My CPA Exam Story – Jeff Elliott, CPA

Hate the CPA Exam? I Did Too.

Do you ever feel like no one close to you “gets” how hard it is to study for the CPA Exam and balance all of life's other demands?

Have you ever dreaded telling a boss/spouse/father/nosy co-worker that you failed yet again?

Are you sick and tired of the CPA Exam and ready to either pass this thing or quit?

If you answered “YES” to any of these, My Story might resonate with you.

Family & Background

ninja cpa review
Balancing “life” and the CPA Exam? I've been there. (2022)

My name is Jeff Elliott CPA, founder of another71 and NINJA CPA Review.

(I cringe at using the word founder, however, as self-important jerks normally throw that term around. I am surrounded by an awesome team of NINJA Dan, NINJA Bobby, NINJA Blair, NINJA Andria, and everyone's favorite: NINJA Mike).

More importantly, I am married with 10 children.

Yes – they're all with my wife (after 20 years, we still got it!) 😀

Yes – we get weird/judgmental looks in restaurants (especially when the 3-year-old is melting down).

Yes – our life is blessedly chaotic at times (we would be a reality show disaster).

I passed the CPA Exam when I was 30 and had “only” three kids at home at the time:

Two kids under the age of 5 and a newborn baby.

I know what it's like to study for the CPA Exam while trying to balance…

…a full-time job…
…a marriage…
…a family…
…church commitments…
…a mortgage…
…little league…

Whatever your circumstances, I can probably identify with them.

Newborn? Yep.

Three-year-old that's into everything? Check.

Six-year-old that spray-painted the garage floor? Yes.

Teenagers going through the “teenage years” (and driving/wrecking things)? Absolutely.

Kids in college? Affirmative.

I'm doing all of these parenting stages all at once 🙂

I was once in your shoes, however.

I began my long (too long) journey toward the CPA designation in late 2005.

I wanted to be a CPA, but I didn't really want to be a CPA enough to study like I needed to.

I wasn't fully committed to studying (who wants to go home and study after a full day of public accounting?), and I would try to “cram” for two weeks before my exam and was coming up short.

Maybe you can relate?

Everything changed, however, in February 2008.

I said “enough is enough” and created a new approach, which I would later dub “N.I.N.J.A.”. Then I passed all four sections of the CPA Exam by the end of the year – each exam on my next attempt.

In 2008, I was a desperate CPA Candidate on the verge of throwing in the towel.

ninja cpa
I was in a magazine. Mom was so proud.

My CPA Exam Scores:
FAR 4x (70,71,76*,76)
BEC 4x (71,71,71,80)
REG 4x (69,74,74, 92)
AUD 2x (69,79)
AICPA Ethics (89,92)
* = I lost my credit due to the “18-month rule”

(By the way, did you catch that I scored back-to-back 74s on REG? It was brutal. It also cost me my FAR credit.)

Today, I am a Licensed CPA (KS) and an active member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).

If you're struggling with the CPA Exam, this site is for you.

Right now, you might find yourself in similar shoes – a desperate CPA Candidate on the verge of throwing in the towel.

There was hope for me, and there's certainly hope for you.

Just stick with it, follow my NINJA Study Plan (it's free), and you'll be adding those three letters after your name faster than you can say “HIYA.”

If you're already finding success with the CPA Exam, this site is still for you.

Maybe you find yourself in the enviable territory of kicking butt and taking names on the CPA Exam. This site is for you as well. You're firmly on the path to passing, and I can help you get there a little faster, and you can taste freedom a little earlier. Imagine extra months of doing whatever you want instead of having to study.

Work Experience and Education

Education: Undergraduate degree in Accounting from Kansas State University and some graduate classes (for my 150 hours).

Work Experience: I've been in the accounting profession since 2001 and have worked in public accounting (two tax seasons were enough for me), private accounting, and industry for two public SEC Registrants.

I've been self-employed (i.e., it's always “busy” season) 🙂 and running and helping people Pass the CPA Exam full time since 2010.

I don't do taxes (except for my sweet mother-in-law).

I don't have accounting or audit clients.

