For many CPA Exam candidates, one of the most difficult things about passing the CPA Exam is the sheer amount of dedication it takes to study all the topics it covers. However, perhaps something that is less talked about, but equally difficult in the exam journey, is the self-doubt that candidates can sometimes have in their ability to actually pass.
This results from a numerous amount of reasons.
Working full time, failing multiple sections, or having difficulty grasping concepts can all easily lead to feelings of frustration and the desire to give up. In short, there will be many things that occur in your life to make you ask yourself the following questions:
- Can I do this?
- What if I fail?
- Is this worth all the time and energy?
- Do I really want to become a CPA?
- What if I'm not smart enough to pass this exam?
- How are others passing so easily?
- Why is it taking me so long to get through this?
However, it's important to not let negativity get to you. We know this may be easier said than done, so here are a few things you should always remember to help yourself overcome self-doubt to pass the CPA Exam.
As Roger Philipp, CPA always says, "The CPA Exam isn't an exam of intelligence--it's an exam of discipline. If you study, you will pass." Remember that these words are true. You have to know a little bit about a whole lot of topics, and the exam is widespread, but if you ensure that you study each topic and really understand it, you'll do just fine. It's all about putting in the time, energy, and effort.
Know that it’s doable.
Yes, you have to study. A lot. And then some more. But if you have a good CPA review course, there is plenty of information in the lectures, multiple choice, and practice exams to prepare you for exam day. You just have to create a study plan and stick to it. Which brings us to our next point.
Stick to your study plan.
We can't emphasize the importance of this one enough. You can have the entire exam at your fingerprints with a great review course and tons of self-confidence. But if you don't create a study plan that works with your schedule and actually stick to it, it's unlikely that you will pass within your 18-month window. Be diligent and on task--this is where the discipline kicks in.
Stop comparing yourself to others.
This can be hard to do--especially if you're in an environment with fellow peers who all seem to be passing the exam more quickly and easily than you are. However, remember that everyone learns, retains, and applies knowledge differently. Your CPA Exam journey and experience is entirely unique from everyone else's and is equally valuable. The more you embrace it and stop comparing yourself to others the better off you'll be.
Realize that the CPA Exam doesn't define you.
Do not tie the CPA Exam to your self-worth. If you do, the pressure to pass becomes incredibly immense and your entire exam experience will become a burden on your shoulders that can quickly lead to a downward spiral. Don't let the CPA Exam determine your intelligence, happiness, or life success. Instead, remember that you want to become a CPA to gain more opportunity in your professional career. But don't look at it as the be-all end-all to who you are.
Try telling yourself that the CPA Exam doesn't matter.
This may sound odd, but it's a tactic that can actually work. If you put too much pressure on passing the CPA Exam, you make it out to be more of a monster than it is. So try telling yourself the following:
- I will have a happy family without the CPA.
- I will be professionally successful without the CPA.
- People will believe in me without the CPA.
- I believe in myself without the CPA.
The best part about all of those statements is that they are probably true. Once you relieve yourself of the pressure to “have to pass", you will be surprised at how relaxing the experience can be.
In conclusion, take this as a time to learn more about something you chose to dedicate your life to – accounting! You have some exciting months ahead, and while titles can be important, know that knowledge trumps titles every day of the week.
So look at this as an incredible opportunity to enhance your professional skills and take the next step in your career. But don’t play with something as precious as your self-worth. You are worth much more than the CPA Exam!