In this SuperfastCPA podcast episode, you’ll hear how Christian uses a pretty simple process to successfully pass his CPA exams. You’ll hear how he uses repetition to learn the CPA material, while only needing to spend 2 hours a day studying.
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- 00:00 Christian Interview
- 00:26 Introduction
- 01:57 Christian Talks About His Background
- 04:37 How Christian Started to Study and Finding SuperfastCPA
- 06:12 How Christian Started His Study Process
- 07:57 Christian’s Daily Morning Study Routine
- 09:16 The Adjustment with Christian’s Study After His New Born
- 11:12 Where Christian is on His CPA Exams
- 11:47 How Christian Studies Throughout the Day
- 15:59 How Christian Would Study in the Evenings
- 17:03 Why Christian Doesn’t Need to Worry About His Daily Study Routine
- 19:37 Christian’s Study Routine on the Weekends
- 23:31 Christian’s Different Ways of Taking Notes for Difficult Topics
- 26:01 Another Factor That Helped Christian With His Studies
- 27:16 How Christian Would Study for His Final Review
- 28:28 The Only Time That Christian Would Do the SIMs
- 30:26 Christian Did SIMs on His First Exam to Know What it Looks Like
- 32:03 Christian Talks About the Big Difference in His Study Process
- 35:47 Christian’s Process for Learning New Lessons
- 37:38 Christian’s Top Tips for People Struggling With Their Study Process
- 38:55 How Christian Did on Exam Day
- 42:18 Outro
Christian: [00:00:00] Like the amount of time I’ve saved, just doing it, um, the way that you’ve said to do it, you know, especially with the baby, like time is just that much more magnified.
Um, yeah. So yeah, just having the, like, being able to manage my time and use it effectively and then still get the, the objective like accomplished, like, is huge.
Nate: Welcome to episode 102 of the CPA Exam Experience podcast from SuperfastCPA. I’m Nate, and in today’s episode, you’re gonna hear me talk with Christian.
So just the beginning of Christian’s story, he started the CPA study process, was looking things up on YouTube, saw one of our ads, skipped it a bunch, eventually decided to watch one of our free study training webinars and decided, okay, I’ll try this for my first section and see how it goes. So he did that, passed it, and from there he just finished his [00:01:00] exams.
So in this interview, you’ll just hear him and I talk and go deep into the different study processes, the different strategies, and just what worked for him all the way through. So before we get into the interview, I wanna point out two things.
First, our free study training webinars, as I just said, that was the first thing Christian saw from us and used those strategies to pass his first exam. So that is the best place for you to start if you haven’t watched one of those free trainings yet, you can sign up at our homepage at superfastcpa.com, or the link will be down in the description of this episode.
The second thing is our free podcast giveaway. Each month we give away three pairs of Power Beat Pro headphones to one of our listeners who has entered the giveaway. You just enter your name and email and that link as well will be down in the description of this episode.
So with that out of the way, let’s get into the interview with Christian.
Christian Talks About His Background
Christian: Uh, Colorado Springs. [00:02:00]
Nate: Oh, nice.
Christian: Yeah, so we’ve been here for two years now.
Nate: Oh, you moved there two years ago.
Christian: Right. Right.
Nate: Where are you from originally?
Christian: Um, we are from Texas. Um, I’m from East Texas, kinda like near like the Louisiana border, and my wife’s from Dallas, so we were all born and raised there. Um, and then just moved out here January 2020 to, yeah, to, we’re getting married, um, so we decided to just move outta the state rather than move to only one of the other cities. Um.
Christian: So just for an adventure and we did not know that Covid was gonna come up, so that kind of just added the excitement of it so.
Nate: How’d you, uh, just curious how, if you just kind of just picked somewhere, you didn’t have a job connection yet or anything, how’d you choose Colorado Springs?
Christian: Um, it was driven by the job, so we did not have like a specific place that we wanted to land. It [00:03:00] was more of a function of we’ll go wherever we can get a job. Uh, so we decided to do like August of 2019, um, and we wanted to have everything lined up before January, 2020 when we actually got married.
So Colorado Springs was the first place that I got the interview and a job. So then we just locked that up and then moved out here like two months before the wedding. Uh, to kind of get everything settled and ready. And then we drove back up here the next day from Texas.
Christian: After the wedding.
Nate: You like it so far?
Christian: Yeah, it’s great. Um, I’m from a really small town in Texas. Um, which it’s really pretty there, like woods and everything, but there’s never, there’s not mountains. Um, so the mountains have been a really fun thing to explore. So like started skiing, she, my wife grew up skiing here, so it wasn’t too much of a change for her, but I had never skied before, so that’s been fun to like ski, go up to the mountains, hike, camp, stuff like that.
So, um, so it’s been fun.
Nate: Yeah, I ski, I live in Salt Lake, [00:04:00] so.
Christian: Oh, okay.
