Parth is a NINJA CPA Blogger.
Although my studies for AUD have been going reasonably well, the thoughts of the FAR exam I just took still linger in my head. I’m really curious to see my score, but at the same time I want to be able to focus on the task at hand: Be ready to take AUD by the end of the month.
I’ve modified my study approach when it comes to AUD. Because AUD contains mostly conceptual questions, I’ve spent less time doing MCQs during the early parts of my studying and more time walking through Operating Cycle diagrams and genuinely making sure that I solidify my conceptual understanding of the material.
The NINJA Audio has allowed me to reinforce key concepts when I’m looking to step away from my AUD textbook and review course videos. I do see weaknesses in a few areas; however, I’m pretty confident that I’ll be able to shore up those weaknesses before exam day.
My final semester of college has treated me well. My light course load affords me a great amount of flexibility as to how I structure my study time and leisure time. I’m still involved with a few student organizations, but I’m only an active leader within the organization I co-founded.
Despite the fact that the end of my college career is approaching quickly, I don’t think I’ll truly realize the magnitude of this change until August comes and I won’t have a reason to pack up my belongings into boxes and garbage bags.
My journey to become a CPA is still in its infancy; however, I’ve reached several conclusions so far. I’ve learned that the temptation to put down the study materials to go spend time with friends or other loved ones can represent one of the most difficult temptations to fight.
That being said, I’ve realized that taking some time for these kinds of activities can allow me to revisit my studies with a stronger vigor. I’ve learned that healthy eating habits and exercise shouldn’t fall to the wayside due to my desires to pass all four parts within a 5 month timeframe. I’m ready to learn more from this journey each and every day.
Stay focused my friends!
Ben is a NINJA CPA Blogger.
This last week for me has brought on some challenges and some successes. The closer to my exam date the more worried I become.
I am realizing that I really don’t have near enough time to be as ready for this exam as I would like. I am just hoping that I will be able to get enough information down for a passing score with Audit.
It absolutely amazes me when I think about how simple it should be, or more correctly how easy I THINK it should be. Because, as we all know, none of these exams are truly easy.
I may be a little more worried because I have never taken this exam before. I also could be worrying extra because we have a baby coming in 3 months.
I was talking to my wife the other day about my worries for this exam. This usually helps me release some of my stress and she has always been super supportive of me. I told her of my worries and told her that I have to take it because my NTS is expiring.
I told her it may come down to a Hail Mary for me to pass this thing. She looked at me and said “But we are not Catholic….” (No offense to those of you out there who are Catholic. I was referring to football when I made this comment.) I looked at her and thought, “You really don’t know anything about football do you?”
We then had a quick discussion where I described what a Hail Mary is in reference to football.
Well, I still feel on schedule to pass all 4 parts. The big question is if I will have to re-take this thing in the next window. I honestly don’t know if I can squeeze in any more study time while working and trying to maintain my sanity. I will just have to do my best and see where the dice land. Good luck to all of you in your studies.
And may the force be with you! (Hoping to conjure a little force help to pass this thing!)
Katrina is a guest blogger sharing her journey to pass the CPA Exam.
It’s finally over. I just received my final passing score. It’s absolutely surreal.
This journey has been long, difficult, frustrating, annoying, expensive, humbling, angering, yet completely worth it in the end.
I’ve been a member of the Another71 Forum for a few years, but rarely posted. I was embarrassed of my journey. However, reading the struggles of others provided hope and promise. If they could conquer the exam and come out on top after so many attempts, so could I!
So many thanks go out to JoMarie, Kricket, MCKLT, Baxter, and so many others for sharing their stories. If it weren’t for them, I really don’t know if I would have kept going. So, I’m paying it forward now. I wanted to write this blog post to give other CPA candidates the hope that anyone can do this.
If you want it bad enough, you’ll work hard enough to get it.
I started this journey in June 2010. I took a live course. I ended up going to the live classrooms for REG and half of BEC. I just couldn’t make myself go anymore. It was too much material all at once, and my brain couldn’t handle concentrating for that long at one time. It was 8 hours every Saturday!
So, I thought it would be more efficient for me if I just watched the lectures at home, in smaller chunks. I ended up sitting for all 4 sections within 6 months and failed each one of them. Honestly, I thought it was going to be like college.
