How Brian Passed His CPA Exams Using Becker with SuperfastCPA

using becker with superfastcpa

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In this SuperfastCPA podcast episode, you’ll hear how Brian passed his CPA exams using Becker with SuperfastCPA. After two weeks of studying the “normal way”, Brian realized that it wasn’t working, and so he looked around online and discovered the SuperfastCPA podcast.

From there he signed up for the free study training, and decided to give SuperfastCPA a try. After implementing the PRO course study strategies with his Becker material, he passed all 4 CPA exams on his first try. 

In this episode you’ll hear Brian’s study strategies, his daily routine, and his insights into the importance of the motivation & emotional side of the CPA study process. 

Episode Timestamps

  • 00:00 Introduction
  • 04:36 How Brian Came Across SuperfastCPA
  • 08:03 How His Study Process was Like Doing the Traditional Way
  • 09:45 Realizing His Study Process Needs to Get Changed
  • 11:34 SFCPA Strategies that Made Sense After Hearing the Podcast
  • 16:11 The Switch from Traditional Way to SFCPA Strategies
  • 19:09 How He Used SFCPA Study Tools in His Study Process
  • 21:37 Study Routine in the Evenings
  • 27:00 Study Process on the Weekends
  • 28:23 His Actual Process for the Practice SIMS
  • 31:52 Creating Flashcards Using a Free Card App
  • 34:35 His Mega Cram Session or Final Study Session Before the Exams
  • 41:44 Tips for People Currently Studying

Brian’s Story Using Becker with SuperfastCPA

Brian: I just remember sitting down with a textbook and I was like, you know what, I’m just gonna read it and, uh, and that’s going to be how I’m going to study and we’re just going to, you know, we’re going to do fine because that seems like a reasonable idea.

And it did not end up being a reasonable idea. I did poorly on the test, and I think sort of that was where the connection of like, harder does not equal smarter, harder can just equal nothing when it comes to a study process being ineffective, because I remember sitting down in this, the student lounge or wherever I was and being so proud of like the hard work I was putting in and then having zero to show for it.

Nate: Welcome to episode 94 of the CPA exam experience podcast from SuperfastCPA. I’m Nate and today, you’re going to hear me talk with Brian.

So a few weeks ago out of the blue, I got an email from Brian. And I looked back and I had never, we had never exchanged emails before.

And his email said, “Hey, just thought I’d send you a quick message that I used your products and went four for four on the exams. I started off for two weeks on REG just doing the studying in Becker like they suggest, realized that I was getting nowhere, and in my search for a study methodology came across SuperfastCPA.

I’m very grateful for your product, both the study tools and the study framework and the mindset. Sincerely Brian”.

So of course I emailed him back and said, “Okay, that sounds like you got a good story to share. Would you want to be on our podcast?”. So we set up a time, got on a call and in this interview, you’re going to hear Brian’s story about how he went four for four on the CPA exams. The big difference is in those first two weeks that he mentioned when he realized, okay, this is going to consume my life if I study this way, and I feel like it’s not even working. So then he looks around online, finds SuperfastCPA somehow. Starts by watching one of our free study training webinars and point after point was just making a lot of sense to him about how to study differently and more efficiently, and five months later, he’s gone four for four on his CPA exams.

So Brian just has a ton of insights and wisdom to share, things that he learned from the pro course strategies that he applied, and we pretty much just go through exactly his daily process from start to finish, how he used multiple choice questions as his main learning tool instead of the video lectures and the text.

And just what he did differently to get such good results in a pretty short amount of time, without it taking over his entire life.

So before we get into the interview, I just want to mention two things. First, the free study training webinars that we do, that is where Brian started, that is where all the ideas clicked or that’s where he was exposed to the ideas. So if you have not watched one of those yet, that will give you multiple “Aha” moments or light bulbs going off as to, okay, that rings true because I sit there and do that and feel like it’s not doing anything,

do this instead. And there’s, at least five to seven of those things that we cover in those free trainings that will transform your study process for the better, let you really spend less time staring at your review course every day. And, get better results with your study process in less time.

So to sign up for one of those go to our main site at superfastcpa.com. It’s the main thing at the top of the homepage or the link to that will be in the description in the YouTube video or the podcast episode.

The second thing is our free podcast giveaway. So each month we give away three pairs of Powerbeat Pro headphones to go along with our audio notes. It’s kind of the idea with our audios. You can get through the audios from start to finish in two to three days of just listening to them in the little chunks throughout your day: when you’re preparing meals, when you’re getting ready for work in the morning, when you’re driving to work or whenever you’re in your car, when you’re walking your dog or exercising.

So to sign up for that giveaway, go to superfastcpa.com/enter or again, that link will also be in the description of this episode either in the podcast app or on YouTube.

So now that we have that out of the way, let’s get into the interview with Brian.

So you found, you found the podcast first?

Brian: I think it was the podcast and then it was the webinar.

