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.
When I began college, I wasn't an accounting major; I was pre-med and business. After my freshman year, I decided that the only reason I wanted to be a doctor was the money and I changed my major to accounting. I proceeded to get a master's degree in accounting as well, which I finished in spring of 2008, and then embarked on a journey over that summer to try and get as much of the CPA Exam out of the way as possible before I started working.
After 2-3 weeks of studying, the test date came up and it was go time. I had the 4th of July weekend to look forward to, and it's always been my attitude that it's better when a test is over with, so I went in and took BEC. I usually get nervous the night before a test, thinking I'm going to forget it all and so on, and this was no different. On the other side of that coin, I'm a pretty good test-taker, in addition to usually being pretty fast (which isn't always a good thing). I came out of the exam feeling like I was prepared and had the info nailed down.
FAR is the hardest section, and I decided that I would take it second. The FAR book is ridiculously long. Thankfully, I gave myself plenty of time in-between tests to do just a chapter a day of either reading or multiple choice, while also leaving lots of time for procrastination, which is my real job I think. I kind of refined my approach with each test, or at least made my studying rut deeper to the point that I had it down by the end. The last week of my test review process always found me taking the practice tests every day, or finishing up the chapter questions and then reviewing. I followed that up with flash cards the last day or two before the exam.
The night before FAR, I realized I haven't done any simulations. I downloaded some trial software just to look at one and get an idea what they might be like. That turned out to be the only simulation I looked at for any section, which may be normal, I don't know. Again, I was nervous before the test, but I went in and I took it. FAR was the only test that I came close to running out of time on, and in fact, I was down to the last minute or two when I finished it up. Talk about arduous, that was one long S.O.B., but I felt ok about it.
Shortly thereafter, I found out that I scored an 86 on BEC and was quite excited. I then found out about my 79 on FAR in late August, which was again, pretty awesome. I sat for REG and received my score (85) in mid-September 2008. I had three exams down and one to go.
I took AUD October 3 and started work three days later. This was also where I discovered another71.com and would read it often over the first couple months of work. It happened that another girl in my class had also stumbled upon the site separately, as she referenced a post about scores that I recognized. After that, several others from our class starting looking to the site for updates on score postings. We also took to calling our state coordinators after reading about the ?little birdies? at NASBA and wanting to try and get inside, early scoops of our own.
After a couple nerve-wracking days thinking I would be in the second wave and not get my passing bonus 'til the new year (bad for tax purposes of course), I finally got in touch with my coordinator and asked her if I did well on the test. She told me that I had done really well!!! My score still hadn't gotten loaded at the time, so the next day I woke up and checked my score…78.
In my opinion, 78 isn't super awesome except for the fact that it's a passing grade, which is the only thing that matters. That's 4 for 4 if you're keeping track like me, and I was and am incredibly grateful that I was able to do that.
If you've managed to read my entire story, congratulations and thanks, I'm sure it wasn't particularly exciting to anyone but me. It is good to get it down on paper and just rehash what a journey it was, if only for my own benefit. I had set out to take all four sections and (hopefully) pass some or all, and I had succeeded, which was definitely a blessing. I guess I managed to actually learn some stuff in college, as the test was infinitely more possible (or passable) than I had thought back when I was a sophomore in college.
My ?studying? was around two hours a day, rarely more than that, but enough to at least get through one chapter. I left myself almost a month for each test, which I would recommend, because there were plenty of days where I didn't accomplish much in addition to the breaks I took after each test.
I think the most important thing is to have a plan and stick to it. It's extremely easy to put off studying for any section unless it's “real” to a person. For me, that happened once I had a date on the calendar, but it might be different for other people. It went well for me, and I'm thankful for that. I would never say that it was easy, because I know it isn't, but it is doable if you take it seriously and prepare for it. Good luck to everyone that is still in the process of taking the test, and congratulations to all those who have gotten through it and survived. Also, a big thanks to another71.com for providing all the info that helps keep us sane waiting the next day at 4 a.m.
– Todd from Missouri