In this SuperfastCPA podcast interview, you’ll hear how Alenia scored a 96 on her first exam, but it came at such at a cost that she wanted to learn how to study more efficiently.
She found and adopted the SuperfastCPA study methods, and after that was able to pass her remaining CPA exams studying just 2 hours a day.
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- 00:00 Alenia Interview Final Video
- 04:53 Listened to SuperfastCPA Podcasts Religiously for Motivation
- 08:05 Alenia’s CPA Journey and Not an Accounting Major
- 11:26 How Alenia First Came Across SuperfastCPA
- 12:25 When Alenia Tried to Study the Traditional Way
- 14:25 The Time Alenia Decided to Trust the SuperfastCPA Method
- 15:47 What Happened During Her First CPA Exam
- 17:30 Was in Disbelief that She Got a 96 on Her First CPA Exam
- 18:21 The Realiziation the Need to Just Pass the CPA Exam
- 20:01 Failed for the First Time on FAR and How Alenia Studied for the Retake
- 22:49 Ended Up Taking Her 3rd CPA Exam Earlier than Scheduled and Passed
- 24:44 Alenia Found BEC to be the Most Difficult from the Four CPA Exams
- 27:34 Recently Found Out that She Just Passed Her Final CPA Exam
- 30:09 Already in the Process of Applying for her CPA License
- 32:06 How Alenia Studied by Reading the Becker Book for Her FIrst Exam
- 34:31 After Constantly Listening to the Audio Notes, Things Start to Click
- 37:01 The Habit of Reading the SuperfastCPA Notes First Before Diving Into a Topic
- 38:41 Learning from the Questions First Approach is the Key
- 42:18 Developed Her Own Method of Learning
- 46:20 How Alenia Worked Through Learning the Sims
- 49:26 The Time it Took Alenia to Finish the Tests on Exam Day
- 52:03 The Sims are Just a Glorified MCQs
- 52:50 Alenia’s Tip for the Authoritative Literature Questions
- 56:26 The Way Alenia Wrote Her Flashcards for Retention
- 57:59 Alenia Also Made Use of Another Supplement Material for Understanding
- 01:05:39 The Flexibility of Adjusting Study Sessions
- 01:08:29 The Idea from SuperfastCPA Free Webinar That Caught Alenia’s Attention
- 01:10:50 Fully Utilize Your Study Materials and Never Skip a Day
- 01:13:51 Installed Spotify Again for the Podcasts
- 01:15:03 Alenia’s Top Tips for People Still Struggling with the CPA Exams
- 01:22:04 Planning Helps You Stay on Track
Alenia: Finally, I’m talking to you and it seems so surreal. Cause I was like, once I started like after the fifth podcast that I read, that I heard, and then I started watching them on YouTube, um, as well, I was like, okay, one day I’ll be there and I’ll just share my story too.
Alenia: And I want to share all the things that I grabbed from the podcast and that I made up so I can tell everybody. Hey, don’t give up. Um, it’s a very, very grueling process, but you can do it. If I can do it, everybody else can do it.
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 Alenia.
Nate: So Alenia got into accounting in a roundabout way. She did her bachelor’s in marketing actually, and then she did her first masters, not in accounting. And then she came back around through finance to do a master’s that fulfilled the requirements for her to take the CPA exams.
Nate: She was very busy in her job and she was finding the study process very difficult because she didn’t have the foundational accounting knowledge of doing a bachelor’s and then a master’s in accounting. So at some point, she was trying to balance spending all this time trying to learn the foundations of accounting and the CPA exam material while working her very busy job.
Nate: She saw one of our ads and saw me claiming that you could pass these exams studying just two hours a day. So she got our program, watched all the PRO videos and now she’s on the podcast. She has a lot of very good tips to share for anyone, but especially because she was essentially starting from scratch when she was studying for the CPA exams and she just has a lot of really good insights and tips and strategies to share in this interview. This is one of our longest interviews that we’ve published and so there’s just a lot of really good stuff in this interview with Alenia.
Nate: So before we get into the interview, I just want to mention basically the free training webinar. If you’ve seen one of our YouTube ads, that’s where it takes you. If you’re wondering where you should start with SuperfastCPA, that is where you should start. So the link to one of these free training webinars is down below in the description or in the description of the podcast, if you’re just listening to this.
Nate: And that will take you to these one hour webinars where we walk through our six core study strategies that will make your study process highly effective and highly efficient. So that like, in a Alenia’s case, even if you feel like you’re extremely busy. If you can just find two hours a day to study, you can pass your CPA exams efficiently, quickly and make it relatively stress-free once you get the process figured out. And that’s what we cover on those free trainings.
Nate: So with that out of the way, let’s get into the interview with Alenia.
Nate: You’re, uh, central time?
Alenia: Yes. Yes, I’m in Texas.
Nate: Where are you at? Oh, Texas. Okay.
Alenia: I’m in Houston, northeast side of Houston.
Nate: You guys, you probably didn’t get any of the big storm today. No snow there.
Alenia: Um, no, it’s actually pretty sunny and very hot.
Nate: Oh, that’s awesome. We got like seriously four feet of snow today or last night and today in Salt Lake.
Alenia: That is crazy. No, I, I actually, I was, it’s funny cause Texas weather is just one day it, um, there’s a meme that says that you go through all the seasons on one day. Yeah, this morning was like rainy and all gray and now it’s sunny outside and.
Nate: That’s nice. Our winter has been crazy. I mean, it snows here normally, of course, but.
Nate: Uh, this winter has just been, uh, you know, like I know by the number of times I got to get the snowblower out, usually it’s two or three times a winter where it’s bad enough, but this, this winter I’ve had it out like 10 or 15 times. And today I’m not even sure the snowblower can even deal with four or five feet.
Alenia: But that’s my task after this call is to go out there and try to dig out the driveway. So yeah.
Alenia: We get like one inch of snow every 10 years.
Nate: Yeah, I remember hearing when it happened down there a few years ago. Because it’s like a huge deal when it does happen like everything shuts down, right?
Alenia: Yeah It’s funny because it’s like three ice cubes and we all shut down because we don’t know how to deal with that, so.
Nate: Yeah, that’s funny.
Listened to SuperfastCPA Podcasts Religiously for Motivation
Nate: Well, have you listened to any of these interviews before you kind of know how these go?
Alenia: Like my religion, it was what kept me going every day. Um, and actually I want to mention like. Finally, I’m talking to you and it seems so surreal. Cause I was like, once I started like after the fifth podcast that I read, that I heard, and then I started watching them on YouTube, um, as well, I was like, okay, one day I’ll be there and I’ll just share my story too.
Alenia: And I want to share all the things that I grabbed from the podcast and that I made up so I can tell everybody. Hey, don’t give up. Um, it’s a very, very grueling process, but you can do it. If I can do it, everybody else can do it.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah. That’s awesome. Well, I’m glad. I’m glad, uh, we had the episodes so that you could listen to them.
Nate: And that’s the thing we hear over and over now about the podcast is just, obviously we talk a lot of strategy on every episode, but mostly people just kind of use it as their like motivation, uh, to keep going type thing?
Alenia: No, it was, it was like it, the, the day that I was feeling like, no, I can’t do it today.
Alenia: I can’t, it’s just, it, I’m tired. I, life’s coming at me. No, no, I can’t. I would like, okay, maybe I will lis, I will listen to the podcast just to give myself a break and then immediately, like 30 minutes into I, into it, I was like, okay, I gotta go back to study. So, it was a huge motivator for me.
Nate: That’s, okay, I, no one’s ever kind of said it that way. That’s a good idea. Um, that’s kind of like how I, you know, cause I listened to tons of, tons of podcasts. I not this one, I don’t listen to our own podcast, but, uh, and obviously I’m not studying for the CPA, but I list, you know, there’s like sports podcasts, which are kind of entertainment time wasters.
Nate: And then there’s investing podcasts or like news podcasts. And sometimes it takes me a little, I don’t know, I kind of resist listening to those ones, even though they’re like the useful ones. But once I start, then I’m like, okay, yeah, I don’t know. I just find it interesting. For some reason, there’s just something in my mind that some resistance to doing something productive.
Nate: Whereas you’re always down to just waste time, like watch TV or, you know, listen to it.