Nate: Okay.

Brian: Maybe listened to an episode or two and it sounded, uh, obviously very good. And, uh, and then the webinar was very helpful as well. And then, uh, and then yeah, all the rest of it.

How Brian Came Across SuperfastCPA

Nate: Awesome. Okay. So starting from the beginning, how long were you studying for the CPA before you came across our podcast or just us in general?

Brian: Um, two, two awful, awful weeks. And I say that, just because they were, they felt like such a tremendous waste of time, waking up early because it’s already going to do it early but I was waking up and watching, I was using Becker, and like listening to lectures and falling asleep at 5:45 in the morning, just felt like such an amazing waste of time.

And I think sort of after the two week mark, I realized that nothing that I was doing at that point was being retained. So that’s sort of led to the search of, well, how do people actually, I’m sure that people have documented how to pass these. So then I kind of went on a search and fortunately it came across, uh, your stuff, superfastCPA stuff.

Nate: Yeah. Um, I just wanted to, I just wanted to read your email real quick. Let me pull that up.

Brian: Sure.

Nate: I, I love getting emails like that. Um.

Brian: I love writing emails like that.

Nate: Yeah. Because I think, I think I sent it back to you like after that first email. I said something like, from my point of view, that’s a common, uh, thing. I’ll get a thank you email from someone that, like their name doesn’t sound familiar and I’m pretty sure we’ve never emailed back and forth and then I’ll look and that’s the case.

And, uh, yeah, just some of our best success stories, you know, purchase everything, just follow everything. Watch the pro videos, execute the process and pass. And I’m sure that half of those I never even hear from at all. So I’m glad that you emailed me.

Brian: Well, I’m a yeah, super, super happy to do so. And one of the reasons was, I mean, I- I’ve seen, so I, work in public accounting and I’ve seen a lot of people that have really struggled with the CPA exam process.

Not that it wasn’t a struggle on my end as well. Um, but, uh, I’ve seen a lot of people just sort of have that be their primary goal and have it go by the wayside because they’re, they’re studying, I mean, I have to say because I don’t feel like, you know, I feel like they’re all very smart people but

Nate: Yeah.

Brian: I heard about some weird study practices that where they’re like, yeah, just watch all the videos and read the book. And in my head, I mean, I’m not like, I don’t know. I would just want people to have the same experience that I had with it, and a lot of it had to do with, with your stuff honestly.

Nate: Yeah. Well, I’m glad to hear that. And I mean, we, we we’ll, uh, we’ll get into all that but yeah, that’s very true. Some of the smartest people that I worked with, I’m thinking of like three specific people.

Like when I was new in public accounting, there were three seniors that work-wise like actually doing the job each day, you just could tell they were like three of the smartest people that I worked with but they also hadn’t got their CPA and then you kind of hear their backstory that they had really struggled with the CPA and we’re putting it off and it turned into like four or five years of putting it off type thing.

And, uh, yeah. So it, it happens all the time exactly like that.

Brian: Sounds like a real true nightmare.

How His Study Process was Like Doing the Traditional Way

Nate: Yeah. Okay. So your email, you out of the blue, you said. You said, “Hey, just thought I’d send you a quick message that I use your products went four for four on the exams. It started off for two weeks on REG, doing the normal studying in Becker like they suggested. Realized I was getting nowhere. In my search for study methodology, came across Superfast”.

Um, yeah. So, so let’s start there. You mentioned that the two weeks so I’m guessing for those two weeks, when you first get Becker, you log in and just start watching the lectures, highlighting the chapter like they kind of have you do. Uh, what, what was your study process like, in your words for those two weeks?

Brian: For those two weeks, I think it was watching the video and doing just what you said, watching the videos and highlighting along and trying to use the mnemonics and acronyms for things. And I think a few times I would get to the end of it and look back on it and just sort of have a suspicion that, that nothing good was happening in my brain. Um, and yeah, that’s, I think that sums up those two weeks pretty well.

Nate: Okay. I’ve got so many emails over the years from, that’s one of the big like tragedies about the CPA exams is there’s a lot of people out there that are very dedicated and disciplined, and they’re putting in like four or five hours a day of, of that process. And then it’s just not translating.

And it turns into like a year, maybe even two or three years that they’re in, you know, where your story was two weeks long before you thought, ” I don’t think this is actually working”. Like there’s a lot of people that do that for years.

Realizing His Study Process Needs to Get Changed

Nate: So, that was going to be my question was what, what specifically made you think this isn’t really working?

Did you take, uh, I don’t know, like a little testlet on the topics you’d covered or what made you think it just, this is not doing anything?

Brian: Well, there’s actually a very specific reason why. Uh, and it was maybe one of my more humbling experiences in undergrad where I remember one of the first tests that I had to take I think it was chemistry or biology. And, I don’t know how I had not learned how to study at that point in my life. But I just remember sitting down with a textbook and I was like, you know what, I’m just gonna read it and, uh, and that’s going to be how I’m going to study and we’re just going to, you know, we’re going to do fine because that seems like a reasonable idea.

