In this SuperfastCPA podcast episode, you’ll hear how Florian used the free SuperfastCPA study methods to improve his study process and pass his CPA exams.
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- 00:00 Florian Interview
- 02:28 How Florian Managed to Find SuperfastCPA
- 04:16 Florian Talks About How He Started His CPA Journey
- 05:28 The US CPA is Accepted More Than the German CPA
- 06:35 What Florian Did When He Started Studying for the US CPA Exams
- 08:47 Getting Used to Multiple Choice Questions
- 09:51 The Time Florian Took to Study the Normal Way
- 10:54 Why Florian Had to Change His Approach Studying for the CPA Exams
- 12:27 Constantly Searching for the CPA Process and the Shift in His Study
- 14:49 Used the Two Hour Session in the Morning to Study to Get His Evenings Back
- 15:44 Florian’s Study Timelines for the CPA Exams
- 17:53 Felt the Difference After Switching His Study Process in BEC to REG
- 19:12 Florian’s Study Process for Task Based Simulations
- 20:45 Blocking Out 10 Days in Calendar Before Exams for Final Review
- 22:09 The Tips Florian Got from Listening to SuperfastCPA Podcast Episodes
- 25:01 Florian’s Note Taking Process for Difficult Topics
- 26:36 Realization After Taking the BEC Exam for the First Time
- 30:11 How Florian Did the Transition to the Questions First Approach
- 33:11 Organizing Topics He is Learning Through Word
- 37:45 How Florian Studied Even With a New Born
- 39:46 Passed All Four in First Try with Just Studying for Two Hours a Day
- 41:03 Florian’s Top Tips for People Still Struggling with the CPA Exams
- 43:31 Florian’s Why and What Kept Him Going
- 45:29 What Florian Did to Celebrate His Final Passing Score
Florian: I think the, the podcast, so from my point of view, they are, they are quite the, the best, um, supporting material especially for, your brain and for the, uh, complete mindset of hearing all these stories from the other guys, where are their problems? And, and yeah. How are they, uh, doing?
Florian: And, uh, yeah. And they, they tried and they passed all, everyone. So it’s good to hear.
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 Florian. So Florian sent me an email, I had never heard from him before. He’s actually from Germany, he’s the first person that I’ve talked to that used our strategies to pass their CPA exams.
Nate: And he actually said in his email that he had never bought any of our products. He just watched the free training and it helped him transform how he studied. And then at that time he was emailing me to tell me that he had passed using our strategies, so we set up a call, because I was interested in hearing his story.
Nate: So in this episode, you’re going to hear Florian’s story from the beginning, how he studied, how he figured out his process, and how he used our strategies to improve his process and make it more effective.
Nate: Before we get into that, I just want to mention the free training that Florian referred to in his email. That’s our free training webinar. According to Florian, he watched that, took notes on the strategies, and that alone is what he used to transform his study process.
Nate: So these are one hour trainings where we walk through the six key ingredients to every successful CPA study process. When you’re doing all six of these things in your process, it’s really hard to go wrong, as illustrated by Florian’s story and pretty much every other podcast interview you’ve heard on the podcast. So with that out of the way, let’s get into the interview with Florian.
Nate: All right. So is it, uh, 5:00 PM there?
Florian: It is, yeah, in Germany.
Nate: All right. Nice.
Nate: Never had someone, I mean, never on the podcast someone from Germany. As far as I know, never a customer from Germany. And actually, you weren’t a customer, right? That was your thing, you just kind of watched some of our videos.
How Florian Managed to Find SuperfastCPA
Nate: Uh, what, what did you see or use, like some of the podcasts or the free training or what did you, uh, watch from us.
Florian: Yes. I started with, with an ad on YouTube, to be honest.
Florian: Yeah. Then I switched over to some videos and then I found out that you, you’re doing this podcast thing and yeah, this was the starting point of all my CPA journey. I listened to nearly all, all your podcast sessions.
Florian: And on my way to work and after and in my spare time. And that was a starting point.
Nate: Awesome. That’s cool to hear. So that’s interesting YouTube ad, like you were in Germany at the time and showed you a YouTube ad.
Florian: Yeah, so, uh, my former partner, he was a CPA a as well, so he recommended me to start the journey for the CPA.
Florian: Yeah, and then I did a lot of research online of course. And, uh, I tried to find out how process of doing the, the exam. Yeah. And then I, of course had CPA on YouTube and then I found out about Superfast.
