In this SuperfastCPA podcast episode, you’ll hear how Julian got amazing results with his CPA exams while still keeping his evenings free, by being disciplined with his morning study sessions.
In the beginning he had some struggles with the CPA study process, but after he made a few tweaks to his study strategies, everything started working and he started passing his CPA exams.
Master your study process by attending one of our free study training workshops: https://www.superfastcpa.com/study-secrets/
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- 00:00 Julian Interview
- 00:39 Intro
- 04:28 What Julian Did When He Started to Study for the CPA Exams
- 07:12 Julian’s Study Process Before SuperfastCPA
- 09:30 Feeling Demoralized After Studying So Much and Failing
- 10:20 How Julian Found SuperfastCPA and What Clicked
- 12:43 Decided to Commit and Trust the Process
- 14:04 The Change in Mindset Made His Two Hours Study More Meaningful
- 16:25 How Julian Adopted the SuperfastCPA method in His Study
- 18:04 Study to Pass and You’re Not Trying to Memorize the Book
- 19:10 How Julian Used the Questions First Approach to Learn Topics
- 22:02 Another Thing That Helped Julian Keep Track of Topics He Struggled
- 23:02 The Thing With Locking in the Two Hours in the Morning Daily
- 26:18 Passed Immediately and How Julian Knew That the SuperfastCPA Method is Working
- 29:32 Julian Had to Take a Few Courses While Working and Studying
- 31:38 Once You Nail Your Study Process Down, Studying Will Be Easier
- 33:27 Surprisingly Julian Found AUD to be the Hardest Exam and Not FAR
- 34:48 Utilizing SuperfastCPA Study Tools and Removing Distractions
- 37:51 How Julian Utilized Flashcards and Mini Sessions
- 39:04 You Need to Take Action to Pass and Commit to It
- 40:01 Passed the CPA Exams in Four Months
- 41:17 Julian’s Study Routine on Weekends
- 42:38 Things Julian Had to Adjust for the New Study Routine
- 45:50 Why It’s So Much Better To Study In the Mornings
- 48:34 Julian Actually Tried Out Other CPA Programs Before SuperfastCPA
- 49:11 Julian’s Wife Reaction to Him Taking the CPA Exams and Passing
- 51:10 What Julian’s Wife Did to Celebrate Passing His Final Exam
- 52:36 What’s Next After the CPA Exams
- 53:23 Julian’s Top Tips for People Still Struggling With the CPA Exams
- 56:49 Julian Spreading the Word About How He Passed
Julian: It just made me more positive through everything in my life, like knowing that I was getting this down, knowing I was using a method that worked for yourself and for many others, it just gave me the confidence to tackle any challenge, whether it was grad school, getting through busy season, I knew I was doing good in my exams. Um, I had, I had all my results. All the quizzes I was just blazing through them really fast. I had all that as proof that I was doing the right thing. I was going through everything and I knew this approach worked.
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 Julian.
Nate: So I really enjoyed talking with Julian. His story is basically that he started the process. He was really busy in life, had a lot of things going on, he was already highly disciplined, he still found the study process really frustrating. He was putting in a lot of time and effort and it just wasn’t coming together.
Nate: So at some point, like every other interview you’ve heard, he comes across one of our videos, watches the free training and adopts our approach. And the thing that he liked about it was that it was highly disciplined throughout the day. You know, the two hours in the morning, you don’t miss study sessions, you do the mini sessions throughout the day, and then you’re able to have the evenings free. As long as you nail it during the day.
Nate: And that’s one, I think maybe misconception with our, just even our business name, SuperfastCPA, people kind of assume that there’s some major hack or shortcut. And there is, with the strategies, when you study strategically, you layer all these benefits, when you study the MCQ strategically, when you know how to dissect and reverse engineer the simulations strategically. When you create your own flashcards or your note taking system is strategic, and there’s just ways of doing that strategically versus just throwing time at this problem.
Nate: So Julian adopts this approach and it just immediately starts working really well for him. And as you’ll hear on the interview, he just goes through all the breakthroughs he had, the insights, and he just has a lot of really good practical advice for you who is still working on the CPA study process, trying to get these exams over with, about how to make your approach more disciplined, which gives you more freedom in the long run. Julian has a lot of really good things to share in this interview. So don’t miss this interview.
