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Keep Moving Forward

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Update 2010: I consider this one of the best posts I've ever written. It captures what I was feeling when I was neck-deep in the CPA Exam and wondering if I would pass. I was trying to balance family, work, the CPA Exam, and trying to maintain some semblance of a “life”. “Failure is an event, it's not a person” as Zig Ziglar says. So true.

I spent the last week on vacation with my family in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. We only had one DVD with us (“Cars”) and my boys were sick of watching it at night, so we bought “Meet the Robinsons”. It's a great movie as far as animated flicks go, but as I tuned in here and there, I came across a scene about failure and the theme of “Keep Moving Forward” that was derived out of a quote by Walt Disney long ago.

I immediately thought of the CPA exam, as I often do since it's plagued my memory for the past 3 years and I found it very applicable to the process of studying for and taking the Exam. Then, I read about a CPA Exam candidate who had scored in the low 60's and they were wondering if they should throw in the towel or if maybe there was still some hope for them.

My initial motivation for creating this site was because I was extremely frustrated with myself that I had failed BEC yet again and felt like venting. At the time, I felt like the dumbest person in the world. I was 30 and still hadn't passed the stupid CPA Exam and I was wondering if I in fact was cut out for accounting.

I considered quitting the CPA Exam altogether. I was sick of the time. I was sick of sending NASBA money. I was sick of exam day anxiety. I was sick of the ridiculous 4 week minimum to get your results back. I was ready to move on. Surely I could get a job in…marketing?

Then, I thought about the future. I have 3 boys ages 5 and under. When times got tough for them…when life didn't quite go their way, how could I look them in the eye and tell them not to quit and to get up and try again if I myself packed it up and quit the biggest challenge of my life? I don't work in public accounting anymore and passing the CPA Exam is more of an aside on my resume because I don't plan on using it in an official setting ever, so continuing with this exam is for 1. my pride 2. my boys and 3. my wife won't think that all of those weekends where she kept the boys out of my hair so that Dad could study would be all for naught.

The purpose of this site quickly found an identity in that it exists to tell other candidates that hey – if you're struggling with this exam, you're not alone. The only stories you really ever hear are about your smart classmate or co-worker who aced the exam on their first try. You don't really hear too many people admit that they didn't pass the Exam the first…or second…or third try. I've been open about my failures on this exam so that maybe other people would be spurred on to keep fighting and would hopefully realize that they are not alone.

Which brings me back to struggling CPA Exam candidate…

If you have the intellectual wherewithal to qualify and meet the prerequisites to take the CPA Exam, then you can pass the CPA Exam. I believe that the Thomas Edison quote ?Success is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration” is very relevant to the CPA Exam taking process. I have never found myself being too-dumb to pass the Exam. I've always left the testing center kicking myself for not working harder.

If you're a bad test-taker…work on being a better test taker.

If you have 3 kids and work full time and don't have the time or energy to study…change your schedule…stay up later and get up earlier…that's no excuse (I'm preaching to myself here).

If you're working your tail off, but are getting bad results on practice tests…either get new material or figure out where you're going wrong.

The bottom line is: everyone who is studying for this exam can pass it.

There is no score that can't be overcome and there are no character weaknesses that can't be beaten. The point is – STICK WITH IT.

Forget your co-worker who looks down his nose at you for not passing (no one likes him and he never gets invited for beers after work anyway). Forget your uncle who passed the exam back when they had to walk uphill both ways through the snow to take the old paper and pencil edition (this version of the exam is much broader and you have to know more information…thank you SOX and BEC).

Finally, forget the fact that you didn't pass REG or FAR or whatever the last time you took it. Your performance last time has zero bearing on your success this time around.

Whether you scored a 60, 71, or a 74 – KEEP MOVING FORWARD. Keep fighting. Keep making progress.

Sometime in the future, you will have 3 letters by your name and these temporary setbacks will all be a distant memory.

(If not…there's always marketing).

THE AUTHOR

jeff

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COMMENTS

49 comments on “Keep Moving Forward”

  • Oh God! I must say that your written is very much inspiring. Here Im here in the middle of night checking the score to find out I didn’t pass AUD and as a result I’ve lost my BEC credit (which gave lot of stress).. I was wondering if maybe I should change career and stop stressing about becoming a CPA.. but reading this really inspires me and makes me stay positive and not giving up..at least until trying harder… Hope you have reached your goal by now.. Thanks for sharing and all the best to you and your family..