Nate: Um, yeah, and I’m from a really small town in Idaho originally, so kind of similar.
Christian: Right. I think there’s still some skiing up there or is there, near the northern states.
Nate: In Idaho?
Christian: Yeah, probably.
Nate: There is like, there’s Grand Targhee, which is, you know, considered a really good resort.
That was like three hours from where I live or where, where I was from in Idaho. And then, uh, here in Salt Lake there’s a ton, you know, all the.
Christian: Right, Yeah.
Yeah. So socialized, lucrative in, up there in Idaho.
Nate: Yeah, exactly.
Christian: Okay, cool.
How Christian Started to Study and Finding SuperfastCPA
Nate: Yeah. So have you listened to any of these other podcast interviews?
Christian: I have, yeah.
I haven’t listened to any of the recent ones, but I was listening to them a lot, um, about probably six months ago.
Nate: Okay. So how long have you been studying for the CPA exams? When did you start?
Christian: So I started studying, [00:05:00] um, in August of 2021, so August of last year, um, and I did not study prior to that so I was looking for what review course I was gonna take. And so I was like on YouTube trying to look at like, what people said were the pros and cons. Um, cause they kind of vary in price, pretty substantially. So I wanted to see if it was worth, um, buying whatever I was gonna buy. Um, and then, so that’s actually how I found you was the YouTube came up and it’s like the popup ad.
I actually kind of skipped it a couple times cause I was just like, I just need to get to the, to the review course deal. Um, yeah, but I did, I did listen to it once and so I started looking into it and I kind of heard from others that getting supplemental information, like or supplemental material is a good idea.
Um, so then I looked into your stuff more. I did your seminar, uh.
Nate: Free webinar. Yeah.
Christian: Yeah. So from that point, honestly, I just kind of [00:06:00] jumped all in. I was like, okay, I’ll try it. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. I’ll just go back to the way that everyone else does it. Um, so I started studying with your material, like right off the bat, like your method right off the bat, so.
How Christian Started His Study Process
Nate: Okay. Awesome. So you don’t really have a story like pre, like studying the normal way and.
Christian: No. Yeah. Like, no. Yeah. I, I mean, I started off with like the two hour morning session and like just doing multiple choice. Um, I did a couple things different from the first exam than I did for the ones I’m doing now.
Um, but for the most part it’s just been like pretty much what you’ve done or what you’ve said.
Nate: Okay. And then, so from the beginning you just started studying that way and it just clicked, made sense to you and was working and you’ve, you just started passing sections, right?
Christian: Yeah. Yeah. So I started in, I said August of, or yeah, August of 2021.
And I took my first [00:07:00] exam just using that method, um, or your method. And like in the beginning when I started doing it, I was a little bit, um, I was a little skeptical because it was just doing the multiple choice questions. Like there’s no way that I can pass an exam just doing multiple choice.
Cause you see a lot of them over and over. I was like, I’m just looking at the same ones. Um, but uh, yeah, no, I mean I just kept, kept to it and I was like, well if I don’t do well in this one, I’ll know that that doesn’t work. Um, but uh, but yeah, so just did your method and I think I took it in October, so I think I studied for like eight weeks or so.
Um, maybe nine. Um, yeah, it came out great. So I mean, just kept doing that for the second one, the second one was a little bit different, not exactly the same way, um, because I had, we had our son, so that kind of threw a curve ball in the, in the middle of study progress or process, but it still worked out.
Christian’s Daily Morning Study Routine
Nate: Yeah, definitely. So, [00:08:00] uh, well I want to ask you about that, but first, um, so when you would study two hours in the morning, what exactly would you do for two hours?
Christian: Yeah. So what I do or what I did is, well, was, so I just woke up, get some coffee, sit down, and then I would start with new material. So I would try to get through however many modules I could get through.
So I use Becker, so it’s, I don’t know if everyone’s like that, but I would just go through the modules of whatever section I was in. Um, and I would just go through until I got to about an hour and a half of studying new material. And like if I’d actually, sometimes it depends on what the, the, um, subject was.
If it was something I didn’t know anything about, I would write down the wrong, like what I got wrong and why it was wrong and what was right. But if it was something I was kind of vaguely familiar with, I’d be like, oh yeah, okay I remember that. Keep going. Um, so that was kind of hit or miss if I was doing that.
Um, but I would do that process for an [00:09:00] hour and a half and then do the last 30 minutes of the study session to be the, the review, multiple choice questions.
Nate: Okay. So, okay. Like you said, pretty much exactly from the, from the free training, just that standard two hour session.
Christian: Right. Pretty much. Yeah.
The Adjustment with Christian’s Study After His New Born
Nate: Uh, and what about, well, so, so what did change once you had, you had a new baby and was the early mornings not working?
Or, or what did you change on the second exam?
