DONE! I finally defeated the CPA Exam!
After 20ish months of fighting this beast, I have finally defeated the CPA Exam. But I don’t think I could have done it without the help of you all on Another71.
I will admit, I may have only started one discussion thread ever, and definitely don’t contribute as often as many of you, but I do lurk around the site and read a lot of everyone’s discussions. And of course, I am all over it on score release day.
Apologies ahead of time, this post is a little lengthy, because I want to recap my exam experience for those who may not have been following from the beginning.
I started studying in August 2011 and started with AUD. I joined A71 but hadn’t started using any of the NINJA materials; I was using a study software that basically is just a test bank that adapts to your learning and tests you more heavily (with explanations) on things you aren’t scoring well in.
It worked for me and I passed AUD on the first try with a 77. Yippee! Unfortunately, the next test was not so easy. BEC took me two tries, my first try getting me a 72, so for the second try, I got the NINJA package and started blogging here. Success! I passed the second try with a 79.
Now REG was a whole different beast in itself. I still used my test bank and supplemented with the NINJA Notes, Audio, and Flashcards, and the first try came in at a 71. I tried to move onto FAR, but then once I got my score, I switch back to REG.
I really hadn’t gotten deep enough into FAR for it to affect me, and I really didn’t want to forget anything I may have learned about REG. Round two: 74. YIKES! Well, I added some points, but not enough. This time I had to keep pushing on to FAR, and my 18 month window was coming to a close.
I studied my ars off for FAR, making sure to really stick with weekend marathon studying and the ELL method. I drank way too much coffee, and blew off any and all social events. Come to think of it, this is what I did for each of the sections I had passed. When I didn’t do this, I ended up failing.
I took FAR April 6, and had round 3 scheduled for REG on April 18th—TWO days before my AUD score would expire. There would be no messing around. I then had less than two weeks to cram and really delve into my problem areas: secured transactions, Uniform Commercial Code, and Estates/Trusts. Of course I still practiced all the other areas to make sure they stuck, too.
I guess that method worked, and my scores for FAR and REG came out on Friday—which was the most nerve-racking day ever, with AUD, FAR, and REG all riding on the line. If I failed both, I would basically only have one test under my belt.
I kept telling myself, of course I really need to pass both, but if for some reason I don’t, please please PLEASE let me pass just ONE, because if I fail both, I really don’t think I have the strength or desire to continue on with the CPA exam.
Actually, I not only told myself this, I told my husband, my friends and my family. I was honestly considering making a career change if I failed REG for the fourth time and didn’t pass FAR.
Maybe marketing? Copywriting looks like fun…
If you saw my post in the score release thread, you will know that I got a 79 on FAR and … an embarrassing 75 on REG. I added one measly point, but it was the point that counted. So here we are! I’m going to go ahead and stick with this career choice after all.
Every time I watch the score release threads on the Another71 Forum, I become a little jealous of those who actually score in the 80s or better yet, the 90s. Of course, when I present my CPA license to employers or clients, no one will ever ask what scores I got, so it doesn’t really matter.
But being a straight-A student all my life, it’s a little hard to swallow that none of my scores were above the 70s. Because to the rest of the world, a 75 is “average.”
I’m sure many of you feel the same way, so here’s a more positive way to look at it: these tests are so incredibly hard that even when you score in the 70s, you busted your butt to get there, and it’s a passing score for a reason – we are still qualified to have the public’s trust.
So in a nutshell:
Listen to Jeff. You have to get serious to pass and commit the time. The sooner you realize this and DO IT, the sooner you will be done. Use the ELL method (which is FREEEEEEE!!)
Invest in the NINJA notes, audio and flashcards. These seriously made the difference and helped me understand much of the material. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need the big name expensive study material to pass. I didn’t use ANY videos. If you work enough MCQs, you will learn what you need to know. Buying the NINJA 10-pt combo + a less expensive study material is still cheaper than some of those packages out there.
Remember that the test is not impossible to pass, and even if you get a 75, you are still just as qualified as the person that scored a 91. And if you don’t feel you are—there’s always CPE to help you get there! Not to mention, it is your professional responsibility, too.
Thank you everyone for following along on this journey, and I look forward to reading (and contributing) on the forum. And most of all, thank you Jeff and Another71 team! Now it’s time to do this ethics exam and submit my application to be a Certified Public Accountant in the State of Caaaaaaaliforniaaaaa (read in the voice of the narrator of “the Californians” on SNL).
Best of luck to all you future CPAs!
CPA Exam: Facing Adversity after Failure
Hello everyone! It has been almost a month since I last posted an article.
By the time this gets posted a lot of you must have received your scores. It is in these times of the month where pressing F5 is the name of the game.
Congratulations to everyone who had been successful in earning their perfect scores (75!), and the not-so-perfect-but-equally-acceptable 80s and 90s.
For those who didn’t quite make it this time, this one’s for you.
There are times when we believe we already have a good plan in place to achieve our aspirations in life. For the sake of hitting the mark, we prepare ourselves physically and emotionally, willing to do everything humanly possible, and apply every thinkable strategy to mitigate, if not obliterate, the possibility of failure. After all, who would like to fail?
Sometimes, though, what we dread most ends up happening anyway. Defeat stares upon us despite following our master plan with utmost diligence. Things go awry as we execute our plan. We’re left to wonder where we had gone wrong; what we could have done better that could have averted the negative result.
Indeed, earning the prestigious CPA title may mean travelling a thousand miles to some. There’s that rather insurmountable-looking criteria right there. But if, in the face of strong adversity, we decide to surrender our position, feel daunted at the fear of failing once again.
