The CPA Exam After 40?

01 Mar 2011

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Hello, my name is Diane. I am not the typical CPA exam candidate, as I've just begun the testing process at age 41.

I've held just about every job in Corporate Accounting, from A/P Clerk to Controller. Hopefully the CPA designation will allow my career to move upward and onward.

I have an MS in Accounting as well as an MBA.

Sounds impressive, right?

I will pass each section on the first attempt, with little or no effort, due to knowledge gleaned in professional and academic pursuits, right?

Well, I was hoping that was the case, but sometimes reality can be rather ugly.

My first test was AUD in January 2011. Upon completion, I had no idea how I'd performed. When asked for a ballpark guess at my score, I honestly answered “anywhere from 55 to 85.”

The reason is simple: I am relearning half of the tested material. In the case of AUD, one hundred percent of the material. My last Audit class was in 1997, and I've never worked as an auditor.

I'm currently studying for BEC and slowly plodding through the muddy IT waters. No remembrance of an IT class comes to mind, so this is yet another new topic, like so much of this garbage bin exam section.

All of my friends, except one, took the exam when it was written. If I hear one more remark about my computerized cakewalk, someone will experience a rapidly moving CPA Review book traveling in their general direction.

Is there anyone else out there who, for whatever reason, is taking the exam a little late in their career? I would love to hear from you!

Leave a Reply


Stephanie 13 years ago

Hi Diane, Good for you! Yes, I'm taking the exam at 45. (Pending this month's score release on REG, I may be done). Not only did everyone I know take the paper one - they only needed 4 years of college. I've been a SAHM for 15 years and thought this would be a good "project", lol! What a 'project' it has been! Good luck!

Kinchen 13 years ago

37 and I sit for my first part April 9th 2011. I graduated from college in 1998.

Donielle 13 years ago

Diane, I started the whole ball of wax later in life. Not over 40 yet, but decided after working in a large range of accounting fields I should get my degree in accounting. Not a masters but my BS. I will graduate in May after 3 1/2 years of school, with family, and I own a consulting business. I am burnt out though and going to take the summer off and not start studying for the exam until August. I want to enjoy the summer before my son starts preschool and my husband needs a break too! Good luck on your exams! How did your audit exam turn out, or do you know yet?

Donielle 13 years ago

Diane, I started the whole ball of wax later in life. Not over 40 yet, but decided after working in a large range of accounting fields I should get my degree in accounting. Not a masters but my BS. I will graduate with 150 credits in May after 3 1/2 years of school, with family, and I own a consulting business. I am burnt out though and going to take the summer off and not start studying for the exam until August. I want to enjoy the summer before my son starts preschool and my husband needs a break too! Good luck on your exams! How did your audit exam turn out, or do you know yet?

Lori 13 years ago

Diane: I completely understand your situation! I graduated in 1990 with my accounting degree and got my MBA in Mgt(NO accting) in 1999. I've also worked the last 21 years in various accounting jobs. But you are SO RIGHT about the material being "stale" from "ancient" schooling. And let's face it; the working world and this test are two very different animals. I took AUD in November 2010 and got a 68. I was horrified but not surprised. I took REG in mid February. I am not a tax acct and it was a rough test. I doubt I passed it. I do have some better news though; I took AUD a second time just yesterday and feel really good about it. FAR is next for me in mid April. I'm hoping FAR will be a bit easier since my work experience has been mainly in that area. What I think is most difficult is that the review classes (in my opinion) are geared to newly minted graduates that have some of that information still in their memory banks. I have found that doing thousands of multiple choice questions and sitting through a review class information dump aren't very effective for me. I'm still trying to figure out what will work best for me but I'm with you; this is much more challenging then I ever expected! Good Luck! Know you are not alone!

Name (required) 13 years ago

I am 50! And took my first part of the exam, yesterday BEC. I received my accounting degree in the 1980s. I had a career fist in real estate then in real estate finance. Now, I am trying to repackage myself as an accountant. As they say in BEC to avoid structural unemployment as my skills aren't matching the market demand. Frankly, I am enjoying it ( sort of) it is hard work. VERY hard work. Life experience helps in some ways and in others I don’t know if I will get through AUD without taking another auditing class or not.. I am using the Yaeger home study . My next section for early April in REG. Taking the first section gave me a few tips on what not to do next time ( like drink coffee the morning of the exam--- which probably wouldn’t have bothered me fresh out of college ).

Kerrie 13 years ago

Hi Diane, Yes, I am right there with you! I am 42 and just finished my LAST CPA section (FAR) on January 2011. Waiting on pins and needles for the results! I have passed the other 3 parts but have a hard time with this one. I took the Becker review class and it helped so much. I had to learn and relearn so much. Even though, like you, I have worked the past 20 some years in accounting, the topics tested are not the issues we deal with on a daily basis and many of the formulas and things tested, we have a computer program that computes it or we research it. What makes it harder to take at our stage of our cxareer is that we are often working and raising children at the same time we are trying to find a spare second to study. I also have everyone else in the office saying how lucky I am to take the computerized version and how much easier it must be, and how lucky we are that we can take only 1 part at a time. I am sure you will do great and these days you need a CPA to have any kind of lucrative furture. GOOD LUCK!

