September 9, 2019 at 8:01 pm #2694906
Today I found out I officially passed all 4 parts of the CPA Exam on the first try using Becker Review CPA! This post is to tell you about my experience and give some advice.
You really can't trust your “feeling” taking an exam, walking out of an exam, or if testlet 2 was “harder”:
(In order of taking my exams)
AUD: Couldn't distinguish if the 2nd testlet was “harder”, ran out of time, and bawled for 10 minutes in my car thinking I had failed.
FAR: Thought the 2nd testlet was “harder”, had HORRIBLE time management on my sims, panicked and submitted a blank sim, put a ton of 0s as answers in 3 sims, bawled after the exam and the next 2 days thinking there was truly no hope.
BEC: Couldn't distinguish if the 2nd testlet was “harder”, felt weird … felt pretty good .. didn't run out of time … sims were dare I say easy? No tears (shocker)
REG: Thought the 2nd testlet was “harder”, felt pretty good and almost confident .. definitely had to guess on some MCQs and sims, and again, no tears.
– I never used the flashcards, didn't think they were useful.
– Don't do the preassessments, they're a waste of time.
– Go through each lecture, skills practice, and MCQ. Save sims until later, 1 week before your exam.
– Watch lectures at 1.5-2x speed
– Do not get bogged down on small details!!!
– Complete Becker's Final Review before you take the first Simulated (mock) Exam (again, save sims for later). If you have time, take all simulated exams and use it as a tool to target your weak areas. Keep repeating MCQs in those weak areas (do not obsess over simulated exam scores). Also if you have time, type up a Google Doc of only the important takeaways from Becker's Final Review and use that as a study guide to read every so often and on exam day. Keep adding to this Doc with important things you seem to miss during your final review period.
– I did not like their Personalized Review Session. Instead, use Practice Tests and Simulated Exams to choose which chapters and modules you should work on and repeat MCQs or reread the book.
– Do the newly released AICPA questions
– Do the AICPA sample test
My timeline studying full-time (40+ hours per week of studying):
AUD: 6 weeks
FAR: 6 weeks
BEC: 4 weeks
REG: 5 weeks
– If studying full-time, try to complete 3 chapters per week and leave 2 weeks for final review (that should be plenty). Everything will come together and click during your final review time – I promise.
– Take FAR as either your first or second section! Do NOT save it for last because there is soooo much material and you will get so demotivated and frustrated.
– BEC was very easy in my opinion – don't waste too much time on Written Communication if English is your first language and you are comfortable with basic grammar and spelling.
– You don't need to memorize all the phase-out limits or know the various tax forms for REG. I think the most important numbers would be the Mom & Pop exception, and dollar amounts for different tax credits.
– Pick a “pump-up” song to listen to before you go inside! I recommend Eminem “Lose Yourself” 🙂
– Don't forget your ID or NTS (or scratch paper approval form and earplugs if you're bringing your own; email firstname.lastname@example.org and request scratch paper and pencil for the exam instead of using the dry-erase markers and laminated sheets)
– Leave your phone in the car (it's just easier when they question you and you'll be less tempted to check it)
– Do not wear any jewelry besides a wedding ring
– If you tend to play with your hair, tie it up!!
– Dress comfortably
– Eat beforehand
– Use the restroom before going through the security protocols
– Bring water, snacks, chapstick, lotion
– Time Management: PLEASE don't repeat my mistake and use your time wisely!! Do not spend more than 25 minutes on a single sim. Submit and move on.
– Enter 0s if you need to guess. Be careful to read the instructions and whether they want you to leave answers blank vs enter 0
– Try your best to only take a break when the timer stops
– Utilize the AL if you need to! You'll be surprised what it can help you figure out. But don't waste too much time using it
– Be confident!!!