Christian: Um, the second exam, so I did get, um, so he was born in December. I was studying, I think beginning of November. So this was for regulation. Um, and the, the really, the only thing that changed was, yeah, I didn’t really get two hours in the morning, um, one because I was exhausted towards…
Christian: So I’ll back up. I started studying in November. I think Thanksgiving happened and I missed like two weeks. And I was like, I’m just gonna backtrack some more. Start back [00:10:00] over. Cause I don’t wanna go into test day thinking that there were any gaps and that I could have done better. Um, so December, I kicked it back up again, and then I got really close.
I was like two sections away, um, from finishing the whole thing, the whole study material. And, um, then he was born. So then two weeks after that were pretty hit or miss. I was just kind of doing review on my phone. Um, so then January comes, I’m still just kind of like reviewing on my phone. I, I’m thinking at this point I’m actually not gonna take the exam.
I’m just gonna wait until after tax season. Um, but then I realize I’m two sections away. I work in tax. I’m just gonna finish. I’m gonna just go for it. If I miss, I miss If I don’t, I don’t, or if I don’t. Great. Um, so that’s it. It kind of changed from like the standard two hours. Don’t miss a day. If you miss a day, don’t miss two, to like having some pretty substantial gaps with just small review.
Um, to, [00:11:00] yeah, to taking the exam. So time shortened, gaps of not studying, so consistently were there. Um, but I actually did better on my regulation exam than I did on my FAR exam, so I was like, I’ll, I’ll take it.
Where Christian is on His CPA Exams
Nate: Yeah, for sure. Awesome. So FAR and REG are done are, is that like where you’re at now? You got those two done?
Christian: Yes. I’m taking Audit friday, so.
Nate: Oh, okay.
Christian: Yeah, take audit Friday and then hopefully BEC by the end of next month.
Nate: Awesome. Yeah, so I mean, I always say having FAR done is like being 70% done really, cuz if you can pass FAR, you know, your process is working and you’ve got the biggest one out of the way. Um, so what about during the rest of your day?
How Christian Studies Throughout the Day
Nate: I know you said on here you used the study tools a lot. Do you use the app throughout the day or, yeah, just how did you use our study tools along with Becker?
Christian: Yeah, [00:12:00] so the, the quizzes are the main thing, um, that I use, well, actually that’s not true. So the, the actual review notes, I do bust those out. Um, when I’m having my morning routine, like the morning, um, study session. So like if something is kind of like, I’m really not picking up, I’m missing a lot of questions, even though I’m just seeing the questions, I’ll just kind of, like, read through the section and then just highlight, you know, or make notes if I’m missing something over and over again I’ll just make a note in there because typically I’ll go back through what I’m reviewing for my test and just read through like two or three times, um, like before the test.
Um, so, but the quizzes are still number one. I use those like I, I’m at work and something’s taking a while to load up on my computer. Just take out my phone, do the five questions, um, try to do two if I. Um, from gonna the bathroom, walking across the office, um, sitting in my car, getting my oil changed, like really, like any kind of way I [00:13:00] can kill 30 seconds.
Like I’ll just use that so, I use that the most. The review notes, the written review notes, I do those the second most. Um, and then audio notes, I’ll put them on. I’m not, like, I remember from some of the other podcasts, like some people like didn’t listen to music for like six months.
Christian: I couldn’t do that. I really tried to, but like, I just, like, sometimes I’m like, I’m not gonna listen anyway, so I might as well just listen to music on this like 10 minute drive home.
Um, but I do pop them on, especially all of that ramps up the week that I take the test or the week before really. Um, that’s when I’ll start, like really using the review notes, the audio ones as well. I ramp up the tests like right before bed. I’ll take like three of those five question tests. So I use ’em more towards the end, but in the beginning it’s like the audio’s kind of here and there.
Um, but the other two things I do use a lot so.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah. And that, uh, I mean that’s, that’s what I did. I [00:14:00] studied for my phone a ton and I just, at the time didn’t really have like optimal, I had like, I think Wiley had focus notes but they were not made to be on a phone. So like you had to pinch and zoom to just yeah, look at, see the full sentence and so.
Nate: It was really annoying, but it’s just, it also, just the idea makes sense. You know, you have your phone with you all day. You can fit in another hour, two hours, maybe even three hours, yeah, and it doesn’t have the same dread factor as like sitting in front of your review course for three more hours.
Nate: Um, and it can just kind of happen as you go throughout your normal day.
Christian: Yeah. And I think the, I think you talked about the, um, I don’t know what the name of the principal was, but where you have to like constantly retrieve information. Uh, I think the think that’s huge because the fact that I can pick up my phone and like probably 15 different times in the day where I have a dead minute [00:15:00] like retrieve new like, or old information, whatever it is.
Um, it just solidifies it so much more to the point where I see it and I’m like, I know exactly the answer. I don’t have to look at the answer choices. Like I just know what it is. Um, yeah, cause I get, I wish I could figure out how much more time I get throughout the day doing it that way outside of the morning because, I mean, I just pick it up like all the time throughout the day.
