Renewed Motivation: Studying for the CPA Exam

11 Jul 2014


Ali is a NINJA CPA Blogger.

NINJAs, I’m back.

I don’t remember the last time I cracked open a review book or watched a video lecture. I had to dig deep into the Another71 archives to remember what my last post was about – it was that long ago.

Since it’s been over a year since I wrote my first Another71 post, let me recap. I started at a Big 4 firm in my city back in January 2012. I started during busy season, and didn’t muster up the motivation to start studying until the following June.

I applied for all four exams. I dabbled with studying for BEC for a week, took about “break,” and then realized exam day was upon me. I didn’t even try to cram – I walked into the test center, thought “This couldn’t be that bad…” and took the test. 74.

And then there was AUD. I didn’t study until the day before the exam. I drove around my small city for hours until I had listened to the NINJA Audio twice over, and then spent the next twelve hours drowning in MCQs. I must have built up some good karma, because I squeezed by with a 78.

That is where my luck ended. The CPA exam isn’t about luck. I know that now.

In the absence of better things to do with half a day, I decided to take FAR during the last appointment of the last day of the last testing period of the year. I didn’t study. You might be starting to see a theme here. 70.

I had about four more years before my firm required me to become a CPA, so I decided that, for one reason or another, it wasn’t a good time to take the exams. There is never a “good” time to take the CPA exam. I know that now.

About a year ago, I moved to another Big 4 firm in my city where I was required to become a CPA within a year if I wanted to be promoted. So with a ticking clock, I started to take this thing seriously. I spent about four weeks studying for BEC, knowing that I had some major skills gaps to fill. Using Jeff’s Early-Lunch-Late study plan, I watched lectures and took MCQs until I was dreaming of COSO, and it worked! I passed BEC with an 80.

But the day before I got my passing score, everything changed. My father unexpectedly passed away, and it shook my world more than I could ever have imagined.

Just when you think you have everything under control, life will test you. I know that now.

It took me a couple months before I started studying again. I took a few weeks right before busy season to desperately try to fit in REG, but holiday fun with family took over what were supposed to be study days, and I ended up with a 72 on REG.

With busy season that lasted six months, that was the last exam I took. My AUD credit expired. I missed my promotion because I hadn’t passed my exams. Let me say that again – I didn’t get promoted because I hadn’t put in the effort over the last two and a half years to get these exams done.

My firm graciously offered me the rare opportunity to be promoted six months from now if I could pass my exams by then. So, with renewed motivation, I cracked open my REG textbook this morning and got started. I’m shooting for an early August test date.

I have learned a lot about this journey since I started. None of my scores have been below a 70, so with the right amount of perseverance and the willingness to attack my weaker areas, I know I have what it takes to pass these exams.

I can do this. I know that now.

Leave a Reply


Ignacio 10 years ago

good luck!

Tabitha 10 years ago

I'm not trying to sound negative but I don't see this post as very motivating at all. Most of us couldn't take an exam after just one day of studying and walk out with a 78. I am certainly happy that it worked for you, but it kind of just makes me feel that much more obtuse :(

Ali 10 years ago

Hi Tabitha! I'm sorry you didn't see my post as motivating. I've seen so many people struggle with these exams for years, and honestly, I'm one of them! I wanted to recap my experiences over the last year that I've been blogging for Another71 so that people can see that no matter the good and bad you experience during your journey, it is possible to find the motivation once again to knock these exams out for good. I'm on my way there! I don't think passing AUD after one day of studying was a fluke - but I don't think it will work for everyone, either. I am an auditor, so the material in AUD is exactly what I work with each day - from professional responsibilities, to sample sizes, and everything in between. Just the same way that someone who sees a variety of tax situations every day (not me!) may have an easier time at REG, and someone who works in financial accounting advisory services may have a better crack at FAR, my day job prepared me well for AUD. I also wanted to point out my success at AUD because of how much I used the NINJA Audio and Wiley MCQs. If they had been available at the time, I would have gone nuts with the NINJA MCQs since they have adaptive learning. For areas where you already have strong content knowledge, reinforcing with the NINJA Audio (or NINJA videos, or the CPA review products you already have) is a good way to fill in minor gaps. I hope you understand my rationale for discussing my AUD results and how I got there. When you already have strong content knowledge, either from school, work, or other exam experiences, you don't always need to put in 120+ study hours just to address those small knowledge gaps - and in my case, the NINJA Audio and Wiley MCQs were the perfect way to accomplish my goal. Happy studying!