My journey to CPA! If you are thinking of giving up read this!

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  • #1934017 Reply

    Thought I would share my CPA journey with my friends here on the forum in hopes that it helps someone keep going!
    What would happen if you decided that no matter the circumstances – I AM NOT GIVING UP ON MY GOAL
    When I was 18 years old, I had a life altering conversation with my mother. We were looking at a letter I received from my university requesting that I select and submit my decided major. My mother really wanted me to begin studying biology so that I could later go to medical school. I considered that option until they told me I needed to take summer classes. There was no way I would spend my summer in someone’s classroom or at least that’s what my mindset was back then. Besides, I had to work to help my mom pay the bills and take care of myself. Therefore, summer school was a no go. I told my mom there is no way I am going to medical school because I do not have the desire to be in school that long and I have no one to help me pay for it. The rest of that conversation went something like this:
    Mom: Okay Nikita, what is it that you would like to do?
    Nikita: I want to help people.
    Mom: How?
    Nikita: I don’t know. Can we talk about this later? I’m going to be late for my shift.
    Mom: Well, what are you good at and what do you like to do?
    Nikita: I am good at counting money and I love math. I also like helping people.
    Mom: Study accounting.
    Nikita: What’s that?
    Mom: Helping people count money! Yay! I am so excited! My baby is going to be a CPA.
    After that conversation, I proceeded to run out of the door because I didn’t want to be late for my shift at Sears. I was a cashier at Sears for five years prior to starting my professional career. I am glad I worked during high school and college because it taught me the value of hard work.
    Anyhow, that is where my journey to becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) began. A conversation with my mom where she encouraged me to pursue my destiny. I had never heard anything about accounting or becoming a CPA prior to that conversation. In fact, I’d never met a CPA until I interned at Deloitte in 2012. I grew up on the Southside of Chicago, Englewood, in a single parent home.
    After the decision was made, I learned everything I could about the accounting profession as well as the requirements to become a CPA. Then I set out to get started by taking 18 credit hours per semester while working 2-3 part-time jobs in college to meet the 150 credit hour requirement.
    In 2013, I graduated with honors obtaining my Bachelor of Science in Accounting with a minor in Finance. In 2014, I graduated with my Master of Business Administration degree concentrating in Accounting and Information Technology.
    Lets just get to the point because I feel like I am going on and on. I studied off and on for about 4 years before I passed the CPA exams. It was difficult to study while working. It was even more difficult because I faced a lot of turmoil in my personal life and I had no financial support. I had no one to call when there was an emergency. I worked my face off to be where I am today.
    The CPA exam is one of the most difficult professional exams to pass if not the most difficult. There are four sections you must take to pass: Financial, Regulation, Audit and Business. Each exam is four hours long. You have 18 months from the time you pass your first exam to pass all four exams. However, there are blackout months (March, June, September, and December) where there is no testing allowed. Plus, if you fail an exam you are not allowed to take that same exam in the same testing window.
    Over the course of those 4 years, I’d taken the exams over twenty times before passing all four in the 18-month window. The exam changed in content and structure, so I had to update my study materials multiple times. Each time you sit for the exam it costs over $200. The materials can range anywhere from $1,000 – $4,000. If I could estimate the cost between materials and exams I would say I spent nearly $12,000. During that time, I spent working and studying, I often found myself mentally exhausted and burnt out by the entire process. I had given up thousands of times in my mind but never stopped studying. I am not sure why this exam was so difficult for me. I could say that test taking wasn’t my strong point. I could say that the cost was astronomical for someone trying to escape the grips of poverty. I could even discuss the pain of having several exams expire on me. Yet, I am not sure that any of that matters.
    It wasn’t until that last year of all my studying that it finally paid off. I’m finally a Certified Public Accountant (CPA)!!! Mommy we did it again! I know your proud of me! Lil nappy headed girl from a single parent home on the Southside of Chicago (Englewood)! I’ve made Black History again! First in my family to have an MBA and now the first CPA in the family! I remember reading in an article that less than 3% of CPAs are African American and that there are more African American pilots than there are CPAs. God thank you for not allowing me to give up on my dream! What I hope you remember is not to give up on your goals. I couldn’t afford books in my first semester of freshman year, yet I still got straight As. When you want something bad enough you will go get it. Something else I learned in this process is that I AM ENOUGH. I don’t need another alcalde, degree, or title to be amazing. I am amazing in my own right because of who I am and who I was created to be. I AM ENOUGH! I hope you know that you are too.

