How to Attack the CPA Exam

How to Attack the CPA Exam

Prepare your plan of attack for the most important exam of your life! The key to passing the CPA Exam is having a solid plan and sticking to it. Tune in and listen as Roger Philipp, CPA teaches you how to develop your own study plan and have a successful CPA Exam experience.

Roger Philipp, CPA presents:

Hello and welcome to your CPA exam game plan. Today we're here to talk about how to conquer the exam in three months, or six months, or nine months, or twelve months depending upon your study schedule, and a good way to motivate you to get through the CPA exam.

A little bit of background on myself. My name is Roger Phillip. I went to school in Los Angeles. I then worked at Deloitte and Touche in downtown L.A. way back when it was called the "Big Eight". Then the "Big Six", the "Big Five" and now the "Final Four". Worked there and got my CPA certificate. Left there and started teaching CPA review 25 plus years ago.

Our job at Roger CPA Review is to motivate you, to help you accomplish your goal of passing the CPA exam. Today we're here to talk a little bit about setting up a game plan so you can properly prepare for the CPA exam itself.

Now, we have a world-wide student base. We have students in Japan, in the Middle East, in South America. One of the cool things with the CPA exam is they keep adding new countries, which means that it's great in the sense that you can take the exam globally, but also it makes your CPA certificate that much more valuable. Because the world is ever shrinking, right? It's getting a little smaller and smaller. In that case, what it means is having a US CPA certificate suddenly gives you global recognition.

We have partnerships with some of the top firms, organizations, state societies. We work with Deloitte, and Ernst and BDO and all these huge companies. We work with governmental agencies as well.

We're the leading course for many, many reasons. First of all, we have the trademarked Roger Method. This is a great method where we're going through and teaching you CPA exam material.

And I know a lot of times we call it a "review" course, but we don't expect you to remember anything from school, because we realize that in school there's a lot of classes that are electives.

I remember back in my day, when I was in university, and governmental accounting, for example, was an elective, and I elected not to take it. So, what did that mean? It meant that I needed to learn it in a review course.

In our review course, we make sure that we're teaching you the journal entries, the accounting for things so you're not just reviewing, but you're actually learning it. Again, believe it or not, there are lots of things that you've never yet seen in school. We need to make sure you're familiar with those.

We have the highest verified pass rate of about 88 percent which means that if you do what we tell you to do, if you can stay motivated for those three to four hundred hours of prep time, which we'll talk about later, we're going to get you through the exam.

Also "unsurpassed value". "Unsurpassed value" just means that we will include everything you need in order to help you accomplish your goal of what? Of passing the CPA exam.

Now, as far as your CPA exam game plan, we're going to look at first of all, step one: learning the CPA exam basics. We're going to talk about what are the parts to the exam? What does it include for financial accounting reporting known as FAR and Audit and REG and BEC?

Understanding the exam study process, because I can feel the energy and excitement. You're saying, "Rog, I want to become a CPA. What are the steps I need to accomplish that goal? What are the steps to get me through that?”

That's understanding the entire study process. Setting your CPA exam goals, which means sitting down and saying, "What is the goal? What do I want to get through? How am I going to get through that?"

And finally applying and scheduling right away. That's one of the things we're always letting the students know is you want to get through this exam as early in your career as possible. I remember everyone's like, "Oh, I'm so busy. I'm in school. I'm this. I'm that. Once I start working, then I'll have more time."

Guess what, doesn't happen, right? You're working not 35 or 40 hours a week, but you may be working 40, 50, 60 hours a week depending on where you are in your career, therefore it's difficult to find that time. So, I always encourage people to pass the exam as early in your career as possible. Meaning, maybe between the time when you get out of university, and maybe even the summer before you start your actual exam.

Let's start out by talking about learning the CPA exam basics. With the CPA exam, I like to start out by letting people realize, hey, it is not an IQ test. You do not have to be a genius to be a CPA, alright? If some of you are working right now, look around the office, hmm. Do those people look like geniuses? I don't think so.

However, it's a test of discipline. Which means, if you study you will pass. Our job is to motivate you for those hours in order to get you through the exam.

As I mentioned earlier, the AICPA says, "The average successful candidate "spends about 300 hours preparing for the exam." That's the successful candidates. What that means is you need to set up a game plan to make sure that your time is properly used.

