Ever wonder what kind of dedication it takes to study for and pass the CPA Exam? Today's guest blogger, Kerry, describes the hard work and dedication needed to be successful at your CPA Exam studies.


I took piano as a child and I still remember that it seemed like it took endless hours of practicing to learn how to play well. In the beginning, I hated it. It felt awkward and my fingers fumbled over the keys. I could hear in my head what it should sound like and I would get so frustrated when I couldn't make the keys sound the same. I wanted to be right every time. I wasn't a prodigy so it took years - a decade really - before I was really coordinated enough to reliably make the music I wanted. I had to learn to read the music proficiently and then build the muscle memory to know where the keys were without having to look up and down at my hands for every note. It was a long, often painful and sometimes boring process.

When I sit down and force myself to redo the CPA Exam review test questions and TBSs, I am reminded of my past frustrations trying to learn how to play the piano. The first time I go through the class questions with Roger, I feel pretty good. Then I take on the study questions solo. Intellectually, I KNOW I won't get them all right on the first try. I'm not an accounting savant that has the ASC memorized! But I have an expectation in my head - just like music - and my results don't match that expectation. All of a sudden I run into details that weren't as solid in my head as I thought at first. And again, I feel like I'm crawling or just trying to stand when I want to run through them and be done!

The reality is that I didn't learn how to play the piano in a few weeks or months because I made up my mind I could play. I had to go through the steps to learn how to play and it was both awkward and disappointing at times, especially in the beginning.  Its a similar process when learning the CPA Exam FAR concepts. A lot is familiar but only after I practice the questions.

I'm about 1/3 through the Roger CPA Reviews FAR section material. Even though last weekend was a holiday weekend, I made sure to set aside some time to go back through the first sections to again test my knowledge. Im a person who needs to see progress so I have a sheet of paper that I keep at the back of each review section where I write answers and grade myself.  Its similar to a self-quiz. I go through and answer all of the questions and then compare my results to the last time I went through them.  By using this type of study process, I am able to gauge my success and find out where I am still having challenges. I know, however, that I have to put in the work by continually going over the review questions. There's just no other way I can become proficient with the review material.

I also realize that going back over 9 or 10 sections at the end of each month is just too overwhelming. Instead, I've decided that 3 to 4 days each week I'll follow Rogers study planner schedule when going through new material. This way of studying seems to be working best for me. I didn't use any shortcuts when learning how to play the piano and I doubt that I'll find one for mastering FAR. I am going to practice until I pass. 

If you're a perfectionist like me, it can be really frustrating and exhausting to not succeed the first time.  So, I have to let perfection go and focus on progress instead. They say hard work is its own reward but I think passing the FAR exam will be a nice bonus. Good luck and happy studies everyone!

-    Kerry