Normally when I would pick up my phone, um, to go on Instagram or whatever it might be. Um, but yeah, it’d be really interesting to see how much I’m actually studying in the day, um, by just doing that on top of.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah. Uh, I it probably adds up to more than you think. Well, I mean, if you compare it to like, you know, those screen time reports or.
Christian: Oh, yeah.
Nate: What, what’s the word? Depressing or shocking. You know, you, on Sunday it tells you you spent four hours a day on your phone. Right. It’s like, how is that possible? Right?
Christian: Yeah. Yeah. Sure.
Nate: So something like that.
How Christian Would Study in the Evenings
Nate: [00:16:00] So, uh, so you study in the morning, you kind of do the mini sessions throughout the day, and so does that kind of leave you with your evenings and you don’t really try to study so you can just kind of relax, hang out with your wife and family?
Christian: Yeah. So typically, typically, yeah. Um, I try to, um, because it’s, yeah, I mean, I wake up in the morning and I do that, um, I’m at work all day. So like when I get home at like five or six, like I want to have some, you know, uninterrupted time. Um, but, and it’s kind of hit and miss. I don’t really feel like I have to do it, but sometimes I will study some more.
Um, especially like I said, as we get closer, like I’m okay with sacrificing some time in the evening to just get more repetition. Um, but in, say if I’m studying for eight weeks, the first six weeks, yeah, I’ll definitely have evenings or if we have plans, I don’t like get a fuss about it, um, we’ll just go do that.
But, um, yeah, I mean that’s kind of just, I kinda just play around with it depending on my comfortability [00:17:00] level with how I feel coming into the test.
Why Christian Doesn’t Need to Worry About His Daily Study Routine
Nate: Yeah. Yeah, and, but just in general, it just seems like you kind of grooved in the study process early on and so now you don’t stress out about the study process itself, right?
You just know what to do all day. Yeah.
Christian: Yeah, I would say for sure, and especially I had the benefit of not coming from another study process. Um, so I mean, this was like what I started with and that first exam, but like eight weeks of muscle memory and then the next one, so now on the third one, uh, yeah, I don’t even think about it.
I just opened my computer, start going through questions, do my review. That’s it. Study throughout the day and then, eight weeks later, six weeks later, I take the test, so.
Nate: Yep. Yeah. No, and that is, that’s nice. Uh, I, I just think a lot of people out there studying but they’re also always just kind of thinking about [00:18:00] like the process itself or having some inclination that what they’re doing may or may not be working. And so it’s just the process itself is stressful.
Nate: Not even like the actual act of studying, you know?
Christian: Sure. Yeah. And I think like the second exam that I took, the REG exam, where, I mean, I could have probably been a lot more consistent with that, but I just wasn’t and, so I did have some gaps in there, but the fact that I could like come back through and like just started again and then, then just finish it and take the exam and do well, like I, that gave me more comfortability with the process than the first exam.
Um, yeah, so it’s like, well, I can overcome a gap, like two weeks of not studying and then two weeks studying, and then go take the tests and do well. It’s like, it has a lot more substance than it looks like, so.
Nate: Right. It’s also, you know, it just, [00:19:00] it’s all about what you spend time doing. Like when, when you do spend time and it’s very, very effective, that has a huge payoff.
I mean, you could make any analogy, you know, I’m trying to get better at basketball. Do you sit and watch videos on YouTube about how to shoot better or if you go out and just jack up three pointers for two hours, that’s better than watching videos. But yeah, doing actual shooting drills is another step that’s, you know, you can make a lot, lot of progress faster by doing the most effective thing, even if you don’t spend as much time doing it, so.
Christian: Yeah, I agree. Yeah, for sure.
Christian’s Study Routine on the Weekends
Nate: Um, so what about the weekends? How did you, or do you study differently or longer on the weekends? Just what do you do on the weekends?
Christian: Um, pretty much the same thing. Uh, I’m a, I’m a pretty, I would say I’m a morning person. Right, for sure. I do like to sleep in, but like sleeping into me like if I sleep in until seven, like I slept in, so I would probably be, [00:20:00] the fact that I’m a morning person.
Um, so I like the routine of like waking up, doing the same thing. Um, it’s, it’s, most of the time, it’s actually not even two hours on the weekend. It’s actually less on the weekends. So I’ll actually just do an hour where I’ll try to get through like two modules or one module and then do some review questions and then everybody’s up and then the day goes.
Um, and I actually probably study a lot less on my phone as well. So overall, I definitely decrease the output studying that I do, um, on the weekends.
Nate: Yeah. Now the, yeah, the big differentiator is, uh, that it’s working, right? Like that’s kind of, you can do whatever you want if you’re passing the exams. Um, when I’m first kind of telling someone what to do, I’ll be like, okay, watch the PRO videos and make sure you understand what’s in there and do it exactly like that for three weeks.
