How Emily Passed Her CPA Exams While Still Having a Life

How Emily Passed Her CPA Exams While Still Having a Life

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In this SuperfastCPA podcast interview, you’ll hear how Emily passed her CPA exams while still being able to enjoy her nights and weekends with her family and stay involved in her church and community.


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Watch the interview on Youtube…

Episode Timestamps

  • 00:00 Intro
  • 04:46 Emily’s CPA Journey and Finding SuperfastCPA
  • 07:06 Studying the Normal Way Before SuperfastCPA
  • 09:43 How Emily Was Able to Pass Her First Exam
  • 11:19 How Emily Studied for the Exams
  • 14:04 Emily’s Daily Study Routine
  • 16:29 Why Emily Had a Hard Time with REG
  • 17:39 Emily Got Lucky That She Wasn’t Busy With Work While Studying
  • 19:58 Emily’s Notetaking Process for Difficult Topics
  • 21:33 How Emily Approached the Practice SIMs
  • 23:51 Taylor Your Study Process Accordingly
  • 24:34 Taking Quizzes on the App All Throughout the Day for Retention
  • 26:47 Emily’s Final Review Study Process
  • 32:14 How Emily Would Study on the Weekends
  • 33:22 Why Emily Had to Cancel Plans for Her Last Test
  • 34:15 Passing the CPA Exams in Her Firm
  • 35:58 Emily’s Test Day Experience
  • 37:23 Study Strategy That Made a Big Difference
  • 39:55 Emily’s Top Tips for People Struggling with the Exams
  • 40:54 How Emily Studied to Learn New Topics
  • 43:17 The Biggest Benefit Emily Got from SuperfastCPA

Interview Transcript

Emily: But like every single time I did multiple choice, I would see it as a benefit if I missed one. Cuz I’m like, that caught something else I didn’t know. Right. And that’s awesome. Now if I get something similar to that question, I know the answer. So even the night before the test, I would get one I didn’t know and instead of freaking out, I’d be like, now that’s like one more thing I know for the test.

Nate: Welcome to episode 107 of the CPA Exam Experience Podcast from SuperfastCPA. I’m Nate, and in today’s interview, you’re going to hear me talk with Emily.

So Emily’s story with the CPA exams started when she started working in accounting and she had a coworker who was working on the CPA exams. And from what she saw and then, you know, talking with her coworker, the co-worker, their process was staying after work five to six hours every night, leaving the office around 11:00 PM or midnight. And after several months, it seemed like they were still just failing sections. So in Emily’s mind, she thought, if that’s what studying for the CPA exams is like, I guess I’m not going to be a CPA.

Then at some point, she saw one of our YouTube ads, where of course, in those ads I am claiming that when you know how to study correctly or efficiently. The CPA exams don’t have to take over your entire life and turn into a complete nightmare.

So, she had those two conflicting, uh, messages. She decided to watch one of our free trainings where we walk through the actual strategies, and now she’s on the podcast. So you can guess how it all went.

So in this episode, you’re just going to hear her whole process, her study journey, the ups and downs, all the insights that she had going through the process, passing her CPA exams. She just has a lot of unique insights and experiences to share on this interview.

So before we get into that interview, I want to mention two things. Of course, the free training, which I already just mentioned. That’s where Emily started. Every time we release one of these episodes I get quite a few emails, 10 to 20 about, okay, I’m ready to get serious with this, I’ve been a subscriber, I watch the videos on YouTube, where should I start?

Where you should start is one of those free study trainings. It’s an hour long training where we will walk through our core strategies that help you prevent the CPA exams from taking over your entire life and turning into a nightmare by showing you how to study effectively and efficiently. So you can sign up for one of those trainings on our main site at superfastcpa.com, on the homepage, or the link will be down in the description of this episode.

The second thing is our free podcast giveaway. So each month we give away three pairs of Power Beat Pro headphones, with the idea being that, you know, our [00:03:00] audio notes, you probably heard multiple people talk about using the audios on these interviews. But of course with audio, you can be racking up extra study time as you do normal mundane daily things like preparing meals, cleaning up dinner, walking the dog, whenever you’re in your car, you know, obviously in addition to your main study sessions. Audio just makes it extremely easy to get a lot of extra exposure and study time in over the course of your study process.

So that link to that giveaway will be down in the description as well. So with that out of the way, let’s get into the interview with Emily.

Nate: All right. So have you heard many of these other interviews?

Emily: I have, yeah. I was actually just listening to Jenn’s, which is like one of the newer ones you posted.

Nate: Okay.

Emily: Yeah.

