Perseverance Pays Off – I Passed FAR!

09 Jun 2015


By Sarah M

Sarah Headshot NewSarah is a NINJA CPA blogger

I passed! Can I shout it from a skyscraper?? I know exactly how discouraging it is to hear people exclaiming how they passed after receiving a failing grade… but I can’t help it.

After 4 attempts (including a 74), and a year of studying – I finally passed FAR!!!

I know that sounds crazy, but if I’m honest with myself, I didn’t really study for a year. I would schedule a test 2-3 months away, then slack and study twice a week until it was 3 weeks before the test, then I would freak out and study every waking moment.

Then as soon as I took the test I would take a month long vacation before receiving my score. I certainly spent more time not studying than studying. Now that I finally got my shiny 76 (a perfect score plus one, as I like to say), I can FINALLY move on to the next section and begin studying new material.

I can’t even tell you how sick I was of worrying about currency translations and statements of cash flows. I celebrated my win by going on a major material purge, dumping all my notes and old ratty study books down my building’s trash chute in the most satisfying way possible.

I also did something crazy that I sincerely hope pays off. I scheduled my next section for this same testing window… as in I got my score on the 5th, and my next exam is the 20th of the same month. Nuts right? I’m actually feeling great about it.

I came to realize that success on this test isn’t about the days put in – it’s about the attempts and confidence as much as anything else.

Yes time is helpful for repetition and practice, but I think we all study hardest in our last two weeks or so anyway, right? I figure this way if I fail, I will know soon enough and be able to try again without letting another testing window go by.

I’ve decided to start AUD as my next section, because I hear that it’s somewhat easier than the others (it sincerely can’t be harder than FAR), and honestly because I could use a bit of a confidence boost. The material is a night and day difference.

FAR is all about memorizing detailed concepts of a huge array of topics, whereas AUD is so much more about common sense, but in a very detailed way.

I’m just now realizing how much I value my actual working experience as helpful for the CPA review. Our non-profit is formally audited every year, so I have gotten to experience firsthand what the auditors look for when they come in.

It has really come in handy when remembering concepts for this section, and my boss has even asked me to oversee our company’s internal control procedures!

I’m obviously very excited about where I am (and sometimes still can’t believe that I have passed FAR), and I think that the most important thing that I’ve learned about this whole experience is how to study smarter rather than harder.

If I had begun my whole CPA review journey just hammering through NINJA MCQs and learning through trial and error, rather than methodically drudging through chapters (honestly who remembers that stuff?), I could have saved myself a lot of grief.

It’s really exciting to be another big step down the road towards finishing this thing that I have wanted so badly for so long, and I just want to sincerely encourage anyone reading this who is struggling with FAR – it really is possible, just don’t give up, and don’t shy away from the hard stuff.

Passing FAR is sincerely one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life, right up there with dropping 50 pounds or being in a long distance relationship for 5 years.

It’s funny how the hardest things end up being the most worthwhile and it’s so easy to lose perspective from one day to the next, but as long as the big picture stays intact it’s more than possible to end up exactly where we want to be.

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