Kelli’s Final Thoughts on Passing the CPA Exam

21 Sep 2011

Club 75 Candidate Bloggers

Kelli is a weekly Club 75 Blogger as she documents her journey through the CPA Exam. She has been a member of's Club 75 since April 2011.

Hello Future CPA friends,

My journey in this adventure has finally come to an end. I passed my last section, with tears, and tears, and rivers of tears of joy. I had always sort of imagined what it would be like when it finally happened but now that it has, I am completely overwhelmed with so many emotions and a thousand pounds that have been lifted.

I am still in a state of wonder and I don’t think it has quite hit me yet. I always read all the comments from everyone on Jeff’s Another71 Facebook page, even on the sections I was not waiting for, just to see how people react when times are good and when times are tough.

Having been through 8 tough ones (I know, embarrassing and more than I would like to admit, and which, if you do the math, you can figure out that I sat 12 times to pass in 20 months), I do have some insight I would like to share before I go that I hope helps those of you who are struggling and contemplating quitting.

1. Don’t quit. You started this journey for a reason; you wanted this designation. Do not let this exam dim your luster for achieving the three letters “CPA” after your name.

2. If one product is not working over and over, DROP IT! Do not go down the long stupid path that I did of failure after failure after failure before switching. I would say after the second time, your first choice in product did not work, so find something else. Everyone learns differently and each product has a different method. Find the one that is yours.

3. If you get a failing score, go back and figure out why. Not just the parts that you did not do well on, but what else did you do or not do? Jeff has said this over and over again as well – did you REALLY put in as much time as you thought? Was it dedicated learning time and not just “getting through the chapters” time?

I think this is where most people can make the BIGGEST change. How many parties did you attend that you shouldn't have? How many cookies did you bake that you didn’t need to? How many football or baseball games did you watch that you could have done without?

4. Now that you have been honest, go back and figure out the sections that you scored less than average on and spend a little more time there until you get it this time around. MCQ’s ad nauseum are a MUST!

Example, for me the last time on audit I was stronger in every topic area than everyone else who scored between 75-80, but I bombed in the sims. And I knew this. So for me, this time around, although others would say not necessary (but for me clearly it was), I went back and practiced every simulation I could get my hands on, just to get used to walking my way through the process of analysis in the simulations and what they were asking.

For me this also meant that I knew I stink at journal entries, I stink at evaluating balance sheet and income statement effects of one change on another. So I had to go and get an older intermediate accounting book from (for the low low price of $5.83 including shipping), to have help to walk me through basic junk like journal entries and how each financial statement ties to the next, and what happens if something changes on one to another.

This is part of auditing and basic knowledge that apparently I did not have well enough under my belt to help me pass. I had no idea how to read a trial balance, so I needed the intermediate accounting book to help me. Sometimes supplemental material might be necessary. Seem like extra work? Yes. Was it worth it? Double yes.

5. Don’t quit (did I mention this already?)

6. Take as small a break as you possibly can but get back into the studying after you clear your head. A week was always enough for me. I also did not jump right into scheduling the next exam until about after 2 weeks of studying because by then, a) I had a better idea of when I would be ready, and b) a lot of people had already dropped off the schedule and opened up spots for me.

7. I would seriously recommend retaking the part you just failed and nothing else until you pass it. That way you are staying with material you are already familiar with and not trying to learn something new or relearn something old. Some would say different, but this worked for me. Just a thought.

8. If you are just starting out on this process or have FAR and AUD left, I would recommend that you take FAR first because there is material in FAR that will inevitably show up in Audit. I’s just part of the process, so give yourself a better shot at passing and get FAR out of the way if you can before you tackle Audit.

9. Finally, DON’T QUIT. Do not ever leave yourself in a position to say: “If only” because it will haunt you for the rest of your life. I have so many people who have told me they wish that someone would have made them continue or given them encouragement. “If only” must not be an option for your future.

Believe me I am old enough to know this, and this was one time I was not going to leave defeated, for as many times as I felt like it. But I always regrouped, came back and tried again. Of course our immediate emotions say: “that’s enough!” But get past the 24-48 hours after not passing, and start a new day. Start a new plan. Just start.

There is no shame in not passing. You can only fail if you stop trying.

Many blessings to all those still studying and DON’T QUIT!


Leave a Reply


Kim 13 years ago

Kelli, Thank you so much for taking the time to pass along all of this great advice and encouraging thoughts. I've printed your blog for future reference. The best of luck to you!

Barry 13 years ago

Congratulations! Very well said. These words are what I needed to get back into REG tonight. It's been 2 days since I got that awful 73, but my retake is in a little under 4 weeks, and I'm following your advice of sticking with this one until I pass it. Again, congrats!!

Chris 13 years ago

What a great post! Thank you and congratulations on your success!!

Stephanie 13 years ago

Wow, Congrats Kelli!! My AUD struggles are just like yours. How exactly did you study journal entries? I've been studying them in the intermediate book, but then have a hard time translating them to practical application in the test. Congrats again and enjoy your freedom!!!

Benji 13 years ago

Kelli, Congrats are passing all four parts! What an unbelievable accomplishment for you (and your family). What intermediate accounting book did you purchase? I've been out of school for a while and will probably need some refreshers in FAR. Also, how did you study for journal entries? Thanks. Congrats, again! Enjoy this weekend of celebration for you!

Allyson 13 years ago

Great advice and congratulations!!

Kelli 13 years ago

Hello everyone, Thank you and keep plugging away. You will pass and don't let anyone tell you different. In the end i kept each upcoming exam and result to myself and a few choice people, less to answer for later. For Benji and Stephanie, the book I used, is actually one from my college days that i went back and purchased on amazon. Doesn't have to be a new 2011 edition, journal entries and stuff never change. here is the link: It is intermediate accounting by Kieso/Weygandt, 2004 edition. I know its old but it worked for me and it was cheap. I actually used this book for Audit and FAR because it just had a lot of good basic information. To study the journal entries, i did not focus on the long complicated ones, just the basic ones since that is usually what showed up. I could never remember the types of accounts or account names, or which direction they went. Dumb, I know. So first I had to get the basics of debit or credit to assets and liabilities (long time since i am out of school). and just practiced over and over again with the questions at the end of the chapters, and then googled online for journal entries. there is a lot of good stuff out there. Yes it was extra time but i needed it. This book was also helpful for the flow of info from one financial statement to the next. Alot to put here, if anyone wants more info, email me at or FB Kelli Hall Mayer. More than happy to help fellow students. I wish someone would have guided me. I also took the trial balance examples in the book and just practiced putting all of the transactions into journal entry form. Just over and over and over again. Writing and rewriting was the best method.

Leina 13 years ago

Congrats!!! I am having the same issues with my audit exam....stronger on MC Questions, but weaker on the simulations. I've scored a 70,74,73, and 72, which shows that you can't pass audit by doing well on MC Questions alone. So, I'm going to follow your advice...hopefully it works and I finally pass audit!!