Nate: Yeah. So you’ve, you kind of know how these go then.

Emily: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Nate: Okay. Yeah. We’ll just talk through your, oh, sorry.

Emily: No, that’s okay. Um, so I have pretty much all of my coworkers at the firm I’m at right now are studying, and so I’ve been like recommending to them, I was like, even if you don’t buy it, listen to the podcast cause I was like, they’re really motivational.

Nate: Yeah. Well I appreciate that. But yes, I, the, the interviews are just a huge resource. I mean, we get a lot of people that say, I get thank you emails from people who only listen to the podcast, you know, and like never, never bought our products. Just figured out their study process through listening to ’em. So yeah, the podcast has been good. And I looked up your, uh, I just remember you were on the forum and looked up your posts.

Emily’s CPA Journey and Finding SuperfastCPA

Nate: So you passed these pretty quickly, four months?

Emily: Yep.

Nate: About four months, right?

Emily: Yeah. So, so I kinda like, I’ll kind of go back, back. So I graduated from school initially in 2012. And, but I mean, I wasn’t an accounting major, I was just kind of trying to figure out what I was gonna do, so I slowly started going back to school.

Finally finished all of my CPA requirements in early 2020, uh, one. No, yeah, early, like January of 2021. And, um, yeah, had like two kids in there and then was like, okay, I guess it’s time to study. So I had a, was doing Becker or no, uh, Roger, using Roger and he studied every single night from, like, he would stay after work from like five to like, I mean, I don’t know, 10 or 11:00 PM.

And I, any, I hope he’s not listening to this. I doubt he is. Um, failed FAR, FAR, like a 61. And after studying like that for like four months and I was like, just not gonna do that. Like if that’s what it takes to do this, I’m not gonna be a CPA I guess. So, um, you know, two kids at home, like my husband works too, so, yeah.

So then found kinda like searching programs. I was like SuperfastCPA that kind of sounds like my method. So bought the program, tried to get away, I tried to get away with just doing it for a little bit, but then like it and Ninja, but there were just some things, since I don’t have my master’s that I hadn’t fully covered in school that I did need Becker for like bonds and FAR and some of the harder topics in REG. So did end up buying Becker. Um, but I would say a majority of my studying was just the notes and um, uh, like ninja questions then multiple choice.

Nate: Okay. Yeah.

Emily: Yeah.

Studying the Normal Way Before SuperfastCPA

Nate: Um, so did you have a period where you studied the normal way, or you kind of didn’t even really jump into the study process until you had come across our strategies or whatever.

Emily: Yeah, so I, definitely. So last summer I studied and watched most of the FAR videos for Becker and just didn’t really, I don’t know, like it wasn’t clicking and yeah, just kind of like how other people have said, you know, you’re kind of like on your phone, like, just work material and not really applying it.

So, let’s see. I, um, I think it was September. Want me to get my notes up. September 30th] I sat, or no, September 3rd last year I sat for FAR. And after all of that failed with a 73. And as much as I was like, it was really hard to fail, I was like, I got a 73. I know I can do this. And so, um, actually, so it’s kind of like have some life stuff too.

We found out we were pregnant in like right before that test. I think in August we moved and so I hadn’t even like studied that much. I was pretty much just at that point going through, um, the Superfast notes and, but then I failed with a 73, I was like, well, if I just study like a little bit more, I think I can pass this.

Well then unfortunately we miscarried and I think like, yeah, so we’re recovered from that. And then finally, in like December, I was like, I’m gonna do this. And so what I would do is I would just sit and like have you kind of froze, I retype all your notes and I would delete out anything that I already knew.

And then kind of like Jen said in her interview, like use that as like a cheat sheet and just review that over and over again.

Yeah, so sorry. Um, I’m not sure like where you want me to start back up.

Nate: So the, the last thing that I heard was, um, you were getting ready to take an exam. You had a miscarriage.

Emily: Yep.

Nate: Which, sorry to hear about that.

Emily: Yep.

Nate: And that was the last thing I heard.

Emily: Mm-hmm.

How Emily Was Able to Pass Her First Exam

Emily: So let’s see, that happened in like, yeah. So then took it September 3rd, failed with a 73 and was kind of like excited though, cause I was like, I hadn’t touched my study materials in like a month, so I was like, I think I can do this if I just go through the notes and stuff.

So the biggest thing I did all through basically December, I switched firms and, um, wasn’t scheduled on very much at my new firm and so was able to spend a lot of time study. So I like retyped all your notes. And then I did the Becker final review and that really helped a lot too. And actually, yeah, so then I got, let’s see, December 30th, I was supposed to sit for FAR again and um, it got canceled cause covid, the te-, like everyone at the testing center got covid.