Nate: So before we get into the interview, just want to mention two things, our free study training webinars. That’s where we give you an in-depth overview of our strategies, and like I mentioned before, pretty much everyone you’ve heard in this podcast, that’s the first thing they started with with SuperfastCPA, because then you’re able to see, okay, does this approach, do these differences in the study process, does this make sense to me? So you’re able to watch that for free.
Nate: It’ll give you a lot of really good insights, you’ll have several big aha moments as you watch one of those free trainings. So the link to that will be in the description of this video or the podcast episode.
Nate: The second thing is our free podcast giveaway. So each month we give away three pairs of Power Beat Pro headphones to three people who have entered the giveaway. It’s just your name and email. And again, that link will be down in the description as well.
Nate: So with all that out of the way, let’s get into the interview with Julian.
Nate: So Eastern Time, where are you at?
Julian: I’m located in Tampa, Florida.
Nate: Awesome. Okay. Is that where you’re from? You grew up there?
Julian: Yeah, pretty much. Uh, I was born in Columbia and then my parents, um, migrated here to, uh, Miami and then, yeah, we’ve lived here ever since.
Nate: Awesome. I interviewed someone yesterday from Columbia, and that was, I was thinking at the time, that was the first time I’d interviewed someone from Columbia, so.
Julian: Oh, that’s awesome.
Nate: Yeah, um, so you said I struggled in the beginning. You failed audit once, it sounds like. Um, then you found us somehow. We’ll get into that. But let’s go back to when you first started studying for the CPA exams.
What Julian Did When He Started to Study for the CPA Exams
Nate: What brought you to, you know, taking the CPA exams in general, and, uh, what did you do when you very first started to study?
Julian: So, I, um, started my accounting career. Um, when I was getting out of the military. I figured I had to do something. I, I didn’t want to continue. I wanted to do something math related and accounting just seemed like a great field. Um, I aced my first couple of classes and then, I heard about the CPA and I was told that if you want to reach the highest level of becoming an accountant, then this is what you should pursue.
Julian: I’m always up for new challenges and I felt like, hey, if this is what I gotta do to be the best and this is what I’m gonna do. Um, so I started, I signed up for Gleim. I, I, most people I know use Becker or Wiley, but, uh, I heard Gleim was, was one of the best because they, it was a really affordable. And, um, their reading material, uh, materials are very detailed and so.
Nate: Yes, they are.
Julian: Yeah. And, um, the way that, that I approached my setting was I felt like this is gonna be like, I’m retaking all my accounting courses again. I’m starting from, from scratch. I’m trying to relearn everything because, um, all of this is important and I, I can’t forget anything. Um, so, uh, when you open up the, when you start a section, so I started on audit, it was 20 sections and I was like, okay, this is gonna be easy, you know, I’m gonna get through this fine. It took me like three months just to get to section six.
Julian: I was pretty overwhelmed pretty fast.
Julian: And I was like, at this, at this pace, it’s gonna take me like three or four years. So, I mean, how do people do it.
Nate: Mm-hmm. Okay.
Julian: And so, yeah, and I, I did my best. I, I took audit exam of November of 2021 and, um, I , I ended up failing by like a 74. It was so, and it happened the day before my wedding. Of all times.
Nate: Oh man. Yeah. So that’s, uh, that’s my exact story so far. Um, except for it change audit with FAR. I was, you know, doing everything in the review course, watching the video, read the chapter, then do the questions. It took, you know, I was like studying seven or eight hours a day, um, and then failed at 74.
Nate: So, in that process, to get to where your, uh, your three months through chapter six.
Julian’s Study Process Before SuperfastCPA
Nate: Um, what was your actual process each day, you know, to get through the material? What were you actually doing?