And then once you get it and it will like click, kind of like riding a bike, then you can customize little things. [00:21:00] If you’re just trying new things every day and the biggest thing is if it’s not working, then uh, you wanna start with a specific plan or a specific set of strategies. And then yeah, like doing all these interviews, there were some people that took the weekends off, like didn’t even attempt to study, and then other people that couldn’t, you know, like for me, I didn’t, never liked that because I wanted to just, I don’t know. I felt like if I took a day off it like ruined my whole plan or whatever.
But, uh, the biggest thing is, is what you’re doing working? And so clearly it’s like working for you. So, you know, yeah, an hour on the weekends great, cuz you’re still just passing the exams.
Christian: Yeah, yeah, for sure. And I think too, the thing that really helps, that it sounds kind of weird, like an hour on the weekend of like doing the multiple choice questions. But the further you get into the material and the more multiple choice questions you’ve done on whatever [00:22:00] section you’re on, like I can get through a set of 30 in the morning, like at this point now a week out, and I’m taking maybe like if I’m fully focused, I take like 12, 15 minutes so I can actually bust out in 30 minutes, two sets, maybe three sets of questions. So you’re just getting so much repetition, especially the quicker you’re able to see the information, process it and answer it, so yeah.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah. And that makes perfect sense. I mean, I, yeah, I mean, in an hour you’re basically doing what most people, yeah, what the standard two hour session would contain, so I mean.
Nate: Yeah. Again, it’s just, just huge benefits of, uh, those daily sets of 30, like they just solve so many problems. You just get very fast and very familiar with MCQs, like the content, how to answer MCQs. I know what they’re asking here. You know, just, yeah, it just solves a lot of problems.
Christian: Yeah, and I, I’ve still think about it, like, [00:23:00] especially as I get closer to taking the exam, like I can’t imagine going through the material and not seeing the stuff that I saw four weeks ago until like the week of the exam.
Christian: I mean, I just, it blows my mind that like, that’s actually a way that people do it or try to do it. Um, yeah, that’s, I can’t even imagine.
Nate: Yeah. Trying to, Yeah. When you point that out, it just does not make any sense, you know, to, like, on FAR, there’s literally 200 topics covered. 220, I think. Yeah.
Christian’s Different Ways of Taking Notes for Difficult Topics
Nate: What about, do you have a system of notes or flashcards, putting things in your own words that you have struggled with, or how do you do that?
Christian: Um, so I feel like, pretty much studying for three exams fully at this point. Now I’m just kind of like reviewing and hitting weaker areas on this last, third one, I’ve kind of done it three different ways. So there’s been the founda, there have been the [00:24:00] foundational two hours, hour and a half in the morning study consistently throughout the day.
But as far as like the first, my FAR exam, the first time I ever did it, like I was making flashcards, I had a pdf, uh, like a Word document that I was updating with stuff that I was missing or like things that I constantly kept seeing. Um, so I was doing like, yeah, I was doing that. And then REG, I did have flashcards.
I didn’t make the pdf, like the running PDF and then read it through. Um, but I would make flashcards. And this time around for audit, I have not made a single flashcard. So it’s kind of weird and I’m interested to see if I get a better score if I don’t do as well, whatever the case might be with that. But now I feel like when I miss something, like I just read it, I’ll write it down and that’s it.
Mm-hmm. . And if I miss it again that comes up again, then I’ll obviously write it down again. And if it’s something I know that I’m like really not getting, then I’ll just keep repeating it to myself. But I haven’t done like flashcards with this, third time [00:25:00] around. So, I definitely have had success with it.
Um, but that might just be like me being a little bit lazier on the third time. I don’t know, but I just haven’t built any, like make a flashcard, pull ’em outta my pocket and like read them so.
Nate: Yeah. No, and it does, it kind of goes back to that same idea. Um, and many, many of these interviews, they’ve kind of described that same thing where they feel like they studied less and less as the sections went on. Or like put in less and less effort, but they still just kept passing. And it just goes back to that you’re just getting very good at the study process itself. Just very efficient. And you just kind of know what you’re doing now.
And uh, like you said, it’s uh, uh, a formality like every day just you do the process. You know, you have to do it each day. 6… 6, or 8 weeks goes by, you take the exam, pass it and that’s just what it is cuz you [00:26:00] know what you’re doing.
Another Factor That Helped Christian With His Studies
Christian: Yeah, yeah. No, I agree. And I think like another factor that might have played into that as well is, um, I also like work in public, so I now work on both the tax and the audit side.
So with first time, um, like the FAR exam. I mean, that’s just a lot of information. And that was the first one. So I was taking just notes, flashcards, everything. With tax I started to feel a little more comfortable. There were obviously some things that I had not really thought much about and hadn’t really encountered.