Nate: Yeah. I, I guess I’m just wondering because, uh, we don’t, I mean, as far as I know, I have an agency that kind of runs our advertising, but,
Nate: I don’t think we, I think we just select, you know, like the United States as far as like the area to advertise. But maybe it was a, uh, I think sometimes there’s specific videos that we might target just regardless of who, who’s watching it. Maybe that’s it. But that’s, that’s interesting you saw one of our ads over there.
Florian Talks About How He Started His CPA Journey
Nate: Um, so one of the first things I was gonna ask you is, uh, like I said, I’ve never even heard from someone in Germany. So what’s the, you mentioned your form, your partner, what was the, uh, I don’t know, getting the, the US CPA over there. I mean, that’s what you’re talking about, right? The US CPA?
Florian: Yeah, absolutely.
Florian: Yeah, I, I, uh, yeah, in Germany, so when you’re doing an accounting, so you have to do the German CPA license and, uh, on the other side, in the German tax advisor license. So these, these are two separate exam. I did these exams in 2022, uh, no, no. In 2020 and 2021. And then I, I left Ernst & Young, EY, and I went over to a mid-size firm here in Germany.
Florian: And yeah, as I said, my, my former partner, he was a CPA and he’s, yeah, recommended me to do the next step in my career and being more international. And that was the point where I did the, the research, how, how, get into it.
Nate: Yeah. Okay.
The US CPA is Accepted More Than the German CPA
Nate: So if you’re working at EY in Germany, is everyone there getting the German CPA and the US CPA or is it not very common to get the US CPA?
Florian: No, no, no. So it is not really common to get an exam? Uh, in general, uh, uh, to, to be honest. So we, we have these huge quotes, uh, in comparison to the CPA. So, um, but uh, when you stay with, especially with the big four, so when you’re a manager, so that’s the next step in you to, uh, in your career to think about an exam, but the German, um, exam is split into both.
Florian: One on the one part, the CPA and on the one part and on the other part, the tax part. And these are two separate German exams, but they are not really international. No. So, um, to be honest, so when we doing business in international, so the cpa, the US CPA is more, more familiar to everyone.
Nate: Yeah. Okay.
Nate: Yeah, that makes sense. Okay.
What Florian Did When He Started Studying for the US CPA Exams
Nate: Um, so when you decided to do the US CPA, Did you just get a review course like such as Becker or something and just kind of start originally?
Florian: Yeah. So, um, and during this time, so family situation changed a little bit. So my wife was pregnant and, uh, yeah, I, I, I knew. There, there won’t be so much time of studying.
Florian: So I was quite familiar with studying from my former exams. Uh, but, uh, this took a lot, a lot of effort and time and so I, I, I knew I have to change something and, uh, yeah. Then I was with Gleim so I, I, I booked, I booked the, the, um, mega test bank and the outline or the book. So, but then I start, I start the old way.
Florian: So the normal way you, you always say, yeah, reading all the, these outlines and summarizing them into Word format and then doing the control MCQs and the control TBS’ and yeah, in the first weeks or, or months, uh, was quite bad into it.
Nate: Okay. Uh, yeah. So was, I mean, just when you started with, with glam, was it, did it seem harder or anything, or like more information than the, uh, the German exams you took or was it about the same?
Florian: Oh, it’s, it’s a different kind of format. So in Germany, you, you don’t have an exam in multiple choice, uh, style. So you have more, uh, uh, written, written tasks. Um, but um, the content is quite, quite the same. So, but it’s there, it is a different law and different taxes. But in Germany you have taxable income as well, so, and you have auditing standards as well, but there are a lot of differences.
Florian: The, the foundation is, is the same, but um, the kind, of of exam is different.
Nate: Yeah. Okay.
Getting Used to Multiple Choice Questions
Nate: Yeah. And I can’t remember right now, one of the other podcasts, someone mentioned that, that like the multiple choice was brand new. They’d never seen that in school their whole life. Um, was that, I don’t know, was that challenging on its own?
Nate: The multiple, like just that the format was different.
Florian: Yeah, it is. It is different. So it’s, it’s harder at the beginning. So because you’re not that familiar, you have this language difference, of this language problems in the beginning. So especially with all the, yeah, the vocabulary, the quite intense English, business English you have to, to, to challenge with, and yeah.
Florian: Then, yeah, the, the style of multiple choice questions, so when you read the question the first time, all the questions seems to be, or all the solutions seems to be the same, so it could be A, B, C, or D.
Nate: Right. Okay. Yeah, that’s, uh, yeah. That’s funny.
The Time Florian Took to Study the Normal Way
Nate: Um, let’s see, what was I gonna, so when you started just kind of reading or not, you said you had their test bank, but when you just started, how long was that period where you were doing things the, uh, the normal way?
