I have made a lot of mistakes along the way during my CPA Exam journey and have learned many lessons as a result. I’m so much wiser now in terms of what to expect prior to and during this process. Some of the challenges that have come about over the years have been unavoidable, and that’s okay, because that’s just the nature of life.
However, I believe my journey would have been a bit easier to navigate had I known some of the things I know now. So I thought I’d share my insight with others who are just getting started. If you’re a new CPA Exam candidate, here are the top things you can do to get the most out of your CPA Exam journey.
Choose a review course that is conducive to your learning style.
In order to do this, you have to been in tune with what methods of learning work best for you. For example, when I first began studying many years ago, I purchased a popular review course where the lectures were 4 hours long. The instructors recommended that you watch the lectures in their entirety without taking any breaks. This bored me to tears and I struggled to remain engaged throughout the lecture.
As a result, I quickly learned that I do not have the time, nor attention span, to watch someone talk for extended periods of time; this is especially true after a long work day and the lecturer is dull. I work best with short, concise lectures that are engaging, informative, and dare I say it—fun. I needed a review course that would give me this option, and Roger CPA Review was the only one that encompassed all these traits.
Complete your 150 hour requirement while still pursuing your undergraduate degree.
The university I attended allowed you to finish your degree with 128 hours. At the time, this was fine because I didn’t envision myself ever sitting for the CPA Exam. In hindsight, I wish that I had chosen a degree program that required 150 semester hours to complete.
Consequently, I would have been equipped sit for the exam if I ever changed my mind about doing so—which is what happened. It is better to have what you need and not use it than to need what you do not have. At any rate, I went back to school to get the additional hours I needed and earned my MBA. Gratefully, it worked out for me in the end. But if you don’t want to put in a comprising situation, make sure you make the best choice now for long-term career plans.
Mentally prepare yourself for the commitment.
Lack of mental preparation is one thing that I experienced firsthand. Others who had travelled this road before me tried to explain to me what it was like. Still, I greatly underestimated the level of commitment, determination, and dedication that accomplishing this goal would take. We have all heard at least once that it is not a test of intelligence, but a test of discipline. I happen to believe that tests of discipline are the biggest challenges yet.
Nevertheless, I have learned to set myself up for success by eliminating as many distractions as possible. Times when I allowed myself to be distracted and did not make this exam my priority, I was unsuccessful 100% of the time. Instead, I commit to working my life around studying, and not studying around my life.
Surround yourself with others who are goal-oriented.
This has served as a great motivator for me. I have a lot of friends who are working toward major professional goals in order to grow their careers. As we all work toward our various passions, we all understand that we don’t have the same amount of leisure time that we once had. Also, we don’t have to explain to each other why we are not available for social outings, do not reply to text messages right away, or spend time at the library for hours on end. It is nice to have people around who respect the grind and know what you’re enduring.
Find an internship in your field of interest.
I never had an internship in accounting and believe it would have made a huge difference. Because I had not been exposed to real-world accounting experiences, the learning curve was greatly lengthened. An internship would have helped me figure out which area of accounting was most suitable to me. In fact, I’m still trying to figure that out. Internships give you the chance to get experience in any of the wide range of professions within the field and you get a better idea of which area best fits your skillset and interests.
Stay positive no matter what.
There will be days when you question if it is possible for you to achieve your goals. I work hard not to beat myself up when I go through days like this. Without question, the CPA Exam is tough. I have heard no one say that it was going to be easy. When days like this come, I take a step back and remind myself that if others have overcome it, then so will I. It’s just a matter of time and dedication.