In this SuperfastCPA podcast interview, you’ll hear how Grant spent the first year of his CPA study spending huge amounts of time studying, but it wasn’t getting him passing scores.
Then he decided to tweak his study process and adopt different study strategies, which led to him passing his last 3 exams in just 6 months.
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- 00:00 Grant Burden Interview
- 03:37 Grant Describes How He Initially Studied for the CPA Exams
- 06:06 Grant’s Study Process Before SuperfastCPA
- 07:18 Studying Non Stop the Traditional Way With No Social Life
- 08:39 How Grant Found SuperfastCPA
- 09:17 What Clicked for Grant from the Free Training Webinar
- 11:26 Grant Shifted His Study in the Mornings
- 12:41 Started Implementing the Superfast Methods All At the Same Time
- 13:39 The Transition to the Questions First Approach Became Easier After Passing FAR
- 14:34 The Mental Stress Was Less After Adopting the SuperfastCPA Method
- 16:29 Consistent Use of the SuperfastCPA Materials Helped Things Click More
- 18:54 Creating a Study Guide Using a Voice Recorder App
- 23:39 Grant’s Note Taking Process Along with the Audio Guide
- 24:37 What Grant Did on the Weekend Leading to Exam Day as a Final Review
- 27:22 Adding Extra Study to Catch Up During Weekends
- 28:38 How Grant Prepared for Task Based Simulations
- 31:31 What Grant Did to Pass the Retake
- 34:03 Finding Time to Listen to Podcasts and Taking Notes
- 36:45 Top Tips for People Struggling with the CPA Exams
- 38:37 Changing Study Sessions in the Morning
- 39:56 What Grant Found Most Helpful from SuperfastCPA
Grant: So I think after, like, finally passing FAR, I think like all the others, it only took me like one or two more times to like between passing the rest of them. Once I passed that FAR and I kind of got in that rhythm, I passed those next three within like six months.
Nate: Welcome to another episode of the CPA exam experience podcast from SuperfastCPA. I’m Nate, and in today’s interview, you’re going to hear me talk with Grant. So when Grant story, he started studying the normal way. He was watching every video. He was taking notes. He was reading the chapter, then doing the questions. And he was putting in about four to five hours every night after work. And so of course his entire life was go to work and then study all night.
Nate: And he was putting in a ton of time and effort. He just felt like if he was persistent, that the results would come and he took FAR multiple times and eventually he did pass it, but as he points out in the interview, it had taken several months, several attempts. All while doing this crazy schedule of just working all day and then studying four to five hours every night. And that’s all he did was work and study. So as he looked back at it, he thought, okay. This worked for one exam, but I just, I cannot see myself going through this process for the remaining three exams.
Nate: So he started looking around online for tips about how to study more efficiently. He eventually saw one of our YouTube ads. Watched the free training, had a few “Aha” moments and then implemented those changes in his study routine. And he started getting much better results with less study time.
Nate: So in this interview, he’ll the school over how he passed the remaining three exams with a more effective, a more efficient study approach. And we just get into the specifics of exactly what those changes were and the results that it got him.
Nate: Before we get into the interview, real quick I just want to mention our free study training webinar, as you’ve probably heard by now, pretty much every interview you’ve heard the person first starts with SuperfastCPA by watching one of these free study training webinars. So, if you’re wondering where to start with SuperfastCPA, one of these free training webinars is the best place for you to start.
Nate: These free trainings are one hour that can literally save you months and months of time and frustration. So the link to these trainings is down below in the description of this video or in the description of the audio episode.
Nate: So with that out of the way, let’s get into the interview with Grant.
Nate: So I’m looking forward to this, hearing your story. Um, have you listened to any of these other episodes? Do you kind of know how these go?
Grant: Yep. Yeah so actually this is kind of I use this to kind of get through some of my, like struggles and kind of listen to what other people was kind of using and kind of molding my own strategy to kind of passing the exams, so.
Nate: Awesome. Okay, cool. Yeah. Well, we will get into all that, um, so, on your note, uh, the first thing you said was, it took me about a year trying to study the old way before I started taking your steps.
Nate: So, let’s start there. Like, how long ago was that that you started for the first time? And, uh, I mean, I’m sure it’s the traditional thing where you were just trying to go through the lessons, but just describe how it was when you first started.
Grant Describes How He Initially Studied for the CPA Exams
Grant: Gotcha. So I started back in the fall of 2019. Um, started with audit.