And I was so bummed because I had taken, you know, that was like our Christmas break and then I was like, well, what am I gonna do? Because starting in January I was booked on more. And so I was like, well, maybe, you know, maybe this just is it for me. And my husband gave me like a big pep talk and I rescheduled it for I think January 2nd it was, and took it and got, let’s see, and found out a little while later I got a 77.

Nice. So that was the first one that I passed.

Nate: Okay.

Emily: Yeah.

How Emily Studied for the Exams

Nate: So, um, and then you just kept going with that study format and passed the other three?

Emily: Yeah, so I think I am someone that like overanalyzes things a lot, probably like a lot of CPA or accountants. And so I was like, I, what I ended up doing is I just bought the rest, the three rest of the test.

I was like, I’m just gonna make myself go sit for these. So I would do, I did not use, basically all I did was the Becker final review and retype your notes.

Nate: Wow.

Emily: And then do the multiple choice on the app too. That was really helpful. Um, and I did not pass with like, great scores. I think my highest score was BEC with a 83.

So, I mean, it wasn’t like I got amazing scores, but I think really if you, if you like, understand the notes and like have those down and then doing the multiple choice, um, was really helpful.

Nate: Yeah. So you re-. Sorry. Yeah, sorry. We have like a one second so I’ll hear you say something and then start re responding and you don’t hear it yet.

Um. So, uh, what was I gonna say? The, uh mm-hmm. . Oh, you, you retyped, you retyped our notes just like on your computer.

Emily: Yeah.

Nate: On in a Word doc or something?

Emily: Yep. Yep. And what then would kind of do, as you said, like add in multiple choice I missed. And also like, I’m a big visual learner, so like, I really liked how your notes went with the blueprint as opposed to like, um, other notes that people sell. And so it just made it really clear and then I immediately knew, like, it, whether I was doing the, I used Ninja a lot for multiple choice, just cause it’s set out the same way with the blueprint. And, um, I just could immediately go back to where that should have been in my notes and been like, oh yeah, I had read that and I just forgot, but I was recalling it.

Or I would add that note in like, okay, this is more detail on this section that I need to remember better.

Nate: Yeah. Um, because I’ve never looked into this, just as an aside. Is, can you use Ninja on your phone at all? Like, does it work on your phone? Is there an app?

Emily: I think it, there’s no app. I think it’s just through the browser. I did it a couple times, um, not a lot because it’s kind of, you know, more difficult.

Nate: Yeah, yeah.

Emily: Questions, but.

Nate: Okay.

Emily’s Daily Study Routine

Nate: I just didn’t know that. Um, so what, okay, so after you passed FAR, what was your actual, like from start to finish in one day? How, how long would you sit down in front of Ninja on like a laptop and then through the day. How would you use our notes or audios, if at all? Just how did a full day go?

Emily: Yes. Um, so at first I would try getting up in the mornings, but I must admit, like I didn’t, I wasn’t very good about that. So we had, um, especially during this time, we would have a pretty strict 7:00 PM bedtime with our kids, and then 7:15 I was studying and it was usually just like an hour, hour and a half.

Um, I would go to my next section that I hadn’t retyped and I would retype it. And add in like more or less detail or if I already knew something and knew I wasn’t gonna have trouble recalling it, I would, you know, skip that section or summarize it more.

And then I would spend like do one set of 30 multiple choice for that section, and then like a cumulative one for, um, everything I’d studied so far.

Nate: Okay. So you used, um, you used retyping, the notes as kind of your version of getting a overview for a new lesson and then going into the multiple choice?

Emily: Yup. Yeah.

Nate: Good idea.

Emily: Yeah. Yeah, and I’m, I think, like, obviously I sh- you know, could have, should have studied more, but I just get, like, I just don’t have that long of an attention span and I knew that like I was gonna get an hour, hour and a half of good studying and that was it. And like some of my coworkers do like, like a hundred multiple twice a day, 180 multiple choice a day.

And I’m just, I would not, it wouldn’t benefit me. Like 30, 60, multiple choice a day is what I can retain, what I can like focus on. And that’s it, so.

Nate: Yeah, and, um, it was working obviously that’s kind of the big thing.

Emily: Yeah.

Nate: So.

Emily: Yeah.

Nate: Yeah. The same thing with the. Sorry man, that delay. Go ahead. Go ahead. You go ahead. I’ll remember my question.