Alenia: It just gets you going, you know, it’s like, okay, you know, those people were, we’re doing it, we’re doing all the work and for one day you’re just, you know, like feeling like you’re, you don’t want to do anything, you’re just, this process is horrible, why are you submitting yourself to this, there’s so much life on that you’re missing, um, but then you hear them and they’re like, okay, I should go back to it.
Alenia: There’s a goal. There’s like the light at the end of the tunnel, literally. And like one day you’re going to get there. So just, you know, suck it up and do it.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah. Well, that’s good to hear. All right. So we’ll go, let’s get into your, uh, story. I’m excited to hear all this.
Alenia’s CPA Journey and Not an Accounting Major
Nate: So where we always start is, uh, when did you start studying for the CPA the very first time?
Nate: How long ago was it? What was it like in the beginning? Just the whole start from the beginning.
Alenia: Okay, so I’m not an accounting major at all. I did marketing on my bachelor’s and on my master’s I had a focus on management information system and international business. I had an option to get a second master’s between finance and accounting. And I chose finance because I dreaded accounting.
Alenia: Um, and because to me, accounting was kind of like the easy subject on school, so I was like, I want to go into something that I really don’t know about, which was absolutely useless because now I don’t use my finance degree for anything. Um, so, um, I started, um, as an intern on a CPA firm. My goal was to do financial analysis with them.
Alenia: Somehow that turned into being a tax intern and um, that’s when I started all my, um, well I had some accounting, uh, background for, I’m from Columbia, so I had some accounting, um, background on my work experience over there. So they was like, you can do tax? And I was like, okay. So, um, I started with them, um, and a year in I was like, maybe I need to look into this CPA thing and what it is? And I was very reluctant on doing it because it was, I, I heard the stories and I was like, one of the, of the owners of that company wanted to get his CPA, but he was struggling too. So I was like, you know, I don’t know if I, I didn’t, at the time I didn’t even know if I was going to stay in the States.
Alenia: So I was like, you know, I don’t know. If I, if I were to move abroad, will these be worth it? But eventually I decided to, actually it was my, my now husband who pushed me through it. And he’s like, no, you gotta do it. You gotta do it. If you want to keep moving forward, you’re so good. You can do it. He so, kudos to him.
Alenia: He’s kind of the reason why I’m, I’m almost a CPA now. Um, so he was like, okay, get, get yourself ready. Find out what you need. Of course, I needed all the 30 something credits that I needed to get for accounting. I did that. In like a span of two to three years, um, and then it hit 2019 probably, and that’s like, okay, uh, I was, I nailed a job in, um, at BDO and I was like, okay, this is the only firm that will, uh, provide the review materials for me as part of my benefits package.
Alenia: I have to take on this offer now. So I did that. They, uh, I got Becker from them. And, um, I was like, okay, how am I going to do this? And I started, uh, I, I do tax. So my, my men, my mindset was, okay, let me do tax first, REG. So I can get some kind of a confidence boost. And then from then on, I will be like, okay, clock’s ticking.
Alenia: You got to do it. You got to do it.
How Alenia First Came Across SuperfastCPA
Alenia: Um, and I decided to check out the enrolled agent. Uh, certification first. So I did that just to get my feet wet with the material. Um, and that’s when you came in like an angel on YouTube. Randomly. And I was like, okay, maybe I should try this. Cause, um, you know, I’ll, I’ll join the, the free webinar.
Alenia: What do I have to lose? Just one hour of my time, probably. And I did that while I was submitting my timesheet. So, um, I listened to your webinar and those “Aha moments” that you speak about, they were like all of the time, like boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. I was like, okay. But I still did not believe you at the beginning.
Alenia: And I was like, no, no, no, I need to still watch the lectures because that’s not, that’s not something I cannot do. How can, how can I skip the lectures?
When Alenia Tried to Study the Traditional Way
Alenia: So I tried, I tried with the lectures, I kept doing the zoning out and I was like, no, but I still need to watch the lectures. So I did it. I, um, and that at the time I switched jobs, I focused on the enrolled agent thing and I finished it.
Alenia: I am enrolled agent now with the IRS too. Um, I got on vacation, life happened, then my, the company I was working at at the time, I switched companies, I moved from public to industry, switch, um, tax directors, and, you know, with those changes, there comes a lot of work, so it was just impossible for me to study. And I was, I would start, and then drop it, start, drop it, and that was the entire 2020 for me.
Alenia: I would start, drop it, start, drop it. Until, um, I decided finally to like switch jobs because I was like, that’s not sustainable. I cannot start and, uh, start dropping, start dropping. So I switched jobs and the only thing I asked from my, which is my current job that I have now, the only thing that I asked to the hiring manager was like, let me study and after that I’m yours.
Alenia: Like I’m totally committed to everything, but just give me the space. I only need two hours a day. Listen to this guy, I just need two hours a day and just give me 15 minutes breaks to do my mini sessions and that’s all I need. And he was like, okay, if you can do it that like that, um, I don’t have a problem.
Alenia: Try to do it on off season, blah, blah, blah. So really, really, I committed to it on October, 2021. Um, and I started with REG cause I was, I was already, like the material I had already touched the book like three times. So like read the book from start to finish three times. So I was like, okay, it makes sense for me to just keep going on this section.
Alenia: And, but I still watch the lectures. I still watch the lectures because I did not believe you.
The Time Alenia Decided to Trust the SuperfastCPA Method
Alenia: And, um, once it was like my, I scheduled my exam for January 10th, 2022. And it was like, I want to say December the 20th, almost the holidays. And I was still on, I think on Becker, there’s like, you know, everything’s like my module or my chapter.
Alenia: So I was, it was eight chapters and it was, I was on chapter six by December the 20th. And I was like, I need to cover business law, which is like three entire chapters or yeah, three entire chapters in two weeks. So I can do the final review. I cannot do this. I don’t have time. So I was like, okay, it’s time to believe the guy.
Alenia: So I dropped the lectures And I started just following your method to the T and oh my god, what a difference it made. I finished the two chapters in like a week and a half. And then I had plenty of time to do the final review, even to like go back and do the cramming on saturday and sunday. And, uh, reading the notes and like I, I did the flashcards, read them all again, I wrote my heart out on those flashcards, which was probably a mistake on that section, but, um, I read them.
What Happened During Her First CPA Exam
Alenia: And it was exam time and, or test day and I, um, I remember going there and I was like, I don’t know. I don’t know how it’s going to go. This is my first time. Um, I’ll just, you know, it is what it is. There’s nothing else I can learn now. So I, here in Houston, there’s only like two testing centers and they’re both like an hour away from here or for where I am staying.
Alenia: Um, and, uh, I usually schedule them in the afternoon because of traffic issues, because I won’t make it if I schedule them in the morning. So, I would be like, I would stop studying like around 3 p. m., 4 p. m. on Sunday and um, just take the night off and take the morning off. And then, I remember that I, I had a protein shake.
Alenia: Um, some kind of snack and a lot of water and I would, I would drive to the testing center. And I remember going in there and I was like, I don’t, I’m not gonna make this, I’m not gonna, I’m gonna, I’m not gonna make it the, I’m so nervous, you know, and then I finished the test and I was like, you know, there was a lot of stuff that I was like clueless about, but there, theres things that I didn’t realize it at the time, but there were many of the questions that were coming to me with the audio notes.
Alenia: And that was just like, I didn’t even read that in the book when I was, you know, studying or didn’t hear that on the lectures or anything, it was just from the audio notes. So I was like, okay, well, you know, and it was at the time I was not super into like, uh, I didn’t know, I didn’t strategize well.
Was in Disbelief that She Got a 96 on Her First CPA Exam
Alenia: My score release versus when I took the test. So I had to wait like a month. So my anxiety was through the roof. I was like, okay, I have to wait for a month. And finally score release date came. I even forgot the day that score release came out. And when it came out, I was like, what? I got a 96. And I was like, okay.
Nate: That’s crazy.
Alenia: I was like out. I could not believe that. I called my mom. I called my husband. I called my study, my study, my, I didn’t have study mates at the time, but, um, I called everyone I knew that knew that I was on these and I a 96 out of 99, like, and they were like, oh my God, you’re so smart. And I’m like, I’m not, but oh my God.
Alenia: And, um, I was like, in disbelief.