Grant: That one was the most struggled while I was in school. So I was like, all right, that, that might be the hardest one for me. So let’s attack that one first. Um, basically scheduled for about two to three months kind of time frame of kind of going through the materials, obviously the old way, reading the books, watching the videos, kind of going all that just to feel it out.
Grant: Um, took it and did, did terrible. I was like, I think high fifties, low sixties. I was like, wow, like, like this, this is not working for me. So like I continued kind of going through that. I was like, maybe it’s just the first time, like, kind of now I know, kind of what to expect basically did it again didn’t get that much better so I was like, all right, it’s a little bit of a struggle. So it kind of bounced, kind of did switch it up and went too FAR.
Grant: I was like, all right maybe FAR is a little bit different. Took one of those, kind of failed that one as well. And that’s kind of when Covid hit, so then I got that about six month gap where there was really no testing or so. So it’s kind of just waiting a little bit and then we kind of got back into it the fall of 21 Or I guess no, the fall of 2020 and then started like kind of looking up ways to study better and stuff like that. Still was going through my old process still as I was doing it. And then finally like around January started like looking into you In, uh, 2021 and I was like, all right, let me start using some of these methods to kind of see what’s going on and see if I can get any better.
Grant: Cause I think it took me, to do FAR, it took me about 10 times to pass and it was anywhere between 66 to that, like 74. So I was like.
Nate: Oh man.
Grant: I was there and I knew like, for me it was like persistence was going to get me through. But then the thing that was always in the back of my head is I can’t do this for all the others.
Grant: It can’t take that long. So I could get it through one, but that process is not going to work for the rest of them. So that’s when I was like, alright, I gotta change something up with my study methods.
Grant’s Study Process Before SuperfastCPA
Nate: Okay and uh, okay, so before we go on to what changed, um, so, you would just, when you sat down to study, you would, for whatever lesson, I’m guessing watch the video, read the chapter, you would just do all that?
Grant: Correct. So I typically used it at night after work study for about four or five hours. Just basically doing the old way just kind of going through.
Grant: I like the motions, I felt like you spent all that time, but you really didn’t retain that much in those four to five higher sessions so like I knew it was a waste but I just, that’s what I thought you had to do, so.
Nate: Right. Yup. Yeah. I just don’t, you just don’t know any better. That’s the thing is the review courses. Don’t, uh, yeah, they just, they don’t come with, like a strategic set of instructions, you know. Or they’re also not gonna say, okay, a lot of this stuff in our video lecture doesn’t actually translate to the question so don’t worry about it. I mean, they’re not gonna say that either.
Nate: Anyways, yeah, you kind of have to figure this all out on your own.
Studying Non Stop the Traditional Way With No Social Life
Nate: Um, so that’s a lot of study time so four to five hours a night for a few months per section and were you taking big chunks of time off? Or was this like a year straight of studying that much every night?
Grant: So it was kind of weird because like when I first started they had like the windows.
Nate: Okay, that’s right.
Grant: You take it and then you had to wait for like two months depending on when you took it to get your results. So I would normally take a break in between that until I got the results and kind of the way that I did it too is I kind of I lined up my schedule to say for like another two, three months into the next month.
Grant: So it did give me like a month and a half to two months off of no study.
Grant: Going into like the new testing window back then.
Nate: Gotcha. Okay. But when you were studying your whole, I mean, I’m guessing your whole life was just like work and study if you’re studying four or five hours a night.
Grant: Typically, yes.
Grant: I didn’t really have much of a social life.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah. It’s pretty boring, miserable, whatever you want to call it. It’s hard for that to go on too long. Kind of like you said, once you finally pass FAR, it’s like, okay, great. I passed one, but I have three left and I just can’t keep doing it like this, so. Yeah.
How Grant Found SuperfastCPA
Nate: Um, okay so, at somewhere around there you had, did you see one of our ads or, or watch one of the free webinars or how’d you find us first?
Grant: Yeah. So basically, like most people on your podcast, the YouTube videos, um.
Grant: Saw one of those kind of went through the process. I think I was actually listening to some of the other, like, podcasts that you had with, uh, some of your, the other, like, people that were in, basically, in this process as well.
Grant: So I was like, all right, well, if they’re, like, finding a method… Let’s try it. I got nothing to lose here, so.
Nate: Gotcha. Okay.
What Clicked for Grant from the Free Training Webinar
Nate: So, um, do you remember, was there any like, aha moment when you watched our free training or the pro videos or whatever? Like, what was the main idea that was a big shift from what you’ve been doing? That made sense to you?