Now as far as the exam itself, it is a 14 hour experience. Our job is to make this experience or adventure as painless as possible. There are four parts to the exam. You can take them in any order that you choose.

One of the parts is called "auditing". With the auditing part, auditing and attestation, it is a four hour exam. This includes planning the audit, internal control, substantive testing, I.T., information technology, SSARS, statements and standards for accounting and review services, reviews, compilations, things like that.

That is the stuff I did, for example, at Deloitte. When I worked at Deloitte in downtown L.A., what was our job? To go out there in the audit department and take the client's financial statements and rip them apart. Our job is to go through and at the very end, go ahead and draft the audit report. Which is one of the things that we'll learn and gets tested.

What does it say? "In our opinion, the statements referred to above present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of X the results of its operations in conformity with US gap or standards established or generally accepted in the United States.”

That is what the audit report, for example, looks like. That is part of the audit exam. That is part of the four hours.

You've got financial accounting and reporting or FAR. “Far, a long, long way to run!” What's that, "Sound of Music"? I think so.

Anyway, what is in FAR? That includes your intermediate one, intermediate two, advance, government, nonprofit. You've got your intermediate one and two which shows your balance sheet, accounts receivable, percentage of credit sales, aging of AR.

You've got all the different things, pensions, leases, bonds, differed taxes, contingent liabilities, consolidations. Woo, fun stuff.

You've got things like governmental accounting. We'll have to talk about accrual versus modified accrual. We've got nonprofit organizations and talking about the different types of financial statements there.

It takes all of those areas and squeezes it into what? A four hour adventure. That is what FAR or financial accounting reporting.

Regulation, that is a three hour exam. That includes tax law and professional responsibility and ethics. With your taxation, it includes your individual taxation which is your 1040, Schedule A B C D E F. You've got your 1120 corporate tax, 1120s, 1065 partnerships, 6252 installments, 1041 estates, trusts, gifts, exempt organizations, 706, 709.

All of that is part of taxation which is on the regulation exam. It also includes business law, common law contracts, UCC, sale of goods, negotiable instruments, bankruptcy chapter 7, 11, 13 and so on.

Then professional responsibilities and ethics. That would also make up about 20 percent of the regulation exam. Three hour adventure!

Then you've got BEC which is business environment and concepts. Back when I took the exam, many moons ago, BEC, parts of it, like economics, wasn't on the exam. They added that later on in life. Basically BEC is the overall business environment, and the concepts that relate to the environment.
You've got things like micro, macroeconomics, financial management, IT.

A favorite area for a lot of us: cost accounting. “It's back.” Cost accounting, that involves building some direct materials, direct labor, factory overhead, what could go wrong with materials, direct labor price variance, direct labor usage variance, overhead, spending, efficiency, volume, variance analysis.

We remember it? Live it, love it, learn it. All of those are part of the BEC, business environment and concepts.

As I mentioned earlier, the entire exam is 14 hours in length, but you can take them. There's a four hour for audit. Four hours for FAR. Three hours for REG. Three hours for BEC. You can take them one at a time. You can take all four at once if you want.

Back in our day, I sound like your parents, "When I was your age." Back in our day, we had to take all four parts within three days. Wednesday half day, Thursday all day, Friday all day. You had to take all four parts. You had to pass at least two parts. You had to get at least 50 percent on the parts not passed or you kept nothing. Therefore, there was a lot of stress in studying and preparing for all four.

Nowadays, you can study for a part, take a part, study for a part, take a part. What's nice about that is in our day we had to schedule our life around the exam. Now you can kind of schedule the exam around your life. But as I warned you be very careful, because the time goes by quickly.

If you move into a firm, most firms will not promote you beyond senior for sure, manager, until you pass the exam. So it seems like, "That's five years out. I've got plenty of time. Don't worry about it." You really should. You want to get through it as early as possible.

The other thing too is it's a highly academic exam. What I mean by that is the stuff you've been studying in school, whether you've seen it in school or not, you're brain works a certain way. You're used to kind of reading it, interpreting it, narrowing out two of them. Boom, I got A or C. Which one? I think it's A. Boom, move on.

But in the real world, as you start working, people don't come up to you and say, "Hey Bob, I have a question. The second internal control structure, is it A. control environment? B. risk assessments? C. Control?"