Julian: I would start by reading the material, um, which started off by kind, uh, pretty similar to how you would open up a textbook. You start in chapter one, you get through the, the topic. Then I would watch the lectures to see if I could, if that would help me gain some new insight that I didn’t get from reading. Um, and then they would go through a couple of quizzes and a sim and then you had to, you had to score, uh, like a, I believe it was a 75 to be allowed to take the next section. And so I would just read and watch the lectures and try to absorb as much as I could. Um, if I didn’t, if I didn’t understand it, I’d go to YouTube and just look at, uh, Dr. Fahart. He’s pretty, he’s pretty good with his lectures. Yep. And I would just try to be a sponge and try to absorb everything I could, but I, I don’t know, man.
Julian: I, I think I have ADHD or something. I, I would always zone out during the lectures. Like I just could not concentrate at all. Like even if you held a gun in my head, I could not tell you what the, what the lecture was about. I just couldn’t.
Nate: Yeah, I mean, very common experience and I think what’s going on there is you’re getting so much new information.
Nate: I mean, when you read the textbook or watch the lecture, you know, everything you’re hearing is brand new and there’s kind of new vocabulary words. Maybe not brand new, but it’s at a level of detail that you’re not used to.
Nate: Um, and uh, it’s just, you know, it’s kind of when you hear someone speaking in a foreign language, it just doesn’t mean anything to your brain, you know?
Nate: Mm. I can’t explain it like a neuroscientist would, but it’s like similar to that. It just, yeah, it’s like impossible to really pay attention. So, but anyways, you’re putting in the time it takes, you know, like you said, months and, uh, I can only assume after that kind of effort, time and effort, you find out you failed.
Feeling Demoralized After Studying So Much and Failing
Nate: What did you think at that point where you kind of like, okay, I’ve done everything I could do. Like how, how do people even pass these.
Julian: Yeah, I, I forgot to mention, I was also, um, I’m in public accounting. I’m, I’m in tax. And so while I’m trying to study for this, I’m, I’m in busy season. I’m working, uh, 55, 60 hours average a week.
Julian: And, um, like I’m just trying to find the time. I, I would take the train to go to work. I would study there. I would study during my lunch break. I would study taking the train back. Um, and I’m just like, I’m putting everything I can and it’s just not working. Like I, I failed by one point. That’s like, I, it was just so, um, demoralizing.
How Julian Found SuperfastCPA and What Clicked
Julian: But I said, you know, I’m not, I’m not gonna give up. I’m gonna keep going. I’m gonna find a way to, to get through this. This is just like any other challenge, you know, I can’t give up. And so, um, come around January, this, uh, February, I started going through some YouTube just trying to find new techniques or something that people, uh, talked about.
Julian: And then, uh, I saw your, um, your videos a SuperfastCPA, I passed the CPA in three months. I was like, this is clickbait, there’s, there’s no way.
Julian: Because I’ve seen it so many times and I’m like, I, there’s no way. So I, I, I, I just look for something else and then I’m like, okay, wait, let me just give it a chance.
Julian: Let me see what Nate’s gotta say. And then I was kind of, I was really surprised at how practical your approach was. I mean, it just, it just made sense, you know. Just read the question, highlight the key words, um, dedicate two hours to just skip everything else, do the quizzes, and, and I tried that and it just clicked for me.
Julian: It, it really worked.
Nate: That’s awesome. Yeah. Um, yeah, I mean the, uh, that’s a common thing about people seeing, you know, the, the YouTube ads. They start seeing ’em and they just kind of, they just treat ’em like any other, YouTube ad like, ignore it, skip, um, nothing we can really do about that. Eventually people decide to watch the free training and yeah, we just try to lay everything out so you get a really good idea.
Nate: It’s not a huge sales pitch. We actually go through our, most of our strategies just on the free training. So is that what you ended up watching you, the free training first, like the one hour webinar?
Julian: It was a live webinar and yeah. Uh, where people would go in and they would just like ask questions and to me that was probably the best hour I ever spent.
Julian: It really helped me a lot.
Nate: I, well, I, yeah, I, that’s, I’m, I appreciate you saying that cuz I say that I’m like, If you’re kind of struggling, this will be the best hour you can spend on your CPA journey because we can clear up a lot of the most common issues and like give you a more, just an easier way of doing this.
Nate: I hate using the word easy when it comes to the CPA exams, but you know, it’s, it is easier.
Decided to Commit and Trust the Process
Nate: So you watched the free training and what happened after that?
