4am Study Sessions at Starbucks: How Tiffany Passed Her CPA

how tiffany passed her cpa exams with superfastcpa

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In this SuperfastCPA podcast interview, you’ll hear Tiffany’s story about going to Starbucks every morning at 4 am to study, and how that enabled her to pass her CPA exams even though she was incredibly busy.


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Episode Timestamps

  • 0:00 Intro
  • 01:31 Tiffany’s Biggest Struggles with the Study Process Before SuperfastCPA
  • 02:26 Found SuperfastCPA After Feeling Like Something Was Missing
  • 04:00 Studying Throughout the Day Using SuperfastCPA
  • 04:28 Wanting to Get Her CPA After 20 Years
  • 05:09 Studying for the CPA Exams
  • 05:54 Things That Made Sense From the Free Training Webinar
  • 07:29 Studying Before and After SuperfastCPA
  • 10:08 Her Feelings Before Taking Her First Exam
  • 12:24 Tiffany’s Validation That She Can Pass
  • 14:15 Got Sick But Didn’t Have Trouble Jumping Back in the Study Process
  • 16:35 SuperfastCPA Provided Motivation
  • 17:44 Tiffany’s Study Process for Learning Difficult Topics
  • 18:54 Tiffany’s Process of Making Flashcards
  • 20:12 Time Management
  • 22:13 Building Her Study Routine
  • 22:51 Constant MCQs and Sims Practice For the Last Two Weeks
  • 24:24 Using Surgent As Her Main Review Course
  • 26:14 Why Tiffany Chose Surgent
  • 28:23 Tiffany’s Test Day Experience
  • 29:16 Constant MCQ Practice Makes it Easier on Test Day
  • 29:58 How Tiffany Tailored Her Study Process with SuperfastCPA
  • 31:52 Utilizing the Different Study Tools for Mini Sessions
  • 33:01 Getting Used to Waking Up in the Morning
  • 34:51 Making Something a Habit or Routine Makes It Easier
  • 36:52 Get Everyone in Your Life Involved, Set Expectations
  • 38:07 Celeberation After Passing
  • 39:37 Cutting Out The Fluff
  • 40:40 Questions First Took A While to Get Used to
  • 41:49 Trusting the Pro Course
  • 44:21 Tiffany’s Top Tips for People Still Struggling

Interview Transcript

Tiffany: [00:00:00] For someone like me, I’m a very like, analytical, methodical person. Like I need a plan and with Superfast I just kept going back to the idea of just hit the questions, like hit the questions. No matter how low I was scoring in the beginning, I’m just like, okay, keep doing the questions. And then I never opened a review book. The only books I opened were the Superfast outlines. ​

Logan: Welcome to another episode of the CPA exam experience podcast from SuperfastCPA. I’m Logan, and in this episode, you’re going to hear Nate and I talking to Tiffany.

The thing that I will always remember about Tiffany’s interview is that she woke up super early and went to Starbucks every day to study in the morning. So I think you’re going to like that part of the interview. In this interview, you’ll hear her talk about how she managed to have a family life, work out, study for the CPA exams and work all at the same time.

I just think this is an awesome interview and I think you’re really gonna like it. I think you’re going to think it’s inspiring and super helpful.

Before we jumped into the interview, just want to give everybody a reminder of the free [00:01:00] webinar that we have on superfastcpa.com.

If you’re struggling, trying to figure out the CPA exams, you failed some, or even if you’re about to start the CPA exam. This webinar will be the best thing you can do to improve your study process.

In the webinar, I guarantee that you’re going to find something or hear something that just clicks, just resonates with you and that you’re going to find super helpful. So definitely look into that.

The link to the webinar will be in the description of the YouTube video or in the podcast app that you use.

Logan: With that said, let’s jump straight into the interview with Tiffany.

Tiffany’s Biggest Struggles with the Study Process Before SuperfastCPA

Nate: The first question is just, what were your biggest struggles with the study process before finding and starting with SuperfastCPA?

Tiffany: Um, I think one of the main struggles was kind of getting into my own groove. Like obviously these tools give you a guideline, but it’s like accommodating that to your life. And it took me, gosh, I wanna say it took me a good month before I got into my own groove of what my study days would look like.

Um, and then I think the second [00:02:00] struggle was you have so many tools. Each with a different strategy. So I had Superfast, my main study, uh, review was Surgent and they kind of had their own, like approach. I think it was like kind of finding the best between the two. Um, and then for that first month I would kind of teeter-totter on both.

Nate: Okay.

Tiffany: And so that helped me back a bit. Yeah.

Nate: Yeah. And that will be, so that’s good to know. So that’s

something we can talk about.

Found SuperfastCPA After Feeling Like Something Was Missing

Nate: Um, did you have a period where you were studying for this Exams before you found SuperfastCPA or did you just start with us when you started?

Tiffany: So actually I got my bachelor’s degree 20 years ago, like literally 2001. I took CPA, two parts of the CPA right after with uh, Becker, and it just didn’t work out, you know, it was just too hard, too much information. Drop that. And then 20 years later I started. And so I think I had more motivation to stick with it this time.

Um, but when I came back this time, I had purchased Surgent and I was like, you know, a review alone’s just not gonna do it. I’m doing something [00:03:00] wrong. Um, so that’s where I found Superfast.

Nate: Awesome.

Logan: and and how did you find it? Was it through YouTube or?

Tiffany: It was YouTube.

Logan: Okay.

Nate: A YouTube ad?

Tiffany: Yeah.

Nate: Yeah. Uh, okay, so once you got in a groove with, with everything, what were the, you know, maybe the main thing or the top two or three things, what were the most helpful parts of SuperfastCPA for you? Whether it was the

strategies or the study tools?

Tiffany: Um, definitely the strategy as a beginning guideline. For someone like me, I’m a very like, analytical, methodical person. Like I need a plan and with Superfast I just kept going back to the idea of just hit the questions, like hit the questions. No matter how low I was scoring in the beginning, I’m just like, okay, keep doing the questions. And then I never opened a review book. The only books I opened were the Superfast outlines.