People don't do that, right? They say, "Here, solve this and give me a report." Your brain has to kind of be re-taught how to read through, interpret, phase out or kick out some of the wrong choices, narrow it down to two and hopefully pick the right one.

That's why we encourage you to sit as close to graduation as possible, because of the fact that it's a highly academic exam.

Now, as far as the exam format. First of all you've got FAR, audit and REG. You've got 60 percent multiple choice. Forty percent what we call TBS or task-based simulations. The multiple choice, generally you have about four different choices, and that's 60 percent of it. For FAR and audit, which are four hours, you have 90 questions in total: 30, 30, 30. Then you'll have seven task-based simulations.

Now with task-based simulations, there are seven of them. One is pre-tested. Six are graded. Of the six, generally at least one of them is a research question for FAR, audit, and REG.

Now REG is shorter. Therefore, instead of 90 questions it has 72: 24, 24, 24. Three testlets. Instead of seven, it has six task-based problems of which one is not graded, pre-tested only. Of the five, generally one is research.

And these problems-- We'll talk about timing in the course, but you've got maybe about a minute and a quarter, minute and a half per multiple choice to stay on target. You've got about 15 minutes per TBS, task-based simulation.

Back in our day, we had an hour long problem, four of them. Plus we had about 60 multiple choice. I think it was 60 or 90. But the point is, we had about an hour to do a problem. If they gave you a cash flow problem, they could ask you operating, investing, financing, "Do the whole darn thing. Have a great day!"

Nowadays, they'll take a piece of it, because you only got about 15 minutes to get it done. In order to stay on target so you don't run out of time, again you have a countdown clock. Four hours, three fifty-nine, three fifty-eight, and your heart starts racing. You've got to watch that countdown clock carefully. Part of the exam is really good time management.

The BEC exam is 85 percent multiple choice, 15 percent what we call written communication, or essays. With the 85 percent, because BEC is only a three hour exam. “A three hour tour. The weather start…” That's "Gilligan's Island", back in my childhood.

BEC is 85% multiple choice, so you've got 72: 24, 24, 24. Written communication, you'll have three of them where you'll have to write an essay, a beginning, a middle and an end. Of the three, two are graded. That makes about 15 percent of your score.

It's important to realize that that's the way each part is set up. Once you pass a part, you keep that part for 18 months. That means once you pass a part you have about 18 months or a year and a half in order to get through the remaining parts, otherwise you lose that first part.

Now if 18 months goes by, you don't lose everything, you just lose the first and then the second and so on. Within that 18 month period, then you should be fine. Then you get to keep those parts.

As far as the testing windows, back in my day, it was twice a year, May and November. Three days in May, three days in November. That was it. So, you took the exam. Three months later you got an envelope. If it was a big envelope, it was a reapplication. If it was a little envelope, good news.

I remember working at Deloitte, and people would walk around with their little envelope going, "Hey, I got an envelope. Did you get yours?” Everyone with the big ones were going, “No, I haven't heard anything yet." Trying to hide.

Nowadays, nobody really knows when you pass, because as you take the exam, the results then come out about 20 days after. They take the first 20 days and then they release them, and another 20 days and release them, another 20 days-- They'll release them generally three or four different times within a testing window.

When can you take the exam? As I said, in our day, May and November. Nowadays, you can book it like a doctor's appointment. You can take is 8 months a year. Months January, February are open. Then months three, March, three, six, nine, and 12 are black out months. There's no exam. The other eight months you can take one, or two, or three, or all four parts.

So it's up to you. So as I said, you can go in and say, "I'm going to take one part in February and book it." Then start preparing for that. Or you can go ahead… We have a lot of international students that might come in and take two and then take another two.

It's up to you, but realize that months three, six, nine, and 12 there's no exam. They're re-tooling it, testing it and checking the software. The other eight months you can take one, two, three or four. You just can't take the same part in the same window more than once.

For example, I couldn't take audit in January and then again in February if I didn't pass it. No, but I could take it in January and again after the next window which would be then April-May or July-August or October-November.

That's the way that the windows are set up as far as how I can sit and when I can sit for the exam. So that's the first part, which is really just trying to understand the exam itself.

Step two says, "Understanding the exam study process." What that means is sitting down and saying, "Okay, my goal is to get through this. What do I need to do then?"