Why Emily Had a Hard Time with REG

Emily: So, yeah. So when it came time for REG, I had asked because, um, when I purchased all three. So I passed BEC next and then audit. But in there I failed REG because I have never, I did one season of tax and it was not anything like the test and, um, so just didn’t have any familiarity with that.

So then, um, was, I was having a hard time with like the corporate and like the really complicated material. So you suggested doing one set of 30 of just that section. I think it’s section, the last section of the blueprint, maybe like five. I’m do one set of those and then one set of cumulative. And that’s, that really helped a lot because I think unless you’re in tax and doing that all the time, like that’s just gonna be the hardest part of the test. All the corporate partnership complicated stuff.

Nate: Yeah. And how basis works depending on the entity and yeah, it is. I mean, I would agree that.

Emily: Yup.

Nate: Um.

Emily: Yeah.

Emily Got Lucky That She Wasn’t Busy With Work While Studying

Nate: So let’s see. Oh, and I was just gonna comment on the, uh, studying at morning versus the night. That’s what I always tell people. I’m like, listen, here’s like, you can do it at night, if you are staying consistent and like you’re improving. But for most people, like it doesn’t really work at night because three nights a week, they just won’t study at all or because stuff comes up in the night.

Emily: Yeah.

Nate: Um, but yeah, I mean, if, if you can do it and it’s working, then it obviously doesn’t matter when you do it. It’s.

Emily: Yeah. Yeah. Yep.

Nate: Um, and what about. So were you, you, you, you were working at this time, right? During the day?

Emily: Mm-hmm. Yep.

Nate: Okay.

Emily: Yep. I work at, um, RSM, so I started there back in December and got really lucky that I wasn’t scheduled on very much, and that they were like so supportive of me sitting for the exam. Um, so that was really helpful.

Nate: Yeah. I think for most people it’s, uh, you just get assigned a ton of stuff and every few weeks the partners are emailing the new stuff, like how’s the CPA exams coming? But they don’t, you know, make any discussion for you.

Emily: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, I had, I was on like a typical busy season client and had a few things that I was really, should have probably been finishing up on Saturday.

And my manager asked like if I plan to be on tomorrow, and I was like, yeah, I’ll get on in the morning and then I’m going to sit for, I can’t remember which one in the afternoon. And he was like, don’t it can wait till next week. Just go sit for it and study.

Nate: Yeah. So that’s nice. Yeah. That’s different than Miles I would say.

Emily: Yeah. It also, I’m, I’m in a more rural area, like I said, in Springfield, Illinois. So, we’re not as busy as probably larger areas. And then two, with just starting in December, I didn’t get scheduled on as much for busy season. So combination of all that, I was working maybe 50 hours a week during busy season average.

So it wasn’t like other places that I’ve heard.

Emily’s Notetaking Process for Difficult Topics

Nate: Um, and what about, so you, you would retype our notes, but then did you also make flashcards as you were going through MCQs or did you have a separate, or you would just add stuff back to your notes in your document?

Emily: Yeah. Yep. I would like, I’d either screenshot the multiple choice or, um, like if it was a sim I would like screenshot it and put it in there.

Um, And just make sure that like as I was reviewing that, I would just look at those two.

Nate: Okay. So you basically had one document per section where you would rewrite our notes, add your cust- screenshots of multiple choice that you missed or just kind of made it this master notes document.

Emily: Yeah, I just had a Google document and it was helpful cuz I had it everywhere.

I could look at it on my phone, I’d look at it at work. Um, you know, that was really, yeah, what I used.

Nate: That’s, I like.

Emily: At first, of course, at first I tried, like I bought a big binder. I printed out all the notes. I was like, I’m gonna highlight everything and like have it be this bigger thing. And then I was like, this is what works for me.

Nate: Yeah. Yep. I’m a big fan of everything digital. Like I, I mean, again, if people ask me, I’m like, yeah, do it digitally because you can, I mean, it’s everywhere. You take it with you, you just walk out the door. And those flashcards you made are on your phone or like you’re saying a document.

How Emily Approached the Practice SIMs

Nate: Uh, when did you use practice sims, or how did you use practice sims in your study process?

Emily: So what I typically did honestly was just click submit and look at the answer and make sure that I understood it. And then if it was like a, like there were some for audit and I think for REG maybe too, and probably back where it was a sim that was like a really good sim that covered a lot of the section.

And for those I would screenshot it and put that in my notes as sort of like this is a summary of like what I really need to know for this section. Um, but honestly I didn’t really do very many, um, for REG and probably for far too. I made sure that I could like, work out some of the, more like, calculated questions.