Steve 13 years ago

Diane, I just started my exam journey as well. I will be 40 this year and have been in the accounting industry as a controller for the past 12 years. I took FAR in January 2011 and am hoping for the best. Good luck to you.

Charlie 13 years ago

You are definately not the only one going back to get cpa although I can understand that you feel that way especially looking around at the other people at the prometric center taking the exam. I am 41 graduated in 1995. I have passed 3 of 4 tests so far and had only auditing left which I first took in Nov 2010 and felt good after completing test until I rec'd my grade (73). In other words I had a lousy Christmas. Anyway got back on the horse and took again the end of Feb 2011 now just patiently waiting. Reason I went back was due to a great deal of layoffs at job and the thought of looking for another job without it did not sit well especially when usually the first question being asked was if I had my CPA.

Vic 13 years ago

I guesss, I am one of those "late" candidates. I'm 44! In addition, English is not my first language. I came to US in 1994 with BS in Economics and worked in private sector accounting for many years until couple of years ago, when I decided to become a CPA. I took some accounting courses to get necessary 25 credit/hrs to sit for Exam. I started taking sections last year and passed AUD(83), BEC(79) & FAR(75). I got 74 on REG last November, so I re-took it in February and impatiently waiting for the score. Hope for the best. Good Luck to you and all of us!!!

sue 13 years ago

I am 47 and planning to take my AUD exam in July. I also have masters degree in accounting.

Kris 13 years ago

I'm 36 and sitting for my last part in May. I graduated in 97 and took the paper exam once - but enjoyed my 20s too much to worry with wasting all that time on studying! :) 14 years and a pretty successful career later, I decided to do it for me. I was tired of explaining to people that I am not a CPA but still a very competent manager... and with 2 small children, I like the idea of the 3 letters creating some opportunities for me to do something on my own or have some more flexibility when I am ready. Good luck to you - the best thing about taking it later in life is that we can draw on our experiences to really understand the material. The road has been tough but better than I expected!

Samantha 13 years ago

I am taking it (later than most). I am 31 and a Corporate Controller. I started out as an accounting major in undergraduate because I have always had the "accounting mind" so to speak. I changed my major to business management naively thinking that accountants just did tax and/or public accounting, which I didn't want to do. Anyway, became a financial analyst in a corporate environment and loved it (wishing I had not changed my major from accounting, and I ended up going back to school for a Masters in Accounting so I could get the technical training and the credentials/hours for my exam. So took FAR 1st and passed last year. Then I took BEC,AUD, & REG in one window to try to get them done in 2010, but just passed BEC. Retook REG in Feb 2011 will take AUD in May. Sometimes I think having real world experience hurts you because you read too much into the question, and it "just isn't like that in the real world." But on some sections, the experience makes you know certain concepts like the back of your hand.. Really looking forward to having a life again between work and studying, though! Good luck to all!

Lee A Ward 13 years ago

Dianne, It is never to late to take the CPA exam. I pass last year at the age of 49 with very little true accounting experience. I am retired Army and becoming an accountant and CPA was a second career for me. By developing a proper study plan and putting in the dedication and studying you will become a CPA. Feel free to contact me anytime.

Sheri 13 years ago

Yes I too am taking the Exam late in my career. I have you beat by a few years. I have recently started studying AUD and like you have no experience in this area. Should be a challenge!

Ken 13 years ago

Diane, Like you, it was years ago that I had an accounting class, 1991 to be exact! I began the journey at age 43 and passed last February. Don't give up! Working full-time and studying for exam with a young family was extremely draining, but I just kept focued on my goal. Good luck to you!

Sonia 13 years ago

Diane, Omg moment,is it possible to go back and start all over again to study for CPA exam. I finished my MBA 2 yrs ago, there are no jobs here. I am afraid and not sure if I should sit for CPA exam. It means , I need to either borrow text books, review material. Any suggestions out there.... what i should do?? Good luck to you diane!!

Mel 12 years ago

I know this is an older thread, but I just wanted to say Good Luck to everyone still in the journey and Congrats to those who have succeeded!! This thread was the pick-me-up I needed. 35 is around the corner and I will be sitting for the first part in February. Like most of you I have had a successful career in accounting (currently a controller) but know the CPA is important - to me personally and professionally. My job is very demanding - but it gives me hope that some of you work AND raise a family AND take the exams (I'm currently single - no kids). If you guys can do it - I certainly can!! Take care all and best of luck!

nadia 12 years ago

Thanks for bumping this!!! I just hit 48 this year and feeling like I am definitely on the older side of the forum. Glad to see other "40's" out there going after the gold! Best of luck!

