CPA Exam Success Story: From Limbo to Passed, Part 2

Raffi is a special guest blogger sharing his journey to pass the CPA Exam. This is part two of two installments.

Take the father’s advice (who is also a CPA)Fall 2012 – His grandiose advice was to just focus on two parts at a time until you pass them and then move on like the good old days. I took FAR and AUD during all of the holiday extravaganzas. This window was comfortable because I only focused on two subjects.

Also, after my recovery, I started recording my new album to keep my mind sane during these exams. It relaxed me and relieved lots of stress.

As hope was still hanging by a thin thread, I received a 68 for FAR and 69 for AUD. After a year of test-taking, I was a little down about not passing one…yet.

Keep calm and Prog onWinter 2013 – In this window, I received my highest failing score. It was a 73 on AUD. This is the straw that broke the camel’s back, legs, and humps. Things were gonna change.

During my college years I listened to a lot of prog bands such as Tool, The Mars Volta, and Rush when I studied and it kept me alert and focused on my studies. Listening to music kept me extremely focused on my FAR work, however, I needed a new batch of music. The new cream of the crop to join my music library was Steven Wilson, Genesis, Pink Floyd (a late-bloomer for me), ELP, King Crimson, and Porcupine Tree.

I spent every day for a month and half doing only problems and reading the book. I made sure I understood every detail. By the time the test came, I thought I did average and didn’t pass. Once that Saturday morning score release came, I was hesitant to check because I wanted to enjoy to rest of my weekend, but it turns out that it was going to be a great weekend because I received my first passing score of a 75!

I know it’s a 75, but who cares, I’ll take it! Since then, there was no more funny business for the next 18 months. No mercy for any of these exams!

Break your back and make you humbleSpring 2013 – As tax season approached, I was working more than usual in my father’s firm, but it didn’t stop me from studying even harder. I retook AUD and made sure I never see this exam ever again.

Everyday I read the book and memorized every page. That’s the main key for this exam. There is no proper way to prepare for the simulations, so all you can do is your best. The night before the score release, I was dreaming about passing and failing the exam and didn’t get any sleep that night. My heart was beating irregularly and I felt a shortness of breath as the morning approached.

At 6:00 am, the score was released and I received a 79! I ran in every room of my house yelling and cheering as if it was Christmas morning! This surreal moment fired me up to tear REG a new one. For some odd reason, I was always afraid of REG, so I gave myself a month and three weeks to prepare. Near the end of this window, with no social life and constant studying, I was ready.

This is the only time I felt comfortable taking an exam and walked out feeling like I passed. A few weeks later, the Saturday morning score release came. I had almost no sleep and the very little sleep that I did get was accompanied by passing and failing nightmares. Guess what, it came Sunday morning and I was exhausted all weekend. I did get my energy back though.

Want to know how? An 83 baby!!! Boom!! See you later REG, don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Let’s close this outSummer 2013 – It was time to sweep the floor and end this chapter in my life. While my cousin passed the Bar and my girlfriend graduated from USC with a masters, I wanted to have my own moment of great accomplishment.

For BEC, I did what I did for all the other exams, no social life, Wiley MCQs, and reading the book. I just did that over and over again. No final review, flashcards, or videos. By the time the exam date came, I was 110% ready. Even though I was prepared, this last exam had questions all out of left field and had material that was not even covered in my homework.

I left feeling dazed and confused. After such a winning streak, I thought I pushed my luck. A few weeks after the exam, I went to Vegas to celebrate my younger cousin’s 21st birthday with the score being released that Saturday morning. A great dinner, cigar, beer, and club did not distract me from knowing that a score was going to be released in a few hours.

Arriving at my hotel room at 4:30am, I could not sleep at all and was having nightmares again. At 5:55am, I took a deep breath and checked my score. It was a 78!!! Four in a row after a year of not passing!

This was one of the best feelings in my life ever! I called my family in Los Angeles at 6:00 am and told them the good news and not to tell anybody yet until everyone in the hotel woke up and we had breakfast. At 1pm, when we had breakfast at the Grand Lux Cafe at the Venetian, my first cousin (who was the only one I told about the release) asked if I found out the score.

I just turned my head and got the attention of the 13 cousins, friends, and significant others and yelled “I passed the CPA exams!!” We cheered and hugged. An amazing feeling. Indescribable.

EpilogueSummer 2013 – I can now move forward with my life.

To all candidates: Never give up!

“You can do a lot in a lifetime
If you don't burn out too fast
You can make the most of the distance
First you need endurance
First you've got to last…”-Rush

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