    AUD - 77
    BEC - 81
    FAR - 75
    REG - 79
    We know this because scriptures teach us that it’s not “not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit” (Zechariah 4:6)
    #1934020 Reply

    Here is my advice to anyone studying for this exam:

    Keep any enthusiasm that you have because you will need it. Write down your motives for wanting to become a CPA because you will need to remember them when you’re up at 2 am studying. The exam is grueling, but you can do this!!! If I were you I would go to and download the free CPA Exam Survival Kit. Then figure out what works best for you, self-study or in a class lecturing. I would then I try multiple exam study materials (most of the providers allow you to try for a week or a month or so).

    If you need financial aid, a lot of the programs have payment plans as well. I’ve used Wiley, Becker, Ninja and Gleim. I’ve passed using Becker and Ninja – REG, BEC, and AUD. However, I used Gleim and Ninja for FAR.

    I would start with REG before the new tax laws are tested on the exam because that test is going to be terribly difficult. If not, REG start with FAR because it’s the most difficult. In my opinion, if you can pass FAR you can pass the remaining exams. Then take AUD because FAR and AUD has overlapping material. The forum is good for advice as well. The most important thing I could tell you is be kind to yourself. This is not an easy journey. Get started and finish it! Get it over with because it sucks. If you need anything else feel free to reach out. I can’t wait to hear that you’ve succeeded!

    AUD - 77
    BEC - 81
    FAR - 75
    REG - 79
    We know this because scriptures teach us that it’s not “not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit” (Zechariah 4:6)
    #1934134 Reply

    Very inspiring journey you had. Truly gave me the motivation I needed. Congrats to you for finishing with all odds against you!

    #1936288 Reply

    Very inspiring. Congrats on your achievement.

    BTW, why do you think CPA is the most difficult professional exam out there?
    What about actuarial exams, USMLE, bar exams, etc?
    I looked up CPAs' average salary in the United States for fun today and noticed it was actually pretty low. It's not even close to attorneys, actuaries, and of course doctors.
    Working in public accounting, I often hear from my colleagues how hard CPA exams are, but if that's actually the case, why are they paid so little compared to other professions w/ professional exams? I am curious to hear why you thought CPA is the most difficult exam.

    AUD - 99
    BEC - 91
    FAR - 94
    REG - 96
    Done with exam. On with life.
    #1936429 Reply

    my sister is a fellow in the actuarial field, my brother in law an attorney. From comparing notes with them and knowing my own path with the CPA exams I can say with a very high confidence level that actuarial exams are the most challenging. As much as I'd like to think the CPA exams are the hardest and thus most rewarding once passed. My sister worked her ASS off for those exams. She is very intelligent, and a good test taker and yet she struggled with many of them and it was a huge accomplishment when she did make fellow.

    Between the bar and the CPA exam I'd go with bar as harder, then CPA the least challenging of the three. Trust me I'd rather the order was the inverse for my own pride and bragging rights sake, but from all I know about the three tests thats the order. I still say the CPA exam is one of the most challenging, but of the ones you asked about Jombe I'd have to go with that order. I think the compensation you cited in your post lines up with the order I've laid out.

    AUD - 85
    BEC - 89
    FAR - 91
    REG - 97
    #1938169 Reply

    Congrats! You earned it and you should take pride in your accomplishment. Current pass rate for FAR mid 2018 is 45.47% according to the AICPA.

    AUD - 78
    BEC - 77
    FAR - 76
    REG - 82
    All the sleepless nights were worth it.
    #1944649 Reply

    Thank you everyone for your encouraging words and congratulations. The purpose of this post is not to defend my opinions but to inspire people just as some people on this forum have inspired me in the past. Good luck to everyone!

    AUD - 77
    BEC - 81
    FAR - 75
    REG - 79
    We know this because scriptures teach us that it’s not “not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit” (Zechariah 4:6)
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