Um, so I, the comfortability level just within information itself and like the mindset of that type of accounting, uh, was, was already there. So I didn’t feel the need to go that deep into it. And then with auditing, it’s kind of been the same thing. Like a lot of times like I’m reading these questions and I’m like thinking back to like an engagement or a specific client or like a work paper.
Like I can see the work paper in my head and like what we do and how we do it. So I think that’s also played a factor in it as well. Just [00:27:00] with the last two exams, me being a lot more comfortable with the topics.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah that makes sense. Um, so now you’re in, you’re basically in your final review or that for audit, right? You’re in your last week.
Christian: Right. Yeah.
How Christian Would Study for His Final Review
Nate: So how do you, how long do you leave for the review portion and then what do you spend your days or your study time doing for a review?
Christian: Yeah, so I, I don’t really plan out like the last two exams. The first one I planned out like two months in advance. These last two, I’ve kind of just like two weeks out, just picked a date.
I try, I try to do, get a date a week away from when I know I’m gonna finish all the new information. So I’ll take a week, I, anything more than a week. It’s like, okay, I’m just gonna be spinning my wheels doing more questions. I’d rather just go for it. So I would say a week and then the process is usually like the day that I finish, I’ll do my set of 30 to review, um, do my normal studying, [00:28:00] however that day goes.
And then the next day I will, um, just do MCQs until I start getting worse scores because I’m not paying attention. Like I know that like, as my score goes down, I’m like, okay, I’m just not like functioning at a high level right now.
Christian: So I’ll just, and that usually is like an hour and a half, an hour and a half of like, sets of 30 is like, so that, that’s my limit.
Like I just, I’m done. So I’ll usually do that for a couple days and then I’ll do.
The Only Time That Christian Would Do the SIMs
Christian: Um, I think you had said that to not do, like, not waste your time with the simulated exams. Um, but I like the feedback of like, if I score like a 70, it’s like, okay, I’m really close and I know that there’s a gap slot, like a jump, um, on the real exam. Um, and also I like to see the new material. So there’s like, in Becker at least, they, they put brand new material for like a whole.
Nate: So that makes sense.
Christian: That’s the main reason why I like to do it, so. Kinda get some harder [00:29:00] questions. Um, that’s the only time I’ll do simulations is on the simulated exams, so also get some practice simulations goes, so yeah.
Nate: That’s what I was gonna ask next. Sorry, go ahead.
Christian: No, yeah. No, that was it. It’s, it’s. Fairly just MCQ questions the whole way through until that last one.
Nate: Yeah. That’s awesome. I mean, you could, and you know, you can make the argument that simulations are just a, uh, I don’t know, a more elaborate form of MCQs.
I mean, really it’s like a lot of the same content and you just need to know how the structure of the sims work.
Christian: Right? Yeah. And I agree and I think that was the biggest thing that helped me with the sims, cuz like the first exam, like, well I don’t know what to expect. So like the sims are just this like elaborate thing that everyone’s scared of and they don’t like, you read the things after where like the posts and people, yeah the sims killed me.
Um, but when someone told me that, or I read that, if you think of the sims as [00:30:00] just a bunch of MCQs, or 6, 7, 10 to however many there are, just break them up as like, okay, this is a multiple choice question in and of itself. I just answer it that way. It doesn’t make it seem so daunting.
Christian: The exhibits, you know, that’s a whole different thing of learning how to file through ’em and get your information, but in the moments where I was like, this is a lot, I’ll just go back down to like, each one’s an MCQ question, how do I answer it?
Christian Did SIMs on His First Exam to Know What it Looks Like
Nate: Yeah, that is, that’s a good way of thinking of it. Uh, did you do the same thing on your FAR exam, your first exam?
You really didn’t do any sims until the uh.
Christian: That one I did.
Nate: The full practice exam.
Christian: Yeah. That one I did. Um, because of the fact that I was the first one and I wasn’t fully, and like, I think the podcast that I were, I was listening to at that time were saying like, oh, I didn’t do, I, I didn’t do sims. I don’t think that you don’t have to do them.
And I didn’t really trust it, cause that was the first time taking the exam.
Christian: I don’t really know what they looked like. [00:31:00] So I did do some, um, not much. Um, I didn’t start the no sims until the end, until the second exam.
Nate: Okay. Yeah. And again, you know, the, the sims uh, doing these interviews, people have completely different approaches on those.
I mean, like in our PRO course, I just kind of say you can pretty much ignore him during the week. Um, as you know, at, on the weekend, if you’ve been through modules one through five or whatever, then you review some of the sims from one through five, choose the hardest ones. Anything that looks confusing to you when you first look at it, just to get aware of, you know, how to fill ’em out and everything.
