NINJA Hall of Fame: I Passed the CPA Exam!

04 Sep 2013

NINJA Hall of Fame

Mia is a NINJA CPA blogger.

This year has been insanely good to me. These exams have definitely had adverse effects on my health and sanity but I can’t think of anything else (career-related) that’s worth losing my sanity for.

If you’re still fighting the good fight, never doubt your capabilities because you will get to where you want to be. In the words my favorite author, Emerson, “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen”.

Want the CPA bad enough and decide you will get it and watch yourself getting closer to having those 3 coveted letters next to your name everyday. I find that it’s a test of willpower just like everything else in life.


If you’re up for a true story about how a 23-year old non-accountant with a non-accounting degree from the Philippines doing freelance front-end development for a living miraculously got through all the exams, read on!

I thought the odds were against me. It turns out, the odds are against most and I wasn’t especially disadvantaged. In my 1 year of being an Another71 forum member, I’ve read about so many of people’s situations that I could even say I have a bit of an advantage over people with:

1. kids, spouse, & full-time job
2. chronic illnesses
3. sadistic bosses/sucky workplace culture

to more serious stuff like:
4. addiction to netflix (guilty), facebook, candy crush? etc.

What I lacked in knowledge/experience in accounting, I made up for it in tenacity. One year, five exams, many sleepless nights, even more painfully early morning rises, a bajillion cups of coffee and a few opportunities for freelance work declined after, I can say that I passed all parts of the CPA Exams! It feels amazing.

The studying: I followed the NINJA Framework and got NINJA materials along with a full course. Wiley Textbooks and Test Bank were also an immense help. I agree with Jeff here, NINJA is the best thing since Tumblr.

BEC – I felt like this section had everything I ever learned in college about business. Being my first taste of the exams, I felt lost on where to start. I disregarded any info I could hazily remember from school and started as if I had an amnesia shortly after. With an eye infection that lasted for 1.5 months, I focused on the book, reading, rereading, writing my notes and jotting down each formula I came across. I passed with an 82!

REG – Man, I’ve never seen 90% of the material on REG. This was completely alien to me. Did so many MCQs and I think that saved my butt! Got an 80!

FAR – It was just plain hard because I’ve always said I’m “not good at accounting”, and on top of that, I had family over for the month I was supposed to study and I was always wanting to have fun with them! I walked out of my exam feeling like a complete failure. Barely passed but… I got the best 76 I ever got in my life!!

AUD Part I – Exhaustion has started to creep in. I was bored out of my mind and didn't really care about the material. I'd take calculations any day compared to theory on auditing. On top of that, I just wanted to be done… these exams have taken so much time that I would have rather spent working on projects.

Because of that attitude, I didn't learn anything by heart – sort of just read through everything once, made notes here and there, did close to 1K MCQs. I think I was distracted by work and I had serious time constraints. I remember 2 days before taking AUD I just completely stopped studying because I was so stressed.

Nevertheless, I thought I was prepared for it. This section seemed so easy but I learned the hard way that AUD MCQs are the trickiest. Bummer, I got a 69. I turned to Jeff and people on the forum right after a sucky weekend and was encouraged again.

AUD Part II – I started from the very beginning. I said to myself “focus is just a matter of deciding what you don't want to do.” No TV, no surfing the net, erased all apps on my phone that I know would lead me to get distracted, no going out.

To be honest, it wasn't as hard studying for AUD this time around because I knew I psyched myself into learning the material sincerely. AUD text was just as dry but I was trying to make it more interesting by posting notes on my wall and challenging myself to learn it in a day or two in between working.

I did around 700 flashcards on top of the notes, and did 1500 MCQs. I was shocked to know that half of the material was new to me. I felt even more strongly that I deserved that 69. But that didn't matter because I put in the right amount of effort this time and I got an 83! I could not believe I was finally done.

I’m sure you’ve heard a lot of horror stories about this last score release if you didn’t experience it personally, and I won’t bore you with the details on that. Suffice to say, I didn’t sleep much for the 3 days before the scores were released. WORTH IT.

Since passing the exams, my family and I have moved, I booked a loooong vacation to my hometown, got back to working more on projects and started talking to people for advice on diving in my first real accounting job.

This may be the most cliché thing one could ever say but I think this holds truest in my case, if I can do it, you can do it. You just need to sit down for 3 hours a day and do nothing but study like your life depended on it. I wish everyone the best in their studying.

This journey has been one of the hardest ones I had to undertake so I want to thank all the people in the forum who has helped make it bearable. Good luck to all of us future CPAs!

Read more CPA Exam Success Stories in the NINJA Hall of Fame

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