17 Stupid Things Said by Family & Friends about the CPA Exam

01 Jan 2021

The Best of...

Friends and Family sometimes don't know the right thing to say when trying to support CPA Candidates, so instead, they say the wrong thing.

Another71 Forum members share some of the best worst things people have said to them about the CPA Exam:

MomofFive-NY: We were invited to a neighbor's pool party in August. I was studying intensely for FAR, so I sent an email that said my family would be able to come, but I needed to study for my upcoming exam. My neighbor had apparently overheard me saying that I had been studying for months, so she replied with “If you don't know this **** by now, you are never going to know it”.

kmcauliffe: After explaining to my mother-in-law that the pass rate is like 40%, she says, “Why don't they just let everyone pass?”

jaks: One of my best friends (who was a journalism major) said “It must be nice to make enough money that you don't worry about money like I do. I would make sure you're ready for these tests before you take them since they cost like $300/section.”

NJD: You mention the Bar Exam and people get excited. You mention the CPA Exam … “what's that…is it hard??…so you can do my taxes!?!”

kroyal: When I first began studying for the CPA Exam, my boyfriend dumped me because I didn't have time to go out during the week. He said “all you ever want to do is study.”

Anna: I came to visit my in-laws after my BEC exam and was overwhelmed by how I didn't study enough for IT. My father-in-law (a doctor), starts showing off by telling me what I probably missed. Then he says, “Hmm, maybe I should go take the CPA Exam too.”

TD: I love the “you can be my tax guy!” comments.

SwissBliss: This little old lady comes up to me and says “My mom passed away last April, and we have a mess in the probate court, and I'm going to need a good estate tax person.” I accidentally laughed at her.

OhioCPA: I called my father to tell him I had passed my last section of the exam and the first words out of his mouth are “good you can do my taxes this year for free.”

emc: Can't you just take time off from studying? You've already put in three days this week.

Kate: After failing 3 sections and finally passing BEC with an 84, my dad, a CPA of 20+ years said, “84, you studied too hard and wasted time!”

US_10th_SFG: My mother said, “Hmmmm…why would a test over business topics be harder to pass than the Bar or Medical Boards? It's not like you're saving anyone's life.”

Kristy: When I turned in my final grades to my boss so she could approve my course reimbursement, she saw my numbers (92,91,88,85) and just said “Hmph, that just means you were inefficient because you studied too hard”.

Starla: I explain that I'm an auditor and they ask “if I work for the IRS.”

rosebud:I complained to a friend of mine about how much time it all took and how intense it was. She replied, “Oh I totally know how you feel. I'm studying for the GMAT right now and it's horrible!!”

dwade: People think that if you pass with a 75, you barely studied … that you're squeaking by.

CACPASOON: I have a coworker who has been a CPA almost longer than I have been alive. “Back in my day, we had to pass all four parts at once. Without a calculator!”

Has anyone said something stupid/infuriating about your CPA Exam prep?

Post it in the comments below.

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Chrisb13 9 years ago

I was telling my sister, a pharmacist how hard the exam was, and she said well ya'll don't study enough or right then. I then explained that only a little over 40% of people pass. She said so that's about how many people passed our first Chem test and that was UNDERGRAD.

amlst29 9 years ago

What I started doing to these types of responses is asking them faux REG questions. "Here try this one: if Frank, Steve, and Joe start a partnership with Frank contributing Land 40,000 FMV 30,000 basis, Steve contributing a building 50,000 FMV 30,000 basis and a mortgage assumed by the partnership of 20,000, and Joe performing services for the partnership worth 30,000, what is Frank's recognized gain, if any?" They tend to shut up real quick.

Savebandit 9 years ago

Ha, it is strange how clueless people are about this industry when it's do widespread, although I sort of agree with number 12.

Eric 9 years ago

The best is the efficiency response. Any score above 75 is inefficient X )

katmireliz 9 years ago

My favorite is my family's "I don't know why you're so worried. You always do well on tests."

Derek 9 years ago

I took my first section of the CPA about a month ago, and it was FAR. I knew how difficult it was going to be, so I studied for a while. I work full time as a staff auditor and studied with my free time. Not knowing what to expect, I took the toughest section first. My score came back to be a 72, which isn't too bad. I told my dad this, and his response was "Well I don't know anything about that test, but it can't be near as hard as getting your Class C welding license." We haven't talked much since then.

