This post is from a series called “My CPA Exam Story” and is a chance for candidates to pass on their experience to others in hope of encouraging them and to share insights learned along the way. If you have a story to share, e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Submissions with pictures will get posted first. Don't forget to tell me what state you're from. I will only post your first name.
“I think it is very important to share my experience with this exam. I have just completed it, luckily all in one attempt, and looking back at the last seven months bring a lot of emotions. Never have I been on such an emotional roller coaster.
At the end of the journey I realized one thing: it doesn't matter what this ends up doing for my career, the fact that I put in my entire heart, soul, and sanity into this and coming out successful means the world to me.
It doesn't matter what age you are, we all have different commitments that make getting this exam done difficult. But if you want the secret to passing the exam it is very very simple: you have to make sacrifices. There are people who take the exam 10 times because they don't have the discipline to say ‘no I won't go to the club tonight or movies with my friends, or the next sporting event.' It isn't the fact that you can't pass the exam, everyone has the capability.
For some it will be a little easier and for some it will be harder. I would say I probably studied between 50-75 hours per section. One of the biggest problems I see from the forums is studying improperly. I never studied one word that wasn't highlighted in Becker. I never read one homework reading. I didn't do one supplemental question or simulation. It is all about studying smart.
People obsess over every word in every CPA book. That is the problem. This is not a test to determine if you could stuff a 900 page book into your brain. If you take everyone from my level – an entry level auditor, the people who passed dedicated themselves to the exam completely. The ones who were out on the weekends absolutely did not pass. I know most of you are like me, checking scores 100 times a day when you know they are only released at certain times, obsessing over your grade every second, and thinking about every question you got wrong on the exam for the whole time before you get your score back.
If you are new to starting this journey, I hope you take away that this exam is completely achievable. Do it ‘piecemeal'. Take each section as its own independent entity. Don't worry about what is next. Don't fall behind in your study schedule. Treat yourself to some relaxing time away from studying, but not too much. Most importantly though is have pride and confidence in yourself because you are doing something that most people don't have the capability or dedication to accomplish. To those who have gone through the process and struggled, don't give up.
Jeff, who is a huge inspiration, didn't give in because he knew that he was capable of it. Don't let the exam demoralize you. It is just as impressive to take the exam 15 times and pass as someone who took it four times… As someone who thought he failed every time he walked out of and exam and never scored less than an 87, don't obsess every minute once you leave the exam. If you prepared properly you should be more than fine.
Another major aspect of this exam to realize is the impact it has on the people close to you. You are going to be married to your books for awhile. You will deal with family members who don't believe you need to study that much and friends who will pressure you and say you ?don't need? to study all the time. But you are doing this exam for yourself – no one else. Anyone who doesn't appreciate that probably is a person I don't want around me. In the end I am going to give you some tips that I have picked up through the exam experience.
-On test day, never let a question trip you up. If you don't know the answer – move on.
-Dedicate 6 months now so that this exam doesn't haunt you for years (Limited enjoyment time)
-Study for the multiple choice, if you know them, you are as ready as you ever will be for the Simulations.
-Don't ask others what is on the exam, it will NOT help you.
-Be positive, if you beat yourself up mentally, you are at a disadvantage on test day.
-Study in places where no distractions are present. You will find excuses not to study.
-Every minute counts. Even if you can't study 4 straight hours, ever 15 minutes counts.
-Don't compare yourself to others, only worry about what you can accomplish.
My Study Plan (Becker, No supplements)
I believe if you follow this study plan you will be 100% ready:
Monday: Watch a lecture in full
Tuesday: Go through the book and read it while making your own note cards. I used to make a note card for almost all the highlighted material.
Wednesday: This step I believe is key: I wrote all of the highlighted material into note form in a notebook. Once this step was completed, I never opened the Becker book again. I studied from those notes to avoid ?over studying? After this I completed the homework.
Thus-Sat I did the same for another chapter.
Sunday- Reviewed anything I had a major issue with.
Do the basics I laid out and you will be F I N E!! Be efficient…trust me, I am no genius.
Good luck and remember you aren't the only one going through this We all HAVE all the support in the world for you because we all know the struggle. I will always be around to help anyone who needs advice.”
-Daniel from NJ