How to Pass the CPA Exam Part One

At first glance this post may seem like it may not apply to you.  Stay with me for a minute.  The purpose of this post is to explain a process.  How do you accomplish something difficult?  Because of the length of this post, I’m going to break this post into two posts.

For those unfamiliar with the CPA exam.  The CPA exam when I took it was composed of 4 half day testing sessions.  One is tested on information ranging from business law, auditing, tax law, accounting standards and securities laws.  It was described to me that the knowledge  you need to know is a mile wide and an inch deep.

I had just finished graduate school in the summer of 2008.  I was currently unemployed and little did I know that I was about to enter one of the scariest points of my life.  When I had started graduate school I had a good job.  When I started graduate school in 2005 the economy was robust.  Little did I know that when I finished graduate school the country would be in the midst of the Great Recession.

I was unemployed when I finished graduate school.  I had two children and a mortgage with no money coming in.  Job prospects were sparse.  I had spent a great deal of time and effort determining what I wanted my career to be.  I looked at my strengths and what people would be willing to pay me for.  I really loved business, I loved numbers and I loved working with business.  I had an accounting degree and some good work experience.  I determined that the best way for me to make a living was to start an accounting practice.  I also knew that the best way for me to improve my marketability and earnings potential was to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

I had already taken and failed the CPA exam twice and I was not looking forward to the prospects of studying for the exam.  Failure was not pleasant in either situation.  However, I knew that it was the most important thing I could do for my career.  I decided I was going to do whatever it took to pass the CPA exam.

As I alluded to earlier, I had no job and no income.  If I remember correctly the CPA exam was $800.  Even though money was tight, I realized that time was a more precious resource.  I wanted to guarantee that I was going to pass the CPA exam.  I purchased a CPA exam review course that cost ~$2,600.  At this point in my life this was a lot of money.  My monthly mortgage was $1,200 a month and my wife and children still had these nasty habits of wanting to eat daily.  I started my accounting business and was actively networking so I could build my client base.

The CPA exam review course is one of the best investments I’ve ever made.  As part of the CPA review course I bought I had to build a schedule.  The schedule was divided into four sections, one for each section of the CPA exam.  One of the most important aspects of the exam course was a calendar.  The first step with the calendar was to determine what date I planned to take each section of the CPA exam.  Next I determined how many weeks I would devote to studying for that section of the CPA exam.

Once I completed these two steps the exam review course build a weekly task list for me to complete.  On the weekly task list I was given details of the work I needed to perform.  There were three types of work I needed to perform:

  • Instructional Videos
  • Practice Questions
  • Practice Exams
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