The Realiziation the Need to Just Pass the CPA Exam
Alenia: And that’s when I realized, like, if I made a 96 doing the lectures, doing this and reading the book three times, and I don’t need to, I don’t need to be scoring a 96. Every time, you know, I’m not for the Elijah Watts award, if I, if I earn it, great, if I don’t, I don’t. Um, so I was just like, okay, maybe it’s time to really, really believe the guy for the other sections and just make my life a little bit easier.
Alenia: So that’s what I did. Um, so my next section was FAR. And for that, um, my first language is Spanish. So, but I, I never, hmm, how do I say this? Like, I never studied accounting in Spanish, per se. So, um, I was, I was both, I was comfortable studying the material in English, but it was fun just to, you know, just study it with people that speak my same language.
Alenia: So we, um, there, there was this group on, well, there’s the Becker Facebook groups and all of that stuff. Um, and then there was a bunch of girls that were in the same boat, Spanish speakers and, hey, let’s make a group chat with all of us and discuss this thing in Spanish. And there was like a 30, 20 girl chat, but it ended up being like three of us only, um, that were like really committed to studying it.
Alenia: And, um, I did study print since I want to say February.
Failed for the First Time on FAR and How Alenia Studied for the Retake
Alenia: My, I scheduled my FAR in April and I followed the method, everything. Um, and I failed my first try, um, with a 74, which was painful, but, um, I was so close. I was just like, okay, the method works. It’s just that I was not, I was not there. And also a lot of things happened.
Alenia: Um, my boss at the time quit my company. I had to travel. Um, I work remotely, so I had to travel to the headquarters of the company. So, uh, it was a couple of days there and I, even though I tried to study, it was impossible for me. Um, uh, I also decided to apply for citizenship at the same time because I thought it was a good idea and everything just happened at the same time.
Alenia: And, um, so I think there were a couple of things that kept me out of the loop for the, for this season. That’s why I got the 74. Um, but then I think I, I emailed you and I was like, okay, I need everything. What, why do I need to tell me, tell me, tell me the magic recipe. And, um, you emailed me the video on the retake, the link to the video. And so I watched that on I think it was on a Saturday night and I was like, okay, I had I had my work cut out and I started doing all of the strategies I did my 30 set, my I would do instead of the 30 questions, I would do like whatever section had, like, I think FAR was 33 questions.
Alenia: So I would do 33 that would also help me train my timing on it. So, um, I would adjust that little piece. Um, but then I, I did all the, I, I followed and I did, I followed the method and your video and I waited or I studied for three, four weeks probably. And I sat again in June and passed with an 86. I have my scores here, so.
Nate: That’s a good score.
Alenia: I think, I, I think I was, um, I was really fortunate on that one because I got. I got so good on cashflow and, um, with there’s a, there was this pointer on the illustration and anything. So that helped me out a lot. But, um, and I think that’s one of the things that helped me on FAR, but on the retake, but yeah, I got to set an 86 and I was like, okay, next up, um, I remember I drank a glass of whiskey that day because I was like, okay, I’m past the monster.
Ended Up Taking Her 3rd CPA Exam Earlier than Scheduled and Passed
Alenia: So then I moved to audit and I was so bored. Oh my gosh, that was the that was the worst for me. Um, not because it was hard. It was just boring and I would nose out on the material, really. Um, so, but for that, I did also follow the method to the T.
Alenia: I would do the mini sessions, mini quizzes. Um, I would, I would do my two hours in the morning. Since this was so boring, um, sometimes I had to split the time. And I would do like one hour in the morning and then one hour at lunch time. Because I could not sit just two hours. So I had to split it out. Um, and then my initial plan was to take it on October the 1st.
Alenia: So, but I finished the material so quickly. Um, because I was following the method to the T. I had no distractions. Life was going fine. It was kind of off season. So I finished the material rather quickly. And I was like, I finished like the beginning of September and I’m like, I’m not about to review these for a month.
Alenia: No. I, the next date, the next test, the next test date that they had available at Prometric before, uh, score release date cut off was, you know, uh, September the 6th and I was like, okay, I’ll take it on that day. And if not, I’ll take it as a glorified, very expensive mock and that’s it. And, uh, cause I didn’t even take.
Alenia: A mock for audit or anything. I was like, okay, this is going to be my mock. And if I don’t pass, mock, if I pass, great. And I got a 75.
Alenia: Okay, great.
Alenia Found BEC to be the Most Difficult from the Four CPA Exams
Alenia: Um, so I was like, okay, now I’m, I’m done with the, with the biggest part. BEC is going to be the easiest. Oh my God, boy, was I wrong? I suffered BEC like nobody’s business. Um, to me, it was honestly the hardest section and I think it was the hardest section for me because none of the topics or none of the chapters are related.
Alenia: Like in FAR, it’s yeah, it’s a lot of material. Yeah, it’s hard. But at least you know, the way Becker has it, I don’t know about other review courses because I got, um, they, they had it set up like you got your assets first and then your liabilities, and then you go to the profit and loss accounts and things like that, um, but, and then everything is like kind of intertwined.
Alenia: But with BEC it’s like one chapter has nothing to do with the other. So it was hard for me to grasp the concepts and, um, it was just. It was just bad. So my first, I took my first BEC on, I was initially going to take it in November, no, late October, I had to move it because it was mid October and I was just barely on the half of the book.
Alenia: So then I move it to, I moved it to, um, I think prior to Thanksgiving, but I was still not super, not scoring very well. So I moved it to, um, the early December and I, I took it early December. I thought I was ready and after I went out from the testing center, I was like, okay, it could go either way. I don’t know.
Alenia: But if I, if I managed to pass, it will be. Low 70s, uh, low, um, you know, not 80 or anything, it would be like 75 or 76 probably. And I didn’t pass. I got a 72. So I was like, okay, bummer. Um, watch, watch the video again. I think by that time you had, you had posted more videos on that. So I think there’s a, there’s, there was one that you sent me, the one that you sent me.
Alenia: And then there’s a couple more on the PRO course. Cause I bought the PRO course from you. So I read the whole forum on that. And I was like, okay, maybe I need to apply these and apply that. And, um, I studied my heart out. I think I knew those MCQs by memory. Like I memorized them. But I made sure that even if I knew the answer, I tried to understand what it was, why it was the right answer. Um, and then I, I passed with an 86 and I drank an entire bottle of wine.
Nate: Nice. That’s awesome.
Recently Found Out that She Just Passed Her Final CPA Exam
Nate: So was that just, so, so you’re done then?
Alenia: Yes. Cause I, yes, I I’m done now. I’m done now. When I, when I signed up for the podcast, I had, I was waiting on my BEC score.
Nate: Okay. So, uh, was it just, was it just the last score release? Sorry. We have like a one second delay, so I say something and then you can’t hear me right away.
Nate: Um, yeah.
Alenia: Um, no, it was on the last score release on the 7th, the 6th. But I signed up, I signed up for the, for the podcast, like late January, like the last week of January, because I was debating on whether signing up or not. I wanted, I really wanted to, to sign up when I was done. But I was like, ah, you, I think I got the email or last call to sign up.
Alenia: And I said, should I, should I not, should I wait again for the, I was like, I’ll do it. I’ll do it. And if not, if I don’t pass, well, I’ll let him know. And whatever it is, what it is. So I signed up and. But now I, I do. Um, I, I’m, I’m done.
Nate: That’s awesome. Yeah. Uh, yesterday, you know, last night or today was a score release.
Nate: And yesterday I had three of these interviews and all three of them were waiting for their last score. But by yesterday, they still didn’t have it. And then last night and this morning, it’s like all three of them got it and passed. So on the interview yesterday, they weren’t officially done, they were just waiting for the score, anyways.
Nate: Yeah. Kind of similar. No, because yeah. I saw in yours you said you were done with three, but you’re actually, yeah. You’re done with all four.
Alenia: Yeah. Yeah. I was, again, I was waiting for the score on like late January and um, I got it on February 6th.
Alenia: I just, I cried. I, I, I don’t know what I did. I just, I could not believe it.
Alenia: I still to this day, log in every day and just to check that this is my life right now.
Nate: That’s funny.
Nate: Yeah. Um, there’s you, I mean, when I passed, it was like three or four months where it was like a tangible sense of relief, you know, just like almost like a high, you know, just every time I thought of it, like, oh yeah, I’m done studying forever for the CPA. So yeah, and you’re only 10 days away from when you found out.
