More and more, we're hearing from students who have taken both the old and new versions of the CPA Exam, with only good things to say about the latest version. Hear from Matthew McDaniel who tells us about his CPA journey and why the new exam was beneficial for both his test-taking strategy and how he felt it prepared him for life as a CPA.

My name is Matthew McDaniel. I’m married to my beautiful wife Holly. Together we have a six year old son named Evan that always wants dad to play with him. We have three dogs and just enjoy spending time with each other. We’ve worked hard to find jobs that will allow us some flexibility so that we don’t have to be overwhelmed with work all the time. I’ve found a career as an accountant in the public school system. It is rewarding to know that the work I am doing is helping educate children. I’ve developed a lifelong love of learning and hope to instill that in my son. 


What made you want to become a CPA?

I’ve always enjoyed working with numbers so it seemed logical for me to pursue a career as an accountant. In college, I realized that the next step was to become a CPA and started taking the additional courses that were required to sit for the exam. Now that I feel that I’ve passed the last exam, I’m on to my next challenge, which is a Master’s, Ph.D., and maybe one day a pilot’s license. 


Tell us about your CPA Exam journey 

I started my CPA exam journey in May 2016. I was motivated to attempt to pass the exam before the new exam went into effect. I was planning on using a different review program to study for the exam, but a coworker was using Roger so I thought I would give it a try. I started a free trial and was hooked from the very first lecture. I’ve passed FAR, BEC, and AUD. I took REG after the new exam went into effect. 


What do you hope to accomplish as a CPA?

I work as an Accountant at one of the largest public school systems in the state of Michigan and hope to one day become the chief business official at this school. I believe that there is a difference between educators and business people that can make it difficult to achieve quality education for students. I believe that collaboration the key to maximizing education and seek to learn as much about educating kids as I can. 


What were the biggest differences between the old and new CPA Exam? 

The biggest difference for me was simply the format. Having an extra hour as well as five different sections to get through made me focus more on the time. When I took REG the first time, I feel that I would’ve passed if I would’ve had about five more minutes. For the new exam, I was focused on the clock, but at the same time didn’t feel rushed. 


Did you feel like the new exam asked you questions to prepare you for real life scenarios more than the old exam did? 

Yes, I feel like the new exam prepared you for real life scenarios. I think that most of us have a great grasp on the work that we do every day. When you get something new to work on, you may have to refer to some authoritative literature or review other documents to gain a better understanding. I felt that this was very evident in the new exam. 


How do you think the new CPA Exam content or structure benefited (or will benefit) you? 

I liked the new structure better than the old structure. While working on task based simulations in the past, I would kind of bounce around through each question trying to get the easy parts of each different simulation completed rather than work through each problem. The new structure forces you to focus on two to three simulations, which helped me to focus on the problems and I actually finished with about 15 minutes to spare. 


Why did you choose to study with Roger CPA Review? 

I chose Roger CPA Review because of Roger. The lectures are interesting and keep you motivated. I was hooked during the first few minutes of listening to Roger. I also like the schedule that Roger CPA Review provides. I’ve followed the 9 month schedule and it has been really helpful getting me through each exam. I always felt confident on exam day. 


Which tools or resources were the most helpful for preparing you for the new CPA Exam? 

My preparation didn’t change much for the new CPA Exam. I like to spend most of my time reviewing multiple choice questions through the interactive practice questions as well as the questions from the book and lecture. I’ll also go through some task based simulations, but feel that the authoritative literature can help me on exam day. 


What is your best piece of advice for students to prepare for the new CPA Exam?  

My best piece of advice is to use the study planner and give yourself some extra time to review. I used the study planner, but gave myself an extra week to review for each exam. This kept me interested in the material as well as gave me a sense of progress. I wasn’t bored or frustrated because I was working on a section that was difficult for me to understand day after day. I would come back to it during my final preparation and could spend as much time as needed on it.