Nate: Okay.

Tiffany: So those were really helpful. Like aside from the community itself and just like looking up other folks’ struggles, like the outlines were super helpful, like that literally was like the only piece of text I would read.

Nate: Okay. Awesome.[00:04:00]

Studying Throughout the Day Using SuperfastCPA

Nate: Uh, and then did you use the study tools kind of throughout the day at all, or was it mainly the review when you were studying ma, uh, your main session?

Tiffany: So review notes. I listen to the audio for maybe BEC, like a lot of the heavy memorization type parts. Um, and then as throughout the day, I would use the app just to hit questions even more.

Nate: Okay. Awesome. All right. Okay, so we’ll just kind of go into the hearing your whole story now, um.

Tiffany: Sure.

Wanting to Get Her CPA After 20 Years

Nate: Alright, so you mentioned, you know, starting 20 years ago when you were outta your bachelor’s and

then it just didn’t happen. It’s a very common story. So 20 years go by, what made you come back to the CPA or feel like you needed it or wanted it?

Tiffany: Um, sure. My career, loved accounting, started out in accounting, and then in the middle of my career went more fin, finance, like financial analysis. Um, knew I had wanted to get back into accounting once I started working with startups, um, and with startups, like, [00:05:00] and nothing’s ever guaranteed. And so I knew I wanted to get my CPA just, you know, to have it on the resume, just to have more options open because you, you just don’t know what the future brings.

Studying for the CPA Exams

Nate: And it sounds like the first thing you did was, I mean, you eventually chose Surgent and then you just started studying according to their plan, or how was it in the very beginning?

Tiffany: The very beginning, it was a tough. Surgent, they’re very much like, you know, go through this huge pre-quiz, which is like 200, 300 questions. so that already brings you down ’cause you get everyone wrong. And then from there they’re like, you know, don’t worry about it. Start with the first section.

Don’t move on until you’re at a certain level. And that just slowed me down. I was like, it’s gonna take me five years pass the CPA if I’m not moving forward because I’m not like, progressing by their score. Um, and so I just knew I needed a different, a different way of thinking about it.

Things That Made Sense From the Free Training Webinar

Nate: And, uh, you see our YouTube ad, I’m guessing you watched the free training webinar, and do you [00:06:00] remember specifically anything that, I mean, what, what made sense to you from that?

Tiffany: Um, what made sense to me were the focus on hitting the questions. I mean, when I would do it myself, I would hit the questions, get discouraged, and not even hit like the 20 more topics that I had. I literally be stuck on the first section and then that was it. And so I’m like, well, the approach makes sense where you’re getting exposure to everything all at once and then kind of, filling in like every day, uh, your weaknesses. Um, and so that really made sense. I knew my approach wasn’t working. Superfast was so opposite of the way I would things in the past. I was more of a read everything first, then do the question, read everything in the next section, then do the question, and that was just very, very slow. Um, and so I knew I needed to do something completely different.

Nate: Yeah. So in other words, and, and I think this is really common, basically, uh, you were just, you were making the, the study process too hard, right?

Tiffany: Yes.

Nate: Is basically what you’re saying?

Tiffany: Definitely, and even if you take a step [00:07:00] back, there’s so many topics and so much information like realistically, you can’t have depth of knowledge in every single little topic, right? Um, and so you do have to expose yourself to the breadth of it, um, to pass this test,

Logan: Yeah, there’s the saying that like that FAR, it might not quite be like this anymore, but still, probably still is, where

it was, you know, a, a mile long, but just like an inch deep. Just tons of,

just so many things you’re supposed to know.

Studying Before and After SuperfastCPA

Logan: Um, yeah.

And, and, and I had a, I had a question. Uh, so, you know, you’re doing the, your approach, uh, at the beginning, like what was the difference in like time? Like were you studying way more at first when, like what, how did that look?

Tiffany: Um, I definitely was, I, I’m very good at being disciplined about blocking time and so the actual amount of time was the same, but it was just, that slow feeling of you’re only like trudging little by [00:08:00] little. And I spent the whole two hours, like reading two sections that I didn’t even understand after I finished reading it. You know what I mean?

Um, so Superfast was great because it taught me that you can gain understanding by doing the questions kind of the opposite. Do the questions and then go back and think about what it’s telling you.

Logan: So were

you studying two hours from the beginning on your own? Like was that kind of like how you figured out?

Tiffany: That was like my goal in the beginning was two hours every day and then Saturday, Sunday, just hitting like the five hours.

Logan: Oh wow. So you were, you were already kind of implementing the, the time that we, that we say on your own.

So that, I mean that. That’s great. You were kind of already used to that structure.

Tiffany: The funny thing was I blocked out the two hours Monday through Friday when I was doing kind of the old fashioned reading first method. And then when I started Superfast, you know, I really asked myself like, how is this gonna fit into my schedule? I really liked working out in the morning and I felt like I needed that, like mentally to, to pass this test.

Logan: Oh yeah.

Tiffany: And so with Superfast, it allowed me to do [00:09:00] one hour, actually Monday through Friday, I would work out, throughout the day hit the app. Go through the outline, the Superfast outline, and then Saturday, Sunday, I really literally have a big block of five or six hours each day to do like catch up stuff.

Logan: Wow. I so, so it, it helped you be so efficient that you were

studying an hour a day,

is that what you’re saying? And,


Tiffany: Kind


like, a focus block.

Logan: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Okay. Wow, that’s awesome.

Tiffany: Yeah. Cause you do feel like you cover more once you’re just like hitting the questions.

Logan: For sure.

Nate: Right. It’s, yeah, there, there’s a lot that, like, I always say this, everything affects everything else, but like,

just from the most basic standpoint, when, when, a study session is just such a slog. Like you said, you

spent two hours barely reading through the

text and you didn’t even get to practice questions and

you know that there’s a hundred plus topics still to cover.