Joe 9 years ago

I'm really fed up with people who constantly compare the CPA exam to other exams. You can't compare. And they just don't understand that the CPA exam isn't graded like other exams. When I tell people that the AICPA grades the exam based on whether or not THEY think you're proficient in the material, they tend to shut up. I try not to take it personally because they just don't know...but it's because they don't know that they should just shut up if they're not going to be supportive.

Andrew Gerow 9 years ago

To be fair to the GMAT comment, I think the GMAT is a harder exam. I'd rather take CPA exam all day over GMAT, but obviously that's just opinion and preference.

AlmostFinished 9 years ago

Thank you for the laugh. I passed FAR first time WOOHOO! and it is #3 down. One more to go. I have been asked "So you can take a breather and a break from studying now. The pressure is off isn't it?" UUGGHH!!!

Molamola 9 years ago

I passed the last part of my CPA exam in July (yay!). I was meeting with my friend last week who's visiting from another state and I haven't seen her for 2 years. She knew I've been studying for years so she asked me that if i passed, I told her yes, she said "congrats, what took you so long?" I'm glad that I only need to see her once in a few years.

Dave 9 years ago

These comments are ridiculous - but not in the way the people complaining about them think. What's ridiculous is the fact that so many people can let such minor things get to them. You candidates are supposed to be highly intelligent, yet you can't discern the difference between "stupidity" and "ignorance" or simply not knowing the subject matter. The thing that irks me the most is how elitist some of you can be. Yes, the CPA is difficult for you, but guess what? The GMAT might be difficult for someone else also. Not everyone is the same.

Dave 9 years ago

Oh, and by the way, I've passed all 4 parts and am a licensed CPA. To rehash, you people aren't that special. You are not doing something that is inherently harder or more worthwhile than millions of others. Get off your high horse and realize that at the end of the day, you're just like everyone else.

Billy Badness 9 years ago

For most people it's more intense studying to score well on the GMAT than pass each section of the CPA exam at 75. The GMAT is also adaptive on every question vs each testlet of the CPA exam. I was more mentally exhausted after the GMAT, but at least you get to see you 'unofficial' score (aka your actual score) immediately. Waiting for your CPA test scores is a waste of time, and the CPA exam should move to realtime scoring. Sit for your CPA as soon as you complete your coursework and review course and you'll do fine. Understand the relative weights of the content in each exam section and prepare accordingly. Shoot for the perfect score-300.

Dee 9 years ago

Oh its just an exam, why are studying so much...(I follow with a blank stare)!!!

Rachel82 9 years ago

Sometimes people say things like "Really? I thought you are done with the CPA exam. How come it takes you so long for you to pass the exam? It's been a year...".

Sam 9 years ago

I recently bought Becker and started studying for the exam. My mom still doesn't understand why college didn't prepare me to take exam, says that I should have just gotten it over with right after I graduated and I wouldn't be so rough on the material, and compares it to her X-ray technician exam. We've had the same argument on multiple occasions and will likely continue to have the same one. Smh.

Justin 9 years ago

Every party needs a pooper, so it might as well be Dave.

TheHoundThatRides 9 years ago

I don't see what's dumb about the number 12. The original post was trying to imply that the CPA is the hardest professional certification but there's really nothing to base that off of besides word of mouth. Of course it's gonna bring the CPA exam open to scrutiny if we go around saying stuff like that.

Dave 9 years ago

Either that Justin, or more likely, you kids studying for this exam need a cold dose of reality and should learn that you aren't inherently special because you are studying for a test.

Justin 9 years ago

Fun fact, Dave: I'm not a kid. I am, however, someone who has a sense of humor. Lighten up and get off your own high horse. The CPA exam is difficult (very, very difficult for some) and it can be frustrating for candidates to hear less-than-sympathetic comments from friends/family regardless of whether or not those comments are rooted in ignorance or real stupidity. If candidates want to go on a CPA exam-centric forum and vent those frustrations while relieving a little stress in the process, then so be it.

Katie 9 years ago

I think Justin and I would be good friends! I passed the exam awhile ago and remember my friends wanting to celebrate the day I took it. I had to explain that taking the exam didn't equal passing the exam. Good luck out there future CPAs!

Danielle 9 years ago

After you get the results and someone asks you if you passed and you say "no." and they say "you should probably study harder." thanks genius never thought if that one!

Harry Wagner CPA 9 years ago

I passed the exam several years ago. It was brutal then too. The only good thing about it is once you pass, well you know. Ignore the comments, most people are clueless.