  • I love your blog and those encouraging words. I sometimes feel very dumb that I didn’t pass the exams my first try. I am still studying for the exams for the second time. Sometimes I feel very discouraging when I got a not passing score on my practice exam, but you are right about “keep moving forward.” I will keep that in mind when I am studying. Thank you so much for writing up the blog and sharing your experience with us.

  • Jeff : I took BEC three times without success, I have a very similar situation like you and I am older than you, I am just about to give up on the whole CPA dream, when I came across your encouraging words, I will keep trying much harder, thanks Jeff

  • Thanks a lot Jeff.. Right now in depression for getting 68.. I remember every silly reason that might caused this figure.. They may be all in one.. bad test taker, procrastinator , name it….. Over all
    Keep moving..

  • I just came across your site this morning. My BEC result is out and its 49. The first thing that came to my mind is I wanna jump out of the window. I dont know how I’m going to face my family who has been supportive during the last few months when I was in the process of moving my job to a back office in KL. This is my 4th attempt at BEC. I’m awaiting AUD resutls now and REG and FAR are scheduled for April.Going through your blog has inspired me. I’m going to forget BEC for now and focus on REG and FAR. Keeping my fingers crossed for AUD.

  • Jack,

    Surely there's some publicly traded company that you can work for?? They
    don't even care about you having a *license* in industry – all that matters
    is the fact that you passed the Exam – that's it.

    Sorry to hear about your circumstances, but I'm licensed and it doesn't mean
    a thing since I don't work in public accounting.

    Besides – public accounting pays less than industry usually…I would steer
    in that direction. People who go public soon look to flock to industry
    anyway, right?

    -Jeff

  • Jack,

    Surely there's some publicly traded company that you can work for?? They
    don't even care about you having a *license* in industry – all that matters
    is the fact that you passed the Exam – that's it.

    Sorry to hear about your circumstances, but I'm licensed and it doesn't mean
    a thing since I don't work in public accounting.

    Besides – public accounting pays less than industry usually…I would steer
    in that direction. People who go public soon look to flock to industry
    anyway, right?

    -Jeff

  • Be careful not to make this mistake:

    Wanting more money, in 2003 I returned to school to complete my education, left unfinished, after 20 years of working at the more routine levels of accounting.
    I earned my BA, then MS Tax (05/09), and passed the CPA exam (06/09). BTW, for me, Becker was THE only reason for passing on first sitting.
    Now satisfying the one year experience requirement is all I have left for licensure; but. I can't get a job working for a CPA because of two misdemeanors driving under the influence convictions one in 1975, the other in 1979.
    A little background here: my last jobs were in California, but I had to move back to Louisiana due to parents getting older. In California, it's against the law to ask about convictions over 7 years, and, in any case, 99% of companies only ask about felonies.
    I did not even consider the possibility that in Louisiana, the majority of companies can and do ask about any conviction other than a minor traffic violation. (Though, oddly enough, the Louisiana CPA state licensing board only asks about felonies.) Also Louisiana, unlike many other states, does not allow ANY convictions to be expunged.
    I've taken out six years, working part-time in a bookkeeping job where the employer didn't ask about such things as misdemeanor arrests. Run up $100K in student loans and lost considerable income that I could have earned over those six years if I had been working full-time.
    The end result of this is that all CPA firms and most of the industry positions hiring CPA's do ask about ANY conviction. Of course, I will not lie on the employment applications and accordingly have listed these two convictions. Three CPA firms turned me down flatly stating that one DUI is tolerable, but two is indicative of deeper problems. Two great companies, who initially were enthusiastic about talking to me, refused to return any calls after I filled out the applications.
    So with a great job history, references, education AND having passed the CPA exam (NASBA conducts a thorough felony criminal background check, which I obviously passed, before allowing a candidate to sit for the exam), I can't get my license because no company wants to take on some with two DUI convictions, even from over thirty years ago.
    Had I even considered the possibility of these two misdemeanor DUI convictions, preventing me from obtaining employment, I would have gone back to California.
    And finally, I really feel like dying, because dredging my long forgotten criminal past has been the ultimate in humiliation. I now feel like a total sociopath and my self-esteem has reached lows I could have never imagined.
    I realize that 95% of CPA candidates won't have this to deal with, but for those who do, plan accordingly.
    JRM

  • Thank you so much for your message. This round, I was SURE I passed Audit, only to find out I got the dreaded 71, AGAIN! I am so thankful I was directed to your website. You have given me a little hope so that I keep moving forward towards the ultimate goal to have those 3 letters by my name. THANK YOU!!!

