By Gretchen Mayes – When I even hear the words CPA exam I get nervous. However, I I am the only one that feels this way. Many fields have their own test of proficiency that causes almost everyone to rethink their decisions and question himself or herself. The CPA exam is one of the hardest out there. It is comprised of four sections with each section being about four hours long.
The four sections include: Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), Regulations (REG), Auditing (AUD), and Business Ethics (BEC). Many think FAR is the hardest because “it is like running a mile in an inch of sand.” You must know a very wide scope of information but, thankfully, you do not go all that deep. REG is all about taxes. Yes, I heard that sharp inhale. No one really likes taxes – except maybe for tax accountants. AUD is all about the auditing process for publicly traded companies. Finally, BEC includes business law, ethics, and writing. Together the tests cover the wide variety of tasks required by accountants.
This semester I started my own CPA journey. Back in March I began studying for the CPA exam using funds generously provided by my Journey Grant to purchase review software and material. After 2 weeks I knew I was in for quite a ride. I have not yet taken the exam, but this is my reflection on the past month and a half and what I have learned through the process. I am sharing in the hopes of encouraging other Jewell students pursuing careers in accounting.
First, this is a long process. I do not think I can state this enough. I have been a good student in college and thought that I could just breeze through the information and take the test. Wrong, wrong, wrong. This test is for those who really know their stuff. In school, you often go through each topic briefly and then move on. For the exam, you really need to understand the topic rather than memorize and move on.
Second, be sure to schedule time for yourself. I thought that I could focus on the CPA every single day for 8 hours. I quickly learned that was not possible. Not only did it create burnout but it also caused me to miss out on friends and such. The CPA exam is extremely important and you should buckle down and do it, but you should also spend time relaxing and doing other things you love. Make sure to set aside time to study and time to relax.
Third, you will stress and you will worry. There is no way you will be perfect in accounting. As a Type-A personality and somewhat of a perfectionist, I sometimes found this a hard thing to grasp. At some point, I had to let it go and move on and come to terms with the fact that I just wouldn’t get it immediately.
Last, focus on the multiple choice sections of the study material. Listening to the lectures is great if you do not know the topic. However, the test is made up of multiple choice and task based simulations (TBS). It is important to really hone in and grasp these. Once you can understand the application of the concept or rule you will be better prepared to tackle the CPA exam.
Each day we need to be pushed out of our comfort zones. Preparing for the CPA exam will definitely push you and make you uncomfortable at times. But, the rewards of learning and preparing for a productive and fulfilling career are worth it.