Florian: Oh, I think for four, three months. So I start with BEC because it was a, a try to, a try how, how good, um, am I in, in, in doing this? Um, so I start with BEC because everyone says it’s the easiest one, but in the end it was my worst score on BEC. I did all this stuff doing the old way, and I did it for three months, and then I took it in, in the end of 2021.
Florian: And yeah, then I, I scored a, an eight, a 78, so it was, it was quite close to the benchmark. But yeah, that, and during this time I, I, I, I, I knew, so this can’t be the way to do it.
Why Florian Had to Change His Approach Studying for the CPA Exams
Nate: Now, do you say that just because it was taking you just all your free time to study?
Florian: No, no, no. Um, I, I stopped studying. Uh, before work at, in the mornings.
Florian: So I went to work, I started at, uh, 6:30, 2 hour learning session. Um, but the main part of my learning session was, uh, reading the outlines, uh, at Gleim and doing some multiple choice question. But the, the main part was summarizing the book.
Nate: Okay. When you say, uh, you know, you finished BEC and you kind of look back and you think, this can’t be the way to do it, what was it?
Nate: What do you mean by that? Just that. You felt like the, the way of studying wasn’t that efficient or when you say that can’t be the way to do it, what do you mean by that?
Florian: Yeah, there are different, it is different to, to summarize the book and to, to, to, to summarize them on, on white paper and to answering multiple choice questions.
Florian: So it, it didn’t make, make me better in, in, in solving multiple choice questions, so I switched my strategy and adapted your style of studying a little bit.
Nate: Gotcha. Okay. Yeah, I, I, under, I get what you mean. I just, you know, for the people that are gonna listen to this. Um, okay.
Constantly Searching for the CPA Process and the Shift in His Study
Nate: So, was it after BEC? You saw that YouTube ad and then watched our free training then?
Florian: Oh no, it was during this time. So I did, uh, al always, uh, more research and getting more information because yeah, when you were located in Germany, so the CPA, you are not that quite familiar with the process and of course, I, I researched a lot of, uh, uh, um, um, I researched a lot online and to get more deep into it.
Florian: And yeah, during this time, I think it was, uh, the time when, when I, um, I found out about your program and of course about your, uh, podcast. I’m, I’m very, very, um, happy about this source, this free source of, of getting deeper into it and to hear about the stories from, from other people, uh, and they’re struggling.
Nate: Yeah. Okay. Um, alright, so, so after BEC and you had kind of started hearing our podcasts and stuff, what were the main shifts in your study strategy you made?
Florian: Yeah, well, I to, at the beginning of my study session, I did a little bit of, of reading the outlines, but only on a, on a high, high level. So only to get, uh, understanding of what’s the next chapter of, so what I, I am I doing there?
Florian: And then the main part of the morning session, um, I think 90 minutes or, or I think so, uh, it was doing MCQs over and over.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah. So you mainly just switched from spending a bunch of time reading to spending most of your time doing the questions.
Florian: Absolutely, yup.
Nate: Yeah, yeah. I mean, in a nutshell, that’s pretty much the whole description.
Nate: Um, so I’m just looking at your email here. So one question I had when you were explaining that, where did you have to travel a long ways to take the exam or what, like what were the testing locations in Germany for this?
Florian: Yeah, you have one in Frankfurt, so it’s not that far away. Uh, a two hour commute to Frankfurt.
Florian: So it’s, it’s good to handle. Okay.
Used the Two Hour Session in the Morning to Study to Get His Evenings Back
Nate: Um, and so you were already studying in the morning, so you would study in the morning, just work, and so did you kind of have the evenings free? You just had the studying done for the day in the morning.
Florian: Yeah, absolutely. So in, in the first, um, days of, of studying, I, I heard a lot of, um, to, to the audio notes from, from Gleim, but in the end I skipped that as well because they, in my, not my opinion, they weren’t that helpful and I skipped that as well.
Florian: I, I always try to have spare time in the evening with the family, um, and at the weekends often as well. So I, I always try to use the two hour session in the morning and that was my main part of studying.
Nate: Yeah. So, I mean, that’s pretty efficient.
Florian’s Study Timelines for the CPA Exams
Nate: So your whole way through, you just passed these, just doing the two hours in the morning, and did you do that on the weekends or, or not at all?
Florian: N no, no. So, uh, I, I blocked, uh, I think it was in the end, a 10 day period before my test day. Um, so this was my, my my cram session and, um, during this time, I did a lot of MCQs, um, six and eight hour or to, to eight hours a day. Um, and then of course on the weekends as well, but, uh, in, in the weeks or months before, I always try to, to, to do one session a, a quarter.