I would practice those a couple times. Um, but for the most part, I would just hit submit because I’d work it all out and maybe I understood it, but then I like made one little error and I’d get it wrong. So then that was like discouraging. I was like, I’m just gonna hit submit and make sure I understand what they did.

Nate: No, that’s exactly, I mean, that’s exactly, uh, what I would tell, or what I tell people to do is, uh, yeah, find basically what you just summarized. If you pull up whatever, five to seven practice sims, find the ones out of those seven that are the hardest to you. Just when you look at ’em, you think that’s, that looks crazy or that’s difficult. And then maybe try filling it out, you know? But as soon as you’re stuck submit it and then reverse engineer it or just, just figure out based on the explanation, like, okay, this journal entry is this, when this transaction happens, it’s this kind of an entry.

And maybe make notes on it. And that’s so much faster than just staring at a sim for 20 minutes and then getting half of it wrong, you know, like you said.

Emily: Yep. They’re, um, and really for sims, I mean, it’s just like a summary of the different sections. So like if you understand the section and understand it enough to answer multiple choice on it, it’s just the sims are kind of like 10 multiple choice in a row.

It’s not, you know, it’s not like it’s different material or anything, so.

Nate: Right. Yeah.

Taylor Your Study Process Accordingly

Nate: Um, and so you had, well, okay, you were in our forum, so you had our pro course videos as well, right? Did you watch all those when you started?

Emily: Yep. And so, and I think I did a lot of those things, um, but I just sort of like tailored it for myself. And so I, I did it first try to get up early to study and then my kids would hear me, they’d be like, oh, we can get up too . So, I just, yeah, I was like, I’m just gonna, you know, I’d get to work early so that I could be done a little bit earlier, at least like on time. So that did, I got it maybe a little earlier than usual, but not usually to study.

Nate: Yeah.

Taking Quizzes on the App All Throughout the Day for Retention

Nate: And then, uh, you, you might have said this, which, which of our study tools did you use the most? I mean, obviously the notes, but I mean like from the app throughout the day, did you just kind of take quizzes?

Emily: I did, I would take quizzes, just kind of like whenever I had a break just to recall stuff. And it was, sometimes it was hard, like you have said with other people when it’s like, well, I haven’t covered this yet.

Why is it, you know, I wish I could only look at what I’ve covered. But then, um, you know, towards the end, towards a test, when I would be getting close, I’d be like, I’d get like four out of five questions right or like, sometimes five out of five questions right, and I was like, oh I think I’m like getting to the point where I’m gonna pass maybe, so.

Nate: Yeah. Yeah. I just thinking, go ahead.

Emily: Sorry. I would always listen to the audio notes too. Not quite as, not necessarily every day. Um, but as I got closer to the test, like the past, the last couple, the last week or so, probably, I listened through all the audio notes and skim through my notes, so, it was kind of like it was coming in two ways, like I was listening to it and looking at it.

And then also like as I’m skimming through, I could see, okay, this applies to these sims or this multiple choice that I missed, and be taking it all in. And then always on the way to my test, I would listen to a couple, usually just like the first few sections. Um, because there’s no testing center here, so I would have to drive an hour or two.

And that was so, I know I always got an extra multiple choice or two because I’d like hear something and be like, oh, okay. And then I’d get there and there’d always be a question about that. So that was kind of cool.

Nate: Yeah. The, uh, the morning of, I mean, like that works, especially if you have a long commute.

I would always show up to the testing center like two hours early and just sit in the parking lot and do one final pass through my own, uh, flashcards. Then yeah. Always, I would walk in and just like I swear on the first testlet even have like five things that I had just covered in my own flashcards, so.

Emily: Yeah. Yep.

Nate: Had another question.

Emily’s Final Review Study Process

Nate: Let’s see what, oh, your final review, what did you do? What was the final review like for you? Like, did you save a week for that? And what did you actually do?

Emily: Um, honestly, I feel like I was kind of like final reviewing the entire time since I’m like always covering everything. Um, so I wouldn’t, like, there wasn’t a point where I would like officially switch over and say, this is my final review.

I’d kind of have my notes done, like re- all of them, retyped. And then I would just be like looking at the hardest sections. Um, like for example for REG, like the corporate partners, all that different stuff. Um, and, um, uh, if, if I was still having a hard time with the multiple choice, I would watch that Becker final review.

And, um, either watch it or do the multiple choice from that, because I always thought that would be a good overview too. Um, yeah, I didn’t really do anything crazy. I’d start listening to the audio notes then too, and go like listening to them while I would skim through my notes. Um, you know, I didn’t do anything like specifically different though.