Grant: Probably the biggest thing was just, like, going through the multiple choice questions. So, like, I wasn’t going through that much for the multiple choice questions when I was originally studying. It was more of just going through, like, the lectures and the videos and kind of writing stuff down. And that was, like, the big thing is, like, alright, now how many multiple choice questions can I get through in a session that would normally just take reviewing all the stuff where I’m not really, like, yeah, I’m kind of paying attention, but I’m not, like, during the videos, stuff like that.
Grant: And then, like, actually, when you’re taking, like, the multiple choice questions, you’re actually very alert into, like, the material. Figuring out, oh, if I did get this wrong, why did I get this wrong? You’re, like, I feel like you’re more in depth to the study and you’re more in tune to it. And you have to stay focused when you’re doing those multiple choice questions.
Nate: Exactly. Yes. That’s, that’s such a huge thing. Is, uh, if you’re just sitting back in your chair… Watching video lectures, I mean, you can tell yourself that’s studying, you know, but very low impact on your brain and, and as far as like giving you a functional understanding of being able to answer questions on the topic and then, uh, doing multiple choice, like you said. It’s a strategy in itself, but just the nature of it means that you’re, you have to be like sitting up, you clicking things, you know, okay, read this question and only, you know, versus reading like a huge wall of text in the textbook or whatever, read a paragraph, click a button and it reveals an answer.
Nate: And it’s just so much more like active or engaging on your brain.
Grant: Yeah, that’s why I kind of like was like referring to it. It’s more like active study instead of like passive like studying.
Grant: It’s kind of like how I approached it.
Nate: Yep, that’s a huge, huge distinction.
Grant Shifted His Study in the Mornings
Nate: So did you ever switch to studying in the mornings or did you keep doing it at night?
Grant: So I did, it’s like starting going into like when I got close and then passing FAR, I switched to the mornings. So I did switch, uh, like my jobs too. So I originally was working at seven in the morning, like seven to four. And then I started working from 830 to five. So then I had that time in the morning.
Grant: That I was able to study as well, and it made it a lot easier.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah, again, despite the strategies you’re using, I just think, like, two hours in the morning when your brain is fresh is worth a lot more than four hours when you’re just tired already at night.
Grant: Correct, yep.
Nate: Yeah. Um, let’s see. So, so you switch to the morning.
Nate: You’re doing the, did you have our PRO course videos or just the study tools?
Grant: Um, I think I just had your study tools in the beginning and then I think the, I don’t know if the PRO course materials were out when I originally got the course.
Nate: That might be.
Grant: Around like as I was already through it, but
Started Implementing the Superfast Methods All At the Same Time
Nate: Okay, so did you ever watch like a series of videos about the study process or kind of just what you gathered from the? Oh, you did.
Grant: Yeah, so I did watch those I think that was a little bit later on after I already had like your study materials and like I, like the two hour study session in the morning and I kind of went with that. Like once I started getting into that groove and find my rhythm is like alright two sets of the multiple choice questions and then just a little bit of the sims. Um, kind of like how you talked about with the sims too, I didn’t really spend much time on the sims.
Grant: I did the sims, but I normally just selected the, like, showed me the answer right away, and I was like, alright, then kind of worked through it, and alright, this is how they’re getting this answer, this is what I need to be looking for in this, and that’s how I kind of spent the sims when I was doing those, during those, like, morning sessions as well.
Nate: Okay. Okay, so, you do FAR. You finally pass. Then you kind of shift your study strategies.
The Transition to the Questions First Approach Became Easier After Passing FAR
Nate: Um, so when you changed your strategies to more just going straight into the multiple choice basically, was there kind of an adjustment period, or did you kind of feel like it was working better pretty quickly right off the bat?
Grant: It, like, was working relatively quickly after that, so I think after, like, finally passing FAR, I think like all the others, it only took me like one or two more times to like between passing the rest of them. So like I would potentially, like if I did fail, like I think I failed each one, I think once or twice, but they were all in the 70s range.
Grant: So I was there, it’s just needed to tweak maybe something a little bit more here or there. Um, but then I was able to, once I passed that FAR and I kind of got in that rhythm, I passed those next three within like six months.
The Mental Stress Was Less After Adopting the SuperfastCPA Method
Nate: And then, so how about the daily, well, the daily process, but as far as your sense of, uh, let’s say like overwhelm or stressed out level from the first year to then this kind of new process, did you just find it less stressful and your days were less.