It’s just it’s hard to even, yeah,

Want keep doing it [00:10:00] or just hard feel like anything’s happening.

Tiffany: Yeah, that can only last for so long. It’s like a reason why I think a lot of people give up.

Logan: Mm-Hmm.

Her Feelings Before Taking Her First Exam

Nate: Okay, so how did the first, uh, how’d the first exam, you know, the whole study window and the first exam go in this, you know, currently?

Tiffany: I actually scored the highest on BEC, which was my first subject, I think, because I just really followed the plan, followed the time, the study time, followed the outline, listened to the audio. Um, and this isn’t true for all four subjects, like even though I was very, very prepared for BEC, um, you take that test and you’re just like, this could go either way.

Like, I don’t know if I’ll pass it or not, but I did pretty well. And that’s the same for all four. It’s like. You prepare and you prepare, but you still feel like, oh gosh, I had no idea how I did.

Nate: Mm-Hmm.

Tiffany: But which it, it’s definitely like, it’s almost like muscle memory, like doing the questions every day. You are just trained to like, answer in a certain way. Um, and I think that takes you through the exams. Yeah.

Nate: Absolutely. And there[00:11:00] I don’t, I don’t know how to put this in words, like what these specifics are, but there’s like knowing the material,

but then there’s all these advantages, like the nuances of questions

like you. you just get good at answering questions.

And that’s such a big distinction, you know, just like what are you spending most of your study time?

And like you said before, so many people out there, they just think they need to kind of start with background understanding, meaning the videos or the text. Yeah, it just takes so much time to do that.

Tiffany: Right.

Nate: And you can do all that and still not really know how to answer the questions per topic anyways. Yeah.

Tiffany: Yeah. Yeah. And some of those questions are so like long and drawn out that it just tires you mentally. So if you don’t train your mind to like go through them, like test day, you could just like walk out halfway through.

Nate: Mm-Hmm.


Logan: It’s, yeah, it’s like, um, I mean, you mentioned exercise earlier, like

it, it’s kind of like training yourself to

be able have that [00:12:00] mental endurance make it through four hours of testing.

Um, I think it’s, yeah, I think you may have mentioned this, but just to make sure I remember, did you say you had taken some exams before, so like 20 years ago, had you taken

some, and then did you take any this time, uh, before using Super fast, or did you from the

get go, start, like.

Tiffany: From the get go.

Logan: Okay. Okay.

Tiffany: Yeah. Yeah.

Nate: Okay.

Tiffany’s Validation That She Can Pass

Nate: And, and so you, you scored the highest, so you passed that first attempt. You passed BEC obviously.

Tiffany: Yes, passed BEC, um, and that was around August and I felt like it was a good time to take FAR since in my mind I had like the rest of the year, December, I had a lot of time off. Um, but then life gets in the way. I think that was a period where all of us in household were sick the most. And so I did reschedule FAR, and again, that’s another tip is that. With your review course, your Superfast questions, if you’re not getting ’em right, like you’re probably not ready for the test. And so it’s being realistic about, okay, when are, especially for FAR.

Nate: Mm-Hmm.

Tiffany: [00:13:00] Um, and so I delayed FAR once, but you know, I passed first attempt when I, when I took it.

Nate: Yeah. And, uh, I, so I was gonna ask, so you get, you pass BEC

Tiffany: Mm-Hmm.

Nate: And so was that a, was that a validation of the, your study process working

or did you kind of know before you took it? Like, okay, I can tell this is I’m have a good handle on these questions and everything.

Tiffany: I think during, like in the middle of the study process, I’m like, okay, okay, this is really working. Like I saw my scores increased on Surgent when I didn’t think that, I literally would get every question wrong on Surgent. Like I would score in the twenties and the thirties, and then eventually, I think my overall average score on surgeon before I took BEC was high seventies.

Nate: Okay.

Tiffany: And generally, I can say I always made sure I was above that 75 in Surgent. Um, and generally when I took the exams, my scores were higher than whatever my average was on Surgent.

But I always made sure, like I tell people, make sure you’re past 75 if you’re taking Surgent before you take that test.

Nate: Yeah, especially now with [00:14:00] the, uh, the really long score release

dates and I mean, you don’t have to worry about it anymore, but there’s, yeah, you just have to wait months. So it’s more important than ever to try and be really sure that you have a good

chance at passing.

Tiffany: Yeah.

Got Sick But Didn’t Have Trouble Jumping Back in the Study Process

Nate: Um, so what type of life gets in the way events, or were there any big, big wrenches thrown into the gears

during study process?

Tiffany: Yeah. So BEC was good. It was like, I mean, I don’t wanna say low hanging fruit, but for me, that’s why I took BEC I’m like, you know, I’m familiar with the topics. I can pass it and feel good. So I felt good and then I’m like, you know what? I’m gonna hit FAR because I have all this time in the fall. Um, I had an international trip and of course coming back from that trip, I get covid, my daughter gets covid.

Then we get some random virus in December where we’re just out. Um, and again, you just have to be realistic. You’re like, are my study sessions gonna be like productive if I’m studying sick? Um, so that literally was for the beginning of FAR. So I delayed [00:15:00] another month. Um, so by the time January, February hit, I was good.

Um, went back to my study process and, and that’s another nice thing about Superfast. Like it’s so dis, once you’re in it, it’s so disciplined that even when you have a long break, you can just get back into it. Your body’s just used to doing it, that it’s not hard to be like, okay, this is what I do.

Nate: Yeah.

Logan: And, and we try to, we try to make it simple enough that it’s easy to do that as well. You know, like it’s just so straightforward. The review notes, the audio notes, the quizzes, that it’s not like your brain is, um, tax so taxed by doing all those things. It, uh, it’s easy jump back in. I, I like that you said that.

Tiffany: And I can’t say enough about the outlines or the study guides outlines.

Nate: Review notes?

Tiffany: Yeah, like I took those with me everywhere. Um, morning of, that’s what I would study. I would go through, I wouldn’t even go through questions. I would just go through the outlines, um, every single time. And those were like really helpful because again, you don’t get overwhelmed by all the texts.