If we continue to focus our mind at the fear of another 71 which stops us from achieving our dream, that distance between our dream and where we are now will forever stay a thousand miles away.
Setbacks can happen every now and then in our personal lives, even in our quest for career development. It’s part of every human’s very existence. Not being able to achieve our goals tends to bring us down and leads us to think that everything we did was just a colossal waste of time.
If you’ve reached this point, there are but two ways your life could go, and it all depends on your attitude and how you accept this “hump”. You could view it as a total failure or as a sign that you shouldn’t have pursued your dream to become a CPA in the first place, which then makes you give up on your goal altogether and train your sight somewhere else.
Otherwise, you could view it as an opportunity to learn and do better. As daunting as it may sound, the latter requires uncommon valor, and makes you summon every ounce of courage from within you. After all, it’s never easy to pick yourself up, and give it one more again.
Most people will just choose to withdraw, brood about their mistakes, and then stop trying again. Well, it’s the easy way out anyway. But if you’re truly set on achieving your goal, come strong wind and high waters, you will push forth, sail on, ‘til you cross the finish line.
Being able to handle temporary defeat is the key to becoming triumphant in this journey. Many candidates tend to feel utterly discouraged when they encounter setbacks, and allow a failed exam to consume all their energy and will to go forward. Of course, when we don’t achieve our goals, we tend to be plagued with self-doubt, thinking that we’re not good enough, that maybe we should stop the CPA madness.
Rather than seeing it as a failure or as something that puts an end to your hopes and dreams, look at it for what it truly is: A mere temporary setback that should not hinder you from reaching for your goal. Run a self-check and do the following:
Recap what you did. This is a good way for you to see where you went wrong and what you should do better next time.
Accept that things didn’t go as expected, and move on. You could dwell on your problems and your mistakes, but that won’t change your situation or bring you any step closer to your goal.
Prepare better. This is an offshoot of #1. Once you know where you went wrong, you will be able to take appropriate measures to prevent foreseeable problems in the future.
Give yourself time to recover. You don’t have to go for your goals right away. You need time to gather your wits together, as you plan your next move.
Make no mistake. The CPA title is something not to be missed. When things don’t go according to plan, always remember that missed goals are not missed opportunities. Instead, they are opportunities to do things better on your next try.
Allow me to leave you with this inspiring quote:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
A 77 on FAR! I Passed the CPA Exam!
Hi fellow CPA Exam takers,
As we waited for my score, my wife and I decided to go watch the opening day showing of Iron Man 3 on IMAX.
We loved the plot and the special effects but I was disappointed by the lack of any hints to other future Marvel releases in the after credit scene.
After the gut wrenching wait, I logged onto the California CBA site to check my score. They do have their process together to release the score ahead of their posted schedule.
As we looked on, my wife and I sighed, and laughed when we saw my score…
A 77! I passed! I finally passed!
I really thought I failed even when I knew the exact questions I got wrong. Going through all the study material paid off.
Now that the CPA exam is behind me, I have some work related certifications for which I have to start studying.
As promised, my wife is looking forward to that over-the-top dinner. Now I have to figure out where to go.
Thank you all for reading my blog and I wish you all the best of luck on your tests. Be persistent and stay focused on studying.
A Little Flag Football + Suddenly More Time for BEC Study
The Russell home has been all abuzz this week. My middle son, Dale Jr., is a high school senior and we have been making preparations for graduation and prom. Tuxes, pictures, graduation invitations, cap and gown. All very exciting.
He recently informed my wife and I that he’d like to join the USMC after graduation. That information has sparked feelings of fear and pride all at the same time, in addition to the feelings a parent has seeing their children grow and begin to spread their wings a little.
A few weeks ago, I decided for a little life’s balance I would accept an invitation to play adult flag football for a few months in the spring. My son was invited to play as well and I thought it could be a good “last hoorah” before he graduates and begins his life when I know those father/son times becomes scarce.
The practices would only last for a hour Sunday then games would be about the same. I would be able to get outside, run around a bit, and have some fun. That seemed like a really good, safe plan. Sadly, one hour into the first practice, I felt a pop in my calf.
A doctor visit and MRI later, I was informed that I had torn about 3cm of my calf from my Achilles tendon. So now I have crutches and a “boot”. What fun.
I have to ice 3 times a day and pills with names I can’t pronounce. And in case you were wondering, it’s my right leg so no driving either. But I have a wonderful wife that obviously still loves me because has been patient, compassionate and willing to cart me everywhere I have needed to go.
She’s put up with my frustration, whining, and general poor disposition about this situation. She is truly a blessing to me and I love her dearly, although I’m certain I don’t tell her enough.
My study plan started off strong enough, but needless to say, got temporally derailed by my last ditch effort at sports fame. As I mentioned in my last writing, I am starting completely over.
I have taken and failed BEC twice. And so to put that behind me, I decided to start fresh as if I hadn’t taken it all. Those failures were a really hard shot to my ego, but the blessing is that the failure humbled me and I believe brought me one step close to success and will eventually make me a better CPA.
For some reason this go ’round I am having particular difficulty with the IT section of the study material. I am very fluent with my computer and didn’t anticipate this type of muddied water at the beginning of my concentrated efforts.
Amongst the duties in the small firm I work for is to maintain the peer to peer network and to fix issues with the multiple workstations. So, I thought this to be one of my stronger topics, but sadly, I have found it to be one of my more challenging sections.
I had considered just moving to another section and circling back to it, but I’ll have to master it sometime, so no time like the present. And I certainly don’t have any plans that involve moving, walking or driving so I will have plenty of time to study and work MCQ’s until I drive it into my head. The NINJA Flashcards and Wiley materials have been the best.