Julian: Yeah, so I, I took it to heart. I, I looked at myself in the mirror and I said, if this is something that I’m gonna do, that I’m gonna dedicate my time to, then I better go in all the way.
Julian: Uh, I can’t, um, I can’t be mediocre at this. I, I have to tell my wife that this is something I’m really focused on. Um, I’m going to need your support cuz I can’t do it on my own. And she was like, yeah, she’s on board with me a hundred percent. And so I started, um, I, I, I usually wake up in the morning, I would go to the gym and I just couldn’t like, imagine my day without working out.
Julian: And so I had to put that aside and make some sacrifices. I said, well, no, the first thing I’m gonna do from now on is I’m going to dedicate those two hours to study and, and that’s it. And then if I have time, I’ll go to the gym. But most of the time, I had to go straight to work right after that. And that, that commitment alone, um, really set the tone for my mind to always focus on, on the next goal, which was, um, I switched gears and I started studying for the BEC because I was like, uh, maybe I just need a, a, a refresher.
Julian: Maybe I need to like, uh, put my mind to something else so I won’t be so demoralized with audit.
The Change in Mindset Made His Two Hours Study More Meaningful
Julian: The funniest thing happened was, um, when I started studying again in January, I was on vacation because I was in transition from going to one job to another. So I’m like, I’m gonna dedicate all this eight hours to studying.
Julian: And I feel like out of those eight hours I only studied for like half an hour was really.
Julian: Yeah. I would go to the lectures and I would be like, oh, um, you know, there’s dust mites underneath my bed. I better start organizing that.
Nate: That’s so funny.
Julian: I better make a peanut butter jelly sandwich.
Julian: So out of those eight hours, I only, maybe, an hour was, was legit study time. But when I told myself, you only got two hours, that’s it, because you’re gonna be working a long time today, um, you know, I have to dedicate time to my family. Uh, there’s stuff I gotta do around the house, so if I only have two hours, I gotta make those two hours the best I can.
Julian: That really helped me to just maximize my time with studying. Like all I did was focus because I knew that I had just a little bit of time to study.
Nate: Yeah, exactly. It’s, uh, yeah, uh, there’s a lot that goes into it. I mean, it’s just locking in the two hours every morning. That alone solves a lot of problems. Cuz like you said, people just really struggle with, uh, I mean, it sounds so simple, you know, like, okay, you just tell yourself you’re gonna study two hours a day and that’s it, but because of that you have to make those two hours count, whereas that’s not that revolutionary of an idea.
Nate: But if you’re kind of just like you said, I’m just going to study when I can. You know, it’s just so you’re, the self sabotage that your mind does is crazy. Um, so locking down those two hours solves a lot of problems, even despite, you know, the strategies, I would say the strategies are more effective than the normal way.
Nate: So you apply that on top of the two hours and it’s just all these little things. Increase your effectiveness to such a degree that it really starts to all work. So, okay.
How Julian Adopted the SuperfastCPA method in His Study
Nate: So you start doing the two hours in the morning and, uh, I’m guessing you kind of switched to our study approach, the questions first type thing.
Julian: Yeah, that’s exactly what I did. I, I switched to the questions first. Um, I just went to the quizzes, um, trying to get, uh, 80, 85 and the questions that I missed, I would go back and highlight the keywords, and then I would open the book. And if I that was enough, then I would maybe watch a lecture. But most of the time, um, just scanning, just going through the book, I, I was enough for me and the questions that I didn’t miss that I got right. I’m like, okay, I know this. I don’t have to waste time going through this. And then, like you said, the last 30 minutes, review all the sections that I’ve gone through and that, that way I wasn’t forgetting, um, what I had studied like the week prior or the two weeks prior.
Julian: Uh, because using the old approach, uh, I would spend so much time just trying to learn one section that I would forget what I learned, um, the previous section and don’t even ask me what chapter one was about cause there was no way I was gonna remember that.
Nate: Right. Right. And it, not only do you not forget it, which is key of course, but as you just see problems from stuff you’ve covered, things click in like a new way, you know, it just little layers add onto your understanding.