And it did not end up being a reasonable idea. I did poorly on the test and I think sort of that was where the connection of like, harder does not equal smarter, harder can just equal nothing when it comes to a study process being ineffective. And I think I just had flashbacks during those first two weeks of that time because I remember sitting down in this, the student lounge or wherever I was and being so proud of like the hard work I was putting in and then having zero to show for it.

Uh, I mean not zero, I didn’t get a zero on it, but it definitely wasn’t a good score. So-

Nate: Yeah. Yeah, that’s a, that’s a good point. I mean, it’s an interesting point too cause I, I think maybe a lot of people become attached to how much work they’ve put in. And so they don’t want to maybe admit like this entire, I mean this my last, whatever, my last three months of studying, I just need to completely tear it down and start a different process just because of the amount of time they put in.

SFCPA Strategies that Made Sense After Hearing the Podcast

Nate: Okay, so you come across our podcast or the free training, if you can remember anything specific, what was maybe the big idea or if it was like two or three ideas, what’s something you heard on either the podcast or the free training that really made sense to you and made you start to see the study process differently?

Brian: Uh, I would say probably the, uh, the fact that there was a daily rereview component to it. And the, the vast majority of sort of the primary morning bulk study session was doing multiple choice questions, uh, because that, as you well know, of course is what the CPA exams consist of or there about half thereof and just make sense to do the thing that practice the way that you got to compete.

Nate: Right. Yeah. Yeah. That’s the thing. There’s not a whole lot of theory behind that is I just remember when I took FAR the first time and I failed FAR once I mean when I failed at that first time. But sitting, sitting in the exam, just realizing like, “Holy cow, I just spent so much time just watching these videos”.

And then there’s all these like relatively simple questions that I just, I didn’t spend a ton of time just going through questions but that’s what I’m, you know, that’s what the test day consists of. So yeah, it’s, once you say it and just realize it, it just seems so obvious to like spend most of your study time doing what you’ll be doing on test day. So-

Brian: Definitely… it definitely makes sense. And I don’t, I’m not a neuro scientist or anything like that but I imagined that, that the recall component of, of, I guess, solving things and having to produce information as opposed to just, uh, take in information and hope that you’re able to produce it when, when the time comes is, you know.

Nate: Yeah. Yeah, no, there is exactly. I, I like butcher the explanation when I try it but there is this, uh, official term for it called like retrieval learning. And it’s, it’s by far the most effective way they figured out. Um, and, and there is, there’s something to that like to see a question and click on, uh, you know, click on something and it reveals the answer and it’s just, it’s that whole thing of like, what, I guess we could call it presentation format or textbook format where all the information’s laid out versus trying to learn it in, in chunks of just kind of that quiz format.

There’s just something about learning in question format that’s just much more effective. So

Brian: I believe it.

Nate: Yeah. So once you got our course, I’m assuming you went in and watched the pro videos?

Brian: I did. I did the, the entirety of it. The, uh, yeah, the pro videos.

I mean, did all of them, did the activities involved. Uh, the behavioral component was something that I liked a lot sort of getting to the emotional driver of what it would mean to pass the CPA exams. I found that, uh, to be very beneficial activity. And I don’t know, it just seemed like there were a lot of things about your program that just seemed like they made sense they were, they were, they kind of resonated with things that made sense in my own mind.

Like, yeah, it would be helpful to understand the emotional drivers of why this is important to me. And it does make sense to just do a bunch of questions over and over again. And it does make sense to rereview things on a regular basis. So it just, I mean it, I mean, I say that as if I came up with it on my own which I clearly didn’t. I was fortunate enough to come across, uh, your teaching methodologies and I am super grateful for that.

Nate: So, yeah. Yeah, no, I mean, I, I love hearing that. Not, not from like a, what do you call it, vanity point of view but just, yeah, the fact that it just helps, yeah, just helps people make this process that for a lot of people is a complete nightmare. It makes it relatively simple. I mean, you, it’s a, it’s still a lot of work and you have to execute the whole process every day but I think it does just, just makes it a lot more simple and it makes the, the study process itself just less overwhelming.

The Switch from Traditional Way to SFCPA Strategies

Nate: So from your first two weeks you go through the pro course, what was the main difference in, okay let’s say you sit down on week three, like the, after you’ve watched the pro course, how did your study process change? What did you spend your morning study session doing?

Brian: So I think because I was terrified of REG that I really wanted to follow the details of your program as closely as I could. So I think that for the first few months it was two hours like legit. Uh, it didn’t stay that way all the way through but two hours legit of 90 minutes of multiple choice questions and then, you know, not 30 minutes of rereview immediately cause I didn’t anything to rereview yet.