To be completely honest, after taking all 4 sections and experiencing a variety of emotions and test-taking experiences, I will say that these exams are not that hard. If you put in the time and effort to study and prepare well, you should pass. I did terribly on FAR but still got a 78. After that exam, I knew I could pass each one. It's really not that bad. You won't believe me until you experience it for yourself, though. Best of luck! Trust the process!September 9, 2019 at 10:19 pm #2695233SilentParticipant
thanks for posting this, have one question. While videos did you bother taking notes or did you just watch the video's and do chapter assessment?September 9, 2019 at 10:30 pm #2695257TheeAccountantParticipant
You make me feel better while I’m waiting for my AUD score. I have passed three sections and only with this last one, AUD, did I very nearly cry in the car after. The SIMs killed me and I usually like the SIMs better than the MCQs. And I felt like the second testlet was hard, too hard! I had a third of it flagged. Maybe there’s hope! Congratulations btw!September 9, 2019 at 10:35 pm #2695260September 9, 2019 at 10:42 pm #2695266
@silentlooker That's a great question! I am a believer that writing helps with memorization, so I wrote down important notes after watching each lecture and marking up my book. However, if you don't have the time to do so, I don't think it's a huge deal. I think practicing MCQs and writing the reasons for which Qs you get wrong is a better and faster way to learnSeptember 9, 2019 at 10:45 pm #2695284September 10, 2019 at 6:51 am #2695881michParticipant
This is brilliant. Thank you for sharing.September 10, 2019 at 9:28 am #2696376CPAHOPEParticipant
Are you serious? You think the tests arent that hard. Its hella hard man, im at a point where my mind cant take this shit anymore… i hope you dont tell people its not hard when it is in fact very difficultSeptember 10, 2019 at 9:58 am #2696457Lindsey_p87Participant
Yeah I have to agree with CPAHOPE. I mean, these exams are passable, of course. But you say you studied for approx. 240 hours for FAR and barely passed? That's not indicative of an exam that's “not that hard”. Overall, I agree with your tips and advice though based on what I've seen so far (passed 2 and taken 3). I especially recommend getting the scratch paper/pencil letter from NASBA. I got it for BEC and it was a lifesaver – I hate using those freaking dry erase boards.September 10, 2019 at 10:01 am #2696460CP_AbadieParticipant
Your FAR experience is all too familiar…I just lived through this on Saturday. It's my last one too, and so I'm hoping that our shared misery is also shared joy! 🙂
Thanks for the awesome words of encouragement.September 10, 2019 at 10:12 am #2696493PCParticipant
“Exams are not that hard.”
“panicked and submitted a blank sim, put a ton of 0s as answers in 3 sims, bawled after the exam and the next 2 days.”
The exams are hard. The process is even harder. Some good tips in here though. Now I'm just pondering what my pump-up song should be.September 10, 2019 at 11:59 am #2696808September 10, 2019 at 12:02 pm #2696838
@cpahope I never said the process wasn't hard. Of course this entire journey is hell. I'm saying in hindsight after making so many mistakes on my exams and still passing, it's not as big of a monster as people think. I hope that clears up any confusion. You definitely need to put in the hours and effort to pass and that in and of itself is a challenge. I've felt like how you are feeling now, don't give up, keep studying and you will pass!!!September 10, 2019 at 12:06 pm #2696844ReckedParticipant
This was a good read. Agree with all points. Very helpful to those still in the struggle, good sound advice and pointers.
The exams all seem hard and insurmountable while you are taking them, but the point is that you can do it!
Don't get caught up in the words and miss the message.September 10, 2019 at 12:07 pm #2696847
@lindsey_p87 I never said the studying process wasn't hard. Studying for the exams is a HUGE challenge and you need self-discipline and to really commit to long hours of studying. I'm saying that after making so many mistakes and still passing my exams, in hindsight, I believe the exam itself isn't as difficult as it seemed. Glad you agree with my tips, scratch paper is a life saver! Best of luck on the rest of your exams, I'm sure you'll pass!
Reflection and Advice After Passing All Exams (Using Becker Review CPA)
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