August 21, 2020 at 7:17 pm #3083292smokeandmirrors1983Participant
I'm a non-traditional CPA exam candidate. I graduated with a BS in psychology, sort of stumbled into a career in healthcare accounting (private). I have (and am in treatment for) OCD and ADHD, though I'm not taking medication for the latter. I finished requirements to become a CPA exam candidate in 2010, largely through taking undergrad level accounting/business classes, post-baccalaureate (far less expensive than a masters degree).
I tried studying for the CPA exam at some points, but I find long text and videos to be insufferable. Self-study CPA review courses have never really stuck with me. I tried Yaeger and Roger, but the videos were too long for me to stay focused after eight hours of working. I found I studied best under the tutelage of a now-retired teacher who taught an in-class review course every weekend. He summarized the basics behind formulas and then it was drill-drill-drill on MCQs.
I have a few specific questions which I hope people can help with…
(1) If you have ADD or ADHD, have you found specific study strategies that work well for you? For example, if study-break-study-break-study-long break, what are your interval lengths?
(2) Do you know of any review courses that offer brief(ish) summaries of concepts, walk through some practice problems, followed by a ton of drilling?
(3) Those of you who completed a MS in Accounting course right before going in to study for the exam… Did you find that your graduate education at all prepared you (even if by giving you a larger knowledge base) for the CPA exam? I've seen some online MS programs claiming to specialize in public accounting, or “partnering” with programs such as Wiley or Surgent for materials, but I'm not yet convinced.
Thank you all for your time!August 22, 2020 at 11:19 am #3083610
I can’t speak to your OCD or ADHD but I too was a non-traditional CPA exam candidate with a finance undergrad and MBA. I returned to school for a second undergraduate major in accounting and feel I only missed a business tax class but I passed REG with help from a biz tax textbook and ninja. I have a family member who needed Ritalin to study through college and hated taking it so I do understand some of your struggle.
For videos, I always recommend Alan Mursau, now deceased, on you tube. He does what you describe the weekend teacher doing. Some of the standards his videos are based on have changed but most of his work remains relevant. They are detailed and fully illustrate the necessary concepts.
Ninja sparring sessions may help you too. The Ninja mcq’s are the best.
I hope you find your way through. Good luck.August 24, 2020 at 2:50 pm #3085266ReckedParticipant
Now might be a good time to check out those meds for a brief duration.
This exam is killer for people with ADHD.
I would try to do an hour and then take a break, rinse and repeat. But be warned, if you get used to only doing an hour, you are going to hit a wall (or multiple walls) when you take the exam and need to remain focused and engaged for 4 hours. You really need to work on your stamina, especially with OCD and ADHD to get through the 4 hour block. That was my biggest realization while sitting for FAR, longest 4 hours of my life.
I used Roger. I can't bear to read an accounting textbook. It goes in and out and nothing sticks. The visualization on the white board really helped concepts stick for me. The videos were definitely the way to go for me, then followed by drilling the MCQs. The videos are more chopped up now, with no video longer than maybe 30 minutes. Not sure how it was when you last tried.
I tried to study after work, and realized it was never going to work with my brain. I did the EA exams an hour or 2 each night after work, but it wasn't going to work that way for the CPA exam. I started getting up early before work to get my study time in. Have that first cup of coffee and give myself the best few hours to start the day, instead of giving my employer my best hours and leaving myself to try and make due with what was left over. I used to be a night owl, but ever since the CPA exam I became a morning person and it has stuck with me. Study before work, trust me on this.
Good luck on your journey!August 24, 2020 at 6:44 pm #3085488LisaGuest
I have ADD and have been using Becker – I don't tend to do the lectures but just go directly to the MCQs at the end of each section, then go back specifically to study the areas where I don't get the questions right. I have a tendency to lose focus if i'm going through lectures that are more ‘boring' cause I already understand the content so doing this helps me focus as i'm actually ‘doing' the questions then I study those specific areas which I'm better at as I'm actively trying to work things out as I go along so stay more engaged.
The becker course is very well split in manageable sections. After each section I make a list of the topics where I fail, then directly after go through and look up those sections and tick them off once I think I've got the info down.
As the MCQs sections give you the option to just do the questions you got wrong when you go back, I re-attempt the outstanding at these the day after my first attempt and study to check I've retained the new info. I then basically repeat the process and just keep going through the ones I got go wrong over and over until there are no more incorrect questions to reattempt and the MCQ steps shows 100% complete. Leaving time in between retrying means I don't normally just ‘remember' the answers plus they shuffle around the question order and answer order so that makes it harder to accidentally ‘cheat' and forces me to work them out each time.
I've also found being really strict with myself on setting which sections I will do the questions for each day and committing finishing all of them even if i'm doing badly helps – given the sets of questions at the end of each section rarely take more than an hour (and more often 30/40) minutes, it's fairly manageable blocks for my limited attention span.
Also I didn't go to college at all, and got my credits remotely whilst working in accounting – so I can't speak to the helpfulness of the courses being offered, but I find that learning by doing has been the best way for me. If you find the lectures hard focus wise on the review courses – I can't see the MS courses being much different but I'm certainly no expert.
Hope this is somewhat helpful, I really would recommend becker – i've used this approach on AUD and BEC and got 84 & 86 first time. Waiting on FAR results to day so hopefully it'll have paid off there also!!!
LisaAugust 24, 2020 at 10:48 pm #3085890
Lisa, do you have an accounting degree or another degree with accounting credits? Are you in the US?August 24, 2020 at 10:55 pm #3085899LisaGuest
Yes – I'm in the US and I do have the credits, but I did all my college courses remotely whilst working. I started working in accounting out of high school in the UK, did my ACCA there whilst employed in industry then did a dissertation and some other things to convert that into a degree to get my accounting credits to take the CPA her in CA.August 25, 2020 at 8:48 am #3086187
Everyone’s story is so different and interesting. Thanks for sharing Lisa.
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