Um, but just, uh, what creating the study plan first sort of picking out a date. You know, figuring out how many modules and things need to get through on a timeframe and then having a plan. And that, that was pretty key too, because there was an element of hopelessness, uh, with just opening up Becker’s, uh, online.

And it was like their fanciest product or whatever. Becker don’t come after me. Your product is great. Like this, guy’s going to show up at my house. It’s a great, it’s a great program and everything but it just like, it’s so much, it’s so much. And they’re just like, here’s 50 hours of videos for this first one eighth of REG and here’s a giant textbook and here’s all these questions.

Like what, what, what, what? What do I do with this? Kind of thing.

Nate: Yeah, I mean the general overwhelm that’s, that’s straight from the, uh, I mean, this is just universal whether someone realizes it or not is the three big issues someone will have with the, with the study process is finding the time to study.

So it’s like time, overwhelm and retention. Overwhelm is probably the, the thing that most people say is like the number one is just th- this is, it’s like a literal library of information when you sign up for a review course. Yes, it’s all in there and lessons in a linear format, but once someone starts going through it and they see how long one lesson takes and how many lessons there are after that, yeah, this sense of overwhelm sets in.

Brian: It’s, it’s terrifying. It’s terrifying. And it’s, I don’t want to say demoralizing seems like I’m being dramatic but, uh, it, it is a little bit, it’s like how the, how can anybody ever get through that version of it? And I’m sure there are. I mean, I have no doubt that there are but-

Nate: Yeah, there’s the, uh, those Elijah sells award winners that get a 99 on every section. That’s not what our things about. So yeah.

Brian: I mean, yeah, good for those guys and everything guys and gals and everything.

Nate: Exactly.

Brian: Yeah.

Nate: Yeah. Good for them.

Brian: Yep.

How He Used SFCPA Study Tools in His Study Process

Nate: Yeah, going back to your daily process, so you just started with the, you would do the questions and then once you’d been through a few lessons, so you had stuff to re-review, you would do the rereview. I mean, basically you just followed the, the pro course format. And then would you, how about our study tools? Would you use those throughout the day or how would you kind of use those in your process?

Brian: I use the audio notes heavily, um, because I had about a 35-minute commute.

Nate: Okay.

Brian: Each way to my, I mean, actually I’ve had about that commute the entire time that I was, uh, using SuperfastCPA and, uh, and yeah, so I would every day, just, just like you said to do, just started from the beginning, uh, played the lessons.

It’d be hard. Sometimes I’d forget which lesson I was on. So I’d have to start with some random point but just over and over everyday in my commute just because it kind of feels good to add that time if I’m just sorta thinking about or if I was thinking about how much time I had put it on a day and like two hours becomes three hours if you include that. And then you include the other thing which is the mini quiz. I used those throughout the day as well.

Uh, so then, I mean, you start getting up into thinking about that it’s like, you know, three, three and a half hours a day that you’re at least being exposed to it if not entire, uh, in the entirety of recall but, um, mostly that and then just, you know, listening things like you’d, like you’ve mentioned lyrics getting stuck in your head and then as it goes on, it just did. It connections aren’t you listened to, you know, a lesson for the fifth time and because you’ve gone over that lesson in Becker then it, it just clicks on sort of a different level, I guess. I found that to be very helpful.

Nate: Yeah. I would say that’s the main benefit of audio it’s, you know, while you’re driving or whatever, it’s, it’s easy to, I don’t know, maybe consciously zone out but that exposure, like something is happening there.

And I think that kind of the, just, it just kind of builds in layers. The more you listen to it just over and over and over, that repeat exposure, yeah, that’s a, again, like you said, we’re not neuroscientists like I can’t really put it into words but it’s definitely, there’s an effect to that that just doesn’t happen from just doing your main study session all by itself.

Brian: Agreed.

Study Routine in the Evenings

Nate: Okay. And so you did so and so you were a morning studier. And so how about your, did that just kind of allow you to take the evenings off or did you do kind of light review in the evenings or did you, was that the entirety of your process or how did you what’d you do in the evenings if anything?

Brian: Uh, so for, I tried to allow that time for, for social interactions, I guess you could call them. So for time for a significant other, which, uh, I mean, yeah, it’s, we’re doing these, you know, we’re taking these exams and we’re, uh, what would we call it, investing in our future but, you know, there are sig- significant others are still there and they deserve time and everything too, right? So it was, uh, it, it made sense.

Like, you know, we can wake up and then do all this throughout the day and have three hours or so of studying or, or more put in by the time you get home and it’s, it just seemed, uh, very efficient.

Nate: Yeah. Also, I- I would say it’s almost, you know, on other episodes, maybe you’ve heard me say this but if your life is, uh, you wake up, go straight to work and then you try to force yourself to study for four or five hours at night.

That’s kind of your entire life and your life gets pretty miserable real fast if that’s what every day is.

