Introducing NINJA CPA Blogger Ali
I remember sitting in a CPA review company’s presentation in college. “Don’t sign up for an exam and think you’re just going to go and ‘see what it’s like.’ I’ll tell you what it’s like – it’s three hours of sitting there having no idea what the heck you’re doing. And it’s miserable.”
Those words stuck with me, and so I never took an exam just to see what it’s like. Not intentionally, at least.
Last June, I registered and paid the fees for all four parts of the exam, knowing that since I paid for everything, I’d definitely study. Except, I didn’t.
I bought the full set of NINJA Notes along with a couple audio sections, and made sure I was ready to start my review course. I dabbled with both the NINJA stuff and the course, but having no study plan meant I did a few MCQs and read a couple chapters before studying tapered off entirely.
Then came exam day – I figured, “it’s BEC, how bad can it be?” Well, it wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t that great either. A few weeks later, I got worst news any CPA exam candidate can get – my lack of effort translated into a soul-crushing 74.
AUD was next. Work was out of control, so when I did get a few extra hours on the weekends, watching football seemed like a better idea than studying. The day before my exam, I drove around town until I had listened to the NINJA Audio twice over. I went home and did MCQs on my iPad like a boss. I don’t know how it happened, but I passed!
And then there was FAR. This was a race against the clock more than anything else. Last appointment of the last day of the last testing window of the year. I guess I couldn’t think of anything better to do with a few hours. 70. Needless to say, I never even attempted REG before my NTS expired.
So here I am, with three exam sections left (BEC, FAR, and REG) to pass before my AUD score expires next February. Since I started this journey, I left my audit job with the Big 4, joined a great company in industry, and found a renewed sense of motivation.
BEC is my next target. You buy the ticket, you take the ride – I can’t wait for all of you to join me on the road to becoming a CPA!
Holding out Hope: Not Giving Up Before REG Exam
My kids and I had a little contest yesterday to see who could score the highest on a random sample of 20 REG questions out of the Wiley Test Bank. I scored 20%, my 5 year old son scored 15%, and my 7 year old daughter scored 40%!
As improbable as a passing score seems right now, I have not given up. I once read a book on quantum physics that made my head spin but was nevertheless a fascinating read.
One theory stuck with me: if you were to walk into a wall enough times, eventually, there is a chance that your molecules could re-arrange themselves and you could pass through the wall. Not probable, but still possible. That, and the fact that my daughter scored a 40% gives me hope, but it will take a miracle.
I’m focusing mostly on tax still and it is somewhat coming together. I listen to the audio program every morning and in the car. I’ve abandoned the video lectures in favor of the NINJA Notes and Wiley Test Bank.
One technique that has really helped me, is to pull all of the formulas out of the NINJA Notes and re-create them in an excel spreadsheet with actual formulas and numbers built in. This forces me to actually think about and conceptualize the calculations.
I then print these spreadsheets and use them as a quick resource for working MCQ’s. While I don’t have the calculations memorized, I feel like I’m making progress.
It has also been helpful to compartmentalize my review. Again I’m focusing on tax right now so instead of working MCQ’s on all tax-related questions, I’ll focus on a specific area like partnerships or individual taxation. I do 30 questions at a time, referring back to the spreadsheet that I created as needed.
When you review all tax topics together, it’s easy to get certain treatments confused between partnerships, corporations, and individuals. I know I’ll need to distinguish these eventually, but I think this is the best way to start out. I wish I would have used this approach sooner.
If the Wiley Test Bank is anything like the exam, I think the NINJA Notes have enough information to answer most questions in the exam. In other words, if I truly understood everything in the notes, I think I could pass. The topics not covered by the notes appear random and obscure, and I think I can pick them up through repetition.
I’ve been listening to a lot of Cinderella lately, to stay energized. I’m not ashamed to admit that they’re my favorite band of all time, and that in the 80′s, I secretly wanted to be David Hasselhoff.
CPA Exam Studying: You Have to do the Hard Stuff
Hello fellow NINJAs,
It has been a very long couple of weeks.
I have been super busy with end of the season activities such as track meets, volleyball games, band concerts, banquets, volunteering and prom. Most of them were on the same days so not much studying was being done.
During all the driving I was able to listen to the NINJA Audio and reflect on my study habits. How am I going to keep motivated? So I did a condensed version of the seven step problem solving technique.
I needed to figure out what is keeping me from my goal. Reading and re-writing the notes are not the issue and I even enjoy it. My problem is the multiple choice questions. I don’t care for them because they are challenging.
However, I know they are the key to my success. So what’s a girl to do?
First, I remembered what I tell my students when they are faced with challenging situations: “You have to do the hard stuff so your mind can grow!” Wow, who wants to follow their own advice?
So with a new attitude I have devised a “M.C. Challenge”. I set the baseline at a level where I can be successful and stair step myself up to where I need to be. The baseline number must be done daily. So far for the past several days I have been successful and it’s even been enjoyable.
What are you doing to keep motivated?
See you all on the other side!
A New House, FAR Score, and Final AUD Preparations
Hello fellow NINJAs,
7 points, a 68…not as bad as a 74 but it still hurts. That 68 would be my FAR score.
I walked away knowing I did well, this could be because the SIMS are last – and comparative to everyone that passed I was stronger than the curve on the SIMS. Needless to say I failed FAR in the MCQs.
This is a big letdown because, at least, to me it seems I know the information. I just didn’t read well enough what the questions were asking (READ THE ENGLISH – my professor says).
But the schedule of my review class has me squaring off with AUD next. So I must put that behind me and focus myself on my studies.
Speaking of focus, if you read my last post, my wife and I put an offer in on a house. It was accepted and now comes the onslaught on paperwork, miscommunication, realtors, inspectors, lenders, appraisers, contractors, bleeding cash and taking time off work to get things done. On top of studying for AUD…Luckily I have the NINJA Notes.
These things are a lifesaver!!!!
When I cannot focus enough to read the questions on the MCQs … “READ THE ENGLISH!!!” … I’ll miss 6-10 in a row and just stop, I know the issue is a lack of focus. That’s where the NINJA NOTES come in handy. I can read those over and over and over again (much better than a very verbose book painted in highlighter) and get back on track.
A practical example and I’ll get off of here – Tracing and Vouching always screwed me up, I could never get it straight. The notes laid them out perfectly! Tracing tests Completeness and Vouching tests Existence…T comes before V and C comes before E!!!!
That’s at least 2 questions on the exam that I will now get right (when I couldn’t focus to pound MCQs) that the notes helped me with.
Till next time,