How I (finally) passed the CPA exam - Page 2

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  • #166289

    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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  • #378327

    MCLKT likes this.

    Excellent story!

    A:[73]97 F:[74]85 R:86 B:[74]82
    *NINJA 10 Pt. COMBO & Yaeger*


    Such an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your story & Congrats on being done!!


    congrats candle man 😀 atelery likes this 🙂


    Well, I am not done but I had the same experience.

    I was out of college and figured that I could wing it with just a little bit of studying. It took me three attempts (I had to take all parts until holding credit on two) to pass two parts. Then I changed careers, lost interest and lost my credit.

    Thus far I have passed auditing with an 87, which was BOOYAH. I put everything else aside–I liken it to a juggler who is working one bowling pin over and just trying to keep the others in the air. I am trying to manage work, wife, kids and other responsibilities at a minimum level so as to not drop any but am not excelling at anything in particular.

    I built in a decent break after my 2/21 BEC and will–hopefully–end up with two passes. A nice break during tax season to catch up on sleep and devote some time to the family and work. Then it's back to studying for two more intense sessions and–prayerfully–two more passes.

    In any event, this is my life now and that is the difference.


    Elaine…. LOVES this! I am twenty something too starting the FAR review in July and I am also having hard time starting to shut out the “fun” in life. Thanks for the story and GLAD you are done!!!


    A great Re-READ for motivation…. Still love this story.

    A:[73]97 F:[74]85 R:86 B:[74]82
    *NINJA 10 Pt. COMBO & Yaeger*


    @Candle_Man Wow, very nice story. You just gave me a motivation booster! I am having the same experience as you had. I am in the stage of locking myself in the room and cutting out the social life.


    @Candle_Man Wow, very nice story. You just gave me a motivation booster! I am having the same experience as you did. I am in the stage of locking myself in the room and cutting out the social life. Out of curiosity, how was your study plan?


    Love this. Exactly what I needed. I just finished my first round of exams and they kicked my ass. I am 2 years out of college, have been at this process for almost a year now, and work in public accounting as well. I am learning that I really need to shut myself down. I always figured I could catch up on study time outside of fun which lead to hungover studying (no bueno), sleeping in (again, no bueno) or car ride home studying (not quality). Adios, fun. I absolutely have to keep exercising though, it is the only thing that keeps me focused. It really bums me out that a lot of people who joined this forum when I was halfway through my exams have already passed and I am still stuck.

    Hats off to you, friend.Enjoy your freedom! May I ask what your study schedule was like around work?

    B 71 - 79 EXPIRED
    A 69 - 75 EXPIRED
    R 65 - 48 - 45
    F 56 - 61 - 65 - 64

    Becker, Wiley Test Bank, Wiley Text and Ninja Notes

    "The fish who keeps on swimming is the first to chill upstream" -311

    Experience - Done, like WAAAY done.
    Still need 30 more credits, in basket weaving (gotta love new CA requirements)


    I especially liked that you realized your studying methods might not fit with the review guides and switched. Each type of study guide is different (Wiley self study vs Becker courses). Each of us has to find the method that works best.

    BEC - Passed!
    REG - Passed!
    AUD - Passed!
    FAR - Passed!


    Congrats and thanks for sharing, You have definitely inspired me to tackle my last section.

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