57 to 81: My Journey to Pass the CPA Exam

Courtney shares her journey through the CPA Exam.

I started studying for my first exam in June 2011, after graduating in May with 150 hours and a bachelor’s degree.

I had accepted an offer to start at as an auditor at a public firm in November so I decided to take the summer off to study and plan my wedding (I got married 4 days before starting my career). I knew the exam would be hard but I had no idea how much I would need to study.

I took FAR right away in July, followed quickly by BEC the beginning of August and Audit the end of August. I was in the group that had to wait until September to get any results.

To say I was disappointed in the result would be an understatement. FAR was a 60, BEC was a 71, and Audit was a 63. I had made the mistake of applying and paying for 4 sections, so I scheduled REG for the first week of October.

By then, I was tired of studying, depressed that I had done so poorly, and over-whelmed with finalizing wedding plans. I made it through the individual taxation chapters and figured I might as well try the exam.

Worst. Idea. Ever.

I ended up with a 27 and pretty funny story.

I put the 4 failed attempts behind me, got married, and started working. My strategy became to take the exams over and over again until I passed, not allowing myself to take breaks in studying.

I re-scheduled FAR for the beginning of January. Thankfully there were many new hires in my class and they didn’t have enough work to keep us busy for much of November and December which allowed me to study while at work.

It ended up helping and I squeaked by with a perfect score (75, duh!). I was beyond excited. For the first time, I felt like I could actually do this.

I decided to tackle BEC next and sat the end of February 2012. This time it was a 73. I figured I was improving so next time I was bound to pass! Then it was Audit again, the beginning of April.

I was thrilled to find out that I passed with a 76! Once again, it was time to take BEC. I took it the end of May and was disappointed yet again with a 73. I took it again in July. This time it was a soul-crushing 74.

Honestly, the worst score I could have received. Around this time, I discovered Another71.com. I purchased the NINJA Notes for REG during a promotion and got BEC ones for free.

I spent a lot of time surfing the site and came across Jeff’s post about almost passing. He said he realized that he didn’t need a couple more points to pass—he needed 75 more points to pass. I realized that I had fallen into this way of thinking as well.

Thinking it would not have taken me this long to pass BEC, I had applied for REG and my NTS was about to expire. I shifted my gears to REG.

I used the NINJA Notes and also purchased the Audio. I did a lot of traveling for government busy season and listened to the Audio as much as I could. I took the exam in October and ended up with a 57. A lot better than the 27, but still not good.

I was ready to be done with BEC so I studied harder than I had for any of the other exams. I went through all of the lectures again. I read through my notes. I re-wrote the NINJA Notes.

In December I finally found out that I passed with an 82. It was my 5th attempt! That pass gave me the final push I needed to get motivated and pass REG.

I listened to the NINJA Audio over and over again. I watched all of the Becker lectures for tax and relied on Jeff to get me through law. I spent 3 solid days answering MCQs all day.

I took the exam the beginning of January and walked out thinking I did ok, and terrified that it was because I had done poorly and so I had the “medium” tests. I got the results back and was finally done with an 81!

When it was all said and done, I took 12 exams over 18 months. I took at least one exam every single testing window. I am thrilled that this chapter of my life is over and I am extremely great full for the Another71.com community for making the experience a little less painful!

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