Brian: I do recall you saying that and I- that sounds absolutely correct. Even if I don’t know how people get home from work and are not just brain dead because I mean, I, I would get off work from, uh, I mean, auditing all day and not like, all right, let’s go solve some math problems.

It’s like-

Nate: Exactly. Yup. Yeah. And pe- people sometimes in emails, uh, they want me to like, like, they’ll, they’ll say that they’re like, I just really can’t get myself to get up early but I also, I feel like my brain is mush, so how can I study for these? And it’s just kinda like, well, I don’t know. Do you want me to like, just say it, like you have to get up earlier then that’s, that’s what, that’s what you have to do, you know, like how bad do you want to pass these?

Oh, and on that note, you mentioned the, uh, kind of getting your reasons or you’re referring to the, the little worksheet that’s part of the pro course where you actually write out like these are the good things that are going to happen if I pass the exams and these are the bad things or the things that won’t change if I don’t.

Brian: Yes. That is what I referred to.

Nate: Okay. Okay. Yeah. I like when people mention that too because I dunno I’m, I’m so into that kind of stuff. Writing out goals and I just like, if you don’t have a concrete thing, like why you’re doing these daily steps of stuff, that’s not pleasurable, you know, it’s just never gonna you’re, you’re not going to move towards it.

And so yeah, it just, you kind of have to have stuff like that.

Brian: It reminds me of, it reminds me of a book and I’m going to forget which book it is. I think it might be called Switch or something like that. And there’s a metaphor about, I think it’s of, uh, I don’t know if it’s specifically a behavior change but it’s a metaphor of the elephant, the rider and the path.

And I’m probably going to just butcher this but what I remember from it is that the emotional drivers are sort of the elephant. It’s like the real heavy hitting component of what makes a behavior change occur. And the riders sort of the intellectual component that gives that elephant direction.

But without having access to that emotional side, then behavior changes just sorta, it’s just drastically weaker and so at least and also it was, so I was a, a personal trainer for about a decade or so. And behavior change is something near and dear to my heart. So that’s sort of that again, resonated because you know, emotional drivers are just everything.

So when that came up, I was like, this is, this is excellent. I’m gonna absolutely do this.

Nate: Yeah, no. That is a good, uh, I have heard that vaguely, but yeah. That, that is a great point. Yeah. The, uh, the logic is the guy sitting on an elephant and they only have so much control over where the elephant really wants to go. Obviously, that’s a, that’s a good analogy. And then, and so-

Brian: Whoever, whoever wrote that book, uh, I’m citing you right now, uh, with the best I can.

Nate: Yeah. Yeah. And I think I say that in this free trainings is I start talking about motivation at some point or finding your why. And I point that out, I’m like, if you haven’t started the study process, this might sound like, you know, just kind of a stupid or meaningless, like why is he talking about motivation?

But if you’re a few weeks into the process, you’ll, you’ll become real familiar with how hard it is to get yourself to sit down to study for four hours every day, if you feel like you’re not making progress or yeah, it’s just motivation becomes, uh, a very, uh, salient topic in this whole process.

Study Process on the Weekends

Nate: And what about your weekends? Did you just, just, what was your study process on the weekends?

Brian: I kind of stuck to a similar thing. Like I would sort of toward the end, or I may be sort of the last 50 or 60% of all of them. I would start to incorporate some simulations. Uh, but it would mainly be either just challenged down on a bunch more multiple choice questions and trying to get ahead a little bit, or if I had gotten behind for some reason catching up, because I know in one of your videos you mentioned, never start a Monday behind your study schedule.

And I, and I made sure to never let that be the case throughout all four of them. Fortunately, I don’t know what allowed that to be the case but it just, I remember there was one time it was really close and I had to put me in like an eight hour day on a Sunday but in my mind, I was like, no, you can’t break this now.

It’s nothing but bad, bad mojo to do that at this point.

Nate: Yeah, now that mean that’s, and that’s, that’s the kind of stuff that is, is the difference. I mean, like you said, you, you went four for four and, uh, you know, the strategies aside, it’s just that kind of thinking like, nope, I’m not going to break the protocol or whatever you want to call it.

So that’s, that’s awesome.

Brian: It’s a crappy Sunday, but right. That’s fine.

His Actual Process for the Practice SIMS

Nate: Yep. Um, how about your because this is a thing people ask constantly. So the simulation specifically, so you said you start incorporating those. What was your actual process? Would you just generate several random simulations and try to solve them and then reverse engineer them kind of like the same, uh, the same way you would use multiple choice questions or what was your actual process for the practice SIMS?

Brian: So I, I personally found I would do some where I would just kind of generate a couple and then have no idea what was going on in, and then look at the answer and being like, well, I wonder where that answer is. And one of the six, uh, windows they want me to open right now. Uh, so when I would be learning a new topic, I wouldn’t use those because it just felt a little bit like I would just be more of a needle in a haystack, kind of a feel than I, than I would desire. But, uh, sort of toward the end of any particular exam, I found that they were very useful for reinforcing topics because they would, you know, they’d asked it in a different way. And it was also at me as you, of course know is one of the things they test is if you actually have to do some of those.

