What is your work/educational background?
I graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2002 with a BS in Accounting. I worked for two years in public accounting, spent a year and a half working as a working student for two Olympic-level dressage (horse riding) instructors and then resumed my accounting career in late 2005.
I’m currently the Supervisor of Small Business Services at my firm, doing a large amount of tax and some auditing work.
How many CPA exam sections have you passed?
I passed BEC first time out in 2006, but wasn’t motivated and let my credit lapse. I recently passed AUD with a 92 in May 2010 and took FAR in early July 2010.
What CPA Review course(s) are you using?
Currently I’m using the Wiley books for self-study, and they have been my favorite so far.
I tried a Bisk book to supplement for FAR and found that it did not meet my learning style at all. I was also disappointed to find that the questions in the Bisk book were word-for-word the same questions in my 2006 Gleim book for the most part. The Gleim books had much better instruction, however.
What is the most frustrating aspect of the CPA exam?
Getting large numbers of test questions on single topics of dubious usefulness has been a huge frustration for me. I didn’t get tested at all on many topics that I felt were far more relevant in day-to-day accounting. Because of this, I have felt at times as though the questions I was asked didn’t necessarily reflect on my actual accounting knowledge and skills.
How do you balance family/friends while studying?
That’s one of the toughest parts of the exam! I find that scheduling my study time in advance is really important, and scheduling “buffer” space into the schedule is equally important for those times when studying progress doesn’t go quite as planned. That way I know when I can put my books down and do the fun things, and when I really need to buckle down.
I do put importance on non-study time, though. If you tell your friends and spouse, “This is when I’m available and when I’m not available,” and keep your promises to both the studying and spouse/friends, all will work out.
Discipline and also knowing your personal limits on studying are equally important.
What made you decide to take the CPA exam?
It was just time. I am in a position to continue advancing in my career, and getting my CPA will be the validation of my education and work experience. People I personally interviewed for internship positions have been sitting for the CPA exam, and that definitely caught my attention!
Additionally, having my CPA certificate will mean job security going forward. No matter what happens, I will always have those letters and the ability to get a good job. Without the letters, you’re just another person in the job pool!
What advice would you give to people who are struggling with the exam?
If one study method doesn’t work for you, don’t be afraid to try others! Remember- the definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing while expecting different results.
Anything else you would like to share?
You really can do this, but you have to want it! Commit the time and you’ll pass.
Many thanks to Jeff and Club 75! This is an enormously helpful website!
Erica has been a Club 75 Member since May 2010.