The “CPA Exam” is all I do, and it's been that way for 12+ years (that's a lot of score releases, btw) 😀

Licenses: Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in the State of Kansas since 2009

Memberships: American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) (2008 – Present)

Back in 2008, when I was sick and tired of being sick and tired, I started a blog.

This was pre-social media, and some blog posts had 3,000+ comments.

In 2009, we added the Another71 Forum, which has 600,000+ posts, so there's something for everyone.

NINJA CPA Review (2011 – Present)

In 2011, we saw a need in the CPA Review community: many expensive course options but few legit supplements.

We launched NINJA CPA Review with the NINJA Notes and NINJA Audio, which quickly become the #1 CPA Exam Supplement in all of CPA Exam Land.

In 2014, we offered NINJA Book and NINJA MCQ, making NINJA a supplement and a full CPA Review course. (See: Two NINJA Paths)

In 2016, we had our first of many Elijah Watt Sells Award winners who used NINJA.

(Note: the lawyer tells us that we should disclose that these results aren't typical, as only one in 1,000 CPA candidates win the EWS Award.) 😀

Olga Timirgalieva (Roger + NINJA)

Olga Timirgalieva (Roger + NINJA)

Elijah Watt Sells Award Winner

“NINJA MCQ – A must! Solving through all of the MCQ, understanding solutions, and adding new information nuggets to your notes — absolutely critical. With the NINJA Notes, I printed out the notes and used them as a knowledge check closer to the exam. Information is high-level, so you can quickly run through and get a comfort level on what you should go back to review in detail. NINJA Audio is nice to use during the commute or if you are an auditory learner. The Audio MCQ is nice to keep you engaged.”

Matt Durette (Becker + NINJA)

Matt Durette (Becker + NINJA)

Elijah Watt Sells Award Winner

“I used NINJA MCQ for each of the exams as a supplement to Becker, which was provided by my work. I asked advice from my brother, who had passed the exams a few years prior, and he suggested to work through as many MCQs as I could, so I did just that. I worked through all the Becker MCQs, then did about 50-60% of the NINJA MCQs. I thought the NINJA ones were more difficult than the Becker questions, which was a good thing. I was trending about 7-10 points below my actual exam scores for each of the sections. The NINJA product was great because it showed me where I was weakest, and I was able to focus on that section until I felt really comfortable with it. I would say the NINJA MCQ were essential to my success.”

Shulem Rosenbaum (Wiley + NINJA)

Shulem Rosenbaum (Wiley + NINJA)

Elijah Watt Sells Award Winner

“I used the NINJA Notes to summarize my notes and eliminate topics that aren’t tested heavily. I owe it to the NINJA Community. You have been my rock, and I hope to contribute the way you contributed to my success.”

Brian Wright (Becker + NINJA)

Brian Wright (Becker + NINJA)

Elijah Watt Sells Award Winner

“The questions and practice tests were extremely useful, they helped me find some weak spots I didn’t even know I had and gave me the extra practice I needed to get my best score of any of the exams.”

In 2018, we disrupted the CPA Review industry yet again with our NINJA Monthly plan. It's like financing, but without the commitment. (Other companies have tried to copy it, but can't let go of the commitment part) 😀

In 2020, NINJA added live CPA Exam tutoring four nights a week (NINJA Sparring) with full replay access if you missed the live session. (See – something good came out of 2020).

In 2021, we added the NINJA CRAM, which has become wildly popular as a final CPA review.

Also, Investopedia rated NINJA a top-5 CPA Prep course (along with Becker, Roger, Surgent, and Gleim) and named us “Best Price.” We got the same honors in 2022.

“Why We Chose It (Best Price): NINJA CPA Review works nicely as an inexpensive supplement to an online course. This is an efficient studying tool that can be used as your main course but serves best as an auxiliary study aid with an excellent online support community.”

– Investopedia: The Best CPA Prep Courses of 2022

New in 2022:

NINJA CMA: We're NINJA-fying the CMA Exam.

NINJA CPE: Get 60+ hours of NASBA-approved CPE for $67 (hard to believe and impossible to beat).

Thank You For Reading

In closing, thank you for visiting and reading My Story!

As you can see, God/Jesus has blessed me immensely.

Taking the CPA Exam? Get Your NINJA Study Framework:


To Your Success,

Jeff Elliott, CPA (KS)

NINJA CPA | Another71