Nate: It’s kind of like watching a movie 2, 3, 4, 5 times. You just see things that you did not see the first time.
Study to Pass and You’re Not Trying to Memorize the Book
Julian: Yeah. And then what, it started making sense what you were saying because, uh, and you’re serious, you were saying that you, you wanna, you want to take the exam. Um, the way that, the way that they’re wanting you to take it, you’re, you’re not trying to, uh, go back to college 101 and start over.
Julian: You’re just studying for the exam. You’re just trying to pass the exam. That’s it. And that, that clicked for me as soon as I started just, just taking the quizzes and not trying to memorize the entire book, which was never gonna happen.
Nate: Yeah. Study to pass. You’re not trying to earn your PhD cuz you’re not gonna get a PhD.
Nate: So like trying to learn it that way is just a waste of time.
Nate: Yeah. Um, so one other thing I wanted to kind of just hear you say, for the benefit of people that listen to this. Um, back when you studied for audit, you know, you would read the whole chapter first, like you said, and, uh, it’s this huge, every day of readings just, you know, a whole new avalanche of information.
How Julian Used the Questions First Approach to Learn Topics
Nate: Now, in this way, you would go through the questions first and kind of get an idea of, okay, this type of question, I don’t really get it. So then you would go into the, into the chapter with kind of an idea of what you’re really trying to learn and I’m, so what I, what I was meaning is that was 10 times more effective, right?
Nate: Because you go into the chapter with an idea of specifically what you’re trying to get from it.
Julian: Yeah. Exactly right. Um, when, when you first opened the book, you kind of feel like you’re in the middle of an ocean and you know, you, you don’t really know where to start and you don’t know your destination.
Julian: You and, you’re kind of lost at sea. But when I would take a quiz and I would miss a question, I would highlight that word. Now I knew exactly where to go in the book and look to see where exactly I needed to see. And so that kind of helped me navigate to, to a course where I wasn’t lost at sea anymore. Like I knew, um, I have a problem understanding a certain topic. Okay, so let’s narrow it down to see what exactly is. And so just highlighting those key words that help me understand like, um, like accounts receivable. How, how do you account for that? How, how do you just take the client’s word? Um, how do you verify that?
Julian: And so, uh, doing that helped me just understand these topics so much better than if I was just reading the entire chapter, and I would just be drowned out with so much information that my original question that I was struggling on, I would forget about it because I’m trying to memorize a hundred other things.
Nate: Yeah, yeah. Um, that’s a, so that’s a great description. That’s exactly what I was. Yeah, looking for, and again, when you read the whole text first, you just don’t really have context for like, okay, how does this all flow into the actual exam questions? Yeah. So it’s kind of just like you’re doing two different things.
Nate: Um, and the interview, one of the interviews I did yesterday, she was describing it as like her first time around studying the normal way she would watch the lecture, read the chapter, you know, that might take an hour and a half, two hours just to do that for one little lesson, and then she goes in and still gets like 50 or 60 on the questions.
Nate: So it’s all that upfront work to understand the book and the video still doesn’t translate to being able to answer the questions, so it just makes more sense to, if you’re gonna struggle with the questions anyways, just start with that.
Julian: Yeah, exactly.
Another Thing That Helped Julian Keep Track of Topics He Struggled
Julian: And another thing that helped me out was when you talked about going to the AICPA website and downloading the blueprint, um, that helped me stay on course too, because when you go into your, your, your course, you’re just getting sections to study and you, you don’t really know how all these sections connect with each other.
Julian: And a lot of times some of the stuff is okay, it’s nice to know, but it’s not essential. It’s not, you know, you might never, you, you might never touch business law again. You know, you might never touch, um, discount rates. And so going through the, the blueprint, it helped me stay on top again and helped me, gave me like a list where I can check off.
Julian: Okay, I’m good here, but I’m struggling on this one.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah. It’s right. It just, just makes more sense for sure.
The Thing With Locking in the Two Hours in the Morning Daily
Nate: Um, now how about from a, what would you call it, lifestyle aspect? Uh, again, I’m pretty sure I know what you’re gonna say, but doing the two hours in the morning, locking that in, did that just make your whole day less stressful?