It’s kind of the quick summary of each topic.

Nate: So [00:16:00] were you, were you making a printed copy of these or are you

just on your phone? Okay.

Tiffany: Yeah. Yeah. Printed copy helped. It just, it gave me that security of like, okay, I’m actually like studying something. If I was on the plane, I could take it. Um, yeah. And I could highlight, it just was like a physical thing.

Logan: Yeah.

Nate: Okay

Logan: I, I personally loved the, the physical Superfast

review notes as well. Did you print them out and put them in like a, a binder or how did

you carry them around?

Tiffany: Yeah, I just, um, printed them through like FedEx print and had them like combine it. Mm-Hmm.

Logan: Oh, did, did, like do the spiral

you or something? That’s nice. Nice.

Tiffany: Yeah. Yeah.

SuperfastCPA Provided Motivation

Nate: Um, let’s see. So, so as far as motivation, you know, sometimes, so basically did you find motivation? Did it kind of come easily once you got your study process nailed down and you just kind of knew that this is working? Or did you struggle with motivation throughout the process? What was that like?

Tiffany: I, I, I wanna say I struggled like 50% of the time. And again, [00:17:00] I’m a very disciplined person. There were days where, uh, again, in the middle of studying during a study period, I would still get it all wrong. I would just, in my mind, I would always say, you know, pain is temporary. This is temporary. Like, and once I passed BEC, it was like, you know what?

I passed this one. I can pass the next one. Just keep, just keep, I think Superfast gave me kind of that like Compass North Star to be like, okay, just stay on the course and you’re gonna get this. Um, I have a tendency to lose focus, and once things aren’t working out for me, I kind of, I’m like, oh, what am I doing?

Or you start questioning everything. But because Superfast was just the constant, it was easy to be like, okay, what am I doing? This is what I’m doing every day regardless of anything else. Like, I don’t care if I get ’em all wrong, this is what I’m doing every day regardless. Um, that was like really helpful.

But, oh no, there were days where I was just like, oh God.

Tiffany’s Study Process for Learning Difficult Topics

Nate: Mm-Hmm. Uh, okay, so, so on that, when you, you’ve mentioned it a couple times, you know where you start doing the questions, especially for FAR and you’re getting in, you know, the twenties or most of the questions you’re getting wrong.

What was your actual process [00:18:00] for improving on that? I mean, would you reperform them with the solution covered up, or what were you actually doing to where you were missing all the questions and then.

Tiffany: Mm-Hmm.

Nate: Getting to where, you know, you obviously passed the exam eventually.

Tiffany: Um, especially for FAR, like during Monday through Friday when I was doing my one hour and throughout the day app questions, there was always like the common theme, like for FAR it was leases that was giving me trouble, bonds that was giving me trouble. So on the weekends I would go back and hit videos on those topics. Um, I used, I think I used Universal, ’cause Universal has a lot of like, free videos on YouTube. Um, so I would supplement with videos and things I really didn’t understand. And then go back and do like more questions. So for me it was like, okay, obviously I’m not understanding by reading or by doing the questions, watch a video, um, and then attempt it again.

And those are the ones that I would make heavy note cards on. Um, draw things out, outline.

Nate: Awesome.

Tiffany’s Process of Making Flashcards

Logan: Uh, when you say note cards, do you mean like flashcards? Were you, did you flashcards throughout? Okay, awesome.

Tiffany: [00:19:00] Yeah. Um, so I would make flashcards whenever I came across like a kind of more complex topic. And then actually before I started my questions, depending on the section, I would just go through flashcards really quick before I started questions. And this was like every single day.

Logan: Yeah, kind of like to get your, get a primer, kind of get in the, get in the zone. Did you do, um, physical flashcards or on your phone, like digital?

Tiffany: I did, I tried digital, but physical. Again, I think it was like touching and the flipping that helps like kind of my mind warm up. Um, so I did physical and just like the writing of it kind of reinforces ideas.

Logan: Yeah.

Nate: And some of them you would draw out, you said. Almost make like diagrams?

Tiffany: Yeah. Yeah. If you’ve seen kind of the universal videos, they have a lot of diagrams, um, and stuff like that. So I would draw it out.

Nate: Yeah, I mean that’s really the, that’s the main idea of flashcards is.

Tiffany: Mm-Hmm.

Nate: Your personal, I mean, whatever it is, like sometimes it can be, okay, what’s the thing I always forget on this type

of calculation or [00:20:00] drawing out a diagram or some, or some crazy mnemonic or,

you know, they should just be this personal thing that almost don’t make sense if you hand

it to someone else.

Logan: Yeah.

Tiffany: Yeah.

Time Management

Logan: Um, and so, and you mentioned, um, you know, some days we’re just kind of, kind of more difficult than others and, uh, sorry, I’m trying to think of how to word this question. Uh, so with your, like day to day, um, you were mentioning your daughter, like how did you maintain like, you know, family, uh,

studying work, exercise.

How did you,

what did you have to do to kind of make sure it all still happened?

Tiffany: Um, for me it’s I knew I wouldn’t do anything after work because I, you know, I work all day. It’s like I get my daughter from school. Like, realistically in my mind, that wasn’t gonna happen for me. So I thought, okay, so what can I do? I would get up at 3:45 in the morning, go to Starbucks. This was like every day, go to [00:21:00] Starbucks, you know, because they open at 4, 4:30 study for my hour and then my workout gym is right across the street.

Logan: Nice.

Tiffany: So I had to really look at what I was doing and what I didn’t wanna cut out, what I did wanna cut out and like adjust from there. Like it sucked. Like my body was wrecked from like a lack of sleep. But that was something that I could do. I mean, I’m a morning person, but like 3:45.

Nate: Right.

Logan: That’s not even morning, that’s nighttime.

Tiffany: You know, I’m willing to make, yeah, I’m willing to make that sacrifice so that after work I didn’t have to do anything.