I thought I could read the book, work some MCQs, maybe read the book again, and pass the exam. I mean, I only needed a 75 right?! After the fourth failing score, I took nearly one year off from studying.
By the time I got my motivation back after failing 4 exams in a row, my software license was close to expiration. So this time, I decided to take a different route. I had heard great things about another self-study review course. It appeared to be more of a teaching course, than a review course….and I felt like I was having a difficult time grasping the material the first time around. After all, I was nearing 30 so I had been out of college for quite some time.
It offered exactly what it promised, however I quickly realized that the problem was me. I just didn’t have the patience to sit through those video lectures. They were so boring (not their fault, any accounting lecture is boring) and every lecture that I tried watching, I ended up counting down the minutes until it was over instead of paying attention.
So after many more failing attempts, I realized I needed to change my strategy.
I had worked in Internal Audit and decided to make the change to public accounting. I found a small firm which offered the experience of doing both tax and audit, and I made the leap. If I wasn’t busy at work, I was encouraged to study for the exam.
By the time my first tax season ended, I had sat for the CPA exam 13 times. Yes, you read that correctly. 13 sittings = 13 fails. Has anyone ever tried to tell you that the definition of insanity is repeating the same action over and over, and expecting a different result? After so many failed attempts and so much time and money spent, I was ready to throw in the towel.
Then I read a post on Another71 by MCKLT, titled “How I increased my score 24 points”. Wow. That was it! She gave me the kick in the pants that I needed. Everything that she listed in her post were things that I had already tried: taking rigorous notes, re-writing those notes, re-reading and re-reading and re-reading those notes, thousands of MCQs, flashcards, NINJA audio, etc.
Except at that moment I realized that I was only half attempting to do each of those things. I would take notes, but then never look at them again. I would re-write my notes, but also listen to the TV at the same time. I did MCQ’s but maybe only a few hundred, not thousands, etc.
I wasn’t passing this exam, because I wasn’t giving it my all. I was cutting corners because I hated studying and I was so sick and tired of it. If I’m being completely honest, I was being lazy.
I had no one to blame but myself.
I thought I could pass these exams by doing the bare minimum. I decided that I couldn’t quit and I couldn’t give up until I did EVERYTHING possible to pass. And only then, if I could honestly say that I gave the exam everything I had and still failed, then maybe I wasn’t meant to be a CPA.
So this is what I did: I ditched the lectures. They weren’t doing me a bit of good anyway. I read a chapter of the Wiley textbook, worked ALL questions at the end of the chapter, and then started a notepad and took notes on all the questions that I got wrong.
Then I re-read that chapter, then re-read the notes I just took. I did this for each chapter, and at the end of each chapter re-read all the notes I took from previous chapters. After finishing all of the chapters in the Wiley textbook, I put the textbook away. At that point the textbook was no longer necessary unless I needed clarification on a topic.
Then, I took out the NINJA Notes and read all of the chapters. Next, I moved onto the Wiley test bank. I went chapter by chapter through the test bank, adding to my notes for any questions that I got wrong. After doing ALL questions in the Wiley test bank, then I moved to re-writing my notes and the NINJA notes.
This is really where things started to solidify and come together for me. This is very time consuming and your hand will cramp and ache, but I’m telling you that this step is crucial and totally worth the effort! First I re-wrote the NINJA notes for a chapter (in one legal pad), then re-wrote all of my own notes for that chapter (in a separate legal pad).
As I re-wrote my own notes, I reorganized these notes by topic, because I’m super Type A and anal and also because it helped to organize my thoughts if all topics were grouped together. I used the NINJA notes as a framework for the topics within the chapter for cohesiveness.
Immediately after re-writing all the notes for a chapter, I would then re-work all Wiley test bank MCQ’s for that chapter. I did that for each chapter until all chapters were complete.
Then I concentrated on re-reading my notes, over and over and over again. Switching back to the Wiley test bank, I worked 10, 20, or 30 MCQ for all topics over, and over, and over again. I literally worked thousands of MCQ’s (nearly 5,000 each for FAR and REG, and over 3,000 each for BEC and AUD).
And if I memorized the question/answer, I still worked out the problem and would tell myself out loud why the answer was correct and why the other options were incorrect—to make sure I knew the logic behind each question and what it was asking.
