Evan’s Journey to Passing the CPA Exam

26 Jun 2011

Club 75 Candidate Bloggers

I graduated with my Masters of Taxation in August of 2004. I started working for a Big 4 in September of 2004. Around that time I purchased Becker with the firm discount (free for me) and applied in Colorado and received NTS. As always, life gets in the way.

I didn’t realize what I was getting into and never started to study with any seriousness. I didn’t even install the software because I had online access. We (my wife and I) had purchased a 60 year old house in May of 2004 and we did a bunch of remodeling, so there was always something that needed to be done. In February of 2005 my son was born. My NTS expired at some point and we decided to transfer jobs from Colorado to Utah.

After the spring busy season 2006, I applied for the CPA exam in Utah. I received my NTS from Utah and started studying. In my previous studying I had started with REG, so that is what I studied for. I passed REG during the fourth quarter of 2006. I then took BEC and passed. I figured that I was doing great and that I would roll along and pass and be done. I had no idea of the “journey” that lie ahead of me. I took AUD and FAR, but failed. My daughter was born in September of 2006. I continued studying, taking, and failing AUD & FAR thru the remainder of 2007 with no luck.

I decided to leave behind life at the Big 4 in January 2008 and took a couple of weeks off to study for AUD & FAR, taking both before starting with my new local firm in mid-February 2008. My attempts at AUD & FAR continued to fail and so there I was with expiring credits and into a crazy busy season. After April 15th, I took a couple of weeks and again studied for AUD & FAR. I took both but failed. At that point having lost credit for REG & BEC, I was extremely disappointed. So I took the summer off from studying to live a little. I started studying a few hours a week while going thru the fall busy season.

Just my luck, less than two weeks after the fall busy ended my firm decided to lay-off 75% of the Senior level staff. After being laid-off from my job at the end of October of 2008, I started studying for the CPA exam while looking for a job. I took REG & BEC in November 2008, again passing both. I took AUD & FAR again during the first testing window of 2009, failing both. I started a new job in April of 2009 and didn’t have much time to study. I found some time to study during the fall of 2009 and took AUD & FAR again during the fourth quarter window. I was again unsuccessful at passing either.

With my credit for REG & BEC expiring soon I began studying more earnestly during December 2009. I took FAR in January of 2010 and then just kept studying and took AUD if February of 2010. Receiving my scores for the first quarter of 2010 was both a huge disappointment and a huge motivator. I got a 74 on FAR, I was so close, but so far away. Looking back I feel that after so many failures, my 74 on FAR was the moment I realized that I could actually do it.

The second quarter of 2010 came and went, and I again took both AUD & FAR, knowing that if I didn’t pass them in the third quarter of 2010 I would lose credit for both BEC & REG for a second time. Well I was finally successful in passing FAR. The only hurdle left was AUD. My wonderful wife had made me promise to take a live course for AUD if I didn’t pass during the second quarter. So she signed me up for the Becker live AUD course that was offered in my local city. I feel very privileged to live somewhere that I was able to have a national editor for Becker teach my actual course. (Thanks a ton Angie Brown) I finished the course and felt ready to go.

Once again life happens and life really sucks. One week before I was scheduled to take the exam my 26 year old brother-in-law passed away very suddenly. We buried him on Tuesday, my wife gave birth to our third child on Wednesday, and I took AUD on Saturday. I have to say that that week was most definitely the craziest week of my life. Well I ended up with a 74 and I lost credit for REG & BEC.

Fourth quarter 2010 started with a bang, I took AUD, BEC, & REG. I ended up only passing BEC. I retook REG during the first quarter of 2011 (and passed) and I also signed up for a second round of the Becker live course with Angie Brown. (I also have to give a ton of credit to Phil and the entire team at Yaeger CPA Review, because without them I would have never passed FAR and the CRAM’s also helped me to pass BEC & REG for the final times) The Becker course started the last week of February and the first two Saturdays of March.

I continued studying for the remainder of March and April and took AUD on April 23rd. Last week was a great because I received my passing score of 76 and I am now done with the beast that is the CPA exam. So here I am 33 years old with and amazing wife and three amazing little tax deductions (I have a Masters in Taxation what can I say it’s in my blood) and now (finally) a CPA!!!!

My biggest piece of advice for everyone that is still trying to pass the exam (besides Keep Moving Forward) is that you need to find whatever review course works for you and go with it.

I have personally done the following: passed BEC & REG with Becker, failed AUD & FAR with Becker multiple times, swore off Becker forever, passed BEC & REG with Exam Matrix, failed AUD & FAR with Exam Matrix, failed AUD & FAR with Yaeger full review courses, passed FAR with the Yaeger full review course, failed AUD with Becker live course, passed BEC with Yaeger Cram, failed REG with Yaeger Cram, passed REG with Yaeger Cram, and finally passed AUD with Becker live course.

Each person is an individual and learns differently. It is absolutely essential that you figure out what works for you and pass that exam.

I am so grateful to my wife who has supported me all these years by taking the kids and allowing me to study. I have three wonderful kids who I can now enjoy even more. It would be horrible of me to not thank both my parents and my wife’s parents who helped us on multiple occasions both financially and by taking our kids for weekends and week getaways to help me study.

Thanks to Jeff and everyone on the forums for their support and encouragement.

Just remember Keep Moving Forward. I plan on coming back to give a few encouraging words.


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KaEllin 13 years ago

Wow are you inspiring!!! I have not or will never be taking the CPA (but my Daughter is)but your story sure will give me the confidence and inspiration to keep going and what a blessing your wife is. God Bless you and your family KaEllin

Theresa 13 years ago

Wow, you are amazing! Good motivator for me. I failed all 4 parts on my first time & is considering if I still have to move on or just let it go......your story just inspires me to move forward....