And the weekends was fine cause again, I’d get up early, even if I put in five hours, you know, they were still in bed. So I’d come home and they would start waking up, so.

Nate: Yeah, So 3:45, so did you study at Starbucks? Is that you’re saying?

Tiffany: I studied at Starbucks. Yeah, that was like another motivator too, because this whole process probably took me about a year. And so again, every day, so it’s like so many people were invested in this besides myself, people asking about it. So that was like, I’m a, I have like a lot of pride, so I was like, I cannot not pass this test.

Nate: Yeah.

Tiffany: The people at Starbucks will know.

Logan: Yeah, so there were people at Starbucks who were like, did you pass test? Like it was [00:22:00] kinda like this little community at Starbucks with you.

Tiffany: Yeah. They were like so sweet. Like I would get the coffee and if you’re in there, coffee refills are like free. So they would come by and like fill the coffee again.

Logan: That’s awesome.

Nate: That’s awesome.

Tiffany: Yeah.

Building Her Study Routine

Nate: So one thing I was gonna ask, I mean, you kind of answered it, uh, in multiple ways, but the question was, um, yeah. What was just some hobby or thing, you know, that you weren’t willing to give up during the process to maintain balance and, you know, just not go crazy? Sounds like working out and then the evenings with your family?

Tiffany: Yeah, working out in the morning, evenings, just because I knew, like even the workday, sometimes it doesn’t end at a certain time and it’s like the last thing you want is like to be like, oh God, I still gotta work, but I still gotta study. Um, that just wasn’t gonna fly in my life. So I knew it’s like mornings were the only option.


Constant MCQs and Sims Practice For the Last Two Weeks

Nate: Um, and what about your, well before the test day experience, um, what did you do for a final [00:23:00] review, if any, or?

Tiffany: That’s a good question. So two weeks and so I made sure I was like scoring seventies above 75 for kind of like the daily MCQs. The last two weeks, that’s where I would hit the sims hard. So I’d go through questions every day, make sure I do a couple of sims. Um, I did maybe one practice test two or three weeks out for each section, but I only did one. I usually didn’t score that great. Um, so I just made sure, like overall I was doing pretty good. Um, so those were the last two weeks. Again, questions, sims, for BEC, even the, the written portion. Like I wouldn’t technically answer the written portion. I would look through it, like think about, you know, in my mind how I would answer this. And then it was really helpful just to look at the answer.

They write all the memos, like that was like, kind of like reading. Um, so those were the last two weeks. And then the day of, I would spend the morning going through the Superfast outline and flashcards if I had any.

Nate: About how many flashcards, let’s say for FAR did you make, or was this like hundreds or dozens?

Tiffany: No, not a [00:24:00] hundred, but maybe like 75 for each section, 75-ish.

Nate: Yeah.

Logan: So just like this little stack of

75 cards. And

did you carry that around with, around with you like to work and to everything.

Tiffany: Um, no.

Logan: Or did you just keep it at home?

Tiffany: Yeah, I would just keep it, I would only go over my flashcards right before I studied the MCQ sessions every day.

Logan: Okay. So at

Starbucks you were, okay, so you were using it at Starbucks. Okay.

Tiffany: Yeah.

Using Surgent As Her Main Review Course

Nate: So I, with Surgent, we, I, we get asked this a lot, um, just because their approach is supposed to be this, uh, not analytic. What do they, what do they call it? Diagnostic. You take that massive diagnostic thing and then supposedly they just give you the lessons you need. Is that how you.

Tiffany: Mm-Hmm.

Nate: Used it or you just kind of manually covered the topics?

Tiffany: I just manually, there’s a setting on there where you could use like the ai, where they would give you like what you’re scoring the worst on. But no, I just did like the manual version where I just went through each section.

Nate: Yeah. And yeah, and I, I don’t really like the idea of the diagnostic thing [00:25:00] because like you said from the beginning, you’re taking this massive exam, just from the get go, someone that, may not have studied CPA recently or, anyways, it’s just such a, how long did that first diagnostic exam take you? Is it like five hour?

Tiffany: Oh my gosh. It was like close to, it was probably Saturday, one of my Saturday sessions. That was like five hours. It was so long it like, I don’t wanna say, I don’t wanna say it was pointless, but it was just like, you know, I could just blindly click the answers still get the same score. Right. Yeah.

And brings up another thing. I had started with Becker years and years ago. Going through this process, I just wondered, I’m like, it doesn’t even really matter what review course like you use, as long as you have like a whole library of questions, right? That will cover all the topics. I think people get caught up in like, oh, is this the right review course? Um.

Nate: Oh yeah, exactly. And, and that’s, that is what I tell people. It really doesn’t [00:26:00] matter, you know? ’cause sometimes, you know, if someone’s really struggling, it starts to, you know, maybe it’s like easier to be like, oh, I think it might be this review course that I’m using is not good.

Tiffany: Yeah, I was there, yeah.

Why Tiffany Chose Surgent

Logan: It’s not me, it’s the review course. Um, and is there any particular reason you, you used Surgent? Uh, like was the work providing it or did you just Yeah. Why? Why did you pick Surgent?

Tiffany: Um. I probably chose Surgent because it was the least expensive. I felt like you got more from what you’re paying. And then, you know, deep down I knew it was all about the questions, whereas I felt like the other review course really like focused on, go through the book, go through the lessons, and then answer the questions.

Where Surgent was a little bit different.

Logan: Yeah. And, and, uh, something we’re noticing is there, there is starting, there does seem to be this mental shift, um, just in the CPA environment. A lot of people are realizing that, um, you know, like, so I think that finally people are starting to like [00:27:00] more than just a few people like yourself. I think most, a lot more people are starting to kind of turn that direction of the questions are the most important thing.

We’ve kind of noticed that shift recently, so, um. Yeah, I mean, it, it’s the, it, it doesn’t matter what review course you use in the end ’cause like you said, it’s just, as long as you can have good questions and, and good explanations, then, then you’re good to go.