As I said earlier, the AICPA says that the average successful candidate is about 300 plus hours. Three hundred hours! If I'm going to take a part in two months, I've got to stick in a bunch of time.

Let's say I want to sit for all four parts in three months. That means I've got to stick 300 hours in the next two and a half to three months. I have to have a really good study plan set up, alright?

As far as the study strategies, you want to start right away. What I mean by that is don't put it off and say "Oh, I'll start working for a year and then I'll--." You won't have time. You want to get through this. Jump right into it as early in your career as possible.

As far as study strategies, FAR generally takes the longest time. With FAR it could take 120 to 160 hours of prep time. That includes lecture time, reviewing time, reading, and then the most important is applying the material to actually working through the software and working through all of the different questions.

That way you get the repetition, because the repetition, question, after question, after question, that's what's going to get you through it. Our job is to teach you the concepts so you understand pension expense, but we'll teach you memory aids or mnemonics to help you remember.

Like the itsy bitsy spider. How do you calculate pension expense, pension cost? Service cost, prior service cost, S-P-I, interest, differed gain, excess amortization, act to return on planned assets, SPIDER.

Those are the memory aids or mnemonics that help you to pull that out of your head in the minute and a half you have in order to answer the multiple choice, but in order to do that, you need to allow enough preparation time.

FAR takes the longest. REG would take the next amount, maybe 100 hours. Auditing, figure about 80 to 100 hours and then BEC, probably 50 to 70 hours.

When you look at all of that, figure, and we like to say, about two hours of study time for every hour of lecture. If I'm watching a two hour lecture on pensions, I've got probably about six hours of homework, which includes reading, going through actual AICPA problems, multiple choice, task-based simulations.

We're the only course that actually goes through a task-based simulation problem in every lecture. That way you're really comfortable with the material and the concepts.

One of the things with the TBS, it's kind of like a bunch of multiple choice squeezed together into a long problem. If you can understand the multiple choice, that's great, but you've gotta understand the task-based problems as well. That's part of making sure that you're properly prepared to get through the entire exam.

We talk about creating your personal study planner. What that means is we'll set up a three, six, nine or 12 month study planner for you. You need to take a look at yourself, your life and say, “Which one's going to work best for me?” Is my goal to get through all four parts in three months, in six months, nine months and so on?"

For example, it says, "First of all, take our suggestions," which means build a plan and stick to it. What I mean by that, I remember back in the day when I was a scuba diver they would say, "Plan your dive and dive your plan." What does that mean? It means plans your dive. "I'm going to go to depth for this length." Because you don't want to run out of air. However, once you're down there, plan and dive the plan that you set up. Plan your dive, dive your plan.

Same thing here. This is a process where I've got to sit down and say, "My goal is to get through four parts in three months or six months. I need to set up a plan."

What we will do is we will provide you with study planners, and you can customize it to your own personal study schedule, three months, six months, nine months, 12 months. We'll talk about the plan applies best to you, because you've got to look at your life and say, "Okay, what are my goals? What do I have going on in my life? I've got work. I've got life. I've got friends. I've got 3.25 kids. I've got a wife and I have—” You've got to schedule that accordingly.

Also, what's nice is they're completely customizable to your personal study schedule, and we'll kind of push you a long. We'll send you reminders like every day, every week, "Hey are you studying?" It's like your mom, right?

We need to do that to kind of keep pushing you along. "How's your studying?" We'll know that if you have not logged on and watched some of your lectures lately, we're going to start pushing you a little bit. "Hey, listen, there's 27 days until your exam. Study! Hey, I know there's a big party this weekend. Study, you don't have time." So that's where your mom comes in.

Also, we'll incorporate your study schedule into your daily planner. That way making sure that you have the time to properly get through it.

Let's say, for example, we were to look at a six month study planner. We'll set it up, and we'll say, "Okay, here are the lectures you're going to look at. "This is the homework that you need to do."

Plus we have what we call our questions that are IPQs, our interactive practice questions that are included in the course.

What that means is you've got five, six thousand questions that as you're watching the lecture, as you're going through, then you can immediately go to that area and start watching the questions, start studying the questions, taking the questions. It'll grade you, test you, tell you where you're strong, tell you where you're weak, take sample exams and so on.