Nate: Cuz your big ugly task was just already done?
Julian: Yeah. So I think this is one of the best parts about this, this approach is, um, the old method. It was like, okay, you’re gonna dedicate your whole day to study. There’s no time for social gatherings. You can’t go out for drinks. You gotta say no to Superbowl parties. That’s it.
Julian: And yeah, just, I did that and I felt like, I’m treating myself as a slave, pretty much. I’m like my own worst boss. And, and I’m not even listening to myself. That’s the sad part.
Julian: And so when this approach changed where, okay, I’ve got two hours to study, and then if you just follow this approach, then you, and you stick to it, you’ll be good.
Julian: You’ll, you’ll see the progress. And sure enough, that’s exactly what happened. I started going through sections, like I would go through three sections in one day because I would just focus on, some sections were easier than others, so I would get through the quizzes really fast.
Julian: And so I would go, um, throughout my day with the peace of mind, knowing that, um, I didn’t have to waste time, like eight hours a day just studying.
Julian: Um, those two hours were sufficient enough for me to walk away knowing that I’m making progress. And so I would, I would be able to just go out. Hang out with my wife, hang out with my friends, my family, knowing that I put in the two hours. Um, and I wasn’t sacrificing anything because they’re, she’s asleep. No one’s hanging out at five in the morning.
Nate: Right. Yep.
Julian: So, uh, I’m studying when everyone’s asleep so that when they do wake up, now I have time to talk to ’em. Now I have time to have breakfast with my wife. I’ve got time to go to all my meetings. Um, and actually gave me extra time. Now I had time to go to the gym or do extra critical activities that, um, I wasn’t, uh, allowed to do when I was using the old method.
Nate: Yeah. I mean, right. And it, it just makes this whole process so much more sustainable. If that’s all the case, if your whole life’s work and then study, slash, procrastinate, torture yourself, you know, and then wake up and do it again for however long. And especially if it’s not working, you know, if you’re doing all that and you’re still just barely failing exams, it’s, you know, that’s why people give up on this.
Julian: Yeah. Yeah. It, it felt a lot like a negotiating process where I was negotiating with myself, okay, just, just study these two hours and then you can do whatever you want. And before I was just making myself study af before work, after work, during work. And it, it was not working like, I should have fired myself. Which I ended up, I ended up doing.
Nate: Yeah. So, okay.
Passed Immediately and How Julian Knew That the SuperfastCPA Method is Working
Nate: So, uh, so then you studied for BEC this way, and then how did that go?
Julian: Um, I passed right off the bat. Like I, um, I scored an 83.
Julian: And yeah, it was, it was great. I mean, it was such a relief. I, as soon as I, I got my score, like I knew that this approach worked and I was going to just keep going.
Julian: Like I wasn’t gonna take a break. And I went to audit. And for that one it only took me a month and I passed that and yeah, that was great. I was on a roll.
Nate: Awesome. So when you started with this approach a few weeks in, um, did it, could you just kind of tell it was working better or was it more getting that first passing score was the big confirmation of like, okay, this, this is working.
Julian: I can tell right off, um, the first week, um, that it was working because I, it was such a struggle to get through the sections. I mean, it was like beating my head against the wall, like to get through these sections to be able to get the score they wanted and then to take a sim on top of that. Yeah, it was, it was so hard.
Julian: And when I switched to, uh, the SuperfastCPA method. It was just like, wow. It, it was like a fresh breath of fresh air. Everything just clicked. I wasn’t spending so much time, uh, reading something over and over until I got it. Um, because the quizzes, the quizzes alone was enough. Like that automatically that trains your mind to, to see what the examiners want.
Julian: What are they really asking you? Whereas the book, it, it’s so vague and it’s so vast that you, you really don’t know what to look out for.
Nate: Right? Yeah. That’s just another huge point. You just get, you just get good at what you’ll be doing on test day, which again, sounds so obvious, but again, that’s not how most people are spending most of their time.
Nate: They’re getting lost in the book, all the detail, you know. And then the other thing is like, if you do that for two hours, you’re, you’re tired before you even get to the question. You know, you’re just kind of worn down. And so the most important part, getting to the questions, you’re just, yeah. You’re just tired already.