Tiffany: Yeah, because if you think about it, if you look it up, like if you want supplemental help and you go to YouTube and look up a video on leases, it’s a totally different person. Totally different review course. But what they’re saying is exactly what’s in every other review course so it’s not like it’s specific to Becker that you’re learning something about leases that’s not in Surgent or.

Logan: Yeah.

Nate: Yeah, and, and there is just that, there’s that thing you have to go through where you go through questions, it’s really confusing and I think that just stops a lot of people and it’s more comforting to watch a video or it’s easier to feel like you understood a video.

Tiffany: Yeah.

Nate: Or the [00:28:00] text. And so a lot of people, I think they kind of like that. That like, okay, yeah, I understood that video. And then that process of pushing through the confusion on questions and simulations to where you, again, you get good at it is,

I just think what a lot of people don’t do, but that’s just the only thing that matters for doing well on the real exam.

Tiffany: Yeah.

Tiffany’s Test Day Experience

Nate: Okay. So what about test day? Did you have any time management issues or was test day relatively smooth or was there any shock about these sims are way harder than any practice sims they saw.

Tiffany: The sims, I would say the sims, and this is across the board for every section, were a bit harder than what I saw in the review courses, but the general ideas were the same. Um, but other than that, I’m, again, I’m a morning person, so just doing it in the morning kind of like took away all the anxiety ’cause when you go to a test center in the middle of the day, it’s, I was surprised how many people go through a test center. Um, like that kind of adds to the nervousness and like you feel rushed [00:29:00] almost. Um.

Nate: It’s kinda like it’s like visiting someone in prison. It’s.

Tiffany: Oh, yeah.

Nate: It’s serious, it’s a serious ordeal. They act so serious about everything.

Tiffany: Oh yeah. Oh yeah.

Logan: They definitely add to the stress for sure.

Tiffany: Yeah.

Constant MCQ Practice Makes it Easier on Test Day

Logan: It and, uh, so in, in the test. So, you know, like you’re saying, sims maybe were a little bit more difficult. How did you feel about the multiple choice questions? Like, did you go through those really fast? Cause you just felt really good about, like, how did, like were you getting into the exam and finishing early? Like, or, or were you taking the full four hours?

Tiffany: I didn’t take the full four, I probably, for most of them, I probably finished within, like, I still had like 30, 20, 30 minutes left, and it’s very rare that I would, um, get hung up on a question like I, I do feel like with the MCQs I was exposed to most of it.

Logan: Yeah. And so you had plenty of time to work on the sims because able to just get through the.

Tiffany: Oh yeah.

Logan: The MCQs pretty good. That’s awesome. Okay.

Tiffany: Yeah.

How Tiffany Tailored Her Study Process with SuperfastCPA

Nate: Uh, let’s see. [00:30:00] Did you do anything to, so one thing that I get asked a lot is the whole learning style thing, and my response is always, well, again, the only thing that matters is you know how to answer these MCQs, sims on test day.

But for you in the study process, was there anything that you did that kind of tailored it to your, what you feel like is your main learning style or?

Tiffany: Um, you know, before Superfast, I would say I’m the type that has to read everything first. Like literally go back into the beginning of time of accounting in order to understand like all the questions.

Nate: Yeah.

Tiffany: So before I thought that was my learning style, but you know, in reality it’s like you’re taking a test. Everyone’s answering the same questions, so it makes sense that you should be answering these questions every day.

And then I know some people like videos and I do like videos, but it was like those were just kind of little bits of my whole study press process and learning style. It really was just like hitting those [00:31:00] questions.

And then when I felt the need to have thoughts more organized in my head, I would literally go through the outline books, like from start to finish. Like very rarely would I just open one of your books and be like, okay, let me start in the middle here. Like I literally just like went through ’em.

Nate: Uh, you mean like just throughout the day? Whenever, five minutes at a time, you just worked your way through start to finish or when you were reading your, uh, printed ones.

Tiffany: Yeah, when I was reading the printed ones, I would always. I would make sure I have the time to like go through the whole thing because in my mind, like in my learning style, I wanna know like all the major topics I’m thinking of and then kind of filling in from there. So your outlines were, I mean, printed, it’s a thick book, it’s big font, so, so it wasn’t that long.

Like you could just go through and be like, okay, these are the areas I have to hit. These are the ones I’m like kind of shaky on. So when I go back to my study session, these are, this is what I’ll work on. Right.

Nate: Okay

Utilizing the Different Study Tools for Mini Sessions

Logan: So when you, so did you use the app very much or like, did you mainly just use your [00:32:00] physical, um, like how many times would you say you read through the review notes, uh, in total, was that like a really consistent thing or just sometimes?

Tiffany: It’s not very consistent. Um, so I’d go through all the questions. I would say for one section. Definitely the last two weeks, I would go through it almost like every other day, like the whole book every other day. But during, it’s probably very rare that I would go through it maybe once in the beginning I’ll scan through just to see what the topics are. Um, yeah, it was like more closer to the end where I needed to kind of put everything together.

Logan: Okay. And kind of along with that, did you ever use the audio notes, um, or was that not really your, your style?

Tiffany: I did use audio notes for BEC, but then eventually, not so much just because like it would only be in my car.

Logan: Mm-Hmm

Tiffany: And so that’s where it gets kind of choppy, where it’s like, oh, I’m missing it too, on the way to school or on the way to work, just, it. Then you have to figure out where you were last time. So just for BEC I used it a lot, but for the other sections, [00:33:00] no.

Logan: Okay.

Getting Used to Waking Up in the Morning

Nate: So going, kind of going back to just getting up at 3:45, did you have a period of try, having to get used to that or.

Tiffany: Yeah.

Nate: When did, I guess, sorry, two part question. Did you have to decide, uh, a few weeks in like, okay, this is what this is gonna have to be. Um, I’m gonna have to get up at this time, and, and then, yeah.

How did you get used to getting up that early?