Nate: Yeah, yeah. There’s, right, there’s kind of two sides if you’re, the daily set of 30 is obviously you’re re-reviewing the whole time. And then the, uh, the way our study tools are set up, the same idea, you can listen to the full set of audios in like two to three hours. So one to two days of just kind, listening to ’em half hour at a time or whatever and so you get repeat exposure all the way through. And then, but some, you know, some people like to save a week and just do the kind of a like cram session strategy for a week but it’s just one of those things you can personalize, you know?

Emily: Yep. Yeah. I think, um, probably if I had scheduled them further apart, so when I bought all the tests at the beginning of January, it may have even been end of December, I just scheduled him, and so then like I wouldn’t always have time to have like a full final review. Um, it was usually like the night before, I’d be like, I’m not gonna, you know, it be a Friday night.

Cause I’d usually schedule ’em on Saturday. I’d be like, I’m not gonna pass this anyway. I’m not even gonna go tomorrow. Is there’s like, and my husband would be like, just go. Just go. And I’m like, no, I’m just gonna not go because I wanna deal with this with the kids and like, I don’t wanna drive all the way and then he’d be like, just go.

So then I’d kind of like just go in the morning and usually then on the way there, listening to the notes, I’d be like, okay, I think I know more of this than I realized, but man, the tests just are not fun. It’s just not enjoyable. Especially like if you are someone who’s like, you know, like me, like who’s gonna score in the seventies, eighties, like low eighties, it’s just not gonna be enjoyable, but just get ’em done, so.

Nate: Yeah. Well, yeah. And the, uh, that’s funny you say that because um, your process was like clearly working and that’s kind of, that’s something I hear from people a lot on these interviews is, uh, it’s like when your study process is really effective, it’s working, but you’re, you’re so used to the process that it almost feels like you’re being complacent or not doing enough.

But then they’ll go and you’ll still be passing sections and so.

Emily: Yeah.

Nate: Yeah.

Emily: Yep.

Nate: It’s just about how effective.

Emily: And I did, um, yes, exactly. And right if you’re doing, I mean, if you’re passing, I guess with like high eighties, nineties, like, you know, that’s probably not necessary for most of us though. I think the week that I found out I passed my last one, there were several people in the firm that found out they got that, oh, the Elijah, I can’t remember what it’s called, Sales award.

Nate: Yeah.

Emily: I was like, oh my goodness. I cannot even imagine.

Nate: That is just something. 99’s or whatever it is, 97 plus on on your first time on all four. That’s just like, like good for them.

Emily: No amount of, yeah, no amount of studying would’ve got me there because like the first time I was studying for FAR and I did watch like more of the videos and do a lot of the work, kind of how you say like by the time you get to the end you can’t remember anything at the beginning. And that’s why I think like sometimes it’s almost, it’s just better to get it done in like four or five weeks. Cram it. Make really good educated guesses on the ones you don’t know and cross your fingers.

Nate: Yeah, no, I agree. I’m a big fan of shorter timelines and, and some people just cannot handle that, you know, like, I, I cannot set FAR five weeks away. I can’t deal with that, you know, I have to have longer and so I’m like, okay. You know, that’s another thing you can do your own way. Um, it, it always helped me to like, feel the sense of pressure because I knew every single day mattered to study cuz I only had four weeks or five weeks or whatever.

Emily: Yeah, absolutely.

How Emily Would Study on the Weekends

Nate: Um, did you study any differently on the weekends?

Emily: No, not really. Um, I would just usually, like Saturday mornings, I mean, if I wasn’t working, I would study for a couple hours, get a few more sections of my notes typed, but I pretty much did the same thing all the time. Um, I mean, there were a lot of times on the weekends when I wouldn’t study, so I mean, we’re pretty involved in a lot of things like here in our town.

Um, we, I actually play violin and my husband plays guitar, so we like play a lot of music for like gigs and stuff. Have two kids we play for our church. I mean, yeah, I just could kind of relax a little bit. I mean, I usually studied like once or twice Sunday evenings too. I’d start like, okay, get back into it. Type some more notes.

Nate: Yeah. But no, but that’s really nice. Nothing, or the uh, once you kind of got this process down, this just really wasn’t this big stressful thing that kind of took over your life.

Emily: Yeah. I mean, it was always on my mind.

Nate: Right.

Why Emily Had to Cancel Plans for Her Last Test

Emily: I would, like probably, so my last one was REG, and so when I bought all three, the first time I took REG, I failed it with a 61.

It was in, let’s see, I sat for BEC and then REG like. It was so silly like three weeks after, which I should have given myself more time than that cuz I had never done that. I don’t know, I was just winging it and then I passed audit and then, so then I had to come back and do REG again. So I knew that I would really needed to study.