Already in the Process of Applying for her CPA License
Alenia: I’m still in the process of licensing now, which is very, very different from this. Don’t, don’t get me wrong. It’s totally, it looks like a lot, but it’s really not. Um, Texas, I heard it’s one of the hardest, um, or the most, they have like a lot of requirements to give you the license.
Alenia: So, um, I had to sign the form saying that I will be a good CPA forever. Um, and then not write that form. And then I had to, I had to find, I had to have, um, one of my supervisors sign up for me for my work experience. But they had to be, according to what I read, it was like 12 months, consecutive months and my current boss couldn’t do it because he’s been with the company for less than 12 months.
Alenia: So I was like, okay, I have to reach out to an old boss. Fortunately, um, I left there with open doors open. So she was very kind and very nice to have it quickly. So that, and then I had to do a CPE course. Um, online pass the exam on that course, open book, of course, but still, you know. And now I mailed the stuff to the board yesterday and now they have to mail me, no email me a link. Yet, do another exam on the rules of professional conduct.
Nate: The ethics.
Alenia: So yeah, pretty much. So I’m still not super done yet, but I’m, at least I’m done with the madness.
Nate: Right. Right. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That’s awesome. Congratulations on being done. That’s, that’s really cool.
Alenia: Thank you. Yes, it’s pretty cool.
Nate: Yeah, just the biggest relief, best feeling in the world.
Nate: So I have a few questions about, you know, things you mentioned.
How Alenia Studied by Reading the Becker Book for Her FIrst Exam
Nate: So, uh, going back to the beginning, you said you read the REG Becker book basically three times. So that’s, that’s a lot of work on, on its own. So when you were kind of studying like that, how many hours a day were you… Like, did your studying just consist of just reading the book?
Alenia: So not really. So I would, I, the way I operate is I have to, um, and this is why I resonate very much with the Superfast method, because I, the way I operate is I have to divide a big task in little mini tasks so I can get the whole thing done. So my initial thought was, okay, I’m going to read 10 to 20 pages a day.
Alenia: It’s a 600 page book, so I can be done with it in about three to four weeks. Um, whilst doing, um, the, uh, lecture on the side, which I will dedicate like an hour, an hour and a half or so to do, and, which was more than an hour and a half to do because I would zone out and rewind, oh, what did he say, oh, no, I’m not underlining, I’m not circling anything.
Alenia: So, and then after that painful two hours, okay, let me do the MCQs. And I was scoring 50, 40, 60, and I was like, okay, this is really not working. Um, but I would still read the book and also I would like try to supplement myself with other stuff because, um, but when I say supplement myself at the time, when I started, I didn’t know about, you know, about other supplements that I, that are in the market.
Alenia: Um, I will like, if since it was REG, I was like, okay, let me go see the, I’m a tax person. So let me see the instructions on this form and see what the IRS wants. Maybe I can make sense of what the book is saying and that would help me. Um, I would also ask my peers like, hey, you know, I don’t, and they will try to explain things to me.
Alenia: Um, but it was like really painful to just grasp everything.
After Constantly Listening to the Audio Notes, Things Start to Click
Alenia: So once I switched to, okay, you know, I, you were on my ears. Um, it was like, I was doing laundry, I was doing the dishes, I was cooking, I was going to get my mail and you were, I was walking the dog and you were on my ears constantly. My husband would have to like, can you please just for one minute, not listen to the guy.
Alenia: Please, one minute. And I was like, I have to, I have every minute, every minute counts. And um, things were started to click. Um, I, I remember on BEC and this is because it’s the most recent section that there’s nowhere in the book that says that, you know, um, econ, well, I, I didn’t even order the book for BEC to be honest, but, um, there’s no, there’s nowhere in the econ section that says, you know, that depreciation gets, it’s taken out because of the, um, it does not count for inflation or something like that.
Nate: Oh, yeah, it’s, yeah.
Alenia: I got that from the audio notes, you know, it’s, and that’s, it just, it just stuck in my mind that, you know, there are some things that are, there were, there, there was a point in my study time that I would finish your sentences because you were, you were all constantly in my mind, in my, in my ears, um, you know, trying to read that.
Alenia: So that, that would, and that also, um, took time away from the reading. Which would tie my brain a lot, um, cause I like to read, don’t get me wrong, I, I have books galore, but I don’t, I like to read for leisure, not painfully, so, uh, that would also make, you know, my brain rest from, you know, it was a different way of, of getting the knowledge and, um, you know, I, I replaced the reading the book with your, with the notes.
Alenia: Um, because, um, I have a Kindle and I’m, I’m mostly on the go cause I work remotely and I, I, yeah, so I just, I, it was just easier for me to either, I, I, I did the thing that people did with, they printed them and they had them bound at FedEx or something. I did that and it, it worked great. Um, but I, it also helped just so you know, if I was traveling or anything.
Alenia: Put it on my Kindle and read them.
The Habit of Reading the SuperfastCPA Notes First Before Diving Into a Topic
Alenia: Uh, one of the habits that I got into is that when I started a section, I would read your notes first before actually going to them into the material. So I would read the notes from start to finish, even if I was like, okay, I’m not. Not following what he’s, what, what the notes are saying.
Alenia: Um, I was like, okay, let me just read them all and then I will start, okay, chapter one, boom, boom, boom. And that will also gave me some kind of, um, like a base line.
Alenia: To start with the studying. Um, so that’s what you, I, I don’t know if that’s what you call planting the seeds, but kind of. So, um, I did that.
Alenia: Um, but yeah, the, the, at the beginning it was just. And again, since I didn’t believe you, I was like, no, no, no, I need to, I need to do that. I need to do the lecture. I need to, yes, let me be good and do the lecture. But I was still zoning out and I was still like, no, this is not really useful for me.
Nate: Yeah, it’s well, it’s kind of like you said. You would read the chapter watch the lecture and then still score, you know in the 50s on the questions. And it’s just because the context is so different.
Nate: It’s, on test day It’s gonna be questions and sims obviously trying to learn primarily from the book in the video lectures is, doesn’t just give you the ability to answer the questions, like either way, you’re going to have to struggle through the questions and learn from the questions. So you might as well just start there.
Nate: It’s just how I viewed it after, you know, cause I failed FAR on my first attempt after doing all that as well.
Learning from the Questions First Approach is the Key
Alenia: No, it is, it is also, for me, I, I didn’t consider myself a good test taker until I applied the super, Superfast method. Um, I, uh, to be honest, I did not, I did not have that skill of grabbing a question and like, oh, okay, this could not be it because, um, I don’t know, A and C are, they’re saying X, Y, Z, and that’s not the answer.
Alenia: So now you’re like a 50% chance of getting it because you’re, you’re down to two choices. So, I, I mean, those things, uh, by learning from the questions were like key. Specifically on, I, I, I used to get super confused, and I, I talk about this because of my GMAT experience. Um, when I was doing my MBA, I, I think I, I didn’t score very high.
Alenia: I think I got them a little bit over the minimum for the, to get into the school. Um, because there’s, the CPA has these questions where they have like the Roman numerals, like one and two, and the choices are like one, two and three are correct, something like that. I would always get so confused on that, but the Superfast method by learning with the question helped me.
Alenia: Okay, well, let me read. I tried to started developing my own strategies also, um, and like, okay, A, B, and C have three, number three on, or Roman numeral three on the, let me read Roman numeral three so I can get rid of more options, more quicker, faster, I don’t know. And again, I, um, I, I became a better test taker because of that.
Alenia: I believe that’s my, that’s my full on belief that I, I became a better test taker by reading the questions and understanding why they were right and why they were wrong and I kind of, kind of like got into the mindset of, I don’t know, maybe I’m going over my reach here, but I kind of like getting to the mindset of the test giver.
Alenia: So you’re trying to trick me this way? You’re not. So, or at least trying to not to fall into that. Um.
Nate: Yeah, no, it’s, I mean, it’s like anything, anything you do a lot of, you’re just going to get better at and you start to, you just kind of recognize the nuances or there’s just all these little levels to it, just stuff. You can’t really put into words. You just get good at answering questions, recognizing patterns, um, the process of elimination for some types of questions, yeah.
Nate: You’ll just do better on test day just because you’re good at doing that, you know, that might add five points to your score just because you’re good at figuring that out. And then another little thing you figure out might be worth another five points, you know, and all that really adds up. And, uh, I think that’s something that, well, obviously people just don’t think about it like that.