  • I am totally encouraged from the message you posted. I am a product of this stressful test also. I recently taken BEC (last part) only to realize I made a 72. It was my last part of the exam to becoming a CPA and also until I lost my first part I had a credit for (AUD). Needless to say I lost my AUD credit. So now I am back to getting my credit back for AUD and taking BEC over again (5th time). I was currently using Becker for all four parts but now I am reguessing if that review material is what I need to pass BEC. I did all of the required homework and lectures, and it DID NOT pay off. I need some suggestions on what else is out there for BEC. I have to pass this part before all my hope and confidence goes out of the window.

  • I read this massage an you are 120% right,is realy frustrate and painfull to get a 72,73 score after you spend so many hours practice m/c question.Hi jeff I am from puerto rico and man you really inspire me to get the books back and do not gave up. thank, you have another friend in this island.

  • I just found out I failed Reg with a 74 (that was the third try and my last part!). I was thinking about trying the Yaeger Cram CDs. Does anyone have any thoughts or experience with them compared to Becker? I tried to access the Yager site because I wanted to watch a sample of the CD but it doesn’t seem to be working. Any insight would be helpful

  • Hi Jeff,

    Everytime i lose my inspiration and confidence i look at ur website and it does help me.Keep up ur good wrk.Hope to complete all the papers and post the story on ur website…!!!!

  • i am from india a student of C.A. the indian counterpart of CPA and have finals to go for C.A. next year… and currently in the states for cpa exams
    you know i took my BEC test this month on the 8th and i saw the score which was 67 and i was so disheartened and demotivated and frustrated and distorted,
    i have AUD comin up this wednesday and REG on the 30th
    i had seriously lost all motivation to study for these
    but this forum and especially this particular incident has really pepped me up to get back to studies and kick exam’s A$$….
    hah!
    I CAN AND I WILL….!
    god bless you all and good luck for your future endeavors!

  • I read these posts of people taking some parts for 3rd, 4th , 5th times. I really respect your “don’t give up” attitude. I just received my BEC score today, got a 74, I already feel like perhaps CPA is not for me. Please advice how do I feel upbeat or not, but have the strength to open the books again. Thank you.

  • I have not taken any section of the CPA exam. I am currently taking corporate taxation and will enroll in the Becker course before the summer. I often worry about the exam. Your blog motivates me to go forward with my goal to become a CPA. Reading the experiences of others help me understand the magnitude of the test. How many hours have you all put in preparing for each portion?

  • I am so glad I came across your blog. I am feeling a little defeated at the moment after having passed BEC, REG and AUD on the first try and finding out (today) that I failed FAR for the 5th time! Even better?!- my BEC score expired on 1/31/09. So now I have to pass FAR and BEC before 4/30/09, which is when my REG score expires.

    I just feel like I have been taking these stupid exams FOREVER, and it irritates me at the breadth of knowledge they expect us to know (memorize). In real life, we are allowed to access resources on topics we have not mastered. It is just unnecessary and (obviously) I am VERY frusterated. And the evil communists at NASBA are profiting from my failure…..

    Sorry for the rant…..

  • I’m in California and have been taking the exam since 2005. I’ve now taken AUD 4 times and got 69, 68, 65 and again another 69 my last try which was on 2/9/09. I had taken AUD in Nov 2008 when I paid for all 4 parts (have taken the other 3 parts 3 times and not passed any yet) at once. So because AUD was fresh in my mind from Nov, I decided to re-apply and that’s why I took it again in Feb. But I still didn’t pass so now I am torn between applying again for AUD and maybe giving it another shot for the next window OR moving forward and studying for my remaining 3 parts which I need to take before July 09 (my 9 month window). Can anyone provide suggestions? I have a friend that is taking one part at a time, she fails and she re-applies and takes it again and she just passed AUD. My other friend says to move forward and study the for the upcoming parts. I am just so tired of it all, losing motivation and can’t even focus. I took Roger Philipp back in 2005 and haven’t taken a live/online course since. I am now relying solely on the 2009 Wiley books, which I think were very helpful with AUD. I just can’t decide what to do. Help!

