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After graduating college in 2009 and starting my first job out of college in public accounting, I decided to take the CPA exam. I had heard FAR was the hardest, so I decided I would take that one first. I bought Gleim for all 4 sections, studied when I felt like it for a couple months and failed with a solid 50. Welcome to the jungle. Undeterred and failing to learn from my mistakes, I trudged ahead to BEC. 56. Ouch. At this point I thought to myself, “I’d better pass FAR before going ahead to any other sections.” So I took it a little more seriously, studying for a few hours at a time after work and on the weekends thinking that would do the trick, but still not fully immersing myself in the material. I got a 60. Maybe I would try my hand at REG and see if that was up my alley, I thought. Nope. First time, bombed it with a 50. Hmmm, I think if I study hard enough, I can bump up my BEC score to passing. Took it again. 68. My closest score.
By this point, I was frustrated but too dense to realize that I wasn’t taking this exam as seriously as I needed to. I was living a relatively normal life and tried to fit in studying when I could. That needed to change. That needed to reverse. I needed to make studying the #1 priority in my life and try to fit in everything else. Shutting myself out was one of the hardest things I’ve done. The people around me grew tired of my excuses that I couldn’t go out, but they understood. I rarely went out on the weekends. The combination of working public accounting hours and trying to study was taking its toll. Any free time I had would now be devoted to studying. No exercising, no more going out. Something switched in me. I was no longer a twenty-something studying in their free time. I was locked in and in the zone. I had to be or I knew I wouldn’t pass this exam. Others can juggle exercise, work, family, friends and studying, but for me, this was what I had to do in order to get in quality study time. I had to shut myself out from the world and focus on studying.
With that mindset now in place, I splurged and bought Becker. I felt Gleim was too much material and too difficult for me to focus on the important points. I liked the Becker videos and structure of their material. I studied and passed Auditing the first time I took it with a 79. I was ecstatic. I felt like I was boxing Ivan Drago in Rocky IV and finally made him bleed. This insurmountable opponent was now at my level. I took BEC next and passed. Not bad, I thought. Time for the big boys, FAR and REG. I would take one in August 2011 and FAR was up first, I decided, because it was a beast of a test. Too much of a beast it proved as I ended up with a 65.
I could hear the clock ticking as my AUD credit would expire in May 2012. With that in mind, I had a choice to make. Study for FAR and try to bring up my grade 10 points or go on to REG. I decided to leave myself nearly 3 months and study for REG. I studied and studied and studied and squeaked by with a 75. 3 down, 1 to go. It was now December and I had 6 months until my AUD credit expired. I had a new choice to make: Study FAR for 3 weeks and take it in early January before tax season? Or wait to take it until May with my back against the wall? I opted for the 3 weeks from hell option and studied like a mad man. I felt I had surely bombed the test when I walked out of the center. I knew for certain I had even missed the research question, how could I have passed? Low and behold I received that passing score and I was in shock. I was done. I couldn’t believe it. I can enjoy life again!
I learned that it isn’t about how much study time you put in, it’s about the amount of quality study time you put in. 12 hours on a Saturday doesn’t mean anything if you aren’t focused. Be honest with yourself. Turn off your phone, unplug your internet, and do what it takes!
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