The way the lecture is set up, let's say for example-- What we do is when you come into the lecture, we assume you remember nothing about accounting, and we're really disappointed, because we realize how most of you got through school. You memorized, take the exam, blow it out your brain and go, "I'll never need that again."

Well, you will for the CPA exam. What we've done is we've gone through and we set up the lectures with the books where we summarize, we simplify, we cut out the fat. We'll walk you through the lecture step by step.

Instead of an intermediate book where it's 50 pages long in a chapter, we're going to summarize, simplify it, cut out the fat, focus you on the stuff that is consistently heavily tested year after year, after year.

We'll summarize, simplify, focus you in it, give you these memory aids. That way as you're going to the exam, and they say, "Is it an operating lease or a capital lease?" Capital lease.

T-t-b-p-o seventy five or ninety. Title transfers, bargain purchase, lease term 75 percent, or more of its useful life, present value of minimal lease payments.

These memory aids or mnemonics really make a difference when you've only got a minute and a quarter, minute and a half to narrow the question from four down to one choice.

That's one of the things. As you're going through the lectures, you'll see in your study planner that we set it up. We tell you how long it is, because what we found is that everybody likes what we call a bite-sized lecture. Instead of having a four hour lecture, let's break it up into 20 or 30 minute bite-sized nibblets. Mmm, delicious.

You can watch part of leases and then apply that. Watch a little bit more of leases and then apply that. That way you see how it comes together. Then we'll go through an actual CPA exam, questions and solutions together.

We'll go through actual task-based simulations together. Then you go to the IPQs, the interactive practice questions. There we've got thousands of questions, hundreds of task-based simulations, many, many written communications. You can practice them. Then you go, "Wow! Now I understand leases. "One topic down. Fifty-four to go." That's how you're going to get through it.

With these study planners, we'll set it up and say, "Okay, are you looking for a three month, a six month, a nine month?" We'll walk you through it. In taking a closer look, what we'll do is we'll walk you through and say, "On this day, this is what you need to accomplish. Maybe take the next day off. Then on this day and so on."

We'll walk you through it, so as you get closer to the exam you have a schedule, a structure to stick by that will get you through the exam. Then at the end, maybe finish a week early so you have time to review.

We also have things called an exam cram which is a great eight to 15 hour review of each part. Eight hours for Audit and REG and BEC and FAR. Fifteen hours because there's so much material.

It's a great review of all the material that's going to be hitting that part of the exam in a short period of time. Which is a really nice way to see it. It's a good way to realize.

One of the things we need to do, though, is to set up your study schedule. That way it's easy for you to follow.

Now it's your job to sit down, watch the lectures and apply the material. What's important to realize is that if you're bored in class, you're not going to study. If we can somehow keep you motivated, excited. If we can make pensions as exciting for you as it is for me, then you're going to get through the exam.

That's where the memory aids and mnemonics come in. It really helps you to get through all of the material in a timely manner.

Step three, set your CPA exam goals. You sit down and say, "What is my goal? Do I plan to get through the exam in three months, six months, or nine months or 12?"

A couple things to look at. First of all, I'm going to work at a firm where if I pass within a year they're going to give me a huge bonus, ka-ching! Then I need to get through it in 12 months.

Why don't we plan nine? That way I've got some cushion in case I don't pass something. That's important to look at, because I don't want to forfeit or give up that bonus. I want to make sure I qualify.

Three months, with the three months you're going to finish all four sections in one testing window. That means you're going to start studying in a blackout month. Let's say in March. Then I'm going to try to get through it in a three month window, so that way I can get through all four of the parts.

A lot of my international students will do this and so on, because maybe they only want to fly in once, because it's so expensive.

This would be for the intense studiers only. That means I'm really intense. I've got no life. I've got no work. I've got no friends, which a lot of us have. It's a good way to realize that I'm going to have to be focused. Barely any days off, so you're really squeezing a lot in.

Think of it this way, you're trying to squeeze about 300 hours into three itty bitty teensy weensy months. That means I better make sure that I really set up a schedule and stick to it. Finally, you're goal is to finish in a short period of time.

A lot of times people use this especially if they're preparing over the summer time. Let's say the upcoming summer time, you want to prepare for it. I remember before I went to work, I graduated college in June and then I went to Europe for three months with my old girlfriend. I don't know where she is now or who she's married to. Then moved on and started to work at Deloitte in September. A lot of people will take that summer time and say, "With those three months, I'm going to get through all four parts."