Florian: So I used three months to, to studying. Um, and during this time before I, I did the cram session. I always, uh, block the weekends for family spare time. So that was only starting during weekdays. Okay.
Nate: Yeah, that’s, that’s, uh, that’s pretty efficient. Um, so what was the section you took after BEC?
Florian: Well, I think it was REG.
Florian: So I tried one of the harder ones.
Nate: Okay. Yeah, that would be challenging because like you, I mean obviously you, you don’t really work under US tax law or it’s just not something you kind of grew up being generally familiar with, and then, so, yeah. And did you find that, I know you said BEC was your lowest score, but which ones content did you find the most difficult?
Florian: It was, I think it, it was FAR. Because, because it’s that huge, huge, uh, content. It was so, so much different, um, models and it was, it was huge. It was challenging, but in the end it was one of my best course. So it’s quite funny.
Nate: Yeah. Yep. Um, well you probably had your process down pretty well after that.
Nate: That’s another thing that happens. You know, your BEC was your lowest score, but your first attempt.
Felt the Difference After Switching His Study Process in BEC to REG
Nate: Um, so okay, back to REG. So from you finish BEC, you kind of look back on it and think that wasn’t the most efficient way to study. Then you do REG mostly focusing on questions. Did you feel a difference that, okay, this is much more effective all the way through REG?
Nate: Do you just feel better about the process?
Florian: Yeah. To, to be honest, you, you’re getting so much faster into the MCQs. Um, you, you, you’re getting so much faster, better in answering them, and you are learning or studying the content of the outlines in, in this, this way from, from, from, from the other end. So doing the MCQs first and then understanding the content.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I, if you’ve listened to all the podcasts, you’ve heard me say this probably a hundred times, but it just makes so much more sense. I mean, it seems so obvious. It’s like, okay, on test day you’re gonna do MCQs and sims, so don’t spend most of your time reading the content in paragraph format.
Nate: Like learn the material via the questions anyways.
Florian’s Study Process for Task Based Simulations
Nate: So, uh, what about sims? Those are pretty unique to the CPA exams. Um, and then you said that you only studied two hours a day on weekdays, and that was primarily MCQs. So how did you work practice sims into your process?
Florian: Well, The, the closer the test date came, I, I always, um, filled the starting time with, with some more, um, um, simulations over and over.
Florian: And then I, I split the time, uh, from, from only doing MCQs a little bit, uh, of, of doing some test based simulations as well. Um, to be honest, I did them a lot, but only in a MCQ way, so I split them down into the different parts for me, yeah, I didn’t focus, uh, that, that much on, on the time, um, the ran down.
Florian: Um, and when, when I don’t get the results, uh, I, I submit them and, um, get, go, uh, go deeper into the content of, yeah. In this way. Yeah.
Nate: Yeah. Okay. So if you get stuck on one or didn’t know how to do one, you just submit it and then use the solution to kind of reverse engineer. Okay, this is how this sim works, right?
Florian: Yeah. Yeah. Okay.
Blocking Out 10 Days in Calendar Before Exams for Final Review
Nate: Um, when you say you blocked off 10 days before each exam, does that mean you were like taking work off and studying eight hours a day?
Florian: Yeah, so I, I, tried to, to block a week for five working days and the weekend before, and the weekend after. And then I tried to, to take the exam on a Monday as you recommend to do so.
Florian: And so it was always, I think it was 10 days, but in the end, so it was often that I, I was finished on Fridays so I can have the Saturday and Sunday off, and then I, I started, uh, fresh minded into the exam on, on Monday.
Nate: Okay. Yeah, that’s interesting. I, I felt like, uh, I mean obviously it worked. Um, that’s another thing I always say, like, whatever your.
Nate: Process is if you’re passing the exams, I mean, do it however, but, uh, taking the two days off before, right before the exam, I don’t know. That’s interesting. But again, clearly it worked. For me, I always felt like I had to be those last two days. I mean 10, 12 hours Saturday and Sunday, so that my mind was just filled with as many questions as I could get through, but again, clearly it worked.
The Tips Florian Got from Listening to SuperfastCPA Podcast Episodes
Nate: Um, so what about listening to all, to all the podcast episodes, were there any specific, uh, strategies or I ideas that you got from single episodes that you used or I don’t know anything specific from any of the episodes you remember?
