Angel’s Thoughts: How He Conquered the U.S. CPA Exam

Angel shares his CPA Exam experience as an international candidate.

We all have our own variety for being obsessed with something. “Obsession,” as defined in the dictionary, is the domination of one's thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea, desire, etc.

It is “an unwelcome, uncontrollable, and persistent idea, thought, image, or emotion that a person cannot help thinking even though it creates significant distress or anxiety.” I liked this last one better, and you’ll soon find out why.

My obsession to earn the illustrious U.S. CPA title started when my older sister immigrated to the U.S. after she earned her Philippine CPA title and got married to a Filipino-American. She now lives happily in Los Angeles (the “City of Angels”), where she works as a Finance Controller.

My first attempt at realizing this dream dates back in 1996 when I worked in Jeddah as a Financial Accountant. My preparation then for the paper-and-pencil 4-part exams seemed to be panning out according to plan, but due to unreasonably stringent visa procedures, I was not able to fly to the US to take the exams. It seemed that the battle was already lost even though the war had not even begun.

After several long years, news broke out in early 2011 that the U.S. CPA Examinations would be offered internationally in selected countries, including the UAE where I previously worked up until late 2011. Where there is life there is, indeed, hope.

There are several issues and requirements that an international CPA candidate like me need to contend with before being able to secure one’s NTS, or examination permit (in layman’s term). As an international candidate, I needed to elect my state, get my foreign education credentials evaluated, select a CPA review course material, and decide which of the four exam parts to take first.

Loads of thanks go to the international CPA Examination counselor from my CPA review course who helped a lot in ridding my mind of the worries of complying with exam registration formalities, and allowed me to concentrate on my exam preparation.

Candidates are given free hand on how they want to tackle the Uniform CPA Exams. They can take all parts simultaneously or one part at a time or in any combination they so desire.

Of the four parts, I chose to sit for FAR simultaneous with BEC.

As we are all aware, the FAR part earned the alias “The Beast” among CPA candidates around the world because it is the most difficult of the four parts, and covers the broadest amount of information in terms of the diversity of the body of knowledge included in the syllabus.

To my mind, I thought I should start my journey by tackling the subject(s) I felt more confident of passing on my first take. Though I considered my preparation to be rigid and thorough, I soon realized that there was absolutely no other way of doing it if you intend to pass each part on your first take.

I took AUD in 2012, and REG last February 19 to cap my rough roller-coaster ride toward completing all four parts of the Uniform CPA Exams.

As I ran my course, the emancipating thought of giving up constantly visited my mind, but it just doesn’t seem right to raise the white flag simply because we experience a rough sail. After all, it might surprise you that beyond these doors of adversity lie either a better situation or a better you.

After getting a taste of all four, I can now say that Regulation was the toughest of all. The U.S. federal tax system had given me heaps of worries which made me decide to reschedule my REG examination three times in three testing windows. It (federal tax) just didn’t “click” despite investing precious time into trying to understand the dynamics of the U.S. tax rules.

What is even worse is that candidates are required to know the frequent changes in the tax law. This means that some of what you have previously studied in 2012 may no longer be applicable when you take your exam in 2013.

If you don’t want to be discouraged while pursuing your dream to become a U.S. CPA, stay away from Regulation until it’s the last part that you have to take.

Never underestimate your resilience and your will power when your back is against the wall. Faced with losing my FAR and BEC credits if I didn’t finally take (and pass) REG, it surprised me at how much material I was able to cover at the homestretch.

For a non-US candidate who had no previous formal studies in U.S. Federal Taxation, immeasurable amount of credit goes to my review course's tax mentor who patiently worked with me until I understood the extremely intricate U.S. tax system.

Though my Regulation exam was tough, I believe that my review course prepared me well enough to pass the exam.

The NINJA Audio was very effective: it turned those idle moments spent commuting two hours from home to my workplace in Muscat into valuable study time! It was a wonderful supplement to Wiley Test bank and my review course.

After more than 15 years of nurturing my obsession of becoming a U.S. Certified Public Accountant, the light at the end of the tunnel has finally revealed its awesome radiance.

I have now reached “home,” and achieved the pinnacle of my professional qualification as an accountant. With God’s abiding provision, the title “U.S. CPA” has ultimately become mine.

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2 comments

Jing Monta 5 years ago

Hi! I am also a Filipino who recently got my CPA license but it was from the Philippines. Im here now in New York and wanting to sit for the US CPA Exam. I'm worried about my credentials, and i need first to have it evaluated. May i ask, back in the time you were applying for exam registration, did you have problems in terms of your philippine transcripts? did you take additional course to sit for the exam? thank you sir.

Johannw 5 years ago

Hi there, I have same sentiments here. Worried about my credentials from the Philippines. I am also a CPA - PH. I don't know which state will be more favourable for Pinoy CPA. Please shed some light. Thanks Johanne