Introducing NINJA CPA Blogger Rob

09 Mar 2013


Rob is a new NINJA CPA Blogger.

Hello fellow CPA Exam Takers,

My name is Rob; I’m a 43-year-old happily married father of two living in a town approximately 30 miles north of Boston.

Since 1989, I’ve made my way through the ranks of accounting jobs: A/P, A/R, staff accountant, Senior Staff Accountant, A/P Supervisor, General Accounting Manager, and now Global Finance Manager.

I’ve been told that if you wanted to advance your accounting career, you need a CPA license.

So after years of not wanting to invest the time or effort into studying for the exam, a chance meeting over a game of pickleball put me on a path that I’m not still not sure where it’s leading. What’s pickleball? It’s like tennis, but the court is smaller, you use paddles, and the ball is similar to a wiffle ball.

A few years ago I was “considering” sitting for the exam and evaluating CPA review courses. I hadn’t yet made up my mind, when at a Thursday night game of pickleball, I was paired with a guy I had never met. As it turned out, he works for a review course!

While I’m not into the supernatural, I took this as a sign that I should take the CPA exam. So I bought the entire product line.

Now, armed with materials, I sought the advice of others who had taken the exam for guidance. Unfortunately, all had different advice, so I decided to start with FAR based on the fact that it encompasses the most material and is generally considered the hardest section.

Since I don’t have an accounting degree (undergrad and masters both in business), a lot of the material was new or something I had seen years ago but haven’t used in my career (like bonds or non-profit accounting). Along the way, I discovered and was happy to meet and read about others who were in the same situation as I was.

After a couple of stops and starts, I got on a schedule and completed all of the DVDs, a ton of MCQs, and a lot of simulations. I took the exam and did not have a strong feeling either way if I passed or not.

When my FAR results came, my score was FAR from passing (pun intended). It was a like a kick to the gut, not that I failed, but by how much. People I talked to said I would feel worse if I scored a 74, but I didn’t agree.

At least with a 74, you were in the game; with my score, I wasn’t even in the ballpark. I reached out for advice and was told, “Maybe FAR was not the place to start; try BEC to build some confidence.” So I started on BEC.

From the outset, BEC seemed easier – corporate governance, project management, and economic theory were all things I was familiar with, but then there’s cost accounting, which I’m not so familiar with.

So I again watched all the BEC DVDs, did a ton of MCQs, and studied practice essays. I was nervous, but I felt ready on exam day. But I failed miserably again. So I started BEC again and got on the ELL (early, lunch, late) study schedule.

I was awake most mornings at 5am and studying until 6am, studying at lunch time, and ending the day with more studying, but I failed BEC again and added only three points to my previous failing grade.

Something was wrong; I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t able to remember what I had learned and recall the concepts on test day. I went for neuropsychological testing and was diagnosed with ADHD. It made sense: I was losing focus when I would try to study for more than an hour, and I wasn’t retaining anything I was studying.

After a break while trying to figure out how best to study with the ADHD diagnosis, I’m about ready to start BEC again. What will be different this time? I’m working with a coach, and I will have medication that will help my memory and my focus. I’m hoping the medicine will have the same effect on my CPA scores as PEDs did for A-Rod’s batting average and home run totals!

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