. It had to be QUALITY.

    What did I do for reward/calm down time before seeing the wife? I would go hit some golf balls at a golf simulator that is a couple minutes from my house.

    Or some days I would pick a TV show to watch when my wife decides to start watching a terrible show called Vampire Diaries…

    Having a reward gave me something to look forward to after a boring, but quality NINJA study session. I suggest that other candidates try this method if you trouble motivating yourself to study.

    Until next time, keep on swimming!

    Getting through CPA study materials when life happens

    Christina FChristy is a NINJA CPA review blogger

    I have been so unmotivated to study for the past week or so. There’s just been too much stress going on in my everyday life for me to feel like I could give studying my all.

    I had a major turnaround last night though. I sat down, read an entire chapter and answered the questions at the back of the chapter.

    I didn’t do too poorly on the questions either. I feel like this is what I needed.

    I deactivated and uninstalled my social media accounts because I caught myself reaching for them way too often.

    Now, when I instinctively reach for my phone to go on them, I turn on my flashcards instead. That little bit of extra time here and there will definitely help me.

    Life happens. I’ve had to come to realize that even though sometimes things happen, I still have to press through to get through the CPA study material. I’ve come too far to give up, even if I have considered it a few times.

    I have to handle everything and then clear my mind and study. It’s taken me a little while to figure out how to turn everything off to be able to study, but it’s imperative that I do. I’m not the only one going through things, so I hope that realization helps someone else.

    Sometimes I just feel hopeless and want to throw my hands up in the air, but that’d get me nowhere and almost certainly another failing score. In a few weeks I’m going to a conference for work so I know I’ll have all that travel time on the plane to study, which is something I’m very much looking forward to.

    Every day I try to look up and write a new motivational quote on my board at work. My favorite one so far is simple. “There are no shortcuts to any place worth going” by Beverly Sills.

    There are no shortcuts to this test, and it’s definitely worth going forward for; I just have to remember why I’m doing this and I WILL get there. I’ve got a fresh study plan and intend to work Ninja MCQ’s until I can’t anymore.

    I WILL pass this test.

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