So, um, they were a good tool, but there, yeah, I have, I have strong opinions about those simulations. I think those things are malicious. I don’t know who is what, you use the term professional hazing and man, when you’re in a timed exam and you’ve opened a simulation with eight tabs on it, that’s just mean-spirited.

But, um, I mean of them, of course, but, you know, whatever, it’s, it’s good. They’re testing our knowledge and all that or whatever.

Nate: Yeah. So, okay. So you’re talking about the document review simulation specifically. So in your, let’s say, uh, I don’t know if you had an eight week timeline for a section and you start practicing or using practice SIMS halfway through.

If you generated random SIMS and one of them or two of them were document review, you would just kind of skip those and then kind of use those specifically at the end of your study process. Is that what you’re saying?

Brian: Yeah. Yeah, I think so. And I think one of the reasons is like there, like a lot of what felt like the heavy lifting in those was just breaking the data apart and figuring out what they’re actually trying to ask as opposed to sort of reinforcing the topics.

Uh, not that it’s not that as well. And again, it’s a super important skill set so they’re important to practice. I, I, I thoroughly believe, um, but it just, at least from my perspective, I kind of felt like they were tapping into a lot of mental bandwidth and, uh, you know, as I’m sure everybody who goes through this process, uh, feels like mental bandwidth is a precious resource and trying to use it as, and again, I just, man, I, I’m not a fan of those SIMS but I’m sure, I’m sure a lot of people like them. I don’t want to hang out with those people but I’m sure a lot of people like ’em.

Nate: Yeah, that’s funny. I saw there was a TikTok video recently. I just, this guy obviously is like a skit thing where he was like an advocate of the IRS and just had this whole, it went pretty viral. I don’t know if you saw it, but it was pretty-

Brian: I haven’t. Sounds pretty funny.

Creating Flashcards Using a Free Card App

Nate: How about your process for creating your own flashcards or if you had a alternate way of taking notes. Did you have some form of putting things that you struggled with in your own words?

Brian: I used a, I did, I used flashcards. I used the BrainScape app.

Nate: Okay.

Brian: Um, which was just a free notecard app. I’m sure you’ve heard of it.

Nate: BrainScape is what I used. Yup. And then more recently I’ve been recommending Quizzlet. At some point, I think they tried to make it paid only. And then, so for awhile I started telling people, well, use this other one, but yes, but back when I did this, I, I used BrainScape.

So how did you decide what to make a flashcard for? Like how to take the time the, because that’s another thing I get asked a lot and, it’s in the pro videos.

When you go through a lesson the first time, a lot of the terminology or concepts or, uh, formulas will seem new. So a lot of people think or feel like they want to make a flashcard for everything. And in the pro videos, I say for the most part, you want to wait until the sets of 30 because you want to just naturally see what are things that you keep missing questions on two or three or four times in a row. And that’s what you should make a flashcard for. But, so anyways, what was your process of deciding if something was worth your time to make a flashcard on or not?

Brian: Pretty much exactly that, um, I I’m, I don’t know how much you remember about Becker. You probably know you probably know everything about all these but anyway, uh, in the sort of quiz or test generator. You’ll get a multiple choice question and it’ll tell you how many times you’ve missed it or like how many times it’ll show what you, you know, if you got it right in the last time, and it would just be kind of a good indicator. When I see one that’s like, you’ve missed this four in a row and I’d be like, well, that’s aggravating.

And so that’s, that would be the ones that I would try to, I would try to take a, a flashcard on. Um, I kind of use those, not maybe as much as I should because I found the flashcards to be, they were like, you know, it’s a grouping of the hardest topics that I have trouble remembering. So I’d kind of study those sparingly because it would make me sad or whatever not.

Nate: Yeah.

Brian: But I still did use them. I remember, I remember I used a pretty heavy in REG.

Nate: And so you, you don’t work in tax? I’m just guessing from how you’re describing REG. Yeah, that was the same as me. I worked in audit and yeah, wasn’t a huge fan of REG so,

Brian: No.

His Mega Cram Session or Final Study Session Before the Exams

Nate: Okay. So leading from the, uh, the flashcards and then for your final review and or if you did it differently, did you utilize kind of the, uh, what do we call it? The mega cram session, the final 48 hours.

Brian: As much as I did, uh, I definitely went a little bit heavier but I wouldn’t say I went crazy with it. I just sorta, uh, maybe did like, instead of, I did a lot of the however many multiple choices part of that particular CPA exam, that many multiple choice and two SIMS. And just, that was sort of my ratio for whatever reason.