  • Clearly you have no clue what this test entails. It isn’t even about time spent studying. It’s about luck. You can spend months studying for one section and know every topic in the book front and back, and the questions you get (which are randomly chosen every time, some are potential future test ?s and don’t count toward your score, and you’re scores are curved with other test takers in the same window), and still not pass. It isn’t about book smarts or common sense. It is about mastering this particular test. It is hard.

  • I have an honest question…how many hours a week are you people studying? I keep reading about how all of you are constantly failing. How hard is this exam…really?

  • Well, it’s late on a Friday night and came across your blog. I just got my grades for BEC, AUD, and FARE, and as usual, I came up a little light. AUD was a 72. BEC was a 68, and FARE was a 65. By some fluke, I got a 78 on REG, but the conditional credit on that one runs out in Feb. So, I have about a month to knock out BEC, AUD and FARE, otherwise it’s back to the drawing board.

    It has been a long and aggravating road trying to pass this blasted thing. Similar to a few other posters, I took it in the pencil and paper days, failed miserably, and then life got in the way.

    It seems my number of choice is 73. I got a 73 on both FARE and BEC the last time out, and several other scores in the high 60s and low 70s prior to that.

    I have been using Wileys, but my boss, who has passed, used Beckers, so if I don’t get it this time, that’s my next course of action.

  • soso,
    I would kill to have a passing Audit score. I have taken REG (83,78) and BEC (75,78) two time each. I have also taken FAR and AUD 4 times each (I think, or maybe it has been 5 times I really can’t remember). I have a wife and two kids. It really sucks having to spend time studying when I could be doing stuff with them. (They are all out sledding right now, while I am studying.) There is no way I will let this stupid exam make a quitter out of me. I am taking the Audit exam on 1/8/09 and I just ordered the Yaeger Financial study stuff as well. The three letter after your name (CPA) are so important, once you have those you can write your own ticket in life.

  • Being honest with you guys. I was about to quit. I found out the past week that i failed FARE & REG. I don't think i have a chance to keep my AUD score (it will be expired in Sept. '09). I don't know if i could make it. I'm in public accounting and those of you who are in the same business, know what that means for somebody who study for their CPA and have a family and a 4-year old. I started thinking of changing my career to become a stock broker. But the thing is the market is doing really really bad right now and there is no chance for somebody to get into that business without having many clients. I really don't know guys. Should i make that career move or stick with it??? any help will be appreciated.

  • Only you know what’s best. Three years from now will you regret your decision?

    If it’s any consolation – you’ve failed each section twice…which is still 1/2 as many times as I failed it.

    -Jeff

  • Just got my failed results in FAR 71, REG 70. I passed only 1 part BEC last year and that expires soon, since I failed everything twice. I sick of the “keep trying” crap, as I fork out more money (the test costs keeps going up, while the stockmarket is going down). My family and friends have suffered. enough is enough, I proud to say “NO MORE”. Let me put it this way, as an college football player I put everything on the line. When I had a serious neck injury, I took several weeks off and to recover and get on the field because I wasn’t a “quitter”. After not taking the advice of family and friends I got back on that field, only to bust my knee (and to this day still hurts). My point is this, there will come a time in one life to walk away from something, and be strong on your decision. I’m not quitting the cpa exam, im moving on to another chapter in my life and have lifted the weight off my back.

  • Your post really spoke to me. I have been at this goal for 3.5 years now. I took me 2.5 years to pass the first section. For the past 3.5 years I have felt like the most worthless person on the planet because I wasn’t passing despite all my efforts. Here’s my track record:

    BEC – 4 times, (50, 65, 62, 77)
    AUD – 5 times, (60, 70, 74, 73, 91)
    REG – 2 times, (71, 83)
    FAR – 2 times (68, now waiting for score)

    Even still I feel worthless because I haven’t knocked out this last section. I’m constantly embarrassed when my friends and family ask about my progress and how the lastest test went. This constant defeat has nearly broken me. I won’t ever give up until I’m finished, but this process has been a miserable undertaking. I don’t know if it will be worth it in the end, but I promised myself that I would continue. Thank you for your post. It does highlight all the emotions I have been going through and I have comfort in knowing that someone else truly understands the hardships of this test.

  • I was on the losing side of REG 3x…I didn’t think I could pass it. Stick with it – your *hard work* will pay off.

  • I desperately needed this…I was in a miserable pit of despair! 3 weeks until REG. I am currently at the LSU library ready to turn this ship around and PASS! Good luck to you as well!

