Am I playing myself by not using everything available to me?

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    After experiencing yesterday what will likely be my 3rd failed CPA exam, I feel like I need to re-evaluate how I've been studying. I know I'm not that deep into it, but I already feel very discouraged.

    I have Ninja and Becker, but all I do is practice MCQs and that's it. I can't get myself to sit through the Becker lectures because the presenters are high-key annoying AF and all they do is tell you to circle and highlight crap. But the Ninja lectures are so bare-bones that they're not really helpful either. I don't practice sims because they take too long and practicing them doesn't even seem to help me prepare for the actual ones on the exam. I can't focus enough to get anything out of the books/notes. I feel like everything other than the MCQs just wastes my time and aren't actually helping me.

    Do you guys feel like it's worth the time to really go through like…everything? Or do you feel like it didn't make that much of a difference to your results? I'm worried about spending all that extra time and STILL struggling to pass. I can only bring myself to study maybe 3-4 hours after being annoyed working all day, so I am trying to make the best use of that time. What tools (lectures, flashcards, whatever) have you found actually added value to your studying and how did you use them? Help a guy out here.

    FAR - 61, 77

    REG - 63, 60, 79

    BEC - 74, 88

    AUD - 78


    For my first exam last year (AUD), I sat through all the lectures and took notes before diving into the MCQs/SIMS. Haven't done that since for the remaining three since it was honestly a waste of time imo, but everyone's different and some prefer to listen to them as it aligns with their study habits.

    You don't know if you failed yet, so there's still a glimmer of hope that you passed. Given your score history, I think a shakeup in your study habits is likely warranted since it doesn't seem like your understanding of the material is truly sinking in. You said that you don't do the practice SIMS because they take too long. I've found that the SIMS are actually the most helpful tool since they require actually applying the rules and using your knowledge to answer. This to me is the best indicator of how much you're truly understanding the content and pinpoints glaring knowledge gaps to remediate.

    Working full-time while studying for this exam sucks and like you, I could only bring myself to doing ~3-4 hours a night on the weekdays. If you're going to allot yourself limited hours to study every day, you have to give it your full undivided attention for that time period and just commit yourself to grinding it out. Do you feel that you've been doing that or do you occasionally lapse and lose focus?

    AUD: 90 (06/19) - 1600+ MCQs

    BEC: 96 (07/19) - 1200+ MCQs

    FAR: 89 (10/19) - 1800+ MCQs

    REG: 93 (07/20) - 1300+ MCQs

    Ethics: 91 (08/20)


    2 more months of experience to go...


    I started studying for the CPA exam back in October 2017, specifically AUD. I purchased Becker and started out by watching the videos and reading/highlighting everything they told me to. Then, I did MCQs and a few SIMS. I ended up with a 66 on the exam. Lost all my confidence and didn't pick up studying again until October 2018. This time, I decided to start over. I tested out a few review courses and found I liked Roger's teaching style the best, so I started studying for FAR using Roger. I watched through the lectures and took notes as he was speaking. I find actually writing down notes, instead of highlighting, helped the info stick better. Just my 2 cents here – if you want to pass, I would 100% recommend at least reading through the book and taking notes (if watching videos just isn't cutting it for you). After reading/taking notes on each chapter, tackle some MCQ and a few SIMS to gauge your understanding of the topics. Unless you're an expert at accounting, I don't see how you can pass with only doing MCQs…but this is just my opinion!

    Good luck on the exams – it's clear you want to pass! I am sure you will 🙂

    "It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan." -Eleanor Roosevelt

    Licensed CPA in IL

    FAR-72, 55, 82 (Roger + Wiley TB)
    AUD-66, 92 (Roger)
    REG-71, 81 (Roger + Wiley TB)
    BEC-77 (Roger)
    Ethics- 93


    To the OP – you're not utilizing the full review course by not studying the SIMs.

    The SIMs may take long to study but it helps reinforce what you study from the mcq's. It's just another way of learning. Plus it's give you practice and a feel of how to navigate the SIMs on the actual exam.

    Two weeks before my actual exam, all I did was study the Gleim SIMs from ny review course. It helped me tremendously, because it was asking the same mcq's questions but in a different way. This helps reinforced what I had learned.

    After 6 previous failures with other review courses,I passed all 4 sections consequetively with no retakes.

    AUD - 90
    BEC - 78
    FAR - 84
    REG - 87
    World Domination Plan

    Phase I : Pass CPA Exams - Complete
    Phase II : Megan Fox - In Progress
    Phase III : Megan Fox & Scarlett Johansson Lingerie Pillow Fight
    Phase IV : Form the new Charlie's Angels with Megan Fox, Scarlett Johansson, & Gal Gadot
    Phase V : TBD


    This isn't going to be an “everybody” study method, but here's what I've done and has worked for me.

    Skip all the lectures and videos. Go straight to the MCQ test bank in study mode (where it tells you instantly if you got it wrong or right). Set up a random test of ~30-50 MCQs and jot down the ones you miss and why you got it wrong, or if not jotting, take mental note of why you got it wrong, why the other answers are incorrect, and why the correct answer is correct. Once you've done probably around 250 MCQs, go to the SIMs and set up a random test of ~10. Rinse, repeat, same steps for MCQs, until you've completed all of the MCQs AND SIMs. The SIMs aren't even close to the amount of MCQs so you'll get through these pretty fast and be able to master them before test day. This approach gives you the same results in approximately half the study time. As an example to how clunky the lectures/textbook are for any given exam software, I started the lectures for REG using Wiley and stuck with them for about two days before trying this approach. When I was ready for the exam, I went back to the notes I had taken on the lectures and sure enough, none of the things I had written down were even things I had seen in the MCQs or SIMs. Remember, you're just trying to pass, not know every minute detail of every topic. Best of luck! You got this.