I think I found that that was sort of my tolerance for SIMS. Uh, I get through a couple of them that would take, you know, whatever an hour or something, um, or however I mean I’m sure other people do them faster than I, but, uh. And then, so the mega cram I guess sessions, I would probably do that twice or I think, um, one of them I maybe did it three times, like 30 and then two, uh, SIMs 30 multiple choice then 2 SIMS and if I was feeling real frisky, I’d do another 30 and two, but I only think I did that once.

Nate: And that’s one of those things where doing all these interviews, you know, there are these kinds of core components that kind of have to be part of the process but then stuff like that, people just kind of customize and you know, it just, if you’re passing sections, it’s just working. Whatever you’re doing is working so-

Brian: Well, that’s, that’s sort of, that’s sort of how I felt about it when I got, cause I mean, I was terrified. I was confident that I wasn’t going to pass the first one. Um, and then, you know, the first one went okay. And it’s like, well, this, this must be working on some level. So let’s just, uh, veer into it. But I would hear, I would hear, I would hear people that you have on there and they’d say the amount of time that they’d stay.

I listened, I don’t know a few and they they’re like, yeah, I studied for 12 hours on the weekend. Like, man, those were some that was some tough people, right? Tougher than me.

Nate: Yeah. There is there’s definitely, if someone asks like in an email or something, I usually tell them I wouldn’t really study more than eight hours in one day.

Like eight would be just the max just because there’s diminishing returns. And again, I can’t describe factually or accurately how our short-term memory works but there just seems to be, you know, it’s like a pitcher and it just can only get so full. Seems like, so

Brian: Seems fair.

Nate: Yeah. So how about your, your test day experience with REG? You, like you said, you were, you know, you were scared of REG, you didn’t like you weren’t comfortable with the content. But you go in there, you’ve been following the process. So what actually happened? Were you rushing to finish or did you finish early or how to just test day go?

Brian: I, I was rushing to finish. I managed my time. I think I managed my time poorly in all of them, uh, particularly poorly in REG. Not that I ran out of time, but I definitely spent too much time on, uh, on the first few sections and was running out of time. And, uh, that, that sort of informed some of the later like taking, you know, the 30 into a multiple choice and SIM because I would, you know, start actually doing what a reasonable person would do and figure out how much time I had to do those on the actual test day, and then try and, you know, kind of speed things up a little bit when I had to. But I’m still, I’m going to have kind of person that takes all the time on every test it takes so-

Nate: Yeah. Well, yeah, but again, I, you, you passed all four and, and so were you, were you surprised when you got your REG score and you had passed? Did you leave the testing center thinking that like, I’m sure I failed that or did you feel like I, that could have gone either way?

Brian: I mean, I just don’t like the CPA exams are just emotionally violent and I left that, the test just being like, what just happened?

I don’t, I didn’t feel like I passed it. But at the same time, I had no idea cause they, they grade it again in these ways where they know it’s it’s tiered, if you do okay. They’re like, oh, you think you’re having a good time? How about these? And then, so you leave there after, you know, and just having a bunch of hard questions asked you and it’s just like, I don’t know. I felt all mixed up.

Nate: That’s yeah, man. That is funny emotionally violent, like, when you, when you say, you know some horror stories from your firm, I mean, I have got emails from people that, I mean, this like really like affected their life in a big way, like a negative way over the course of like five, sometimes 10 years.

Brian: Really?

Nate: Yeah. Yeah. I mean like marriages in a couple of cases, you know, just cause like I said, if, if someone’s working all day and then you get the type of person that is very dedicated and they like it at some point they start putting their like self-worth on the line over these. And so they won’t give up but it’s just not working.

And this lasts for five years, you know, and they’re trying to stay married at the same time. I’ve just had some actual horror story emails, so-

Brian: That does, that sounds truly awful but also very understandable because I mean, as you know, probably everybody who’s listening to this podcast knows that everybody in your life knows you’re taking them.

And it’s like a lot of, a lot of pressure. And I at least, I don’t know, I kind of internalized that pressure and I mean, it definitely added to it. It’s like, if we’re going to spend time on something and sacrifice our relationships and things we care about, then it, it needs to, there needs to be some type of strategy behind it as opposed to like Becker’s, here’s a thousand pages of information, have fun, kinda…

Yeah, no offense, Becker. Appreciate you.

Nate: Yeah. Yeah, no, it is. It’s uh, that that’s, that’s the whole thing. Like you have to be strategic. Um, this has to lead to a passing score or there’s not really another way of saying it. It’s just a gigantic waste of time and money. So-

Brian: Yeah. It’s a waste of time and money and then, I mean, I’ll say embarrassment. Like there there’s, there’s like that, that sucks to even say it but it’s like, I mean, it’s our profession that’s on the line or sort of reputation and our job. Like not, I mean, not entirely but a little bit.

Nate: Right. Right. And, and then at the same time, uh, you know, like we we’ve helped so many people, somebody that has struggled for maybe five years, sometimes 10 years, and we just point out some of these strategies and that same person with the same brain passes all four in the next six months or a year after not being able to pass for five years.