Again, we're going to work with you, whether it's three, six, nine, or 12 month schedule, whatever works best for you.

As far as the six month schedule, here you're going to finish all four parts in two testing windows. So, in about six months. It's a challenge, but it's very reasonable. In other words, it's something that you can definitely conquer. It allows you a little bit more of a balance. You can have a little bit more time off. We're going to try to maybe finish two sections in one window, maybe summer, and two sections in another. It's important to do that.

As I said earlier, it's a highly academic exam. You don't want to wait too long, because you stop remembering. How do I go through and analyze? Is it a, b, c or d? Those are those skills that you learned in school. We don't want to lose those.

We've got also a nine month program that's kind of in between, and then a 12 month. Twelve month says I want to finish all four in four testing windows. You kind of let the CPA exam work around your schedule.

As I said earlier, generally in my day, we had to schedule our life around the exam. With the three or six month, you've got to schedule your life around the exam.

With the 12 month, you can kind of schedule the exam a little bit more around your life. You can study for a part, take a part, study for a part, take a part. That might be a little easier on your marriage, for example. Your kids, you might get to see them instead of taking a year off and so on. It allows you to focus on that one part.

I keep emphasizing, and we keep hearing this in the professors as well that say, "Hey, remind our students not to put it off. Remind them 'take the exam as soon as possible." You want to jump into that process early on.

Set your CPA exam goal time. That means sitting down and asking yourself a few questions. Do you plan to travel over the summer? “Well, I did, but maybe now after hearing this I'll readjust accordingly.” What's going to work? What is your work schedule going to look like? “What's going to work for me? What does my work schedule look like?”

In other words, is this busy season? “I'm in public January, February, March. It's crazy busy. Maybe that's not the three months that I want to study, because I'm not going to have any time. Do I want to take a break in between sections, maybe balance it out? What is my financial situation like? Can I afford to take three months off of life and study, or do I have to stretch it out over six to nine to 12 months? Also family, do I have any? Do I want any? Do I want to see them ever?”

That's part of budgeting and scheduling as well, because we want to make sure that you've allowed enough time in your life to get through that.

Some final study tips. I always suggest study with a buddy, a study buddy. This is what I did in school. Actually, I always suggest study with someone who's not as smart as you and here's why. I remember studying and my buddy and I, we would go to the library and lock ourselves in and just do our own thing. But if he had a question he would ask me. If I had a question I would ask him. When he would ask me a question, you think you really understand something until you try to explain it to somebody else.

That's when I try to explain it and I go-- And then they go, "Well why? Why?" Like my little kid, "Why? Why?" And then you go, "Because, that's a good question." And then you realize I didn't understand the material quite as well as I thought.

So again, my suggestion, get with somebody because then every time you're giving up the weekend or late at night or something, you don't feel like you're the only one giving up your life you're going through it with someone else.

So what I used to do is study at night on my own and then on the weekend we'd meet at the library and just kind of study at our own, but have someone to fall back on if we couldn't figure out, then we'd go to the homework help center and ask the moderator, "Hey we both looked at question 27, we thought it was C, why is it B, please explain?"

Another thing, start studying early in the morning. And here's what I suggest, I would suggest get up at four in the morning. You're like, "Four?! What are you crazy?!" Get up at four because the world is sleeping. It's so quiet. You could live in a big huge city and it's still quiet, except for the garbage man early up.

So get up early in the morning because you're fresh, you study from four to seven, get showered, get ready, go to work, by three four in the afternoon you're falling asleep at your desk, but guess what you're still on payroll, ok?

So the hard part is when you come home at night and try to study from six to nine at night, it's tough, so if you could adjust your schedule just for those three to six months get up early and study, trust me it's gonna be much more efficient. They've done studies, they also say start studying the same time everyday.

So get up at four in the morning, study right away. The first day it takes till 4:45 to start studying, the next day 4:30, the next day 4:15, finally 4:00 you're studying at four. So if you get up at the same day at the same time and start studying they've done studies and found that it works much more efficiently.

Set your priorities, which means what are my priorities to get me through this study and how am I gonna get through it? Taking advantage of the 24/7 homework help center. This is great because it's a full service course, it's not like here's material, go study, have a nice life, instead it's like I don't understand pensions, please explain this. “I don't understand this solution, please explain it.”