Nate: Or like your days were easier as far as studying and work and you had time in the evenings to do whatever you wanted.
Grant: Yeah. So like, obviously the old way, it was just like, I felt like that was all I was doing. And it was just, it was mentally and physically just exhausting. And then once going to the morning sessions, it was nice because I was able to kind of get that like done in the morning, get my work done.
Grant: And in the evenings, I would spend a little bit of time kind of just like reviewing some of my notes, something like that, kind of making a little bit of my flashcards from like the mobile choice questions that I maybe got wrong. Like that morning, I would just maybe write them down to like kind of create my own study guide.
Grant: But I didn’t like try to do too much like mental stress, like to make sure that I was prepared for the next morning. I’m kind of going into the morning fresh.
Grant: So it was nice to kind of relax a little bit in the evenings. And not have to, knowing that I still was able to accomplish what I wanted to from a study perspective already for that day.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah. It just makes, it makes your work less stressful because you’re not dreading this four hour session after work, you know, so, I mean, I’m sure you experienced that and just, it’s locked in in the morning. You just can, I don’t know, just kind of makes you feel good to have that big task done like your big important task for the day is already done before you even start work. Yeah.
Consistent Use of the SuperfastCPA Materials Helped Things Click More
Nate: Um, okay, so one thing you said on here I was gonna ask you about, so you said once I was using the study tools every day stuff started clicking more so I’m assuming you mean our study tools on the app. You would kind of use those throughout the day?
Grant: Yes. So, um, I like to work out in the morning because that makes me feel better in the morning too. So, I would typically work out before I would study.
Grant: So, I would basically during that workout is I’d go through the audio notes. So, I would listen to those while I’m working out, going to the gym. And by, the gym’s a little far away from where I live. So, like basically I could almost get through the whole audio notes on like one and a half speed. Basically, driving to the gym, working out, coming back home, or going to work.
Grant: And then basically I would spend, that was like the initial part, and then I’d spend that two hour study session of basically just working on the multiple choice questions and, uh, or the simulations. And then I would do like some of those, uh, mini quizzes, um, throughout the day. Kind of like the last like five minutes on the hour kind of thing.
Grant: It’s a little bit of a break from work. Um, kind of standing up. It was nice because then like for me, like I sit all day. So it was like, all right, get up for five minutes, kind of scroll through the, on my phone, do the questions and then kind of get back to work for a little bit, so.
Nate: Yeah. Okay. And so was that like another layer you kind of got serious about at some point after FAR like.
Nate: Making it a focus to use the study tools, or did you implement that like right after FAR with these other changes?
Grant: Um, I started using that on FAR. Um, I like the audit or the, the notes too. And I think one things that I did after FAR is I would listen to the audio while I was reading the notes. I kind of like just basically to do both. I did that after FAR and I wish I would have done that before because it was very helpful and beneficial.
Grant: And that was like one thing that I kind of used too, uh, like that last like weekend before the test was kind of go through that one more time, just make sure that anything and everything was kind of wrapped up, so.
Creating a Study Guide Using a Voice Recorder App
Nate: Now, the following along in the notes while you listen to them, did you hear that on a previous episode or did you just kind of discover that yourself?
Grant: Um, I started doing that by myself, but I did hear other people do that and it kind of confirmed like, all right, like this is working and this should like work if other people are doing it as well. Um, it was just me because like, and then I took that kind of to the next level too where like when I was writing my own like study guide.
Grant: I had like a voice recorder app and I would record myself like reading my study notes to myself and then I would kind of do the same thing with like my like questions that I was getting wrong continuously and stuff like that that you like kind of say like write down so like kind of re reiterate those if you keep getting them wrong so I kind of did that same approach as well kind of modified it to my own struggles and like all right this is how I need to do my review because it works when I’m doing like your stuff. It should be able to, like, with some of the questions I’m getting wrong, to kind of basically embark that into my head and stuff like that so I, kind of get it, so when it’s test time, it’s just, it’s a no brainer, so.
Nate: Yeah. That’s, okay, yeah, that’s a good idea. That’s like the next level of making your own flashcards, I guess. Kind of recording yourself. So, was it mostly like, uh, you would pull up some questions that you would typically struggle with and then kind of have the solution in front of you and try to kind of teach itself or teach it to yourself out loud and record that.
Nate: Is that what you’re talking about?
