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Let me start by saying that my post is not a bragging post. This post is an attempt to motivate and encourage CPA candidates that are frustrated, or that don’t believe that the end goal of passing all four sections of this exam is possible. Bottom line… it is, but you have to believe and adopt a unwavering attitude that you will do it and that it may just take time!
So, here is a little backstory on me. I graduated with my BBA in Accounting back in 2003. I followed that up with my MBA in 2006. At that point in my career, I decided that the CPA did not make sense to pursue as I had three small children and was making decent money in my career and I was confident that it wasn’t necessary.
Fast forward November of 2016, I decided that I was going to pass the CPA exam to prove to myself that I could do it and because I was worth it. Additionally, I decided that I would do it before I turn 40 in 2018. So, what did I do, I purchased the Yaeger CPA system and began studying. Some days my studying was more casual than others, but I committed myself to it. I packed a lunch almost every day and spent my lunch hour either watching a video, reading a book, or practicing MC questions. In the evening, I would spend 2-3 hours religiously doing the same. The weekends were no exception.
I took my first exam (FAR) in March of 2017 and I passed on the first try. I then took AUD in May 2017 and REG in August 2017 and just missed passing scores on both. Needless to say, I was devastated, frustrated, and I wanted to quit. It’s easy to quit and that is what I wanted more than anything. I wanted my girlfriend (my only true support system) to say… “just quit”, but she never did. She looked in my eyes and said, “… you can and will do this, we both know that you have what it takes.”
I felt so low and depressed, but I told her in that exact moment that I was not going to give up and I was going to, in no uncertain terms, KO the next three exams. I turned my anger and frustration into action. I continued my study program and here is what happened…
October 27, 2017 – I sat for BEC
December 7, 2017 – I sat for AUD (this was my second attempt)
December 19, 2017 – I received the scores that I passed both BEC and AUD. I was now officially 1 passing score away from being able to file all my paperwork to become a licensed CPA.
I had my rematch with REG scheduled for 01/18/18. I wanted my life back in early 2018 and before I turn 40 in the Spring.
I studied all through the holiday season for REG, I told myself that I wasn’t going to pass a couple of times, I said that there is not a soul on earth that can remember all these rules if they don’t use them daily and I was starting to think that I’d be taking REG for a 3rd time in the April-June 2018 testing window. Nevertheless, I listened to the videos, I read the book multiple times, I practiced problems, and I practiced the AICPA sample questions.
Yesterday, 02/05/18 at 7:00 PM EST, the system to check my final section score became active. At 7:01 PM EST, I had my information entered. With my pulse racing, I clicked the button to retrieve my score. And there it was, my score… a passing score.
I was officially done, but I had nobody to share it with in that moment because my girlfriend (my one true supporter) was out at a birthday dinner for one of her friends. When she got home, she looked at me and asked, “why are you smiling”. I said, no reason I’m just hoping that I get good news tomorrow morning and I’m preparing for another restless night before the official AICPA score release date. She went upstairs to get ready for bed and I brought my laptop into our bedroom. I placed it on the bed with my score displayed, but I shut the screen to the point where it still was on, but to where you would need to open it to see what was on the screen. In my lamest attempt at a “Deal or No Deal” moment, I told her to open the case. She had a look of confusion because the screen stated that the next score window is 03/08/18 and she thought that we were back in the waiting game and that the AICPA had delayed the score release. I told her to look at the mouse pointer in the lower left corner of the screen. She asked me, what does that mean? I told her that I had passed and that I was done. She screamed with excitement and I literally started crying. I did it, but in reality “we” did it.
Why am I telling you all of this? Here is why. If you are still reading this, I want to share my success formula with you.
#1 – Have a support system, but a small one. I never told my children what I was doing and I shared it with less than 10 people. Why, because when people find out you’re testing they will want to ask you all sorts of questions and if you don’t pass a section on the first try, they will expect an explanation. My explanation was easy when I was asked… the test is extremely difficult. In the end, I told the following people: my girlfriend, my best friend and his wife, my sister, and three other friends.
#2 – Purchase a reputable review system. I chose Yaeger because I had been out of school for 13 years and I wanted the “classic” style of instruction. Bottom line, it worked!
#3 – Practice the AICPA practice problems and TBS. (This is critical!) The two exams that I didn’t pass were because I did not practice the TBS and I wasted valuable exam time learning how to navigate their exam software.
#4 – Celebrate every victory! Celebrate after taking each exam! Celebrate each score, whether you pass or fail. Trust me, it will give you some added motivation if you do.
#5 – Mentally commit yourself to the notion that it isn’t easy, but nothing in life that is worthwhile ever is. Daily affirmations and motivation videos work wonders when you lose focus or if you are losing your drive to study.
#6 – “Hard work” is exactly what it is. It is work and it is not easy.
Bottom line… you can do anything that you set your mind to. For me, that translated into 6 exams over a 10-1/2 month period and ultimately 4 passing scores.
Good luck and I wish you all the best in your pursuit of CPA certification!
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