So that was the one time that I said no to stuff was the week or two before REG, there were a couple family things that weren’t big events, just like family wanting to spend time together and I was nope. I’m gonna study, like if I can study and like cram it the past, the last couple weeks, I know I can pass this and be done, so.

Passing the CPA Exams in Her Firm

Nate: Yeah. And so did you, uh, let’s see. How long have you been at the firm you’re at? My, my question is, did you pass your exams before most people in your hire group? I’m assuming you did, if you passed ’em in like five or four months.

Emily: Um, probably, but I probably like most people in my, that were hired, similar time to me are, um, first year associates, and I was hired like as a second year.

So I mean, I had studied before I joined, like I had been studying since September. So, um, you know, I pro- I have studied probably more than them. And then Illinois is just like, we just have all these like, weird testing processes, so you have to apply for the Illinois board. You don’t get your score for the, from NASBA, you get it from Illinois.

Nate: Oh, that’s right.

Emily: So like a couple people have been ready to sit, but it has taken so long to get approved by the Illinois board to sit that, that’s a whole, whole thing. So.

Nate: You do it normally, or I mean you do it, you take the exams at Prometric, like ev, every state uses Prometric, right? Same thing?

Emily: Yep. Yeah, but then we like, everyone gets their score on like a, you know, the night before the score release date, if we’re lucky we get ours, the score release date at like 7:00 AM But there was one day, I think it was REG or no, sorry, it was my second to last one. It was audit that I didn’t get it until like 1:00 PM and that whole day I was just like.

Nate: Yeah, that’s brutal.

Emily: Refreshing.

Nate: Ex. Yeah, exactly. Refresh a million times. Yeah. Yeah. I remember.

Emily’s Test Day Experience

Nate: Um, and then on test day, so another thing, the set of 30 really helps you with, uh, just doing really well, just getting you very comfortable or good at multiple choice questions. So on test day, did you cruise through the MCQs fairly easily and you had a bunch of time for the Sims.

Emily: Yes. Um, so there were a couple. Where I would have to like stop myself in the multiple choice where I’d have to say, okay, I’ve spent several minutes on this question. It’s not a calculation question. Just pick your best guess and move on. So as long as I, kind of how you said, like I try to spend like a minute or so on average on each question and then take a really good guess and move on or flag it for later.

And then I think like for everyone, for every test that I passed, I would usually have like 45 minutes to an hour left after I was done with the test. So that was always a good feeling. Um, yeah, I think especially for like, you know, BEC is a little, the multiple choice are a little easier, but then it gave me more time to like, read through what I was typing out too, so that was helpful for the, I can’t remember what those are called.

Nate: The written memos.

Emily: The written sims. Mm-hmm.

Nate: Yep. Nice.

Study Strategy That Made a Big Difference

Nate: Well, uh, it sounds like or I think we’ve been through pretty much everything, stuff I normally ask, so the, uh, well, is there anything else that you did, any other study strategy that we didn’t mention that you felt like made a big difference for?

Emily: Um, not necessarily a study strategy. I think I just really appreciated because of like the way my brain works and how I want everything like, organized in the same place that your notes were in with the blueprint. And I wish more, like, I wish like Becker would kind of like do that same thing. Yeah. I’m sure there’s a reason they don’t, I don’t know.

Something with the organization. Um, but I just really appreciated that and how I could go and like find exactly from the ninja multiple choice, like where it went and um, yeah, I don’t know. It helped me be a lot more efficient in my studying too, cuz I wasn’t spending time, oh, where should this go? Or like looking at things in multiple places.

Nate: Right. So.

Emily: Um, I think the other thing too.

Nate: Yeah, go ahead.

Emily: And then I know this like is not normal advice, but if you’re someone who is kind of a perfectionist who wants to like get through the entire review course before you sit for the exam and do the final review, like at some point if you’re overanalyzing it too much just by all four sections or a couple sections and just go sit for it because you’re not gonna get a hundred percent like there’s, just, just get it done. And then if you fail and you’re close, then you know you’re close. Um.

Nate: Correct.

Emily: And if you don’t, if you pass, then you passed.

Nate: Yep. And that’s my other argument to people is, uh, for a shorter timeline, because like if you space these out in three or four months and then you fail one, it just feels like this catastrophic event.

And uh.

Emily: Yeah.

Nate: Yeah. And there’s, I think that you gain a lot from test day itself, seeing the exam, the real exam in person.

Emily: Yes.