Florian: I think, uh, I, I took a lot of tips and ideas from all the, the participants. So I, I think, um, they had, they had a lot of ideas and so I took them that, uh, fits to, to my, to my process and to my idea of studying. So, um, Not, not really a specific one so that I can, uh, yeah, I can add on now, but, but there are a lot of, a lot of tips that I tried to use and tried to implement in my strategy.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah. It’s just, I guess, kind of a conglomeration. And I mean, a lot of ’em, you know, pretty much every person was studying using our strategies. So as you listen to each episode, you just kind of get a really good idea of the strategies in general.
Florian: So, yeah. And you’re getting more and more confident about your style of doing it.
Florian: So in my, my position, so it’s maybe a little bit different in comparison to one who is located in the US. So there are no other colleagues or friends or guys who are who, who started during this time with me here so that I can have a conversation with them. So how are you doing this or how are you doing that?
Florian: So it was the, the podcast, it was one of my, my, my, my, my resources about, yeah, hearing the stories of other guys who, who struggled and who, who found, found, found a solution.
Nate: Yep. Um, and then just like during the day, or like, when did you, if you studied in the morning and then worked, when did you listen to the podcast?
Florian: Yeah. Um, always, uh, on the commute to work and, and back and yeah. Then in the spare time, so, laying on, on the couch or, or sitting in the garden or when there was spare time. So it was quite nice to, to hear the stories, so it’s easy to hear.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah. Um, yeah. That’s awesome. I, I just, I like hearing that. When I started the podcast, I don’t really know what the, the goal was, but, but now, I mean, we have a lot of episodes and, uh, yeah, that’s the main thing people mention usually now is just how helpful they found the, uh, podcast episodes, so.
Nate: That’s cool. You, you found ’em over there. Yeah. Um, okay, so a couple more questions about your process.
Florian’s Note Taking Process for Difficult Topics
Nate: Did you have any form of note taking or making flashcards if you kept seeing question or, I mean, if you came to a topic that you really struggled with. What was your process for breaking that down?
Nate: Did you take notes or make flashcards, just anything like that?
Florian: Yeah, my starting point was always the outlines from Gleim. So it was a book and, and then I, I tried to skip the different chapter and find out what or, or where are the parts which are located, um, in the MCQs. So then I took these parts and, uh, wrote them down into, uh, a word, a word format.
Florian: Um, so I took bullets and then in, at, at the beginning. So this, this file was quite huge, quite big, a lot of information. And, uh, it seems to be that everything is, so important to study and to remind and to remember, but in the end, um, you can skip a lot of them. And you, um, yeah. Days before the, the exam you. Yeah, this, this, uh, fire was reduced to, yeah, maybe three or four, five pages. And Yeah, and then cram them a lot. Um, yeah, especially in topic that I don’t feel that good. So I read them over and over and try to remind the content.
Florian: Or remember.
Realization After Taking the BEC Exam for the First Time
Nate: Um, and so you probably experienced the, again, you’ve, I’m sure you’ve heard this 50 times, listening to these episodes, but one thing we always say is, uh, you know, everything that’s in the textbook or the lesson is this huge amount of information.
Nate: Then if you go to the questions for that topic, you realize very little of it actually shows up in questions. So I mean, did you experience that from the way you took BEC to the other ones?
Florian: Yeah, absolutely. And there are so much question during the exam, which, um, more basic question, which came over and over.
Florian: But, um, yeah, that was a fold at the beginning, uh, on, on in my learning process as well, so that I try to, to reach 100 percentage for, for the, the learning, all the question, uh, doing them perfectly. Um, but in, in exam, you’re sitting there and you get, yeah, some of the easiest one and you, you, you’re struggling with, with them.
Florian: So that, I think this was a huge fault in, in doing BEC. So this is, this was something that I changed after BEC and, uh, I, I got better.
Nate: Yeah. Um, and that’s one thing about, about Gleim is there are no simple questions in Gleim. Like everything, they have a big explanation for every question. It’s usually a pretty involved question.
Nate: And then, which is good, like their explanations are probably the best cuz you know every explanation is like three or four paragraphs of information. Um, but you probably, when you went in to take BEC, you were probably shocked at how basic some of the real questions actually are.
Florian: Yeah. In the end or in the middle of my learning process, I, I, yeah, when, when you use the mega test bank, you have different option and choosing the multiple choice question. So on the one way you can, the, you see the adaptive way, and on the other hand you can do use the random way. So, um, in the middle of, of, and, and, and at the end of my, uh, studying process, I skip the adaptive way.
Florian: And I, I, um, only used the random way because the, the adaptive way, it was adaptive and all my worst, uh, MCQs that I’m, I’m so worst or, or worse. And so I, they came over and over and I, I did sessions of 30 question only the, the worst question, um, over and over. So that’s, this wasn’t, uh, the best way to, to do them.