Tiffany: In, in my mind initially I was like, I’m gonna get up at 3:30, go downstairs to my office and start studying. And I did that maybe, gosh, the first week, and it just was not working. It’s just the idea of like being at home and, you know, I could like put the laundry in and, or get an email from work and like start working and so I’m like, well, that’s not working.

But if I physically go somewhere. It’s like you’re dressed like you’re ready to go. It, it made it a lot easier. So even though it was still difficult to get up at 3:30, 3:45, it just, the movement made it a [00:34:00] habit versus just going downstairs at my PJ’s, right.

Nate: Yeah. Yep, definitely. And that’s, uh, I guess star, at four in the morning, Starbucks is like your only option. You’re not going to a library at four.

Tiffany: Yeah. No, no. Yeah, and it, it was really nice ’cause you see the same people every day. So that was another thing, like there’s, it’s always the same people that walk in every day at the same time. And then that’s kind of a habit, like, it’s like when you walk your dog, you see the same people. You say hi, and so your body is like, okay, this is what I’m doing every day.

Nate: Yep.

Logan: Yeah.

Nate: I did get up at four actually, um, when I was studying and I would just go downstairs and just study and I got to where, it’s hard to say I, I liked, I don’t know, I, I did kind of look forward to my morning little study routine ’cause it was just every single day and I was, you know, I was passing, I knew it was working.

Making Something a Habit or Routine Makes It Easier

Nate: Did you kind of have that, not to say it was like fun, obviously, but did you just, it became this thing that you almost [00:35:00] looked for? Not looked forward to.

Tiffany: Oh, I get what you’re saying.

Nate: Yeah.

Tiffany: It definitely did become a part of my day, like so much so, and it was again, like a year, 13 months that it took me. And this was like every single day. It got to the point where it was so ingrained in my daily routine that after I was all done, I’m like, you know, I still find myself going to Starbucks cause it’s like, okay, gosh, what do you do now?

But did become a part of your life. Like it just became routine. So even on the days where you didn’t feel like getting up, it was just routine. It’s just what you did.

Logan: Yeah.

Nate: Yeah. And that’s a huge, you know, when you get to that point, then you’re not just, you know, you’re not fighting yourself every step of the way. You’re not fighting yourself to, I gotta find the study time. If you’re doing it differently everyday.

Tiffany: Oh yeah.

Nate: Just like, it’s not gonna happen.

Tiffany: Oh yeah. And for me, getting out of the house, that prevented me from feeling like, like when I was home, I would think, oh, let me check my email first, or trying to create this whole other process that had nothing to do with, you studying for the CPA, whereas if I physically left, I knew my time was limited because I drive. [00:36:00] Like I knew what I was doing, this is what I had to do during this hour.

Nate: Yeah.

Logan: Yeah. Uh, creating that like, um, that routine and also having this a space away from your normal, like home life. It is super, I mean, for me, I, um, I had two little kids at, well, I still have two little kids, but, um, they were even younger. Um, and I knew that there was no way I was gonna get anything done if I was still at home when they woke up.

So, yeah, I mean, I, I had to, I left and went to work every morning to study. So, uh, I think there’s something to be said about creating those habits. Like your body, it’s not just about your, um, you’re studying, but you’re, you just become, your whole body becomes used to, okay, when I’m sitting in this location, you know, Starbucks or wherever, when I’m sitting in this, and it really helps you to get in the zone faster.

Get Everyone in Your Life Involved, Set Expectations

Tiffany: Yeah. That brings up another good point. Like obviously I had the discipline, but before I even started this journey, like I talked to my husband, I’m like, [00:37:00] look, I’m thinking about doing this again. It’s gonna be hard. He, we were married the first time I took it, but I obviously did not study that much. Um, so make sure he was on board because then like the times where you could feel guilty about leaving to go study you, you didn’t because like you set that expectation. And so even if something was going on, like I felt fine being like gotta study bye, I mean obviously if it’s nothing like huge.

Nate: Yeah.

Tiffany: Um, but it’s like everyone knew like that was like the baseline.

Logan: Yeah.

Nate: Um, and the other, the other thing I was gonna say is that that structure gave you the ability to, you know, you were done by the time, the evenings, by the time you were done with work, you didn’t have to think or worry about studying anymore, and you were still able to go do your workouts.

Uh, but yeah, the, the structure just, you kind of have to pin your day at like the time you go to bed and the time you get up. And it’s based around making your study session happen. But if you nail [00:38:00] that, then it kind of, it’s freeing in a way. I mean, as much as possible during the process.

Tiffany: Oh yeah. No, for sure.

Celeberation After Passing

Nate: So what was it like, uh, getting your fourth passing score, realizing you’re done, you never have to go to Starbucks at four in the morning. Did you do anything big to celebrate?

Tiffany: Um, no, because in rea, like obviously you pass the test not thinking of what comes after. Then it’s like, gosh, there’s a whole separate application process to get your license. And so that was kind of like, wait, I don’t officially have it yet. Um, so we like held off on any celebration because I’m like, I want it to wait until it’s official.

But that’s when you find out you don’t have like the ethics class that you have to go back and take.

Nate: Yeah.

Tiffany: Um, so funny enough, um, so I took, I had to take an ethics class because I went to college so long ago where it wasn’t a requirement to take like accounting ethics.

Nate: Oh, okay. Yeah.

Tiffany: Yeah, so luckily, like a, a local college had a course, like a six, eight week course that I just finished.

I finished in December, sent that all in, and I did just get [00:39:00] my CPA number this past Saturday. They sent an email.

Logan: Hey, that’s awesome.

Tiffany: Yeah.

Logan: It, yeah, it, it is a long process. I think that like, like three or four months after I passed the exams to even still become a CPA. Like it was just, ’cause I still had other stuff to do, but at least the biggest thing you know, is out of the way. Like the exams is the real, is the real struggle.

Tiffany: Yeah, yeah. And it’s one of those things like, again, I’m a disciplined person. If I put my mind to something, I can do it. But it’s one of those things where you’re like, gosh, can I, like, is this really gonna happen? Like, can you really do it? And so when you do it, you’re like, holy crap. Like I actually did that.

