It Begins – CPA Exam Prep

At the end of 2007, after postponing my scheduled GMAT date several months, I finally took it. Sadly, I hadn’t used the extra months to study more faithfully, but The Fiery One told me to just take it. She didn’t want to waste another $55 on rescheduling fees, and the worst thing that could happen was I’d have to retake it again later.

Happily, I scored a 740/800, which was better than the 710 I predicted for myself. My GMAT experience was a far cry from my ACT experience, when my actual exam score (29) was lower than my practice score (31). I had been told to expect a two-point increase from practice to actual, so I was quite disappointed. So much so, in fact, that I had something to prove when I took the GMAT (especially considering The Fiery One had scored a 32! But that’s a story for another day), and I felt somewhat vindicated when I walked out with my shiny 740 (which I later found out was less shiny than several of my good friends, but that’s okay. I’m sure they deserved their even-more-shiny 750 and 770).

It’s not my test-taking skills that worry me about the CPA exam, though. It’s a different kind of test than I’ve ever taken, and has much more specific content. I won’t be able to pass each of the four sections unless I have genuine accounting knowledge, or at least CPA-specific knowledge. What worries me about the CPA exam is that I know I need to be very dedicated and focused as I prepare for each section, and yet, after failing to study well for the GMAT, I know I get burned out fairly quickly.

The exam is getting closer. I’ve even started doing actual to-do items in preparation. Yesterday I:

1 – Ordered my undergraduate transcript to go in my CPA exam application package (I had ordered my current graduate transcript a few days ago).

2 – Emailed my academic advisor requesting an explanation of one of the application documents (the application process is impressively nitpicky and apparently unforgiving, so I’m making sure to do everything with exactness).

3 – Ordered Becker’s self-study CPA exam review course materials. It’s a pretty expensive package (somewhere in the 2-3k range?), but, thankfully, my future employer paid for it.

As far as review courses and costs go, I’m not sure if I would sign up for Becker’s review course materials if I had to foot the bill myself. One of my friends saved a couple thousand dollars by using Wiley review books instead. He didn’t think Wiley was amazing, but when he passed three of the four exams (he just took the fourth, so we’ll find out how he did in the next month or two) he didn’t complain a bit.

Fortunately, Becker’s costs were sponsored for me. If I don’t pass, however, I’ll have to pay for any additional review courses or materials myself, and my company won’t reimburse the exam fees a second time either. I imagine the review materials I receive this first time around are somehow time-stamped, since I think I only have 12 months to use them. Needless to say, I’m intent on doing my best the first time around.

Most people I know have gone with the self-study CDs rather than the live classes or online materials. The live classes sound interesting, but the CDs are 100% flexible around your own schedule, and they contain all of the lessons (videotaped) that are presented in the live classes or online. Plus, my schedule doesn’t fit any of the live class schedules, so the choice to do the CDs was pretty easy for me.

The only downside to the CDs is the self-study part. I know I’ll get burned out at times, but I’ll need to somehow push through and continue studying. I’m extremely motivated to pass all four parts of the exam this summer before I start working full-time. So I’ll need to keep things in perspective even when I’m totally sick of preparing, and somehow harness all of my motivation into effective, consistent studying.

I’ll definitely document my preparation and progress here. I’m not asking for so much. Just a shiny “Pass” on each section. Encouragement will certainly be welcome!

Explore posts in the same categories: Accounting, Auditing and Taxes, CPA Exam Prep and Progress

6 Comments on “It Begins – CPA Exam Prep”

  1. You can do it, it just takes commitment. Think of it this way, you can study really hard and pass the first time and never worry about this again. Or you can do a half assed job and next year be stuck in the same position. Crack down and get it over with. I had to take the professional engineers exam a few years ago after being out of college for a long time. Most people don’t pass the first time. I didn’t want it hanging over my head year after year so I buckled down for 6 months straight. Studied every night and weekend and took a weekend review course. It sucked but I passed the first time and never have to worry about it again. Good luck and get studying.

  2. accountingelf Says:

    I’ll be taking “the exam” starting when my internship is over. Hopefully I’ll have a job offer and free Becker materials like yourself. Keep us posted on how it’s going!

  3. Shannon Says:

    I took the live Becker review many many years ago. As far as I know live was all that was offered at that time. I never would have passed the exam without it. I took it in AZ and their rules allowed you to pass 2 and fail 2 and keep the ones you passed. I purposely studied really hard for 2 parts and not quite as hard for the other two. I ended up taking it twice passing 2 each time. All states are different though. My boss paid for Becker too but I had to pay for it up front. He would only pay when I had passed all parts. I paid $1000 and had to get a loan to do it.

    When I saw that you were doing the Becker review I knew you would do fine.

    Now that I think about it I think there were 5 parts to it and not 4.

  4. Junior Says:

    the “good” review courses offer a discount to past Becker students just in case *ahem*

    The best thing to keep in mind is that what works for your friends, colleagues, or classmates is not necessarily what works for you. You really have to take a look at what YOU specifically need and make sure your study plan accommodates that – be it Live lectures, extra homework, or a strict schedule.

    If you can get THAT part down, it doesn’t really matter which course you go with, you’ve already got a leg up just by understanding where your own strengths and weaknesses lie.

    Trust me on this one 😉


  5. cpe for cpas Says:

    Hi, just wanted to quickly comment on your blog post. very great post here and informative as well just keep in you mind the you can do it just believe it in your self. also get an inspiration so that you always be in your mind that you need to past this exam.

  6. […] community and his reputation: Steven Pearlstein of Citizens (thanks to Mapgirl for the heads-up)+ FrugalCPA is all over getting things done. Makes me feel strangely as though I’m resting for him, […]

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