Grant: Yeah. So basically if I got a question wrong, I would basically write down why, why I got it wrong or what is the right answer to that question. And then basically like at the end of the week or so I’d have like a list for like each kind of section. And then like for one section, I would just go through the whole, uh, like all my notes and basically record myself telling me, all right, this is the answer to this.
Grant: This is why this is the answer, then go to the next one. And then I basically say, like each module is a different section. So I could go back and listen to just, all right, this is module one, chapter one, like these are problems I was struggling with your chapter two. So it kind of like kept along and then with that, like, If I understood it and I didn’t need anymore, then I could delete those and kind of create new ones and kind of go from there.
Grant: Kind of progress as long as I, like, through my studying process.
Nate: Yeah, that’s a good idea. That’s, uh, I think you’re the first one that said something like that. I mean, it’s funny because just the call, well, the call I was on before this, um, today, he was explaining his way of doing notes where, He would take notes his first time through a lesson or questions or whatever and he would color code it. He would just classify it as like I still don’t understand this or I’m kind of comfortable with it. Or I’m like I have this] nailed and then eventually If it, if he just felt completely comfortable, he deleted off his notes, so his notes would get big and then he’d like whittle him down by the time he got to his review.
Nate: That’s basically what you described with the audio. Um, so you record yourself, so you have those, like you said, and then would you start weaving those into your morning like audio listening thing or when would you listen back to your own notes?
Grant: Um, typically in the evenings. So something that’s kind of like a de stresser, like kind of just listening to myself, like kind of like talking to myself about the materials and stuff like that.
Grant: I didn’t, I didn’t try to do like not too much like actual studying in the afternoons. It was more of just like kind of that review process to like a next level without actually sitting down and doing the review.
Nate: Gotcha. And was that also when you would… Cause obviously, uh, when you said listening to our notes while you read them, you’ve got to be like sitting there looking at your phone.
Nate: So would you do that in the evenings as well? Just kind of weave that all in.
Grant: Correct. Yeah. So I did, I tried to do those about maybe like once or twice a week of listening to like your audio notes with the actual notes. And then with mine, it’s kind of the same thing. Like I wouldn’t do it every night, but it would, I try to do it at least two to three times a week just to kind of stay consistent.
Grant: And trying to kind of mix it up of like what I was doing to kind of keep it fresh where it’s not like you’re doing the exact same thing every single day. So it’s kind of like something different, new.
Nate: Yeah, yep.
Grant’s Note Taking Process Along with the Audio Guide
Nate: Um, so what about, I mean, you basically answered this, I think. Did you have any other form of taking notes or did you use flashcards or was it mostly your, the little audio things you made, like you described.
Grant: Yeah, it was just like, I would write down the, like, basically the answers to the questions I got wrong, and I would kind of use, like, that materials as, like, my study guide. Like, I did, I had, like, the audio notes for them as well, but I still, like, kept, like, them written, and I would kind of go through those, and I would make some changes.
Grant: Kind of like how you talked about on that prior call, where, like, I… As I got more comfortable with that stuff and I didn’t, like, I didn’t need to really study it and review it as much anymore, I would just delete it off that sheet. So I still had that, like, piece of paper as well that I would just kind of study and I would take that with me to the exams to kind of just look at, but.
Nate: Okay. Uh, so yeah, I guess we can go to that.
What Grant on the Weekend Leading to Exam Day as a Final Review
Nate: So, your, what was your final review process like? Like, how long would you leave for it? Leading up to an exam and, uh, what would you do for your final review?
Grant: So one thing that I struggled with is I tried that 48 cram session a couple times And what I found out is is when I took my test on Monday I was so mentally exhausted that I didn’t do well on the exams So I bumped it up a week weekend earlier And kind of do that, and then I would, as the week, I guess, progressed, I would kind of gradually reduce my studying a little bit.
Grant: So then I would go into the exam fresh. And that worked for me, um, just like, I felt like I was more alert on what it was, like the cram session was nice, but then it was just, like it was good to get all the information in the book.
Nate: Too much.
Grant: Too much in the beginning. So, I kind of would do that, and then kind of lean off towards the end of the week to study. So I would do that. And then Saturday and Sunday, I would just kind of do short, like four hour times, like just get as much as I could during that time, but not try to overstimulate myself. And then typically like the night before I would do the, listen to the audio while I was like reading it as well.