Nate: Yeah.

Cutting Out The Fluff

Logan: Uh, kind of along that, the, have you taken either, you know, more like these strategies that you’ve learned from taking the CPA exam. Have you like applied that in any other parts of your life? Like have you kind of been motivated to do other things?

Tiffany: I think it just the general approach of not adding fluff where you don’t need to add fluff. Like, I’m a very fluffy person. [00:40:00] I know, overthinking things and like, you know, going back to, again, the beginning of time to understand something, but it Superfast really made me think like, okay, cut what you don’t need to think about right now.

Like, what is it you’re trying to do? Like, that’s you should focus on. So it definitely helps with focus, like overall.

Nate: Yeah, I, I, I guess, yeah, just cutting out steps or, uh, I quote this book all the time, Atomic Habits, just reducing the amount of friction it takes you to kind of, do the core steps towards your goal each day. And I guess that’s one way of describing that. Um, just go straight to the questions cause that’s what you do on test day. Yeah.

Tiffany: Yeah.

Nate: Okay.

Questions First Took A While to Get Used to

Nate: So we’re getting down, we’ve kind of covered everything. Let’s see, one of my last questions would be, uh, I just had it right here. I guess if you could go back and, now, because you kind of mentioned that. What about, um, was there anything about the study [00:41:00] process overall or taking these exams that was kind of a big shock to you in any way, or just something that you hadn’t really heard about the CPA study process that you got into it and it was a bigger deal than you thought it would be?

Tiffany: Um. This is gonna sound so bad, but honestly, like, obviously it’s a test where you’re answering questions, but the fact that what helped me was only focusing, mainly focusing on the questions, was like, in the beginning it was like, is this really gonna work because I’m not reading anything, right?

Nate: Yeah.

Tiffany: Like, I’m not going like outline by outline and reading like the Surgent book.

Um, so that was like really surprising. It’s like, can I really do this? Just answering questions every day. Slowly, like when you start picking things up and your score starts getting higher, that’s like kind of the the reward. You’re like, okay, this is working. ’cause I am learning from just doing questions every day.

Nate: Yeah. Okay.

Trusting the Pro Course

Nate: So here’s, hopefully we can create a, uh, soundbite out of this, or, so that’s one of my biggest, like if I get a, if I get a refund request, right? Like for our program or [00:42:00] whatever, and it’s been like a week and I try to tell people like, listen, I mentioned this, like it’s gonna feel confusing and, you know, hard for a few weeks until this starts to click. So.

Tiffany: Mm-Hmm.

Nate: How did you, I don’t know. Did you just trust the PRO videos to push through that month or, you know, what made you push through that until it did start to click?

Tiffany: Um, I definitely trusted the PRO videos. I trusted the community like the SuperfastCPA community ’cause people had the same story. It was like, oh, was scoring low at first. And then eventually you start to see your scores get higher.

And like that was very true. Like, you literally feel like you’re trudging in mud answering these questions.

It’s like someone’s pushing you down every day, like zero points, zero points. Like at the end of your session you have like a 20, 25. Um, but you know, eventually you just start learning. So I think it was just the community saying, you know, don’t give up. Like it’s hard. Um, and then literally, like, especially if you’re doing it every day. When you see your points even go up [00:43:00] two or three points like every day, that’s like, okay, I’m actually learning something. Or when you grasp a concept that you didn’t grasp like last week, um, that’s definitely what keeps you going.

Nate: Yes. Yep. When you start having those little breakthroughs, then it’s just, yeah. I mean, when something’s working, it’s a lot easier to stay motivated and pushed forward, like we were talking about earlier.

Tiffany: And, you know, the CPA is a hard thing. Like it’s not something like there’s accountants out there that, you know, they’re very smart people, but they just don’t take the time to go through the test. It’s very hard. So it’s, it’s not gonna be easy, right? if it were easy, everybody would do it.

So it’s almost, it almost gives you like this badge of honor after you complete it ’cause you’re like, that was a hard thing. This is probably the hardest, one of the hardest things I’ve done, like my whole life.

Nate: Right. Yep. Yeah, it’s, it’s, uh, so many things come into play. I mean, in college you kind of take this for granted, but just the structure of showing up to classes a few days a week, you kind of get walked through the material by going to the lectures, and then [00:44:00] the CPA is more material than any college class you had, and it’s all on you. To find time, be disciplined, learn it, how do you learn it? I mean, there’s just a lot of elements involved.

Tiffany: Yeah. No one person, no one tool is gonna do it for you. For sure.

Nate: Yeah.

Tiffany: It’s like it has to be you putting in the work.

Nate: Yep. Okay.

Tiffany’s Top Tips for People Still Struggling

Nate: So, I do have one actual last question. What would be your top one or two tips for anyone who’s still in the study process struggling, you know, what would be your top tips to them?

Tiffany: Um, I think one of my top tips is once you start getting into your own head and you will get into your own head, just literally show up every day and answer questions. No matter how low you score, you just keep doing that every day. Like nothing else, do nothing else. And eventually you’ll start to see the reward.

Nate: Yep. Yep, exactly. All right. All right, Tiffany. Well, yeah, we’ve been through everything. I appreciate you doing the call, ecstatic you found our program [00:45:00] and, that it worked so well for you. So, yeah, thanks for doing the call and congrats on being done.

Tiffany: Awesome. Thank you.

Logan: And congrats on getting your license too, couple, last week. Yeah.

Tiffany: Yeah.

Logan: All right. That was the interview with Tiffany. I’m sure you found that super helpful and inspiring. I definitely loved it. And maybe now we’ll see a whole bunch of people showing up at Starbucks to study every day after this episode.

If you liked this podcast episode, make sure to leave a rating or if you’d like to on YouTube, make sure to like the video and comment on the video.

And most importantly, make sure to share this with anybody that you know, who is going through the CPA exam process.

This podcast as a whole is the best free resource out there for CPA exam candidates.

Thanks for watching you’re listening and we’ll see you in the next one.


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