Nate: You spend 80% of your study time doing exactly what you’ll be doing on test day. That’s just. That sounds almost too obvious. But most people spend most of their time watching the video lectures over and over, reading the chapter, and that, that kind of learning doesn’t just directly translate to test day like doing the questions and sims does.
Developed Her Own Method of Learning
Alenia: Also, when you, when you look at the examples on the book, or when, you know, they’re trying to go through a full on question on, on the lecture. They teach you one method, you go to the MCQ and then they have another method to solve the same problem. And then they have, you go to another MCQ and it’s the same concept, but a different method.
Alenia: And I was like, okay, at what time am I, you know, I need to pick one to learn. And cause if, if this works. Then I can use just one method to just, you know, answer all of these 10 questions that they have. And that’s kind of what I did. Like I, once I, I found a method that worked for me, sometimes I made up my own methods.
Alenia: I was like, screw that, I can’t do that. Um, I remember when I was doing inventory on FAR, my method was just like, you, I put all of this information on column, on the right column, on the left column. And then. This information on the right column and then my, my, my answer will be right minus left, something like that.
Alenia: And that would, you know, help me also, you know, I’m married to this method now. I don’t need to know all the other methods that they’re trying to show me. Um, because I, I, I get what they’re trying to do. Um, you know, they want you to pass, they have that warranty that, you know, you guarantee you’d pass and God will, will give you more time, will extend your time, whatever it is.
Alenia: Um, so, so they want to teach you everything that they can. They want to push all the knowledge that they can. And that didn’t work for me. I just, and there was a point where I was like the mnemonics thing. I had, sometimes I rearranged the mnemonics. So it would make more sense to me, or it would be a word that I could actually pronounce.
Alenia: or I made my own mnemonics. Um, so, um, things like that.
Nate: Yeah, that is a good point. Um, cause that happened with me a lot. I would you, you come up again when you’re doing just questions over and over, you will find your own way of answering certain types of questions. Um, you know that, I don’t know, I never saw taught anywhere in the lectures or anything and I would almost like, okay, I swear all this is, is this piece and this piece and like, okay, this, this gets to the right answer every time.
Nate: And this is so much more simple. Yeah. You just discover stuff like that by spending most of your time on questions. So I just, uh, yeah, it makes too much sense almost. I mean, yeah, it’s almost like too obvious.
Alenia: And even sometimes, in Excel can give you the answers, you know, um, for, I remember also for, for, for depreciation, I didn’t have to learn all of the, even though I had a method already nailed down for them, um, there’s formulas in there that are out there that you can use.
Alenia: So just learn the formula and just type it in on the, on, on, on exam day and it’s quicker and you can use that extra time for other questions that are a lot like, one of my, I, I took like one hour to solve one SIM because it was huge, but you know, that allowed, I could do that because I had, I gained so much time during my first two testlets on FAR, so I had a lot of the time that I could dedicate to my SIM, my SIMs testlets.
Nate: Yes, that’s, I mean, yeah, that’s by far the biggest strategy for sims, is finishing the MCQs as fast as possible so that you have two plus hours, because you just don’t know what you’re going to see on the sims. You know, you might get one that’s a complete nightmare, like you described. It took a whole hour.
Nate: And yeah, if you only had an hour and a half for all the Sims. You know, you wouldn’t have done very well in the other ones or whatever.
How Alenia Worked Through Learning the Sims
Nate: Um, so on that topic, how did you weave in practice sims to your study process? Did you do a little bit each day or just on the weekends or not much at all? How’d you use them?
Alenia: So the way I, um, spread out my study sessions, um, was, you know, I did your 90 minutes with the new material and then 30 minutes for, um, the, um, the review, daily review. In that daily review, I would, if I had, if I finished a new material, like in, I don’t know, 70 minutes, probably, you know, a little over the 90 minute window, then I would do like one sim.
Alenia: And if not, I will, I would just focus on the same during the weekend. Um, and, um, to be honest, there was a point that I stopped practicing many, many sims because I was like, if I, I started looking at the sims as many, like 10 MCQs just in one.
Alenia: Um, and I was like, okay, if I can do 10 MCQs in 10 minutes, 15 minutes, then, you know, I can allocate 15 to 20 minutes for a sim.
Alenia: And then, um, on the weekends, what I would do is I would do my, um, my new material session in the morning, and then in the afternoon, I would do two, um, just, I would, I would do two sessions with three, um, with three sims each, two to three sims each, um, and that was pretty much it. Um, but my biggest thing with the sims was once I started seeing them as like a, uh, 10 MCQ kind of thing package that just made the whole difference because I could, I was, I started to approach the sims, like one thing by one, by, by itself, and then I would move to the other.
Alenia: It will also help me organize, help me keep myself organized with the exhibit, with the exhibits, because they can get out of hand.
Alenia: Um, so I was like, okay, for this specific question. I only need exhibit A and B so let me just pull up only A and B. Um, and then, you know, from then on, I kind of like that’s how I kind of, um, I was never very good on timing on timing on my sims.
Alenia: So I quickly realized that. So I was like, okay, I need to just work on my, um, on being fast on the MCQs. And, um, then I, I can have a lot of time for, um, to work on the sims.
Nate: Yeah. And, uh, so were you typically finishing the MCQs on test day, like, in under, I mean, I’m sure it was under two hours.
The Time it Took Alenia to Finish the Tests on Exam Day
Alenia: So, um, I think, um, the, on FAR, on my first FAR, that’s where I, I took a little bit over two hours on my first two testlets, and I didn’t have much time, um, to allocate to the sims. But I still have, um, I mean, didn’t have as much time as on the other, um, sections that I took, but at the end of the day, I still did have like an hour, almost two hours to, to finish the whole thing. Um, and none of my tests. I never run out of time. Um, and I think in REG, I left the test. I, I, I clicked submitting it. I still have like 19 minutes on the clock.
Alenia: On FAR, on my first FAR, I had like four minutes on the clock, and then on my second FAR, I had one second on the clock. That was the one with the big sim.
Alenia: Um, so I had one second on the clock. And then for audit and BEC, my first BEC I had like 44 minutes on the clock.
Alenia: Um, I probably, that wasn’t, that wasn’t very good. I, I didn’t pass of course, but, um, I think I should have spent more time writing, but I was tired, to be honest. Um, but on the audit one.
Alenia: It was like I had nine minutes on the clock. So I think one of the main things is to learn how you time yourself, pace yourself.
Alenia: Um, nothing’s going to give you that, not, not the mock tests, not whatever your review course is telling you to do. The only way to do it is if you do the testlet, that you review with the amount of questions on the testlet that you’re going to do. So that’s why I kind of tweaked the 30, the 30 set to, to, oh, it was REG, so it was 38.
Alenia: I would try to do 38 in that same 30 minute window, because that’s what I wanted to do on test day.
Nate: Yeah, that’s and that’s a good idea that just minor adjustment like whatever section you’re studying for the daily set of 30 should really just be that number specifically But yeah in general If you’ve heard every episode I say this almost every episode, those sets of 30 just solve so many problems in advance. Like your timing, like you said, it’s the only way to get really good at your timing. Well, which just means you’re just, you’re just good at answering MCQs, you know, yeah, just solves a lot of things on test day.
The Sims are Just a Glorified MCQs
Alenia: Which is, I mean, and it’s, if you think about it, you know, the MCQs are 50% of the grade.
Alenia: So you really want to get that, at least get your, be stronger on that side. And then you will have to, you will have another two hours to solve eight problems, which sounds like a lot, but it’s really a glorified MCQ. My, that’s how I started to look at it. And, um, once you, cause a lot of, I felt like a lot of people and myself included, when I started, my biggest fear was the sims.
Alenia: Oh my God, the sims, you know, oh, how am I going to do this? They’re so scary. They’re so huge. And they’re really not. Um, there’s just glorified MCQs.
Alenia’s Tip for the Authoritative Literature Questions
Alenia: The only thing that I want to add on that is when you have a research question specifically on REG or FAR and audit. I would say the only way I could, and this maybe comes from me being a tax person, I have to research a lot.
Alenia: So, um, the only way that I could get really, really good on those was to actually go through the code. At least on REG, you can do that also on FAR and Audit. Um, there’s a, if you sign up for the, um, NASBA thing and AICPA, they give you the tools. So they give you the actual stuff that shows up on the exam, um, the authoritative literature.