Nate: Right. Right. And that’s a big key point that that’s why, I don’t know, I’m not a huge fan of the adaptive functions. I mean, you can use ’em sometimes so that you’re just getting a set of questions of all your weak areas. But if you constantly do that, like you said, you in my opinion, you want practice manual practice on all the questions just because you can see these basic questions that on exam day that you might not have covered because your adaptive software was only given you the hardest stuff and then you’re missing like easy questions on test day, cuz you never covered like the easy, the easy lessons, so.
How Florian Did the Transition to the Questions First Approach
Nate: Um, let’s see. So, okay. When you would, after BEC and you’re using the Gleim test bank primarily for questions, would you go lesson or, uh, whatever topic by topic and just do those questions or like how, how did you break it out after BEC and you switched to the questions first process?
Florian: Oh, I, I, I used the outlines and tried to, to find out what’s in the, in the different chapters, but, uh, then I directly used the, the whole set of MCQs from all the different topics over and over. Um, to be honest, at the beginning I was, quite bad in, in answering the question because there have been, um, parts of the question which, uh, contain, um, uh, material, which, which I’m not, uh, have been into it, uh, during this time, but okay, then I skipped them. And, um, yeah, I, I try to, to use it the best way and yeah, I think I, I always try to go through the content, yeah, on, on a high level basis, um, a week or two weeks. So I, I have a feeling about the content and what’s, what’s, uh, what are the sessions about, and then I, I got better and better in reviewing and reviewing the MCQs.
Nate: Okay, so like day one of REG, you would kind of read the outlines for the first few topics or whatever, and then when you went into the questions, were you just generating 30 from the entire REG test bank?
Florian: Yeah, absolutely.
Nate: Okay. Yeah, and I’ve, I mean, I’ve talked to people that did it like that, so. Yeah, so the first few weeks were probably rough cuz you’re constantly going through questions, but I guess you just topic by topic, you’re seeing a few questions each day, and as you review the solutions, you just build on it.
Nate: And then by what, after five or six weeks, you start to have a handle on all the topics, doing it like that.
Florian: Oh, I think it, it took two weeks so that I, I, I tried to cram the, or, or go into, through the content and then I, I cover the content on a high level basis, and then I, I, uh, got better and better in, in, in doing question.
Florian: And then when I, when, when there have been questions, uh, where I, I didn’t, which I didn’t, didn’t knew, uh, I switched over to the content book and, uh, tried to find out so, um. And then, yeah, uh, wrote it down to my, to my, uh, to my file.
Nate: Yep. Okay.
Organizing Topics He is Learning Through Word
Nate: And you said you did that, you took your notes on like in Word or you typed it?
Nate: You weren’t writing it by hand?
Florian: No, no. Only, only in word.
Nate: Okay. And then when you said that note, your notes got smaller, the closer you got to test day, is that because as you learned, like you knew you really understood something, you would actually delete it? Or were you saying that in BEC you took so many notes, you just learned not to do it that way In the other sections?
Florian: Oh, I, I used colors, so at the beginning everything was yellow because I didn’t, uh, know anything.
Florian: And then I, I highlighted only these parts, which, which, uh, which, uh, I was unfamiliar with during my learning process and at the end, so I think most of the, the file was, was blank and I only had some parts highlighted, uh, which I concentrated on days before, um, the exam. So the rest. I think it was, I was familiar because I learned about the content, not on a, on my, on the basic of my file.
Florian: Uh, more than on, because I knew it, because I did the, the MCQs.
Nate: Okay, so you, you just used kind of a color coding system. This stuff’s this color that I’m still not very familiar with or not comfortable with. This stuff is the different color. Because I don’t really need to focus on it anymore. That’s basically how you did it.
Florian: Yeah. In the beginning it was yellow and then I, I switched over to green. So green was, uh, the next, uh, uh, color for the next step. And at the end there were, had been only some parts, which, which were blue and yeah, the blue ones that have been there, yeah, that I really studied from my paper for or from my file days before the exam and the rest, um, I, I skipped this.
Nate: Gotcha. Yeah, I like that. That’s a good, uh, did you just come up with that or is that how you always did things like in school and stuff? The color coding thing?
Florian: No, no. I, I developed this a little bit during the CPA studies. Um, yeah, because the content, it, it was so huge and so much, and so I, I had to find out a system of how to, to remember, um, them.
