CPA Reviewed #57: CPA Exam Study Advice – 9/23/2014

    Podcast Giveaway: Ten Point Combo – Winner announced during the show.

    “Ask Jeff” Questions (

    Shayne - I’ve been out of business school for 16 years and have family and job responsibilities like everyone else. I’m currently slogging my way through FAR and a question keeps haunting me. Given the testing windows and the 18 month deadline, should I be studying two sections at a time? How can the 18 month deadline be met if I have to take some exams multiple times?

    Tom - I am 27 and have no real-life accounting experience and have been working as a temp at firm for about a year in a position that doesn’t deal with accounting and very little finance. I want to get my CPA but my accounting knowledge is very low at this point. What do you suggest I do at this point? Do I need to do something to get a base accounting foundation?

    Tony - I failed FAR with a 68, and I am starting to study again for the exam. Should I re-watch the lecture videos or just reread the book, rewrite notes, and practice test questions in the test bank?

    Amber - I am overwhelmed by all of the review courses out on the market to pass the CPA exam. I’m going to get the Ten Point Combo and it seems to come with a plethora of information. Is that all I need to study for the four sections or do I need to get another review above and beyond?

    Brennan - What’s your advice for the authoritative literature part of the simulations? I’m having a hard time trying to find the right keyword and find the right AL.

    Roman – I’m 10 days away from my first exam — Audit. How should I study during these final days? I have the Wiley book and test bank, NINJA Flashcards and NINJA Blitz.

    Patrick - I am struggling with FAR, especially journal entries. Do you think your Ten Point Combo will help me prepare?

    Mohamad - I am struggling with the CPA Exam. Should I try to get my CIA instead since it is easier and then go for my CPA later?

    Pam - I get very bored during lecture videos and find it hard to retain the information as I just listen to these guys talk for hours. Do you think supplementing my lectures with the NINJA Notes might be a good strategy? I’m wondering if this is a common way to study and if you know if it has worked for others.

    Mike - There are no homework questions with my review course, only multiple choice questions. With the NINJA method, do I just ignore the MCQs for now and keep taking notes and watching videos? I feel like I learn more from the lesson when I work the multiple choice after the lecture and reading the material.

    Yi - I passed REG in 2012, but now I need to pass it again. Is my review material from 2012 still relevant? Can I use an updated supplement instead of purchasing all new materials?

    Facebook Questions (

    Xubair – Is it possible to complete REG in two weeks, studying full time?

    Audrey – What are some tips on how much and what you should study the last two weeks before a test?

    Justin - I’m studying for BEC using the wiley book and online test bank and your audio and ninja notes. What is the best strategy/time allocation for reading and doing MCQ’s?

    Justin D – Jeff, I’ve tried studying with another course (one that starts with a B) and I’ve had terrible results Gotta be honest, I’m feeling a bit down and defeated. It’s my lifelong dream of becoming a CPA. Can you help? Thanks

    Gary - What is the true nature of a 1031like-kind exchange?

    Forum Questions (

    AScott89 - Do you think it’s possible to study for an AUD retake in eight weeks or less? I just started studying for my retake and I’m hoping to schedule it for the end of November. I work part-time and my schedule is always changing.

    golfball7773 How do you stay motivated after spending your whole summer on FAR to find out you pretty much bombed the test?

    Mjganier For AUD, what is the best method to get the management assertions (existence, valuation, etc) to stick? What are the specific keywords in the questions that will help identify the correct answer? These can be so tricky!


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    September 23, 2014 Podcasts

    Hoping to Rebound after Disappointing FAR Score

    blog imageRollie is a NINJA CPA Blogger.

    Hello NINJAs!!

    I wish I had some exciting news, but alas I do not. I finally received my FAR score after NASBA’s great Friday tweet and server issues on Monday. I knew what I was expecting, but I did not expect to completely bomb FAR.

    I received a 55. That is worse than when I was pretending to study last year. By pretending, I was justifying Call of Duty instead of studying. I am kind of shocked to the extent that I failed, but I need to hop off the depression train and pass in early October. Woo woo! (Train noise…)

    I was expecting to fail when I was only trending 49 percent in NINJA MCQ and the test was a beast. I don’t know why I thought my result would be any different.

    I am going to change my plan up just a tad. Instead of focusing on lectures, I am going to do purely multiple choice questions. The other change I plan on making is to stop at the gym before heading to the library. Hopefully by getting some physical activity in my life, I will be able to focus and understand the material better.

    When I was studying this summer, I felt like I needed some sort of nap by the time I got to the library and my productivity and ability to focus plummeted.

    To all NINJAs that have failed, I know it tempting to give up, but keep moving forward. If you follow the CPA Exam Forum, you see so many success stories and how the posters have changed their family and career by pushing ahead.

    I recommend looking at Kricket’s story. It is somewhere in the forum and it is great motivational story to push you ahead after failing. Until next time, I hope to rebound in Q4!