Grant: And then that would be like the last thing that I would kind of do that night. And then for me, since I was already kind of used to studying in the morning, I took my test in the morning just because it’s the same kind of mentality of I’m fresh and holding to it. So I basically would try to arrive about an hour early and I would kind of go through like my notes that I took, the questions that I kind of struggled with, kind of review those while sitting in the parking lot and then basically just go into the test.
Nate: Nice. That’s a, yeah, that’s a good perspective. I’ve heard that several times that the, uh, just doing it, the 48 hours, like as much as you can possibly study, then walk in just doesn’t, you know, doesn’t work for some people.
Nate: And I probably, when I started this, I would have said like, no, you got like, you, you gotta do every part the way, like the way I did it. But uh, doing these interviews, I’ve just learned a lot. Like people take an idea and just for them find like a personalized way of doing it. And uh, yeah, that’s a good uh, that’s a good point. And that’ll probably be really helpful to a lot of people that, that idea like stresses them out.
Nate: Studying 10 hours a day right before their exam. Yeah. Um. All right, so that was your final review.
Adding Extra Study to Catch Up During Weekends
Nate: What about Weekends, did you study any differently or save certain, things you would do on weekends. How long did you study on the weekends, just what was your weekend process?
Grant: Typically weekends was kind of like the weeks except I just would go a little bit longer I kind of try to fit depending on the day. Like an extra, so I did about four to six hours in the mornings. Um, so I just basically extend what like you talked about with just adding a little bit more multiple choice questions and then kind of go a little bit more in depth with some of the simulations if like I was struggling on that content area or I’d look at like what the exam like blueprint was and kind of like, all right, these are some of the simulations that more than likely would be on the test.
Grant: I have the weekends. I have the time. I can spend a little more time on. All right, this is what might possibly show up. Along with like the, um, AICPA, like simulate, like practice test. I’d go through that and kind of see like, alright, can I do their simulations? And if I felt comfortable with that, then I felt like I was in pretty good shape.
Nate: Yeah. Okay, so that, I guess that’s one other question.
How Grant Prepared for Task Based Simulations
Nate: I think you might have mentioned this, but, so did you mostly save sims for that last week or so? Or were you working on them all the way through?
Grant: I kind of used them a little bit, um, like, throughout the process. I didn’t do too many. I did only about like three to five.
Grant: Um, and it was very quick, kind of making, more of a formatting issue. Um, kind of getting myself comfortable for what they would look like when they were on the exam. Um, for me that’s kind of why I liked Becker because, like, the formatting kind of looked the same. So it was kind of like no surprises. Like I know that’s, that was just my thing because I don’t like test anyway.
Grant: So it’s like, all right, what’s the most like similarity, like perspective wise, at least from a formatting perspective of what the exam looks like. And then that’s why I did the sims too. Just like, all right, muscle memory. Like I’m not going into shock when I see these on the exam. It’s not like I’m seeing them for the first time.
Grant: Like I’m seeing like the formatting is the same, it’s just different questions being asked.
Nate: Yeah. Okay. So, so basically you’re saying you would all the way through your process, you would do whatever X number of MCQs, but you would also try to do like three to five sims a day.
Grant: Yep. Yeah.
Nate: Okay. Yeah. And that’s kind of, that’s something I’ve kind of started telling people is, I guess it kind of depends.
Nate: Like just everyone’s different, like we were saying, but some people, what I hear on these interviews a lot is people are like, I didn’t look at the sims at all. I mean, I did a few in the final review just to see the format, but through my study process, none. And that to me is like, well, I’d do a little bit more than that.
Nate: Or like if someone’s really struggling and they email me about, you know, I’ve failed this like three times. Then I’ll tell them like, it’s probably the sims. I mean, usually that’s what it is, so. Start working those in daily. But yeah, it’s just a personal thing.
Grant: Yeah, I was like looking at the results of like when I didn’t pass and a lot of it was coming from the sims.
Grant: So I was like, all right, like I need to spend a little more time and focus on those. And I felt like for me, like with multiple choice, like with doing so many, I kind of was starting to see that repetition of like the question stuff, which isn’t a bad thing, but like I kind of was getting in that muscle memory.
Grant: But then, I felt like I truly understood what the concept was if I was able to basically answer the questions in the sims because it was just asked in a little bit different way and it kind of just made sure that I was concrete on that concept of all right this is what this is actually talking about and this is how to answer it no matter what kind of format the exam has for me.