Florian: And at the beginning, you, you, you feel like everything is so important. So you are quite unfamiliar with all this stuff from, from, from my, uh, point of view. Um, so, um, you, you don’t know anything about, the, the concepts and everything is so important and, but when you going deeper and deeper. Yeah, you, you study the content and you find out that.
Florian: Yeah, okay. There are some parts which are really, really important that you, you have to remember, um, and you will write down.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah. And that’s just a good example of, uh, I don’t know what you’d call it. Just being, you know, you have your review course, it gives you all the information, and I think a lot of people just, they think their only, uh, weapon or strategy for the these exams is just time spent.
Nate: Reading or, you know, using their review course. But you kind of have to just figure out some way of taking ownership of how am I going to get this stuff, you know, in my head? And you just have to find some way of, of doing that. And you, like, you created your own little system and that makes a lot of sense.
Nate: Color coding, changing colors as things move through like, I don’t understand this at all. I’m pretty familiar at this point. Okay, this, I absolutely understand it.
Florian: Yeah. It was the first time that I heard from, from your podcast about a note cards, so I never heard about this system before.
Florian: Um, yeah, but I, I, I thought about doing this, but yeah, I, I used a different way.
Florian: So, but as you said, so, uh, you are responsible for, for your process and, uh, yeah. Do what? What makes you successful in, in, in getting this exam done.
Nate: Yeah, exactly.
How Florian Studied Even With a New Born
Nate: Um, so did you guys, you mentioned, uh, your, your wife or your partner being pregnant did, so did you guys have a baby during these exams?
Florian: Yeah, at the beginning.
Florian: So] he’s, he’s from August and I started in September, so.
Nate: Oh, so even when you were doing BEC, you had the new baby?
Florian: Yeah, yeah. Yeah.
Nate: Okay, so how was the first few, uh, weeks or months? Was it tough with the whole sleeping thing?
Florian: Yeah, it was hard. It was hard to do so, um, but thanks to my wife. So she, she took a lot of, uh, responsibility and, um, yeah, she covered, uh, my, my learning process and, uh, or my, my studying process.
Florian: And, uh, yeah, so it was doable for me, but on the other side, it was only these two hours in the morning. So I had, yeah, I had to be, yeah, get up at, at uh, five p, uh, am and then commute to work and then studying for two hours and that’s it. So it’s, it’s, uh, sounds so easy. Yeah, of course. I was quite tired in the morning, but, uh, yeah.
Florian: Then you are done.
Nate: Exactly. I mean, yeah, that’s, uh, yeah. Again, that idea sounds really simple, but a lot of people fight that idea of getting up two hours before work. And they’re like, no, I’m just gonna study at night. But then, you know, a million things can come up in the evening after work, or especially if you have kids.
Nate: Uh, plus you’re just tired, like your brain’s not fresh anymore. So I just think locking in that two hours just solve so many problems. I mean, you’re just, like you said, you’re just done for the day. If you just do that, you don’t have to think about studying again, so.
Passed All Four in First Try with Just Studying for Two Hours a Day
Florian: Yeah, absolutely. Your, your mind is quite fresh and you, it, it’s not, not that loud in the office.
Florian: So telephone isn’t ringing there, there are no emails coming in and, uh, you can, you can concentrate on two hours doing the CPA stuff and then you’re done for delay.
Nate: So would you do the two hours at home or would you actually get up and go to your office? Two full hours, hours early?
Florian: To office. Gotcha. Yeah, to the office.
Nate: Okay. I mean, yeah, that, that makes sense as well. So you’re up, you’re dressed, you’re just ready, you’re in that mindset. Anyways, well, um, we kind of went through everything that I normally ask. Yeah, it sounds like you, you crushed the exams two hours a day. No weekends. You had a new baby and, uh, you just kind of went through ’em.
Nate: I mean, did you pass ’em all in the first try?
Florian: Yeah, I did.
Nate: That’s awesome. All right. Well.
Florian: Yeah, absolutely.
Nate: Yeah, that’s really good. I mean, especially since it was all foreign to you, basically. I mean, the rules and, you know, that’s, that’s good.
Florian’s Top Tips for People Still Struggling with the CPA Exams
Nate: Um, so the last thing I always ask is, uh, what would be, even if we already covered it. What would be your top three tips to people that are struggling with the study process or still trying to figure it out?
Florian: Yeah, well, yeah, you should concentrate on what, what you’re doing, um, in the exams, so first of all, the MCQs, so you have to be quite good into it and doing it over and over, and then you, you’re getting better in answering them. And from my point of view in the end, uh, some test based simulation. Uh, but is it, this depends on, on how, how is your learning style, how, how deep you want to get into it.