Nate: So study for four or five weeks, maybe six, take one. And I mean, yeah, it sucks cuz it’s whatever, two 50 or something to repay or, uh, retake an exam. But it’s, I don’t know. I, I like that whole idea a lot better than taking three or four months per section.

There’s just a lot of reason. Okay.

Emily’s Top Tips for People Struggling with the Exams

Nate: And what, so my last question is always, what would be your top two or three tips to people, even if it’s stuff we already covered? Um, people that are struggling with their study process, what would you tell them?

Emily: Um, don’t passively study. Make sure that the study time you are putting in, you are focused and absorbing the information and like actively answering multiple choice and thinking through the explanation. Um, let’s see, and then, yeah, like you say, like retyping your notes in your own words or figuring out what kind of learner you are. Like if you’re an auditory learner, maybe watching some of the videos is good, but for me, I’m like a very visual learner.

I like to like read through my notes. And so, um, just figuring out that and putting things in your own words too. It’s helpful.

Nate: Yeah. Um, so I, sorry, I thought of one last question.

How Emily Studied to Learn New Topics

Nate: So when you went through multiple choice for a new lesson, let’s say, and you said you would pull up 30.

Emily: Yep.

Nate: 20 or 30. What was your actual process? Would you click through first to kind of see, okay. I keep seeing, like most of these questions are about this one thing. Or would you try to actually answer each one and then reperform calculation type questions? Or what was your actual process for that?

Emily: Yeah, it, it kind of depended. Um, like how you say for in the PRO videos, when you first go through a section, just kind of like click through and if you don’t know it just, you know, take a guess or see, look at the answer. And so that’s what I did a lot of times is, especially at the, like first few times going through that section, um, is I would just click and look at the answer and put it in my notes.

And it’s crazy because they say that, right like, your trending score on Ninja should be like a certain percent and you’ll pass and you’re, you should finish a certain amount of Becker and you’ll pass.

I mean, I think my ninja percent say like 40.Because I just, like, I didn’t waste time going through multiple choice that I was getting right, like focus on the harder sections. If I didn’t know something, I would put it in my notes so that I would recall it later. Um, I think that, yeah, you don’t necessarily need to get like a crazy high percent on the multiple choice to pass.

Nate: Yeah. Well, and also those.

Emily: Because you’ll.

Nate: Oh, sorry. These, uh, those checkpoints built into the software, like the dashboards, those can be a very inaccurate gauge of like where you’re at. So the, I, I mean, the best thing, like if you took a set of 30 questions from Ninja at like towards the end, what were you typically scoring on those?

Emily: I guess towards the end, probably like 60 to 65%.

Nate: Yeah.

Emily: But like every single time I did multiple choice, I would see it as a benefit if I missed one. Cuz I’m like, that caught something else I didn’t know. Right. And that’s awesome. Now if I get something similar to that question, I know the answer. So even the night before the test, I would get one I didn’t know and instead of freaking out, I’d be like, now that’s like one more thing I know for the test.

Nate: Yep.

The Biggest Benefit Emily Got from SuperfastCPA

Nate: Um, let me, let me just ask you a feedback question real fast. Um, so just what would be the, if you were to sum it up, the top one or two biggest benefits you got from SuperfastCPA?

Emily: Um, I think the notes, how concise the notes are, because even the ninja notes are pretty long. Um, and yeah, like at one point, I don’t know, I tried so many things when I was studying for my very first go around it FAR. Um, I tried reading through the ninja notes or the Ninja book cause I was like, oh, that’ll be shorter than Becker.

And I just, I don’t know. I really liked the notes. Um, I think the app was probably like number two compared. It was probably the written notes, then the, uh, audio notes and then the multiple choice on the app.

Nate: Yep. Yeah. All right. Yep. We’ve been through everything, so I appreciate you taking the time to do this call. Um, like you, like we were saying in the beginning, these are just a huge resource and you’re just adding to it. So I appreciate you doing it and I’m glad you found our stuff and that it helped and congrats on being done.

Especially you seems like it was relatively simple for you, so that’s awesome.

Emily: Yeah. Well, thank you so much. I’m glad that I didn’t have to study from five to 11:00 PM every night and make this a several year long process. It was already long enough to, to get to the point where I could sit, so.

Nate: Well, again, I appreciate it. I’m gonna,

So that was the interview with Emily. I’m sure you found that very helpful and informative. And if you did, take a second to share the episode or the podcast in general, with someone you know, who is working on their CPA exams because like I say every time. These interviews really are the most helpful free resource available anywhere for people trying to figure out their own CPA study process.

So thanks for listening or watching and we will see you on the next episode.

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