If I felt weak on one particular area, I would work that area until I was proficient. Then move on to the next area and work those questions for a while, then come back to the weak area the next day and make sure that the information was sticking.
Most evenings after crawling into bed, and nearly every weekend morning, I watched the NINJA Blitz videos using Apple TV. These were great because they are short, to the point, and kept my attention. If I had free time like waiting in line or sitting my car, I went through my NINJA flashcards. The flashcards are awesome because it jogs your brain in a different way than the notes or MCQ … they make you THINK to come up with an answer vs. just simply reading.
And lastly, anytime I drove anywhere, I listened to the NINJA audio. By the way, Jeff is not paying or bribing me to say all of these great things about the NINJA products; I really did buy them, used them, loved them, and highly recommend them!
Some people will tell you that doing practice Simulations are a waste of time. I disagree. I found that working practice simulations helped to get me familiar with all of the different formats that I could be asked on exam day. For me, simulations gave me a lot of anxiety.
I spent so much time working MCQ’s that sometimes it’s difficult to process the information in a different format, like a simulation. If for no other reason, working the simulations is helping to re-enforce the material and helps me to think and process the material in a different manner.
One important thing that I learned is that if I was weak on a particular area or just hated a certain topic, I could bet money that I would see that topic on exam day. It took 13 attempts (remember, insanity?!), but I finally learned that it would be much less time consuming for me to just suck it up and learn the material that I despise, then to re-study for another 4-6 weeks and have to re-take the exam again.
Listen, Stockholder’s Equity and Bonds (or whatever topic happens to be your worst enemy) are the worst topics ever, but there is a good chance that you won’t pass the exam if you don’t have a firm understanding of them! Just study it now and be done with it!
This is the plan that I used to finally pass Audit in May 2013 (77), FAR in October 2013 (75), BEC in November 2013 (75), and REG in January 2014 (86). Boom! See that final score? Yeah, I do some tax work at my current job during tax season and I despise it! How does that score even happen?
Busting your ass and not cutting a single corner, that’s how!
For anyone who has sat for this exam many times and can’t seem to get a passing score, I know where you are and I understand the feeling. There were so many times that I wanted to give up so badly. But I didn’t because I knew I was capable of passing.
The reality is that I was lazy in the beginning. The thing you have to remember is that anyone can pass this exam — If you are eligible to sit for the exam, you have the qualifications to pass. You just have to put in the work that is necessary in order to pass. If you’re still not passing, then you are not studying enough! That’s the harsh reality.
There is a huge difference between quality of study time and quantity of study time. Yes, it is true that some people pass on the first try with what appears to be minimal study time. But that is not typical and everyone is different. Everyone retains and absorbs information differently. Some people need more time than others.
Just don’t ever give up!!!!
Ben is a NINJA CPA Blogger.
I was putting off this post a couple of days last week solely because I was waiting for my REG score. I had been waiting about a month and it was killing me.
As a recap, this was my third attempt with REG. When I took REG I was just getting over having my appendix out. I actually put off my test because almost a week because I felt like I was too drugged with my medication to stay awake and alert long enough to take the test. I went into the exam as ready as I could be.
The multiple-choice questions were around 5 times harder than my previous two attempts. Then the sims were difficult but once again they were a lot harder than my previous experience. I left feeling like I did okay with the multiple choice but I didn’t think I did well enough with the sims to pass.
As I said, I had to wait a month and it was killing me wondering. Well, last week I finally got my score. I am happy to report that I received an 86 on my REG exam! Not a bad score. I am very happy to have that test behind me. I now have FAR and REG behind me.
50% done is a good feeling.
I am currently studying for audit. I only have another 3 weeks to my exam. My NTS expires at the end of this window so I am trying my hardest to get ready for it. I still have 2 chapters in my materials to finish. I am hoping to finish the two chapters soon and focus the rest of my time getting ready for the exam by doing multiple-choice questions.
I am finding that audit is starting to become a little easier. I mentioned how audit seems a little like a foreign language to me. I have only taken FAR and REG up to this point so I am hoping that I will have a good experience with AUD as I have a baby coming in May and I would really like to be finished with the rest of my sections before that happens.
Well, the party is over. It back to studying AUD. Keep up the good work!