Alenia: And I say, I tell this to all the people that studied with me. Be good at that because that’s almost like free points.
Alenia: Um, get familiar to, with, you know, the code and, oh, you don’t need to read the whole thing. Just read the little subsections, the titles, read the subtitles and man, uh, get familiar to where things are at.
Alenia: Cause that will save you so much time on test day. I mean, that was for me, that was like, boom, key. Cause I, I didn’t even know how to tackle those questions until I was like, okay, you know, maybe if I approach them the same way I approach my tax research and then I was like, okay, well, what if there’s things that I, I’m a, I’m a tax accountant, but I do international tax.
Alenia: So none of the stuff that I do is tested. Um, so I, and I, I, there’s things that I’m not familiar with where, where they are on the code. So, um, I, the only way that I could do is, you know, go, go ahead, go there, get, get myself familiar with the contents of the thing. I didn’t read the whole thing. I’m not gonna I’m not about to read the 600 pages of code that there is.
Alenia: Um, I just got familiar with where things were and that just helped me so much on test day and because I immediately knew where they were. And then they give you this little tool and this little check box where you can, it’s the advanced search where they can specifically look for stuff in specific articles.
Alenia: Use that, that really narrows down your search and helps you find what you’re looking for, so. Use the checkbox and get familiar with the code.
Nate: Yes. And that’s a really good tip because those research sims can be kind of a landmine. Like it’s only one sim point or whatever, you know, like it’s only like one point, but it’s very easy if someone’s not familiar with the layout of the authoritative literature. It’s easy to go on like a goose chase and waste a half hour on a sim that’s only worth like one point. Um, so it’s both, you’re like, it’s free points and a huge time saver if you just kind of get familiar with where things are before exam day. Yeah, that’s a big, that’s a good point.
Nate: Um, so it sounds like you said you went in and watched our PRO course videos and you were kind of following the strategies exactly so you would do the planting the seeds in the morning and with a set of re-review questions. You do mini sessions throughout the day, like you mentioned, listen to the audios a ton.
The Way Alenia Wrote Her Flashcards for Retention
Nate: Um, you made flashcards and?
Alenia: I used Brainscape to do that. Um, there’s a bunch of people that I share those flashcards. I apologize in advance because there’s some bad words in there, but that was just the way I could, I had to, um, that I could use to memorize, you know, um, I remember this is, this is going to sound bad, but, um, there’s one of the courts on REG that you have to learn and it was like, uh, I don’t know, but I associated it with a UTI.
Alenia: Why is that? I don’t know, but that’s how I was able to remember it. And, um, I mean, there’s a lot of stuff and I, I owe, or, and like, for instance, the carry the carry forwards that are now like forever at my, my flashcard literally says Wakanda forever. Cause that’s how I would remember stuff. Um, so a lot of, I would, I would always share them.
Alenia: And, you know, if anyone wants to reach out and wants my flashcards, I will definitely share them. But just with that caveat, you know, you’re probably not going to understand them because that’s the way they’re supposed to be made, you know, very, very, very, um, you know, um, I made up an, in some of, in some instances, I made up my own formulas for stuff.
Alenia Also Made Use of Another Supplement Material for Understanding
Alenia: Um, because again, going back to what I said before, Becker just have 10 methods or your review course may have 10 methods to, um, to teach you one thing and then once you get married with one, just, you know, stick with it, stick with it. Um, I also use a supplemental course, mainly for FAR and BEC. Um, I, I don’t know if I can say the name, but, um.
Nate: No, you can, I mean, it doesn’t bug me. It doesn’t matter.
Alenia: So I use, I use universal CPA, um, for.
Nate: I’ve heard people like that. Yeah.
Alenia: Um, it’s, it’s a visual learning experience. So, um, in some, in some topics that I wouldn’t, I would not get, um, on, on Becker cause they were just so. Um, I would even try to read or like listen to a little piece of the lecture and I couldn’t, um, I would go, I would go to them and try to make sense of, and they have these things where they break things in steps and they show you like a roadmap.
Alenia: It looks like I do this because it looks like a, like a little road. Um, and that’s, there were, there were really helpful on that because, um, I’m a visual learner too. I did marketing. I’m very creative in that sense. So, I prefer when things are in a cartoon and they are just, you know, a little bit more. It was very helpful for FAR and BEC.
Alenia: I didn’t have it with REG, so with REG it was only you and Becker. And with audit, again, since I didn’t have much time to review and I passed on the first try, I was like, okay, I don’t need this anymore. So, um, but yeah.
Nate: Yeah, that’s a really good tip about the flashcards is they, they should almost be in your own language type thing, like almost to the point where if you handed them to somebody else they almost wouldn’t make sense or a lot of them wouldn’t because it’s just however you, however you can remember or understand like you said a formula. Yeah. Mine, mine weren’t, mine were exactly like that or I would make flashcards on just pieces of formulas. Like whatever that was the confusing part of something I would, you know, try to explain it to myself till I understood that one piece that I kept forgetting.
Nate: And I would just make, what’s the piece of the weighted average cost of capital that you always forget? And that would be like one flashcard. And then because I write it like that and then get the flashcard, then I obviously don’t forget it anymore. Um, just stuff like that.
Alenia: I, I remember also making one on, you know, there was this big formula for.
Alenia: It was on BEC about the, uh, PE ratios and I realized when I was deep into the studying that, you know, the numerator was just another formula from, that I had up there. So I was just like, oh, formula on flashcard number, blah, blah, blah. And I would put that in there. Um, or I would associate things. Um, like in FAR, non monetary transactions are very similar to like, kind of exchanges in REG, so I was like, okay, this is like, like, kind, this is like, like, kind. And I literally wrote that down on the flashcards. I was a little bit more organized on my flashcards than what you recommend, cause I wanted to be able to go back and search. So I did like one set for, um, R1, one set for R2 and things like that.
Alenia: Cause I would, that would help me also keep, oh, not confuse this topic with this other topic. Um, and it would allow me to go back and, um, and search for specific thing when I was, uh, reviewing my wrong, my, my MCQs where I got wrong and when I got, when I got it right. Um. So I, I do have my, my flashcards a little bit more organized, not like, cause I know you mentioned that, oh, just don’t organize them by chapter.
Alenia: Just make the flashcards in one, you hit 20 or 30, just make another set. I didn’t do that, but, um, and then I was able to go back. Oh, you know, I didn’t, I didn’t remember this from that. Let me add that to the, to that specific set. So I could, when I was reading, when I was doing my mini sessions. I would read my own flashcards and then I would go back to that topic.
Alenia: Oh, you know, I remember that I, I keep, I keep making mistakes on this question. Let me go back and read the flashcards on that. So that would, that was helpful for me. Um, but yeah, making and making them online was a lifesaver. Cause I started to, I still have the ones that I started like right here. And I was like, no, this is not, this is not practical for me.
Alenia: I’m always on the go. Um, so I would, I would make them on my phone. I would make them on my iPad. I would make them on, um, on my laptop whenever, wherever I was. So being able to just, you know, I’m waiting here in line for lunch. Let me just go back to read the flashcards. That was a huge thing for me.
Nate: Yeah. I think you, I think you just convinced me that I think it is better to, uh, make them by topic because like you said, yeah, it makes a lot more sense because you’re doing re-review the sets of 30.
Nate: It’s like, okay, this type of a problem, I haven’t really seen this before on bonds. So then I can add this flashcard to my bonds, uh, deck and that makes more sense than just throwing it into a random. Yeah. I think I do like that better. There’s a lot of reasons for that, why that would be better actually.
Nate: Um, what about the, so with Brainscape, did you use the color coding, like scoring yourself as you went? Or how’d you deal with that?
Alenia: Not really. Um, cause I didn’t do the, the way I studied them or the way I would read them is I would read them question and answer right away. Um, it was just more helpful for me, um, because I wasn’t taking that as a way to quiz myself. For that, I have the MCQs in, you know, my practice, my own limited practice test. I was like, oh, you know, I’m seeing these, um, but I was like, oh, this is related to this, and then I would go to the answer and say, see, I was right. But then, you know, I’m missing this other piece that I wrote that it must be important for something. And that’s how I would. Um, use them to study.
Nate: Now this is getting specific, but you can’t do it that way on the app.