Amy 12 years ago

Can I get your advice on an effective and efficient CPA prep program/material? I am 49 soon to be 50 and starting to study for the CPA exam. I completed my undergrad in 2006 and am needing advice as to which CPA study program people are using. I am looking for a program which is a refresher course on the college materials as I'm a bit rusty. I work full time just like all of you so an effective and efficient prep program is a must. What prep program you are using and why i.e. pro's and con's? GOOD LUCK on your journey!!

nadia 12 years ago

@AMY That is a tough question, because everyone is different, and each exam is different, sometimes requiring a different method. Overall, I would say that the programs are split into 2 categories: teaching and review. IMO, I think Becker is more review, programs like Yaeger and Roger are more teaching styled. I graduated college in 1985, so even though I had to take some acctg classes to get my hours, I still prefer a teaching program. I realize I need the constant repetition of concepts. I did use Becker for BEC and passed, but needed more for FAR, REG, and Audit. I think Becker worked fine for me for BEC, because, it was my favorite exam to study for. I really liked the content. For FAR, I used Yaeger with Becker and that did the trick. I have been using additional testbanks--I think this is really important, it is so easy to become accustomed to the way they ask questions, or you just end up memorizing. I used WIley with Becker and some cpareviewforfree too. Overall, most people would say that doing the mcq's is key. I like the lectures-especially Roger's -he is so enthusiatic and he crams a ton of information--always teaching, but alot of people don't use lectures. Once you start, you will begin to know what is working and what feels comfortable. Best of luck to you!!! Merry Christmas (yankee-forum name)

milkatz 12 years ago

Diane, I'm 58 and I just passed all 4 parts on the first try. It wasn't easy. If I can do it, anyone can do it! It's a career change for me. - milkatz

David 12 years ago

Hi Diane, I am 48 and will be 49 in 2012...I graduated with MS in Accounting in 1995 at 32 and get my MBA in 2004. I am trying to secure my future career path and feel that I have to become a CPA. Although in my mind this is going to be a year long project, but what motivate me is my dream to have my own firm and having nobody telling me what to do to earn a living..:) I was out of employment 2008 to 2010, got a Real Estate Broker license and got another job in September. Work in Non- profit Accounting since 1998 as clerk, analyst, management and budgeting. Let me know your progress. Good luck!

Hector 12 years ago

Wow! I though that my case was unique.I just turned 52 and I'm going to sit for the exam for the second time. Really motivating reading your stories. Best of lucks to you all.It's never too late

faisal abbasi 12 years ago

Hi Diane, I am over 45 I have taken CPA exam for some reason or the other I have been unable to pass. I just took AUD didnt do quite well. Job pressure etc. I dont know what to do. But I really want this designation. Please Help!

P 12 years ago

Hi, I just came across your blog written a little over a year ago. Hope you have been able to accomplish all you wanted to and pass the CPA exam. I just turned 40 and after tax season is over I will begin to study and take the CPA exam. Previously I was a special education teacher but decided to embark on a new path at the age of 37. I received a certificate in accounting and worked at H & R Block doing taxes. Then I worked for 1 year in fund accounting in a corporate setting and now work in a public accounting firm as a tax accountant. I am hoping to pass the CPA exam and then get a masters in taxation.

Lori 12 years ago

I recently finished the Becker CPA review and am studying to take my first exam. I am over 50 and have been questioning if and should I be doing this. Reading this thread helped me a lot. So here I go back to studying.

Nancy 12 years ago

Hello Diane, I am in a similar situation as you are, but with some disadvantages. I am 44 already and planning to take the CPA exams. I graduated in 2011 with an MPAcc, but I have not had a work that implies all aspects of accounting, such as with a CPA. I have worked for an S corporation for almost five years as a controller and office manager, but my experience does not count for the license. I get a little discourage at times because I think that no one will hire me at this age, but then I cheer myself up and think why not? And yes, I will take my exams and find a job to comply with the experience requirement, and at last get my license. Do not give up! Employers should see that us people over 40 still have a lot to offer and that we are not retired yet. We still have over 20 years of productivity. It woould be nice that all of us could associate when we get our licenses and start a business together! And demonstrate what we are capable of... LOL! Good luck on your exams.

Dana W. 10 years ago

@Nadia and @ Diane - I am just reading your posts and I'm so happy I found this thread! I'm 41 and I am currently studying for the CPA exam and earning college credit at the same time. The course uses Wiley CPAExcel. @Nadia and anyone who can offer insight - given I am returning to school after 20 years, I need a relearning of the material. Is Wiley CPAExcel considered a teaching style review course? What should I use in addition to Wiley to aid in learning the materials without spinnin my wheels. Thanking you in advance.

Dana W. 10 years ago

@Diane It's been a few years since you felt a certain way and posted this.... How is your studying going? I'm just getting started with my studies. I've been at it for a few months. I'm returning to school after 20 years and feel alone with the process plus I feel like a duck out of water...with the whole relearning process. But, in ways, I'm comforted in knowing, that the ways I'm feeling is part of the process. Exhaling!

Stephanie 8 years ago

I am 46 and thinking about taking this exam. I am not only worried about passing but I am worried about getting a job and experience even if I do pass the exam. I heard a lot of accounting firms only want to hire young people

Chandra Crudup 8 years ago

Hello, I am considering it.I finished my degree at 40, and now i am 45 and looking to earn my CPA. I wondered if it was to late for me. but i have decided that i am doing this for me. I am going to to get my CPA. Good lucK to you Diane! Good luck to everyone!!!