Failure only happens if you stop trying to succeed
Senior Financial Analyst
My journey to becoming an accountant began my sophomore year in college at the University of Michigan – Flint. I started school, majoring in finance, and took intermediate accounting as an elective and fell in love. I did my research and made the decision to become a CPA. The spring that I changed my major to accounting, I had the honor of attending the AICPA Accounting Scholars Leadership Workshop in Durham, N.C. There, I met the most amazing group of people in our profession, which solidified the choice that I had made.
I graduated with my Bachelors of Business Administration in Accounting/Finance and 150 credits. In August 2011, I began working for Plante Moran in Flint, Mich., as a staff accountant in both the Assurance and Tax departments. After 6.5 years in Public Accounting, I began working at General Motors in March 2018.
When I decided to pursue accounting I knew what classes I needed to take, when I could apply to sit for the exam, and how many hours I needed to obtain my license. I would encourage candidates to stay updated on the requirements as they differ from state to state and have recently changed for several of them.
Planning for the Exam
I began studying for the CPA exam in April 2011 on Becker’s self-study program a month before graduation. In school, I never had problems with exams and studying so I used my same study routine to prep for the Exam. At the time, I worked a part-time job roughly 20 hours a week, and I spent just about every other waking hour studying and absorbing as much material as I could. I actually began to study even before I applied for my notice to schedule so that once I got it, I could immediately schedule my exam dates.
My advice: Get the exam done as close to graduation as possible. At that point, you know your study habits and you can get the exam out of the way before life takes over.
Originally, I had planned to take all parts of the exam in 2011 and be done by December. I took Audit (AUD) and Regulation (REG) first because I had an internship previously that I used both of those skill sets, and I felt the most comfortable with those two areas. After those two were done I began studying and spending more time on the Financial Accounting & Reporting (FAR) and Business Environment & Concepts (BEC) sections.
How I Studied
The approach I took was to read all of the Becker chapters and do the practice questions before the review lectures. Once that was complete, I watched lectures and completed the homework assignments marking any questions I needed to understand more and developing a plan to address those.
One thing I know about myself is that I am easily distracted; I had to study at the library or on campus. I needed that quiet space to focus on the task at hand: passing the CPA Exam.
The First Section
I took AUD on July 8, 2011, at 8 a.m.; it stands out clear in my mind because I was a nervous wreck. I, of course, could not sleep the night before and decided to show up early and review the areas that I was not so confident in. I am typically not a bad test taker, but I think because of the significance of this exam and my future as a CPA it did not compare to any other testing experience I have had.
After I got through the first few questions, I felt calm and confident in my understanding of the material. I moved through the rest of the exam with good time, and with 10 minutes left I decided to review my simulation. The next day, I began studying for REG. I had looked up the score release schedule and tried my best not to constantly check for mine. I found out two months later that I had passed my first section!
Taking the Rest
When I found out I had passed Audit on the first try, it was a great confidence booster. I did not study as hard for the other sections, which I had to take multiple times. My advice would be to make sure you allocate your time wisely and really stick to the study plan you develop for yourself.