So we're there to hold your hand and help you understand things, especially if you've never seen them in school, maybe you don't understand governmental accounting, that's what the lecture's for. “But I still had a couple of questions about acrrual vs. modified accrual, who do I turn to?” That's the homework help center.

Also, stay calm, stay focused, stay motivated, and we will see you through the exam. Remember, you can do this, it's not an IQ test, it is a test of discipline, if you put in the hours, if you study, you will pass. That's what we're here to do, to help you accomplish those goals.

Another step, apply and schedule, when? Right away! Now what does that mean? It means start the application process right away. Check your state requirements and you can do that by looking at our website,

You want to apply as soon as possible, that means as soon as you're eligible. Now what are the eligibility requirements? Most states say you have to have a degree. Most states say you have to have at least 120 semester units, or 180 quarter units, and certain classes like 24 units in accounting or 24 units in business, and so on.

But you want to start as early as you can, why? Because you're still in a student's centered mindset. As I said earlier, it's a highly academic exam, makes it easier to study and prepare for the exam.

You get a jump start before you start working, because again, once you start working, trust me, your life is no longer yours. Alright? You'll be working for the rest of your life. Unless, hey, I remember always hearing this, how do you get wealthy? Earn it, a lot of work. Inherit it, hehe, ain't gonna happen to me. Or marry it, too late for me.

So again, what does that mean? It means get a jump start on your career so you too can earn it. You're still looking for a job, it looks great on your resume, to say successfully completed all four parts of the uniform CPA exam.

Also because the application process, depending on who you're applying through, if you're going through NASBA it might take two weeks, if you go through your state board of accountancy, it might take six to eight weeks. So you want to make sure that you start the process as early as possible.

So you go on, you apply online. Generally, costs about one to two hundred dollars for the initial application and most states are about a 50 to 100 dollar repeat fee. So the first time, costs about $200 to apply for maybe one, two, three, or four parts, plus you have to pay a per-part fee as well, which I'll talk about in a minute.

NASBA vs non NASBA states, NASBA states I don't know, changes daily let's say there's 35 of the 55 jurisdictions, so let's say 35 are NASBA which takes about two weeks to apply and get your notice to schedule. Whereas the non NASBA are about six to eight weeks.

You want to send the transcript in this case to the state board, then you get your ATT, your authorization to test. What that means is they looked at your transcripts, they looked at your application, they said, "Yes, you qualify to sit for the exam, "now we're gonna give you 90 days to tell us which part you want to sit for and pay for, that you're gonna sit for in the next six to 12 months, depending on which state you're in."
As far as the fees, the exam fees are anywhere from about $175 to $200 apart. The four hour exams are more expensive, about $200 Audit and FAR, the shorter exams are less expensive, REG and BEC, let's say roughly $175.

So you're out about, let's say $800. Now, you don't have to pay all $800
only pay for the parts you plan to sit for in the next, let's say six to nine months. So if I'm gonna get a six month notice to schedule, if I'm gonna take all four in six months, pay for all four, but if you're not sure, pay for two, you pay your $100 to $200 application fee, you pay about another $175 to $200 apart, I pay for two parts.

If you then decide that you want to add another part, then it's a re-application about $50 and then you pay for the part.

Here's the problem, if you pay for all four parts, like $730 upfront, if you don't sit within your notice to schedule time period, you forfeit the money, you don't get it back. The state board will say, "Thank you very much for your donation, we appreciate it. But you can't get a refund.”

So what I say is, sign up for two, and then if you want to add more, it takes about a week or two because they already have your transcript, you've already been pre-approved, so that's the suggestion I would make.

Then you receive your notice to schedule. The notice to schedule means that now you can schedule within the exam testing windows for the parts that you paid for.

Now, in most states your NTS, notice to schedule, is good for six months. So that means that if you don't plan to sit for them within six months, don't pay for all four, pay for two or three. You can always add more.

California for example has nine months, some states have 12 months, but a majority are six months, which means whatever you sign up and pay for, hey, you gotta sit for within six months, otherwise, the fees are forfeited.

Make sure the name on your NTS and your photo ID exactly match, there have been people that show up and they got married, they didn't change their name, and so on, things didn't match up they couldn't sit. People show up without a copy of their notice to schedule, they won't let you in the exam.