What Grant Did to Pass the Retake
Nate: Um, okay, another question I had thought of was, so your last three, you said that you basically kind of failed each one once, and then you would pass the retake. So you go in, you take it, on each of those, did you come back once it was then going to be a retake? And did you study any differently, which then, you know, got you the passing score, or was it just applying your strategies for another few weeks and that got you over the hump?
Grant: It was basically just applying the strategies a little bit differently, um, kind of would see, like, what content and stuff was kind of more focused on the exams and knew that, like, this is what I need to study for, kind of a little bit more in that, for that retake. Um, but other than that, it was kind of the same strategies, it might have just been what topics to maybe focus on a little bit more than others.
Nate: Gotcha. Yeah. And that’s, there’s a lot to be said about seeing the real exam and, you know, like you said, that’s, that’s probably kind of all it was, was just, you’re studying for several weeks, you go in, take it, get really close, but you also obviously saw the real exam, so then you can just tweak a few things and then you pass, and.
Grant: Like, yeah, and one thing like I did too is I kind of scheduled my test to where. Like with the windows of it, the results coming back within like that week, week and a half. So then, like I still kind of studied a little bit, like not knowing if I passed or failed, just to make sure that like if I needed to do the retake, I was ready to go as soon as I got that results back.
Nate: Yeah. Um, so on each of those retakes, how long would you set it for? Like three or four weeks away or?
Grant: Yeah, basically as soon as like. I would try to find, obviously, the availability of when it was and the date that I wanted and it kind of went from there, but yeah, it was no more than three to four weeks.
Nate: Yep. Okay, um, So I think I’ve kind of asked you, let me just look through the little things you typed in to see if I have any other questions.
Nate: Yeah, so I think we kind of went through everything I normally ask. Um, what would be, so the last thing I always ask, or actually, let me, didn’t you say you listen to these] podcasts a lot?
Nate: Or, yeah.
Finding Time to Listen to Podcasts and Taking Notes
Nate: So for your morning commute and everything, or I mean, driving to the gym, working out, you would listen to our audios.
Nate: When would you listen to all those podcasts?
Grant: Um, typically in the afternoons. In the afternoons or maybe during work, um, I just put them on, kind of listen to them and like, maybe write down, like, what strategies kind of work for them, and kind of saying, alright, am I doing something similar to this, um, is this something that I can apply on my study schedule? Um, like, is this something that would work for me? So I kind of would like take it in, and like, alright, kind of digest and see, like, cause obviously at the time I wasn’t passing, so I was like, they’re doing something different than what I’m doing, and so like, trying to find that strategy, I was kind of, taking a little bit here and there from any of these, uh, interviews and like, all right, can I apply this to my, basically my strategy to make it work?
Nate: Yeah. And I think you mentioned this in the beginning, but you kind of used it as a, like a motivation resource. It sounds like.
Grant: Yes. Yep. So there’s something that’s like, a lot of them is like, all right, they went through the same struggles that I did. They were able to overcome it by just making a couple of changes here or there.
Grant: And like, I knew, like, eventually I would get there, it’s just basically the same boat as like, they were, they were in this position at one point as well. And it’s like, they used something to get them there and like, so yeah, and that’s like kind of a reason why I wanted to like do this as well as like give back to like all the other people that were like, I listened to.
Grant: And hopefully that this can help someone else in this during this process as well.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah. And on pretty much every interview, there’s like, the person will say one thing. I mean, at least one thing.
Nate: That’s just kind of a different version of how I’ve ever heard it from everyone else. And I think you’re, uh, just being, I don’t know, aware enough to be like, okay, the cramming for the 48 hours right before the Monday is, it’s just like too much at one time or whatever it is. It just doesn’t work for me. So if I do that the week before and then just kind of take it easy that week, I’m a lot fresher. I don’t know.
Nate: That’s just one thing. Everyone has to figure out each part is like what version of this works for me, you know? So that’s, that’s going to be one of those things that a lot of people are going to find refreshing if the original version of that, like stresses them out.
Nate: And I’ve heard that before.
Top Tips for People Struggling with the CPA Exams
Nate: So anyways, the last question I always ask is, even if it’s stuff we already covered, what would be your top three tips for someone who’s, you know, like the first year version of yourself, someone just struggling with their process still.
Grant: I think one like big was just finding what strategy works for you.
Grant: Um, I went through a lot of like different like ways of like studying. I was like, all right, I tried flashcards. They didn’t work. Like I tried different methods that like I heard either on this podcast or like kind of what people had suggested for me to do that. And at the end it was like, all right, what works for me, which strategy is best and helps me kind of retain all this information because it is a lot of information and kind of use that to my advantage and kind of use that to basically put myself in the best position to succeed. Probably the first one.