    September 12, 2014 NINJA CPA Review

    Going MCQ Crazy + Waiting on REG Score

    JessicaJessica is a NINJA CPA Blogger.

    Howdy, NINJAs!

    Ok … so, I slid REG in at the end of the testing window. It kind of snuck up on me. My original plan was to sit on July 18th. That way, I could have the test behind me while I went on the family vacation.

    Well, I soon realized that my motivation to study for REG wasn’t quite where it needed to be. I have to admit, I really thought after passing my first exam, I would come out with all this motivation and momentum and start knocking exams out … but … that didn’t happen.

    It didn’t help at all that, midway through my studying, I realized the tax rules and thresholds being tested were going to change. Some advice for those planning your timing … don’t take REG in the third quarter. Apparently, that test gets updated in June/July.

    Although I had been studying, it was a pretty slow grueling process. With two weeks left in the testing window, I had a decision to make: (1) buckle down and focus for the next two weeks and try to get in what I could or (2) convince myself that I can be disciplined enough to make the best of the next 6 weeks and sit for REG at the beginning of October.

    Instead of lying to myself, I scheduled it for the end of August. I spent the last two weeks going NINJA MCQ crazy. I also dedicated a couple of days to SIMS. Honestly, practicing SIMS feel so crucial for REG. They’re nothing at all like the MCQ’s.

    As for exam day, I really have no idea how to feel. The questions that I’m worried about seemed to fall into three categories: (1) things I know I should have known, but drew blanks on test day, (2) concepts that I was completely familiar, but the way the questions were set-up made the concepts seem useless and (3) things that I’m almost certain were not in my study material. On the bright side, there were not very many of the last category.

    And those SIMS … I hated them. Another tip … don’t forget to use the Authoritative Literature! I’m pretty sure it helped me on more than one of my simulations. All that being said, it was not a completely horrible experience. I did not walk out of it feeling as abused or violated … just mentally drained and relieved to get it over with.

    Now, I wait. I’m hoping the AICPA received my exam in time for me to make the next score release. With me testing on a holiday weekend, I’m preparing myself to have to wait. I’m hoping with all hope for that 75, so that I can sit for Audit in this next exam window.

    I would love to go into 2015 with just one exam left. I’m trying to think happy thoughts while I wait. On the upside, I’ve really been enjoying my time off.

    Happy studying, NINJAs!

    September 12, 2014 NINJA CPA Review

    Back to Studying FAR after an Awful Exam Experience

    blog imageRollie is a NINJA CPA Blogger.

    Hello NINJAs!

    I am back to studying after the long holiday weekend and my FAR exam on the 23rd. I took a nice break by playing in a golf tournament and then heading up to Chicago for the weekend.

    My wife has always wanted to see a One Direction concert while they were popular so I managed to get tickets … Hence we made the 9 hour drive from the great state of South Dakota.

    The FAR exam was awful. I left an hour early because either you know it or you don’t. I did not know certain things as well as I thought and the MC questions got easier as I progressed. Once I got home, I started drinking red wine to drown out my anger and sorrows.

    I had one of my friends pick me to go to the fantasy football draft later that evening. My coworkers found my inebriated state to be quite funny. There was a poll on our ESPN league later asking “How drunk was Rollie at the draft?” At least a couple people at the draft understood my pain.

    I know we all think we failed, but then end up passing. This time, I would be quite shocked if I got into the 70s, especially after not knowing the answers to MC Questions and Sims. I plan on studying for FAR again even though the score release will come out on the 8th (NINJA Score Release Date).

    I hope to retake early October and sit AUD during November. We will see what happens on the 8th! Maybe I will have some shocking news.

    September 05, 2014 NINJA CPA Review

    Cautiously Optimistic: REG Score after Five Intense Weeks

    AshleyLAshley is a NINJA CPA Blogger.

    What’s up NINJAs!

    August 29 was a busy day for me. My fiancée and I had dance lessons for our upcoming wedding (less than a month left!), we moved into our newly renovated house (it was a foreclosure so you can only imagine the blood, sweat, and tears put into that sucker), and I took REG for the second time (ditto to the blood, sweat and tears part).

    After spending 5 intense weeks of studying, I finally felt (mostly) prepared. There’s always something more that you want to study but that’s life. The best phrase I’ve heard over the course of studying for the exam: “Know everything about something, and something about everything.”

    I walked out of that exam definitely shaking my head at some of the multiple-choice and at one TBS in particular (don’t even get me started on the outrageousness of that sim), but overall, I actually feel optimistic.

    Obviously, I made a couple math mistakes on my whiteboard that I noticed after I had already closed the corresponding testlets, but with the exception of 3 or 4 topics, I felt at least a little familiar with each question.