    AUD - NINJA in Training
    BEC - NINJA in Training
    FAR - 75
    REG - 76
    Just trying to pass this thing.

    If your focus is on the MCQ's, are you understanding why the answer is correct and why the wrong choices are incorrect? When I was studying, I called this part studying the MCQ's. I found it helpful during my studies to study the MCQ's for a chapter and then read the text for that chapter. It was an easy read because I was already familiar with the material and by going through the questions and then going through the text it would often help fill in the blanks. Being that you find it difficult to read the book and listen to lectures, this may be an approach to consider.

    I do not think it is wise to just skip the SIMS, especially since they are now 50% of your exam score. If you are stuck on a SIM or if it is “wasting too much time” then at least review it and look at the solutions. This helps to familiarize you on how to answer the SIMs and on how to approach simple things like leaving blanks, putting in a 0, negative signs, etc. I also found that the SIMS would cover material that was not on the MCQs. It also helps you to prepare for how to approach the research questions.

    Find a study approach that works for you and try to take advantage of the tools that your review course offers. Study wisely and good luck!


    I think your questions is specifically on REG? The SIM are important but very difficult (some of them).
    The SIMS on BEC are writing, so it's all about BS.

    Honestly, I didn't find the Becker videos / textbook very useful. I honestly only did the MCQs for Becker. I didn't have the software so I was unable to do the sims. I used Wiley MCQs + Sims, and Another 71 MCQs. I would recommend if you didn't find Becker very useful, then try another source. The more different type of questions you see, the higher chance you are going to see the same ones on the test (and pass!)

    I only used the textbook if I can't the answers online / on the forum. Google is the fastest way to find information (especially when you hate books and wasn't a good students in college).

    For tax, I spent a lot of time practicing use real IRS tax forms. I went to my local library and grabbed a copy of every form and try to plug in the numbers. This help me remember all the rules on individual taxation.

    Last but not least, strategy planning is very important. Do those you-know-the-answer-questions first, and save more time for those that you don't know. This is MCQ. If you have enough time, you can always plug the answers backward and try to figure out which one make the most sense. II has to be A, B, C, D or E. Leave at least 1.5 hours for SIMS. You will need the time to “SIT and THINK” the answers (or try to plug for an answer). I would say if you know about 50% of the MCQ and 2/3 SIMS on the test, you can probably pass with a 80. Aim for 85% passing rate on Another 71 MCQ to get that actual 50% passing on the test center.

    NY - License Approved December 2020.

    Thought I'd revisit this thread. Thanks for all the replies!

    So I definitely failed REG again lol, but I changed up my approach for my 2nd attempt at BEC, using mostly Becker. Hopefully I passed this time around. But here are the changes I made:

    1. I still don't really sit down and watch the lectures because they're sooo annoying. But I did at least open them. I just put those boys on 1.5x speed and am very liberal with skipping/fast-forwarding.

    2. I actually did the skills practice though. I still skip through the videos if they sound like stuff I already understand (or they're making one of their awful jokes), but generally I found those condensed videos way more helpful. And I like the little exercise it gives you.

    3. After doing all the MCQs and taking notes on those, I actually did it. I practiced the sims. I went through and did a lot of them (still didn't really do the finance or econ ones tbh) and I did actually feel this time it helped for my actual exam. I also watch all those SkillMaster videos where they walk you through the sims. Those are super helpful actually.

    Trying the same approach now for AUD. Very tempted to go back to just completely skipping the lectures entirely because Tim Gearty makes my soul bleed but I'm trying to remain disciplined.

    FAR - 61, 77

    REG - 63, 60, 79

    BEC - 74, 88

    AUD - 78


    A 74! You will definitely pass it next time. I got a 71 before and then right on with a 75.

    Use the reward system to encourage yourself. Say five candies per successfully study for one chapter.

    When you are stuck at the videos, remember to tell your self awful videos vs. awful meetings with boss. You know which one you will pick.

    NY - License Approved December 2020.

    Solid perspectives and advice here. I 100% agree with April, I took notes on every lecture. Then if I wanted to review, I didn't have to go immediately back to the lectures, but my notes instead, which obviously make more sense because I took them. I took BEC first and after about 2 days of highlighting/underlining the book, I just went full time with notes. I didn't even order the books for FAR, AUD, or REG and passed them all.

    This is general advice to anyone; if the results aren't what you want them to be, be open to trying something new, ESPECIALLY if there are parts of the courses you aren't using. I went through every lecture, skills practice, MCQ, Sim, and simulated exam, in addition to my notes (again, HIGHLY recommend). But I didn't touch the book, the online forms that Becker had and had videos to explain, or the provided course outlines. Ultimately you know (or you'll find out) yourself best, and you know how best you'll study and end up passing. After you know this, you'll be able to figure out what aspects of the review course(s) help you and which ones don't.

    As much as we want to do this sometimes, I don't recommend cutting corners unless you're scoring high and want to risk cutting back. The quickest and most efficient way to pass is dive into studying wholeheartedly and not let up on the gas. Tough for sure, but put in the time now and it saves you time and stress later.

    Good luck all!

    BEC - 90 (7/19, 8 weeks)
    FAR - 78 (10/19, 10 weeks)
    AUD - 75 (12/19, 8 weeks)
    REG - 90 (7/20, ~12 weeks, split up)

    Ethics - 97 (~6 hours to go through the material & take the quiz)
    Licensed in Virginia (10/20, ~1.5 weeks to process after submitting everything)


    Yeah, everyone has their own way of studying so you should find yours.

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