Nate: Like if you were out in line at the grocery store, could you do it, review them that way on the app where it shows you both?
Alenia: You can, you can, if you go into edit mode.
Nate: Oh, I see. Okay.
Alenia: So if you go into edit mode, it will show you. The app is a little bit more limited, um, but if you, you can also go into your like Safari or Chrome on your phone and open them as if you were on a desktop and.
Alenia: It’s pretty easy enough. Then the visibility is a little bit more limited too if you do that in your phone, but when I, when I do, if I were, if I was on my phone or on my iPod, it’s probably. Because I was just doing a five minute session and I was just reading like three to four flashcards and that was it so I didn’t mind.
Alenia: I didn’t really mind.
The Flexibility of Adjusting Study Sessions
Alenia: Um, one thing that I wanted to mention that is totally unrelated to this is, you know how you mentioned that we have our evenings free. Yeah, we have, I had my evenings free for the most part. Um, but there were some times that I would not wake up on time. And I was like, okay, you know, I’ll do I’ll do my evening, my, my session, I would get off work at five and then, you know, study from five to seven. And then after that, you know, I would still have my, my evening free. However, I would, I would always like, you know, out of whatever, if I was just going to be like in the couch watching TV or something, you know, I had my iPad with me and I would open the, um, this is for people that have Becker only, but, um, there’s this app that Becker has a game that it really don’t.
Nate: Oh, yeah. Yeah.
Alenia: Um, I would recommend doing that. Um, if you have nothing else to do, like if you’re watching a movie, just open the app and do it. Um, they have a ton of questions that are not on the review course. There may be outdated. There may be, um, all super old questions that they have not removed from the game, but they are extra practice.
Alenia: And there are questions that are not going to come up, um, as often on your unlimited practice tests because they’re not already there, they’re, they’re being removed from the course. So use that, um, that was a very, and it, I treated that also as one of my mini sessions, because those, those games are like 10 questions or three to five questions.
Alenia: And, you know, sometimes, sometimes they make you, they make you work. So it, it was, it was a really good tool for me. I wanted to mention that.
Nate: Yeah. Um, well, and that goes back to one thing you said earlier, where you would always be listening to the audio notes and. Um, you know, your husband would be like, okay, take a break and you’re like, no, every minute could be the difference, you know?
Nate: And that’s how I viewed, uh, studying from my phone. Cause it’s just like, you’ve committed thousands of dollars to this process. Um, you’re taking time away, weeks, months away from stuff you’d rather be doing. You know, like why wouldn’t you just rack up every extra. minute that you can studying from your phone.
Nate: Like you said, when you’re just sitting there and your whatever house, uh, husband, wife, boyfriend, whatever’s watching TV or. You’re at the bank waiting in line. It’s just like every little minute, you know, you could be progressing in the material a little bit.
Nate: So it sounds like that’s how you treated it.
The Idea from SuperfastCPA Free Webinar That Caught Alenia’s Attention
Alenia: Yeah, pretty much. Um, again, you were on my ears nonstop. Even there was a point in time that I had a shower speaker, and you were on the shower speaker. Like it was, it was non-stop. Um, I think it broke because you know, those things are very flimsy. I think I got it for 10 bucks on Amazon or something. It broke and the day it broke.
Alenia: So it was like blasting on the, on the, on the bathroom. And my husband was like, please make it stop. Um, but yeah, it was, you were on my ears all day long, every day. Like I have, that was the thing that actually, that was the thing that sold me on Superfast after, you know, the aha moments and audio notes.
Alenia: Cause I, I would commute back in the day. I would commute, um, an hour each way. So I was like, okay, that’s an hour that I could be like listening to stuff nonstop. So that was one of the things that, that and the aha moments was like, okay. Um, you know, the zoning out and that thing. I was like, yes, yes, yes. It was like a bad commercial.
Alenia: It was like, yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s how I feel. That’s how I feel. Um, and then, you know, that just made the difference for me specifically. Um, I even to this day, I tell people, because people ask me, like, how did you do it? And how did you, how did you manage to score so high? Because if, when I started this process, I was like, okay.
Alenia: I even did. I’m a very, um, I plan a lot. So I was like, okay, you know, um, like you said, it’s thousands of dollars. Okay. How much am I going to invest on these tests? So it’s 300 bucks a piece. How many times am I, am I allowed to fail in a budget? So I think I budgeted to fail twice per section. Um, and I, I only failed once in only two sections.
Alenia: So, um, yeah. That was, people ask me like, how did you do it? How did you do it? And especially because I’m not an accountant and my, the only, the only thing thing I say is just, have you heard of SuperfastCPA? Like, like, do the, do the, do the webinar. Do the webinar. If that doesn’t convince you, then you know, maybe it’s not for you.
Fully Utilize Your Study Materials and Never Skip a Day
Alenia: Um, I did use, I, I, I do also, you know, tell them that I use Universal CPA and I tell them that my main review course was Becker, and that’s the three, the three main tools that I used, I couldn’t use anymore because I could, oh, I had to during for BEC, but that’s a different story. But, um, those were the mainly, the main, the mainly three tools that I use to pass and on, but mainly, mainly on Superfast was the study method, the strategy, the study strategy.
Alenia: And the audio notes, the audio notes are a godsend, like, if I, if I haven’t said that enough, um, I mean, I keep, have you heard about the SuperfastCPA and the audio notes, like just listen to them nonstop. Again, laundry, cooking, even in the shower, I was, I was using your notes because it was every minute on the every minute counts specifically when you are an accountant.
Alenia: Um, you know, when busy season hits it’s just hard, hard, hard, hard to study. Um, so every minute counts. And also what do you say on, you have to study every day and don’t skip a day. That is like, amen to that, like, that’s, I think that’s what part of the reason why I failed FAR for the first time because that since I traveled a lot during that period of time that I was, um, that I was going to test, I think between the traveling, I was just too tired and I skipped one day or two, um, and I, and even if I didn’t skip a day, I made the mistake of not reviewing.
Alenia: Because I didn’t have enough time. So I chose to learn new material over reviewing after that. I was like, no, even if I don’t study in a new material today, I must review. I prefer to just review instead of getting new material in my head, because I don’t want to forget all the, I don’t want to waste all the time that I’ve invested before forgetting by just adding more, more, more material material.
Alenia: So, um, so that was another key point for me. Um, but yeah.
Nate: Yeah, well, that’s another, uh, big benefit of being done. You don’t have to listen to the audios anymore. That just sounds painful to listen to them that much. I mean, like it’s, it’s really valuable. I think the, uh, you know, they’re short enough that you cover the entire section in three, two or three or four hours, depending on the section.
Nate: So hitting everything that many times throughout your study process really ingrains the main points of each topic, um, whereas if they were like 40 hours long, you’d only get through them once, you know, so there’s no repetition factor. So, I mean, we kept them short for a reason, for that reason, but at the same time, it’s obviously not fun to do.
Nate: So glad, you’re glad you’re through with that. You’ll never have to listen to them again.
Installed Spotify Again for the Podcasts
Alenia: You have no idea how glad I am that I am able to like put back my Spotify app to you.
Nate: Yeah, yeah, for sure.
Alenia: Because I would, I would lose, I would, I would, I, I started listening to the podcast on Spotify, but then I got distracted with, you know, Oh, maybe I can listen to one song.
Alenia: And then I was like, okay, no, I need to drop it and watch it on YouTube only. Um, and I would, I would, when I, and I use the podcast as a motivator when there were days where I was like, no, I can’t do it. So I would put it on the TV on the back, um, when I, when I was cooking or when I was folding laundry or something and it would, it would like just energize me like, oh, okay, you know, need to finish laundry, then, um, go back to the computer and cram, cram, cram, cram, and do my session like the way I’m supposed to do it because I can do it.
Alenia: These people do it. I can do it. Um, yeah.
Nate: Yeah. That’s awesome. Yeah, I’m, I’m really glad everything helped. Um, I mean, we, well, yeah, we covered a lot. You gave a lot of really good tips.
Alenia’s Top Tips for People Still Struggling with the CPA Exams
Nate: The last thing we always end with though is if you had to narrow it down, what would be your top three tips for someone who’s still kind of struggling with the process?