Julian: Yeah. And, and that’s another point I, I should add that, um, you, you mentioned in your series that the first thing you should do is study, um, because your mind is fresh. It’s ready to absorb information, and that’s exactly right. I, I tried, during those days where I was working a lot of hours, I didn’t have time to go up in the morning.
Julian: And so I tried studying, uh, right after work and yeah, my mind was so tired that I would just, I would always fall asleep on the train.
Julian: It would never work.
Nate: Yeah. Um, it’s, yeah. I mean, to me it was impossible to study at night. I mean, I just studied in the morning out of default. It just wasn’t possible.
Nate: One thing I wanted to ask.
Julian Had to Take a Few Courses While Working and Studying
Nate: So you, so you were working and are you also doing graduate school all through this? Because you, that’s what you said in your email.
Julian: Yeah, yeah, that’s right. Um, I’m a student at Golden Gate University getting my master’s in tax.
Nate: Wow. Um, so you’re doing, when are you, when were you, uh, working on your college classes in addition to studying?
Julian: The, the thing is, I had to study because, um, the CPA board, the, or the accounting board told me that I was missing like two courses. And so like, it wasn’t an option. I had to do the graduate school. It wasn’t like, oh, I’m just gonna hack on a lot of stuff, like, you know, for me to.
Julian: Cause I had to do it. And so I would study two hours in the morning.
Julian: Um, I would work 10 to 12 hours throughout the day. And then at the nighttime, I would spend, uh, 30, 30 to 40 minutes, um, studying for the, for the class. And, uh, it sounds impossible, but I mean, you’d, you’d be amazed at what you can do if you just, if you just set your mind to something. If you just say your mind to, to a goal that, that you want to pass, like, Hey, I want to do this.
Julian: Uh, I’m not taking no for an answer and, uh, I’m gonna become a CPA and you’ll get through it.
Nate: Yeah. Yep. I definitely agree. Um, I would just say, you know, like we were mentioning before, it’s so critical that you have a process that you feel like, or that you know is working because if, if not, and you’re just putting time into this meat grinder, and like you just have a sense that I’m not really learning anything.
Nate: I’m forgetting stuff. Like this is just, yeah. It’s impossible to stay motivated. I don’t know, after a few months if that’s how your process is working. It’s just critical to get like a strategic process that you’re doing the same way every day that you know is working.
Once You Nail Your Study Process Down, Studying Will Be Easier
Julian: Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. I, I, I never deviated from it.
Julian: Um, I, I took a break. Uh, After I passed, uh, audit, I took a break. Um, I did some vacations and trips, and then I started, um, studying again in August for REG. And by that time, like I had already developed a rhythm. I was already comfortable with the study process, with the, with the method. And, um, it just clicked.
Julian: It just, everything just worked really well. I didn’t have to, um, become disciplined again. I was already doing that from the start. So it was really easy to transition again from vacation mode to back to study mode. Um, I, I, I studied a little bit more for REG just because I thought, man, it’d be embarrassing if I got a low score, cause I work in tax, you know?
Julian: Um, but yeah and, uh, and, and it just made me more positive through everything in my life, like knowing that I was getting this down, knowing that I had come up with a, um, or rather I was using a method that worked for yourself and for many others. Um, it just gave me the confidence to tackle any, any challenge, whether it was grad school, getting through busy season.
Julian: Um, I knew I was doing good in my exams. Um, I had, I had all my results. All the quizzes that were, I was just blazing through them really fast. I had all that as proof that I was doing the right thing. I was, I was going through everything and I knew this approach worked.
Nate: That’s awesome. So, yeah. So you had the, you know, usually the two hardest ones left and, uh, you just applied the process and you obviously you passed both of those.
Suprisingly Julian Found AUD to be the Hardest Exam and Not FAR
Julian: Yeah, that’s right. I, um, I started with audit because I, someone told me it was the, it wasn’t that hard and it was just a lot of reading. No, that’s not true at all. That ended up being, for me, that was the hardest one, audit.
Nate: Um, yeah. I see. I would think that if you don’t work in audit, audit would probably be just, seems like it’d be the most confusing cuz it’s just, yeah. If you’ve never worked an audit it would be hard, so.