So it is not like an IQ test. It’s, it’s purely a matter of like your strategy being effective or not. That’s all it is.

Brian: Completely agree.

Tips for People Currently Studying

Nate: Yeah. Okay. So I don’t want to take up much more of your time. So the final question I always ask is even if it’s something we already covered, if you look back at your own process, what would you say to people that are currently studying? What would be like your top three tips?

Brian: Um, I would say develop a timeline. So pick a date out that is, I don’t know, appropriate. I guess if somebody it’s their first one, they don’t know what that, what that would be but some six to 10 weeks, somewhere in that, that range and just move through the material. Like, you know, you need to get through, you divide it, you have eight sections and six subsections. You know how many you can just do the math and divide it and see how many you need to get through on your, the new portion of your review.

Never skip the rereview part. Uh, even if it’s less than 30 , there would be a lot of mornings I would do 30 but then sometimes I’d be, I’d sleep a little bit later and I’d only have time to do 15 or 20. Um, but then the other thing is just, uh, I would guess if I had the say three is at least for me personally view where is every possible moment that I could be reinforcing this material because I do not want to fail one of these.

That sounds terrible. Um, so that’s why, where your products again came in the, the audio notes, because I, I didn’t find any audio notes anywhere else that seemed, um, I don’t think I saw any of them anywhere. I’m sure they existed but yours or succinct enough where it kind of felt like it mirrored sort of the timeline of like in the process of studying I could get through it eight times or 10 times the audio notes.

And then also the quizzes. Like you, you make them simple enough so that we don’t need a calculator and we can get through them while I’m microwaving a burrito or whatever I’m doing them. And, uh, I just, I’m a, I’m a believer in your product, man. I’m a fan. I am a, I am a unabashed fan of what you have done and, uh, I appreciate it.

So I don’t know if I answered your question or not, but-

Nate: No, yeah, you did. You did. And you made a great soundbite. So I appreciate that. And I’m yeah, I’m glad it was so helpful. And mostly there is just a, uh, there’s been, you know, we’ve done like a hundred of these interviews now. We haven’t published all 100.

We’ve published like 90 something now but, uh, there is a direct correlation when someone is, as they’re describing their strategies, they’re essentially repeating back like the pro course to me on these interviews. So it’s like clear that you watched all the videos, you understood like this is like the process from start to finish.

I- it’s just very highly correlated that those people passed with relatively no struggles. So I kind of just appreciate the, uh, the big picture you’ve painted here. So-

Brian: Well, I appreciate both the course and I guess maybe one other message to those people is when I started this, I felt like, I felt pretty hopeless.

Like this was such a daunting task. And now that it’s over, it just seems like how can this be? It’s almost kind of surreal but it’s just that, I think that’s one of the good parts of what you just, you provide the path as well. You provide something that is not present or at least as I saw it elsewhere.

A path and that, that to me was invaluable because it allowed the doubt that was kind of starting to really eat at my mind to just be shut up for a second. Like shut up, doubt. You know, you’re following something and for better or worse if it didn’t work, then you could tweak it or tweak it or whatever but it did work.

And then, so that, I mean, that’s, that’s, that’s just amazing.

Nate: Yeah, that’s awesome to hear. I’m glad it helped so much. So, so yeah, we, uh, we’ve kind of gone through everything. So when, when did you get your fourth passing score? Oh, just after you emailed me, right? Yeah. Yeah.

Brian: Yeah. A week ago was-

Nate: Awesome.

Brian: Uh, awesome time kind of again, more, more surrealism but yeah.

Nate: Yeah, I know. It, it, the, the relief, you know, like you say, like, you might not say like the happiest moment of your life but in terms of just relief, there’s nothing that’s compared to that so far. Just the biggest relief ever getting your fourth passing score. All right, Brian. Well, yeah, I appreciate you taking the time, these are just very valuable.

I mean, for credibility for us but also just, you know, other people listening to these. So appreciate you taking the time and congrats on being done.

Brian: Oh, I appreciate it. And uh, and I appreciate that you made this product and, and reach more people. I mean, know how I can help whatever cause you’re doing in my opinion, a good thing here.

So thank you.

Nate: Awesome.

All right. So that was the interview with Brian. I’m sure you found that very helpful and insightful and inspiring. When you take somebody who has previously struggled and not in Brian’s case but sometimes for years and we can just help them improve or tweak their study process and make a few of the small right tweaks.

Everything changes and a lot of times they go four for four or if they’ve struggled for years, they ended up passing all four within the next six to eight months.

So this process is all about your strategies, your daily study process and how strategic every minute that you spend studying is.

So again, the best place for you to start to learn how to do that from start to finish is one of those free study training webinars. The link will be down in the description and then you might as well also sign up for our free podcast giveaway while you’re at it.

That link will be in the description as well. So if you found this episode helpful, send it to someone you know who’s also working on their CPA exams. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you on the next episode.

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