Schedule your exam with Prometrics, which Prometrics is open generally six days a week. They're all over the United States, they're all over the country, they're all over the world. That's why the exam's gone global. Because you can take the exam in Japan, the Middle East, in South America, in Europe, and so on. So the exam is growing as far as where you can take it,

I'm assuming most of you will take it, let's say in the United States, that's fine, but it's six days a week, generally Monday through Saturday, usually Sunday they're not giving that exam.

So you go to this testing center called Prometrics, you walk in, they give you a little booth, a cubby, you put everything in the locker, just go in, get finger-proofed, fingerprinting, walk by, sit down, then you log on, you have three screens, welcome, “I agree, I agree, I agree,” you got about 10 minutes to get through those, boom, you start, countdown clock starts four hours. 3:59, then your heart's racing 3:58, 3:57, now you're taking the exam.

So you book it at a place called Prometrics. Take the exam, and then receive your scores. As I mentioned earlier, they generally release the scores in three different windows, so let's say I'm taking it the first 20 days in January then they start to release the scores about 10 days later, and then if I take it day 21 to 40, or 41 to 60, and so on.

So they generally submit three to four different times throughout that window. As I said earlier, with our Prometrics testing centers, they're open all over the country, all over the world, and again you want to arrive early.

Remember, what is it, Murphy's law? Anything that can happen, will happen. I remember when I took the exam, I was driving in L.A. to take the exam, I left early, right? There's always stories of people getting flat tires, car accidents, speeding tickets, and so on.

Get there early, show up on time, study in the car, study in mass transit, whatever, get in, go sit for the exam. So again, you want to plan and schedule earlier, as I said, you'll be taking it at what what we call, the different centers, Prometric center.

As far as requirements of licensure, now there's two things where people get confused. What does it take to sit? What does it take to get certified?

What does it take to sit, as I said in most states, a degree with let's say 24 to 30 units of Accounting, 24 to 30 units of business. Degree, meaning 120 a semester, 180 quarter units to sit.

What does it take to get certified or licensure, most states now require 150 semester or 225 quarter units, not to sit but to get certified. Some states, yes you need 150 to sit. Many of them are going back to 120 to sit, but 150 to get certified.

So that says, the units that you need in order to get certified. Anything you get before, during, or after that would count.

Pass the exam, then you need experience. A lot of the states that have 150 say you need one year of work under the supervision of a licensed active CPA. What does active mean? It means that they kept their certificate active in their state, which means maybe they've met their—
In California, I think you need 80 hours every two years, a minimum of 20 hours a year. So you gotta do 20 hours.

So as long as they're "active." Cause you can reapply as "active" or "inactive." Although if you're "inactive," I can't call myself a CPA in my business card, so I want to be "active." So again, you need to make sure you're working under their supervision.

If you want to know exactly what the requirements are in your state, again, go ahead and check out the website at and you'll get more information there as far as what the actual requirements are.

Now, that my friends, is what? That is you CPA exam game plan. What does it include?

First of all, learning about the basics of what is included in the CPA exam, understanding the exam study process, which says, "Hey, I want to get from step A to step Z, what do I need to do? What do I need to accomplish to get through it?"

So I want to get through it in three months, six months, nine months, 12 months, I want to get that bonus at the new job I have. What do I need to do to accomplish it? And then applying and scheduling right away to make sure that you can fit in the exam within the time frame allowed.

Now, if you have any questions at all, do not hesitate to contact us. You can reach us, again, via social media for example, if you have any questions you can tweet a question at hey, #rogerhelp. You can write on our Facebook wall, follow us on LinkedIn, we have blog posts.

Make sure you sign up for those, because there's all this exciting stuff ever changing in the exam, they're talking about all these new upcoming changes as well. So follow us as well to make sure that you can see it.

E-mail us as needed, also follow us on YouTube. Check out the different videos. Also, check out My Dating Game, RogerCPA Dating Game, from 1980-something I don't remember, I had a big 'fro back then, back in the day, back in the day! So that is, again, some of the different ways that you can follow us.

Again, remember, the CPA exam is definitely something you can conquer, if you study, you will pass! It is not an IQ test! But again, you need to put in those hours and you too will pass the CPA exam, and have a successful career as a CPA. Again, thank you very much for your time, and have a fabulous career in Accounting!

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