But yeah, they’re not a major focus. And then, yeah, on these interviews, some people do what you. Literally don’t do any sims. Yeah. And then go into the exam. But for other people, that blows their mind, like they can’t, they could not, you know, they wouldn’t go attempt to test without having done a bunch of practice sims.
Again, it’s just one of those kind of personal, [00:32:00] personal things.
Christian Talks About the Big Difference in His Study Process
Nate: Well, I, yeah, we’ve kind of gone through everything. Were there any other study strategies you used that really helped or I don’t know, anything we didn’t discuss that you felt like made a big difference in your process?
Christian: Um, gosh. I, I mean, the biggest thing is just the multiple choice questions.
I mean, just, like I said, you just do ’em until like you’re numb and, you know, you can’t even read them properly anymore and that’s it for the day. Like, whatever that looks like for, for different people. Um, that’s the biggest thing, like just the reviewing. I mean, just like if you’re just doing the 30 review questions.
I mean, that’s huge. Like I’ve gone through modules where I scored like, that first time around, scored like 50. I was like, whoa. like, I don’t know. I’m just guessing. And the ones I’m getting right, I’m like, okay, that’s reasonable. But it’s the 30, the sets of 30 that you’re doing that you’re like, it just starts to beat into your mind like, okay, like I know, I know this, I know [00:33:00] this.
Um, as far as like different strategies, I really wish I had a lot more, but that’s, I mean, that’s really like the bread and butter and the meat, like, it’s just the multiple choice questions. Um, I, I think too, if you have experience in public and like you’re working in public, that also helps, um, because things aren’t so foreign, you know, you can think that where you did something, um, or encountered it.
Um, but as apart from those two things, I mean, that’s, that’s pretty much it.
Nate: I mean, I think it’s a good thing that it’s like relatively simple because, uh, one of the things that I tell people that, you know, I’ll get people that email me that are really struggling and they, um, they, so I’ll say, okay, what do you do in a day of studying?
And they just have this like, complicated process. They’re, they have a Excel worksheet where they’re tracking, like question by question, what they missed. [00:34:00] Just things that take all this time that’s not directly just practicing what you’re gonna be doing on exam day. And, uh, pretty much my, my general advice is I’m, I’m like, listen, you’re honestly making this way harder than it needs to be.
That’s like your biggest problem. Like the, there’s like two or three things that like really matter and, uh, yeah. So that’s just, I don’t, that’ll be good for people to hear.
Christian: Yeah. And like, like I said, I wish I had more, um, but, and it is weird, like even like third, like on this third exam, I’m sure after three, I would hope that after three exams passed, hopefully that that fourth exam, like I won’t have any like reservation.
But even still in the third exam, I’m like, there’s no way like, there’s definitely gonna be some stuff on there that I’m not getting in these multiple choice questions, but it’s like really just trusting the fact that it’s gonna work. And you get to exam day and you do the multiple choice questions and you’re like, oh my [00:35:00] gosh, like a lot of this is the stuff, you get a couple curve balls here and there, but I mean, you get a fair shot at trying to get it right.
Um, so yeah, I mean that’s, that’s pretty much, it’s pretty much the gist of it.
Christian: I’m glad I found it that way because I couldn’t imagine going through like the lectures and the sims and the multiple choice question and not touching anything.
Nate: Yeah, and that’s where the. Yeah, I think that’s where the complication comes in because the textbook and the video lectures, they just cover so much stuff that then you think, okay, well obviously any of this could be tested, but when you focus on the questions for a lesson, it really comes down. They keep asking the same three to four things usually from any given lesson.
Christian’s Process for Learning New Lessons
Nate: Um, let me just, so second to last question, I guess when you’re going through new questions for a lesson, what is your actual process? Do you click through [00:36:00] ’em all first to kind see what you’re seeing questions on? Or do you just start from number one and read it and just try to answer it? You know, if you’re wrong, read the explanation.
If it’s a calculation one, do you sit there and reperform it? Just what’s your actual process when you’re doing a new lesson?
Christian: Yeah, that’s actually, that’s a good idea. I haven’t thought about like looking through it to kind of see what’s in there. No, I just start from the beginning and just start answering questions and I think the, like you get like a high when you get it right cause you’re like, oh, like I didn’t haven’t studied this before and I know it, and or whatever the case might be or I guess it right.
But then like when you get it wrong, like it definitely hits you. Like, you’re like, okay, I really don’t know this. Um, so I feel like that kind of helps me learn cause it’s like you fill the highs and lows of getting them right and wrong. Um, but yeah, I just start from the beginning. Um, if there’s a calculation, I haven’t really had any calculation ones in audit this far, but it, it was, yeah, I would write down, like with FAR and [00:37:00] regulation, I would definitely write down the formula, like I would get it wrong.
And like I said, I would typically write down the full explanation of why it was wrong or what, why it was right, better yet, um, and like wrote down the formula. I would practice the formulas. Um, like I would mark them like in Becker, you can mark the question reoccur. So I would make sure to do that on formulas that I wasn’t like really getting, uh, like for financial ratios or whatever that case might be.