Grant: Um, second one would probably be just consistency. Um, like when I was going through all those like failing FARs, it was just like, I knew that consistency was the only thing that was gonna get me through this. Like just not stopping, basically studying every single day, like was eventually gonna get me through in that persistence was gonna get me to the end.
Grant: Um, and then probably like the third thing was just like the morning sessions really helped and they really like, kind of worked for me. Um, and kind of continuing doing that, like even on the weekends and this test, like basically keeping everything consistent in the mornings. Um, was beneficial and kind of, obviously, like you say, like it’s, you’re fresh, you can use that all your energy basically on that prep and you feel like you’ve accomplished a day even if you don’t do anything else the rest of the day, so.
Changing Study Sessions in the Morning
Nate: So the morning studying, was that something you kind of heard from listening to these other episodes or was it just looking back and just thinking like, okay. Studying at night when I’m already tired is just not working. Was it just something you just decided for yourself?
Grant: Um, it was like things I heard like on here.
Grant: And like when I really thought about it, I was like, I do do better in the morning. I’m more of a morning person anyway. It just made sense to make the change to study in the morning. I just never really like thought about it. Um, cause I was like, you don’t really think about people studying before work.
Grant: Like, I guess in college or two, you don’t really study before classes, like you’re only studying the night, like, at night, so it’s just, it’s just a shift of kind of like a mentality of like, you can study in the morning and it’s, it’s okay, like.
Nate: Yeah. Um, so for you to do that, go to the gym, work out, then study for two hours, I mean what time were you having to get up?
Grant: So I’d get up at four, work out, and then try to be back by about like 6:30/7, and then study right before work, so. Then potentially, like, depending on the day, I’d use like that lunch hour to just do like 30 multiple choice questions again and then go from there.
Nate: Cool. Yeah. Awesome.
What Grant Found Most Helpful from SuperfastCPA
Nate: Well, um, sorry, one more kind of a feedback question.
Nate: What was, what was like the number one most helpful thing about once you added SuperfastCPA to your process? Was it like our study tools or specific study tool or just the overall strategies? Like, what do you think was the most helpful part of it?
Grant: I think it, like the multiple choice, like the mini quizzes was nice because it, it gave me a chance, like no matter what I was doing, I was able to kind of still spend a little bit of time studying. Even if I only was able to get through maybe two questions at the time, like it’s just something to kind of get my mind thinking and kind of, it was I would do those before the exam as well like before I went to go study because it’s like just to kind of get my like mind in that right mindset of like. All right, kind of this is what we need to be doing and kind of get myself engaged in the questions and the material stuff like that so it’s nice to kind of like, like get yourself prepared for what needed to happen Um, that was like the biggest thing for me. It’s just like, it was nice because then I was able to use that on some of like my like materials as well. It’s like, all right, I don’t have to do 30 questions of these. I can break those down and do only 10 questions or 15, like depending on the day.
Grant: And just, I don’t have to do all 30 at one time. Um, which made it nice because you can kind of just focus your energy on just 10. Get those mastered and then basically do another set of 10 if you need, if you had time for it.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah. That’s a, like when I was studying, I mean, I, I did it the exact way that I’m always talking about or what’s in the PRO videos is just, so I studied from my phone relentlessly.
Nate: And what I really liked about that was every little five or 10 minute mini session, it doesn’t have the same, uh, you don’t have to, like, gather yourself and gear up to sit down for, like, two or three hours. It doesn’t have the same mental, like, burden factor, dread factor. That’s what I always call it. Yeah, it’s just easy to pull out your phone and do five questions and then, several times a day, it just really adds up.
Nate: Yeah. Alright, Grant. I appreciate you doing the call and, like you said, adding back to the library of interviews that people can listen to, and congrats on being done.
Nate: Thank you.
Nate: So that was the interview with grant. I’m sure you found that very helpful and motivating and insightful just to see, when you make a few key changes, as long as they’re the right changes, you can get dramatically better results from less study time. And a lot of times, a lot less study time.
Nate: So, if you found this helpful or these episodes in general, or the podcast in general, please take a second to share it with someone else. You know, who’s also working on their CPA exams because these interviews collectively are easily the most helpful free resource available anywhere for someone trying to figure out how to study effectively for the CPA exams.
Nate: So thanks for watching or listening and we’ll see you on the next episode.