  • This is the same situation I have been through the past 3 years. I have struggled tremendously and even lost my REG credit because I couldn’t get them all passed in 18 months. I am 32 and I am expecting my first and the only thing on my mind since I found out that I was going to be a father is that I would rather spend my free time with my daughter than cramming for the exam. I am fortunate to say that I found out that I passed my last part this week and I am excited yet thoroughly exhausted. The total tally for me was: FAR 3 times, BEC 5 times, AUD 5 times, and REG 3 times(passed twice). The key to my success was Becker. I had used Wiley and Gleim and I could not get a decent score. I have heard of people passing the exam first time around without studying(my wife being one of them) and I have heard of others taking many more years than myself. It just comes to show that my efforts and ambitions to keep moving forward made it possible. I wish it only took me one sitting to pass but it took me many more. The key is, I never gave up and I kept moving forward.

  • Emue,
    All i can tell you is that everything is worth it in life. I don’t think God will not reward anyone who worked so hard. Thanks for this blog. Never give up guys. Whenever i fail an exam,i always believe it is because God really wants me to learn something well which will be important to me in the future. I am waiting for AUD results which i am not sure of but even if i fail,i will just dust myself off and continue my studying.

  • What would you do?, i took the BEC section in April and got 71. I am a mother of two kids 2years and 3month, i have been unable to fing a good job because i have less than a year expereince. If i go back to work we will be able to pay our bils but nothing more, if stay home and be with the kids part time and study my mother would help and i will be able to change my family life in the long run, it would means my husband would have two get a third job and only get 3-4hr sleep or take some loan. Does any one know is CPA WORTH all this from fanical reward side of it?, please advise because i am confused.

  • Thanks for your inspiration! I finished graduate school in 2000, took the paper exam a couple of times, got married, had 2 kids,got distracted with life and haven’t taken the exam again since. Your site has inspired me to finally get this exam that has been hanging over my head for 8 years over with once and for all! I do not want to tell my children that mommy gave up, I want them to be proud of me!
    Good luck on your final section!

  • hey – thanks Bear for checking back in…glad you’re done with this thing.

    “See you at the top” shortly.

  • I haven’t been reading the site as long as some. I took the exam one time in 01 and I got punished. I failed all four sections… badly. I resolved to pass it this time around so I took it again between Nov 07 and Apr 08. I managed to do it. This site and CPANET were invaluable resources. I’m proof that you can do much better than your prior attempts.

    I don’t remember exactly what my original scores were, but I remember one being in the 50’s and the best one being a 71. This time, I gave it my all and landed an 89, a 90, and a 91 and then finished with a 77 in REG, which I hate anyway.

    So the moral of that story is that I came into my second attempt wondering if I was really capable of passing. Apparently I was. All of you are too, it’s just a matter of putting in the time and effort.

    The finish line is very much worth it, trust me. While we’re on motivational quotes… I believe it was Zig Ziglar that said “I know you can do it – I’ll see you at the top.”

  • i needed this post so bad today! i cried this weekend when i did the final review and realized that i’ve learned NOTHING the whole time i’ve been studying for FAR. i test next monday. maybe if i can keep moving forward for just one more week, i can do this. thank you so much!

  • Thank you!!

    It is after midnight, and I am still studying for my Reg Section, and I have to get up in 6 hours to go to work. Good Luck to you and me!!!

  • Stumbled across your blog. Never give up. A college prof told me that what it takes most to pass is persistence. I sat six times to pass. Becoming a CPA is one of my life’s great accomplishments. The self respect it brings more than makes up for the struggle and sacrifices. Find what motivates you, study that works for you, and keep moving forward.

  • I’m telling you. First thing after passing this exam, you should contact a publisher and pursue a book deal. You would have a niche that isn’t touched anywhere.

  • Well Said! You know it is exactly what I thought, can I find a job i marketing? :)Sometimes I feel like I am not nerd enough…I am glad someone else has also same dilemmas. Seriously until couple days ago I was planning to quit alltogether..

  • Thanks so much for the many words of encouragement. I too have 3 kids and have been struggling thru grad school. I just decided to take the CPA exam as my sister in law agreed to look after my kids while I get thru grad school and the CPA exam (God bless her!!)FARE is first and your advice on this website and on CPAnet have been extremely helpful and encouraging! Pls keep up the good work!!

  • You are right: keep moving forward is what we need; even quiting is not an option, it continuiously pop up in mind though. It is hard, but we can all do it. And your experience with it for the past three years really inspired me, thank you for this great entry! -JJ

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