Um, and then the day before the exam, I’ll usually like write them down again and then read them before I go into, like right before I go into the testing center.
Nate: Yeah. Okay.
Christian’s Top Tips for People Struggling With Their Study Process
Nate: So, so last question I always ask is, uh, even if it’s stuff we already talked about, what would be your top two or three tips to people that are really struggling with their study process?
Christian: I would say it doesn’t have to be as hard as you think it does. Just do the multiple choice if at bare minimum.
Um, and [00:38:00] just do them until you’re numb and you can almost read the first three words and know the answer. That much repetition will help. Um, and then for test day, if you’ve done the work leading into test day, just calm down. Like, just calm down what you do every single morning up until the test. Manage your time.
Like I think you talk about time management, manage your time as best you can. If you fall, you will fall a little bit, typically behind your time schedule, um, during the test, because it’s test day, that’s what’s gonna happen. Like a few minutes, you won’t maybe hit 30 minutes for each testlet. Um, but yeah, just calm down, don’t freak out.
You’ve got time. Um, and just if usually, like, if I don’t know something right off the bat, just mark it. Move on. Come back through. Best guess and just keep on going. Like I try not to think about the last testlet in the next testlet.
How Christian Did on Exam Day
Nate: Yeah. And is, is that how you, what happened for you on [00:39:00] test day? You just, did you cruise through the MCQs pretty easily and had a lot of time left for the sims?
Christian: Generally? Yeah. Yeah. Like I said, I try to get like a minute of questions, so 33, 36 30, whatever, however questions. Um, I usually fall a little bit behind that, like a few minutes, which I’m okay with cuz I know that I still have plenty of time. Um, but yeah, the rest of the time is Sims. It’s like, I think that leaves you with what, three hours, two and a half hours to do the sims.
Um, I take that 15 minute break. I would highly recommend taking that 15. I think there’s a 15 minute break where you can actually stop the timer. Like, I definitely take that just to walk around, just process anything that hap, that happened in the MCQs that I’m worried about. And then just go on to the set. Um, but yeah, I like, the first exam I, I did not get up until I was, the, the clock was at one minute just because I was not gonna leave and like fail and be like, oh, I should have stayed. Um, yeah. But every other time I’ve had like an hour, [00:40:00] hour left, so.
Nate: Nice. That’s awesome. Well, uh, sounds like yeah, you got a lot out of our the free training.
Just to summarize or I don’t know, in your own words, what, for you have been the top one or two benefits, the biggest benefits you’ve got from, uh, using our study tools?
Christian: Uh, yeah, I would say just the time. I mean, like, like the amount of time I’ve saved, just doing it, um, the way that you’ve said to do it, you know, especially with the baby, like time is just that much more magnified.
Um, yeah. So yeah, just having the, like, being able to manage my time and use it effectively and then still get the, the objective like accomplished, like, is huge. Like, I can’t even think of anything outside of that because, I would pay double what I paid for the materials, just to know that like I’m gonna have extra time, I have more time on my hands to where I do, so, [00:41:00] yeah.
Nate: Yeah, for sure. Time is, yeah, obviously the, just the huge thing it, right? Yeah. Any time. If you can cut months off this process, you know, most people would pay a lot of money if they knew for sure. Two extra hours a day, or you have, you don’t have to worry about studying in your evenings or whatever.
It’s for sure, yeah.
Christian: Yeah, yeah. And it’s like, if, if it wasn’t for tax season, I, I would probably be done, which would’ve been putting me at like starting in August and finishing like February. So yeah, I mean that’s like, that’s invaluable. Like you can’t, you can’t put a tag on that.
Nate: Yeah. And if your days aren’t suffocating, you know, and it’s like you said, the process is fairly simple, you just have to do it each morning. Um, it doesn’t really matter if it takes, you know, six to eight months or whatever, just because you’re not constantly stressed out. For sure. And so.
So I’m glad that helped.
Sounds like you’re crushing it. [00:42:00] So, congrats man. That’s awesome.
Christian: Appreciate it man. Yeah, no, I thank, thank you for the materials and you know, time and effort you put into ’em. I mean, they’re great, they work. Um, yeah, really appreciative for that.
Nate: Yeah. Yep. Happy to do it.
I don’t wanna take it much more of your time, so I appreciate you doing the call.
Nate: So that was the interview with Christian. I’m sure you found that very helpful and insightful.
He had a lot of good insights and things to share about his study process, and as you heard, you know, his study process went relatively smoothly because he started out with a proven plan from the beginning.
So if you found this episode helpful, please take a second to share it with someone you know who’s also working on their CPA exams. These interviews, as you’ve probably found out, are incredibly helpful for people trying to figure out their own CPA study process. So thanks for watching and we’ll see you on the next episode.