Alenia: Um, my first, first of all, um, just know and embrace that you’re gonna, it’s gonna suck, you know, it’s gonna suck for for a long time. You’re not gonna, with that, with the method. Yes, you’re still gonna have some breeze of a life but you’re still gonna be committed to this huge thing .So just own and know that it’s going to suck.
Alenia: Nobody’s going to understand how much is going to suck because they’re not living it. So don’t listen to anybody, um, trying to, oh you know, you can do it later. Or you, why are you doing this? Uh, I don’t get it. Like you, um, I have my, one of my best friends tells, tells me that she’s, we’ve been friends for 11 years and she’s told me ever since I met you, you’ve been studying, you’ve been in school.
Alenia: You gotta stop. Um, so, so yeah, with that said, this is the last time I’m studying for anything, honestly. But, um, what I, what I, what I’m, what I’m going with this is just know that it’s going to suck. There’s nothing else you can do about it. The only thing you can do is make the process a little bit more bearable, which is the strategies and the study method that you’re providing.
Alenia: Um, number two, I want to say, um, learn to recognize what works for you and what doesn’t. Nobody has a perfect formula for things. Um, uh, for me, I, I found myself that helping other people would help me know, um, where I was lacking. So, I would go into the, into the Becker Facebook groups, in my case, to just, oh, someone posted this question.
Alenia: Maybe I can answer it and see if I know the answer. And that would also, oh, you know what, I need to revisit this topic because I don’t have the answer for this. Um, so helping other people also helps you, um, but also know that no, no other person has the perfect formula. You just have to learn what works for you and what doesn’t.
Alenia: Um, I believe, I truly believe that SuperfastCPA is a great method, but maybe it’s not the method for you. So, but, you know, if you, if you use the, some of the strategies, I didn’t, I mean, I used the method to the T, but there were some things that I tweaked, like the, like the MCQs, like the number of MCQs that I, that I think it, it worked for me.
Alenia: Um, um, and the third I want to say is, oh my God, I had it on my mind. Um, oh. Don’t give up. Just don’t give up. Um, I’ve read horror stories where people, you know, they they’ve, they’ve sat for one section like ten times, seven times and they’re still out there. They’re still there. There’s this lady. I follow on Instagram that she, she took audit like seven times and she’s, she lost credit on FAR. FAR, you know, I would have given up and just don’t give up, just don’t give up your, you’ll get there.
Alenia: Um, find what, what works best for you and, you know, just trust the process. Trust the process. Don’t be like me and believe the guy from mid from the first minute. Cause I, I, I wasted a lot of time on REG because I didn’t need a 96. I just needed a 75. So, um, I know that people say, oh, you got a 96 because you’re a tax person.
Alenia: Well, yes, I am a tax person, but you know, I don’t deal with this, with these material in my daily job. So it’s not really that it’s not that way. So it’s, just trust the process. If, if you really, if I actually, um, recommended Superfast to someone over the weekend, and they told me yesterday that they. Um, and I was like, she’s been trying to do REG ever since I was doing REG which is a year ago.
Alenia: And I told her, um, you know, just trust the process. Good luck. Not everything’s going to work for you specifically. But, you know, because I did, I did study in the morning sometimes I didn’t wake up at 5 a. m. I’m not gonna, I’m not about that, but I did wake up early in the morning sometimes, but sometimes I had to, like, tweak my dates so I could, I had a, uh, an early dinner, so I, you know, I had to, like, wake up at 5 a. m. or something like that. So things like that happen. So just, we’ll find out what works for you. Help others also, because that’s, that’s gonna come back to you.
Nate: Yeah, yeah, I really like, uh, point number one, embracing that it just is going to suck because it really makes, it really makes doing the things that it’s going to take easier if you’ve just accepted that beforehand.
Nate: Kind of like you said with the Spotify example, you’re like, well, I’m going to listen to one song, then I’ll get into the audio notes. And eventually you’re just like, this is just easier to just not kid myself and just. Until I pass, this is what I’m listening to. That’s just what it’s going to be. And it really just, it’s just easier that way.
Nate: And then you’re done sooner. It’s just out of your life month sooner than if you’re kind of doing it halfway. You know?
Alenia: Yeah, I mean, if I weren’t, if I weren’t failed FAR or BEC, I would have been done like in nine months, honestly. So if you think about it and if you, if you. I mean, life’s gonna always, like a friend was telling me, oh, you know, um, congratulations.
Alenia: Tell me how you did it. I kind of like went over what I did and all the things that I did, your program, the other supplements that I did. Um, and she’s like, okay, well I’m going to start in April because now I’m super busy and I’m like, no, you’re just starting on the wrong foot. Um, it’s, you’re going to be busy in April again and you’re, you’re, there’s always going to be an excuse for you not to do it.
Alenia: I was in that, in that mindset for the longest time. I think it was about two years that I was like, yeah, that’s when I was like, okay, I’ll start studying and then I dropped it because everything got busy and I just couldn’t deal.
Planning Helps You Stay on Track
Alenia: Up until one day, I just woke up and I said, you know what? It’s going to suck.
Alenia: I’m not, I’m not going to have much of a life and I have to plan myself, um, around it. Oh, I also wanted to mention one of the things that I did. Yeah. Um, because one of the things that, um, I was like, how am I going to fit all this information in two hours? That was one of the things. Um, so again, I plan a lot.
Alenia: So I have to, like, feed myself. I have to, like, learn the patterns that I, of my own learning and see, okay, how much time, how much material can I cover in these 90 minutes? So I realized, I quickly realized that I could cover somewhere between 20 and 30 MCQs for new material in those 90 minutes. So I would, before I started studying for any section, I would go into my review course and I was like, okay, chapter one has, um, this module has 60 MCQs, okay, I have to break down this module in like three days or two days.
Alenia: So that would also help me to keep things realistic for test day. Um, one of the things that I grabbed from the podcast, um, I don’t remember his name, but, um, he was saying how he was, um, scheduling his tests around the score release day. That was huge for me because then I wouldn’t have to waste my time studying for another section without knowing, um, my score.
Alenia: So I would always plan to sit for cutoff dates. So I would know immediately. And that would also give me like a one week break in studying, um, without, and I would do always like, I would do lights, what I call light studying, which was like one MCQ. Uh, session a day. Doesn’t matter if it was in the morning, doesn’t matter.
Alenia: I was not trying to learn anything at that point. I was just trying to see that my knowledge kept being fresh for that week that I was waiting my score. Um, but yeah, so organize yourself. Um, be realistic on the goal that you want. Make sure that you’re test ready. Don’t trust whatever Becker says like, oh, you’re exam day ready.
Alenia: No, just trust yourself. Like, you’re never gonna feel ready, but you are. Um, so you just gotta like take a leap on that. And again, just own that it’s going to suck.
Nate: Yeah, all really good tips. Um, so yeah, we, we, we’ve got a long time, so I don’t want to take it much more of your time, but I appreciate you doing this. People are going to find this really valuable like you did with the other episodes, you know, and, uh, yeah, I’m just, I’m really glad to hear everything helped.
Nate: So congrats again on being done.
Alenia: Thank you. Thank you. I told my friends, you know, you’ll see me one day on that podcast. Um, and there, um, I, when I told them that we were scheduled to go on the podcast, they were like, I know, I knew, I knew you were going to do it. Um, they’re still struggling. Um, these are the friends that I made while I was studying FAR, they still haven’t, uh, passed FAR.
Alenia: Um, but they are, they’re, they’re still there. I, I promised them I was gonna help them, so. Um, but yeah, I’m just so happy I’m done and I’m not gonna deal with this again. Yeah. I’m ready to burn this.
Nate: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Just have a ceremony, burn it all.
Nate: So that was the interview with Alenia. I’m sure you found that very helpful and informative and hopefully inspiring and motivating. If you did find this helpful, please take a second. Like the video in YouTube, leave a comment about a takeaway you got from Alenia or if you listened to these mostly just on a podcast app, please take a second to leave a rating and review for the podcast.
Nate: And then mostly share this with someone else you know, who’s also working on their CPA exams because these interviews collectively, are the most helpful resource available for people trying to figure out their own CPA study process.
Nate: Because it is the effectiveness of your daily process. Not so much just spending time in the material. You have to know how to strategically study, learn each topic in question context, because that’s what you’ll see on exam day and from there, you can start really understanding how the material will translate to questions and simulations on exam day.
Nate: So thank you for watching or listening, and we’ll see you on the next episode.