Matt 9 years ago

I was fortunate that i had incredibly supportive friends and family when i took the exam. I started studying in August of '12 and finished in July '13, passing each part on my first try. Now there are two younger guys in my office taking the exam. Pass or fail, i take them out to lunch when they get there scores. It's not much, but it's a small way that i can show them my support.

Shedric 9 years ago

You're going to love this ome: I start doing the review and not too long before I have FAR, my mother says, "I've been looking online and I saw a website dedicated to the horrors of the CPA Exam." You probably shouldn't tell someone that until after they pass.

Paul 9 years ago

I didn't take the exam until 10 years after college. I took a review course and scored 92 on practice, 90 theory,88 auditing,86 law on my first attempt in May 81. My Aunt and Uncle were dropped off at my house for a week long visit the weekend before exam. Very nice people but horrible timing. Relatives/friends seemed to equate CPA exam similar to other non professional tests- not knocking other tests but I don't think they last 19 hours over 3 days- pencil only no other aides. Six months of pure study and sacrifice of all time after work. Also, my favorite one is you studied too hard- you just needed a 75. No way I wanted to chance it and have to take a portion again 6 months later. Becker CPA live review over 5 months was the mental equivalent of US Army basic training in the 1960s.

James Simmons 9 years ago

I have taught the Becker CPA Review Course for the past 18 years. One of my former students, an attorney, continued to lament the fact that he could not pass the law section of the CPA exam. He showed up for class with his portable television set so that he wouldn't miss any of "the game" while he was in class. But the reason he didn't pass? According to him, there was something wrong with our course.

Jason 8 years ago

Hey Dave, Here's a "cold dose of reality" for you: If you are not a nice person in the real world, you lose. It doesn't matter how smart you are. If you have an abrasive attitude, you will not fit in any work environment and you will NOT be successful. I sure hope I'm not trolling another71.com message boards after I pass. Go back to eating lunch by yourself. Full disclosure: I'm an old guy, not a kid. In fact, I think these "kids" are a hell of a lot brighter than I was when I was their age! Cheers, Jason

Janet Berry-Johnson 8 years ago

After I passed the exam and I left my old job, I also happened to get engaged. I heard from one of my former co-workers that my old boss, upon hearing I was engaged, said "Well good for her. She won't have to work anymore." As if after spending all of that time and money to become a CPA, I was just waiting for my MRS degree so I could stay home full-time.

Chris 8 years ago

My now ex-best friend who I hung out with every day while in college were texting each other while I was taking a little break from studying. He knew I was taking the CPA exam, but he eventually took the joke too far. He told me, as a joke, that he took all four sections in one month (yes, ONE month) and passed all four sections on the first try, then proceeded to say that he didn't want to be accountant. Granted, he knew that I knew he was joking, but that didn't matter. This coming from a guy who partied more than I did as an undergrad and had a low GPA, and did NOT major in accounting or anything related to it (he was a law & justice major) That joke was where I drew the line, knowing the CPA exam is nothing to joke around about. The end result? I unfriended him on Facebook and cut him out of my life, then deleted his number on my phone. It was then I realized that we are not on the same page. Any good CPA candidates know that the CPA exam take sacrifice and dedication, and my ex-best friend, who didn't know anything about the CPA exam until I told him, clearly didn't know what he was saying.

AV 8 years ago

Dave sounds like a bitter, old man. ""...at the end of the day, you're just like everyone else." I want to put that on a motivational poster in my office.

FKidwell 8 years ago

I was talking to my friend about studying and watching the study videos and my friend said, "Wow isn't crazy that you are going to be paid so well for stuff you could learn on YouTube?"

Ninja 8 years ago

^ that would be extremely annoying to hear >_<

Chris 8 years ago

"Your accounting degree doesn't prepare you enough for the test?" "So it's kind of like nursing or law where you just go take the test after graduating no problem, right?" "You should go get an MBA"

Ken A 8 years ago

Taxes... that's what I hear when I tell people that I'm a CPA. Facebook friends that I haven't talked to in years will contact me for free tax advice. People really don't know what the CPA is

Gorjess 8 years ago

Back in 2012 or 2013, I told my father I failed the AUD section of the CPA exam. He tells me about how a girl at church is struggling with the GED test. Really!? You're going to compare the CPA exam to a GED test!? You've got to be kidding me! I immediately told him the GED is no comparison, not even by a long shot, to the CPA exam.

SlowZhu 8 years ago

I took 4 sections already, didn't pass even single one. I talked with my ex. He said, you should reconsider is this what you really want to do. : (, he is a Harvard Med graduated, he took 3 times to pass the board exam, but he doubted me about CPA?