First Pass – What a feeling!!

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    art vandalay

    Mind the length of this post, but I just wanted to post my experience for the past 15 months.

    I will preface by stating that I began working in a small public accounting firm in November 2011. I started the CPA exam journey in May of 2013, by taking the BEC exam. I did absolutely horrible (49). I don’t think that I truly understood what I was getting into. I had screwed up registering for the exams and signed up for 3 at once. So I took FAR in August 2013 and did terrible (59), what was I doing wrong? Next I tried a BEC re-take in October 2013, I tried harder, but really struggled on the MCQ and got a 62, which was a 13 point increase and showed that I can do it. I decided to switch gears and took AUD in November 2013 and I thought I did fairly well and was completely blown away when I got a 62. I was devastated. I immediately signed up for a retake in January 2014 and once again walked out of the exam thinking I finally did it and got a 65! WTF! I didn’t know where to go next, so I decided to take all of tax season off from the exam and finish up my Master’s degree in accounting, which I did this past May.

    My wife and I had our first child in early May of this year. What an incredible and life-changing experience. Knowing that I had finished school was a great feeling, but the thought of 4 exams looming over my head was awful. How could I study and figure all of this out with a newborn? I decided in June that I wanted to give it another crack. But I didn’t wanna spend time away from my wife and son, so I had to figure out the studying part. I began studying in mid-june for AUD again. I decided that I was not going to stress out about this exam as much as possible and really try to hone in on the material. I went through all of the lectures again, and did all of the multiple choice. I read NINJA notes whenever the baby was sleeping. Studied at work when it was slow. I did MCQ on my ipad in bed. I thought about the exam but I didn’t let it take over my life. I tried to beat in my head that it’s just a test, and pass or fail I am still fortunate to have a supporting family.

    I focused really hard on my weak areas one week leading up to the exam. I took the exam on Thursday 8/14. We then went on vacation for a week in Rhode Island and I refused to check my score, as I didn’t want it to ruin our vacation. At night though I would wonder what would happen if I failed. I would be 0-7 in exams and thinking of a possible new career as to not continue torturing myself. We got home on Saturday 8/23, unpacked and went to the computer for the result. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. An 86!!!! My wife cried and I cried (then the baby cried sad tears haha). What a feeling! Now that I know it’s possible I am now motivated more than ever. I am going to take a couple of weeks off then will be looking to tackle BEC again in the 4th quarter and continue on in this journey. Pass or fail, I won’t give up.

    Again, sorry for the length of this post, but this website has helped me so much, that I wanted to share a little of my experiences thus far. For those of you that read this, there are a lot of other success stories on here with far greater circumstances that I have read to keep me motivated. If you’re struggling, don’t give up. Maybe just re-think how you can improve your studying! It feels good now, but I am only ¼ of the way done. See ya in the BEC Study group thread in the 4th quarter


    The first pass does feel amazing. Congrats man!


    Congrats!! First a bunch of sad news, then a bunch of good news. Get this out of the way, so you can watch your baby grow up! 🙂


    Congrats! What a great story!


    The first pass is always the greatest feeling (not sure what the last past feels like yet). I was in the same boat taking exams and not passing and I knew if I could just get that one pass under my belt my motivation would kick in. I'll never forget just starring at my first pass seeing that 81. Congratulations!


    Congrats, I passed my first exam I ever took in April of 2013 and proceeded to fail on the next seven attempts. I've been as close as you get on some but haven't been able to get over the hump. I'm going to try a few different things this time around and hope it will be enough. For you to score that high has to be a huge confidence booster.


    Congrats!! I too had my first pass recently after several fails so I totally know what ur talking about. Wishing u all the best for the last 3 exams!! We can do this 🙂


    Congratulations! Mind if I ask what material(s) you use in AUD? I have failed FAR for the second time, I think I need to move on with AUD to boost a little self confidence.

    Congrats again and thanks for your sharing your story!


    My story has been quite similar. Started in May '13 and still working on my first pass on my 7th try in a few days. Good luck with the others, sometimes all you need is that first pass to get it really going.

    art vandalay

    @after30cpa, I used becker self study and the ninja notes and a little (not much) of the WTB. I mainly focused on understanding what I was looking at. After the lectures I would re-read the chapter then work the homework questions.

    I really nailed down the reviews comps and attest engagements, and their differences. I then nailed down the professional responsibilities and code of conduct, independence, etc. Then looked at the reports and different opinions. I didn't focus much on the IFRS and the IT parts. Sampling was hard for me as was the risk section, those were the points I really tried to hit in the last week of review. Also, I had the six month trial with the aicpa AL, which really helped. It was fairly easy to navigate in the exam after understanding the best way to search for items.

    Thanks for all the kind words. Good luck Oreo!

    CPA soon

    Congrats 🙂 Can't wait to be there!


    I hope I am right there with you on Thursday! I failed my first 4 exams and am starting retakes now. Crossing my fingers I can get over that hump! Congrats!!!


    That is awesome! I totally remember my first pass… I also cried. I cried on my 2nd pass too! I think I'll cry all 4 times. Tears of joy are great. I took AUD on 8/15, man how I wish I would've taken it on the 14th! Lol. Oh well! May you cry happy tears for more passing scores soon!!!


    The first pass is definitely an amazing feeling…all downhill from there =) It's that feeling of “wow, I can actually do this!”


    I love this post!!! I am feeling the same way man. I am praying for my first pass!!!

    Thank you for this post. You can do it…we all can!

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