    I’m cautiously optimistic because I know how devastating it can be to think you passed only to be shot down on score release day, but I feel good enough to contemplate moving on to my last section – BEC! It’s not as big of a jump to start BEC as it might sound though, because if I get my score release on Monday and find out I fail, I can just jump back to REG and keep it fresh until after I get back from my honeymoon.

    Can you imagine retaking an exam on a Caribbean island during your honeymoon? Talk about dedication!

    Work, settling into our house, dance lessons, dress fittings, a wedding, honeymooning, and studying are all in my future. And here I am, either halfway done or 75% done. Monday will decide how relaxed this next insane month will be – so here’s to hoping for good news on Monday!

    Good luck to all!!

    September 05, 2014 NINJA CPA Review

    One Week to FAR Exam: NINJA Cram Session in Progress

    blog imageRollie is a NINJA CPA Blogger.


    It is getting closer to my rematch with FAR with just a week to go and my weekend is shot. I am in a wedding that involves setting up on a farm on Friday and Saturday. Maybe I can sneak some multiple choice questions throughout the set-up process.

    I am still averaging 50 percent with the NINJA MCQ and that is starting to scare me. I’m hoping that it will start clicking ASAP.

    Jeff recently posted a short clip about the NINJA method and suggested to buy the Uniball Vision Elite Pens to rewrite the notes. Well, guess what? I went to Costco and bought a 10 pack. They are much nicer than the ones I steal from my local credit union.

    I am currently in the process of re-writing the NINJA Notes and have made it through page 68. I am hoping to be done by Thursday with the rewriting process so I can have a full week to review and get my NINJA MCQ score up. A cram session along with some PTO usage will be in the game plan for next week.

    As I said, I am starting to get nervous because I do not want to fail and have all this study time go to nothing. The hours missed with the wife and the new kitties will hurt more if I do not pass and have to delay this process an additional 2 months.

    Therefore, I plan to cram like my college days and maybe stay up past 9:00 PM. I will let you know next week how nervous I am! At least after my test, I have fantasy football draft with BYOB or BYO 6 pack.

    August 19, 2014 NINJA CPA Review

    Back in the Groove: A BEC Study Plan

    christieChristie is a NINJA CPA Blogger.

    I think it’s time to get back in the groove of things.

    I’ve taken a break from studying since May’s testing period because of family happenings. My husband had surgery and then most recently my 6 year old had to have her tonsils and adenoids taken out.

    Now that those are all taken care of and she’s getting ready to go back to school, I figure it’s a good time for me to get back to studying and start working on my CPA again.

    I’ve had an unsuccessful go at FAR and AUD, and can’t remember a thing after all of the mess over the summer, so I’m going to start fresh with BEC.

    I plan on testing in October. Hopefully by starting now, starting off a little slow at first to get back in the swing of studying, I’ll be successful if I test in October and that will give me a renewed sense for this test.

    There should be less distractions since I took care of nursing everyone over the summer. I’ve got a plan to start reading my book, working on my NINJA Flashcard, and working all of the questions in my test bank before mid-September so that then I can get the NINJA MCQ and pass!

    I’m sitting myself down and making a calendar so that my studying is more organized than in the past. Maybe with a whole lot of prayer and some simple organization I can make it through this thing.

    Good luck to those of you testing the rest of this month! Stay strong!

    August 15, 2014 NINJA CPA Review

    No Time to Dwell on FAR Score + AUD Exam Next Week

    Ninja_Phillip JamesPhillip is a NINJA CPA blogger.

    I thought that I would have good news to report with this update, but I don’t. My second FAR retake score was a 67.

    I was literally beside myself; I was so emotional that I had a to leave work early. Failing this section three times is the most emotionally draining experience I’ve gone through in my life. The fact that I have been so relatively close each time is very discouraging.

    I think I would not feel as defeated if my scores were lower because that would tell me I lack knowledge and I need to study more. But failing scores that are so close to passing, and unhelpful score reports issued by AICPA are discouraging. What is the point of having a diagnostic score report since you have to re-study everything anyway? I digress…

    I do not have long to dwell on this setback
    due to my first Audit exam scheduled on 8/17. Unfortunately, the grieving process of my failing FAR score has substantially altered my study schedule this weekend. I am trying to find some meaning and inspiration in the face of this latest failure, so I bought my 4 year old son his first set of golf clubs and we went to the driving range for a “therapy session.”

    After leaving the driving range, we came home and watched the NFL Hall of Fame induction ceremony. I have always enjoyed watching the ceremony because I have always found it inspirational, listening to how the best of the best overcame personal and professional adversity to make it to the peak of their profession.

    So the lessons learned from watching the ceremony this weekend are: failing does not make you a failure, greatness demands perseverance, and true commitment to accomplishing a goal does not ask if but when.

    In closing, I want to wish all of you good luck on your upcoming exams and encourage you to keep pressing toward the finish line even in the face of failure.

    August 13, 2014 NINJA CPA Review
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