Florian: But when you do them, so you should, you should split them as you, as you do it with, with multiple choice questions. So, uh, um, that’s, that’s one of, of my, my first, my first tips to, to do so this way. Um, yeah, and, and on the, on the other side. So yeah, maybe you should find out, uh, your, your, your why. So why are you, am I doing, am I doing this?
Florian: Um, because this is, I I, it took me more than one year to pass all the exams. Um, and it was quite stressful. And, uh, it is such a long time, especially in, in dark winter nights, or in, in nice summer days. So you always have this in your mind. So you have to study and, um, you have to, yeah, from, from my my point of view, you have to be prepared for, for doing this journey. And, um, yeah, then, then this will work. So hopefully.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah, and that’s a, that’s a huge thing. Again, it’s, you’ve probably heard me talk about this, but uh, when you talk about motivation to someone who hasn’t started this and they’re about to, or they’re not, you know, they’re not deep into the study process.
Nate: Talking about motivation kind of seems like. Or where, like, give me study tips. Like that’s not important. But, uh, a few weeks in or a few months in, when you’re waking up, when it’s still dark, like you said, and it’s cold or whatever it, that’s when motivation starts to become a big issue.
Florian’s Why and What Kept Him Going
Nate: Um, so did you, I don’t know, did you write out your, your why on a paper?
Nate: Or like, what would you, what would you do to kind of, if you were having a tough day with motivation wise, how would you get yourself back in that mindset?
Florian: Oh, um, I have a list on, on my iPhone and um, yeah, that’s, part of, of, uh, when you have a stressful day or a day that, uh, studying didn’t work that good.
Florian: So I took that list and I have a clo, had a closer look to my, my goals and especially my learning goals. I split down the learning process into, uh, as I said, uh, one exam per quarter, and then I saw through the calendar, so how many weeks, uh, yeah. Do I have to go still? Um, when, when the next exam is, is booked. And yeah, this motivates a lot, uh, in, in having this in mind.
Florian: So this is the, the overall goal of my career. So during the next step, um, having these exams done.
Nate: Yep. Yeah. Yeah. So I mean, basically you did, you had some form of a written some goals or a, a written version of your plan that you could look at and just think, okay, this, like, I’m doing it for these reasons and here’s where I’m at on the plan.
Nate: I just have to get through this. Yeah. I mean that all, that all makes sense to me. I do that same thing. I have like a goal sheet on my phone that I try to read every day.
Florian: Just, yeah, it motivates a lot. It motivates a lot to, to see it. Okay, so these are the next steps. And, uh, yeah, it, it feels good when you reach the, this goal in the end.
Florian: So it’s, it’s amazing.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah.
What Florian Did to Celebrate His Final Passing Score
Nate: So about that, so you, you know, it took, took you a year, you had to get up early to do it took a lot of discipline. So what was it like getting your fourth passing score, realizing you were done?
Florian: It was unbelievable. So it was FAR, and uh, I was, yeah. To be honest, I was not that confident in the end on every session when I, when I got out of the, of the testing center.
Florian: But, uh, it, it, of, at FAR, so I was, I, I didn’t, uh, expect to to get it done. Yeah, and then you’re done. So it, it’s amazing.
Nate: And that was your highest score, right?
Florian: Yeah. Yeah.
Nate: Yup. That just means your process, you had your process absolutely figured out by then.
Nate: So, awesome. Okay, Florian, well, I don’t want to take up much more of your time.
Nate: I know it’s like 6:00 PM there now, um.
Nate: But I’m really glad, I’m glad you emailed me. I, you know, I would’ve never, would’ve never known otherwise. I’m glad you found our podcast and saw that video ad in Germany and, uh, that you felt like it was helpful. Congrats on being done.
Florian: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks a lot for, for your support.
Florian: Uh, I think the, the podcast, so from my point of view, they are, they are quite, quite the, the best, um, supporting material for. Especially for, for your brain and for, for the, for the, uh, complete mindset of hearing all these stories from the other guys. Um, wh where are their problems? And, and yeah. How are they, uh, doing?
Florian: And, uh, yeah. And they, they tried and they passed all, every, everyone. So it’s good to hear. Thank you very much.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah, of course. I’m glad it helped. That’s awesome you found it over there. And
Nate: All right. So that was the interview with Florian. I’m sure he found that very helpful and motivating. If you did, please take a second to share this interview with someone else that you know, who’s working on their CPA exams or just the podcast in general.
Nate: These episodes are the most helpful free resource available anywhere for someone trying to improve their own CPA study process. So thanks for watching and listening and we’ll see you on the next episode.