Julian: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And um, but it was a great, it’s a great exam because it, it teaches you to think critically about things like, don’t accept things at face value. You know, always question, uh, the person who’s giving you information. So, um, that really helped make FAR easy because FAR was the last exam and, or at least easier, um, yeah, when I looked FAR for last, it made, it wasn’t as, it wasn’t the big boogeyman that everyone said it was gonna be at that point.
Nate: Yeah. Um, the, uh, the audit thing, it’s funny you mentioned that, the trust but verify, you know that phrase?
Julian: Yeah, exactly.
Nate: I just, I use that on my eight year old all the time, kind of as like a joke to myself. But she tells me she did something and I’m like, okay, well I trust you, but I’m gonna come verify that.
Nate: And, uh.
Nate: Yeah. She, that’s funny. Yeah.
Utilizing SuperfastCPA Study Tools and Removeing Distractions
Nate: All right. So, uh, what about, did you use our app at all, like throughout the day, the review notes or audio notes? Or was it mostly just your two hours in the morning?
Julian: Yeah, no, that’s a, um, that’s a great point. Yeah, I did use the app. I, I would take quizzes like, uh, during my break or when I’m on the car.
Julian: Um, that actually leads me to something else. I took out a lot of distractions in my life once I, um, I took a hold of this approach and I, and I, I made it to, to my lifestyle. Um, I said, I gotta, if I’m gonna do this, I, I need to get rid of all this distractions. So I got rid of my Instagram account. Um, I didn’t have any face, I didn’t have Facebook or anything.
Julian: I had LinkedIn, but even that was a distraction. So, um, especially when you see people, like, I passed a CPA and I’m still here struggling. I was like, dang man, I want to get there so I got rid of, um, social apps. Um, instead of wasting my time scrolling on news about celebrity gossip that didn’t matter to me.
Julian: Uh, I would use those five minutes to take quizzes if exercising for me was important, but I didn’t have a lot of time to go to the gym. So what I would do is I would just walk around the block and listen to the lecture.
Nate: Okay. Me meaning our audio notes?
Nate: Yeah. Okay.
Julian: And I, I was knocking out two birds and one stone that way.
Nate: Yeah, for sure. Um, it’s such a, uh, yeah. Studying from your phone is what I would say to people is just like, why, why wouldn’t you? Why wouldn’t you do that? You’re carrying around a phone. I know everyone is, you look at it constant. You know, you already use it like you already do mini sessions like, like you said, most people are scrolling through Instagram or news or whatever and listening to music and stuff, which is fine when you’re not studying.
Nate: I mean, whatever. Yeah. But why wouldn’t you just take every extra second you can, you’ve already committed like thousands of dollars to this process. You’re taking months out of your life, hopefully only months. Yeah. Why would you not just use your phone to just rack up all extra study time you possibly could because that’s how I treated it too.
Nate: Once that kind of like that idea clicked for me, I just used my phone relentlessly. I did not do anything else on my phone except study.
Julian: Yeah. And your audio notes were really good because they, I listened to other audio notes before and I feel like the problem with a lot of the other type of audio notes is, um, they go into detail with the with math and calculation, and it’s really hard to visualize when you’re just listening to someone, uh, or in the car. And so your, your notes were, were straight to the point, and you would mention like, if you want to see how the calculation’s done, go to the, go to the reading notes and that helped me a lot.
How Julian Utilized Flashcards and Mini Sessions
Julian: And something else you said, you, I, you mentioned to download like, um, a flashcard app and I downloaded, I think it’s called Brain, Brainscape.
Julian: And the great thing about that app is that, um, you don’t have to make your own flashcards. Like there is like a CPA section and people have already made the flashcards and I think for like $5, a $2 a month, you can pay to use all those notes.
Julian: So you don’t have to sit there and start making all these flashcards. They’re already there for you.
Julian: Um, so I would walk around and just take, take flashcard quizzes and take the notes and listen to the audio and all that helped.
Nate: Yeah. Okay. Yep. So that’s what I, yeah, I was hoping you’d say all that.
Nate: So you just, basically, you did the whole idea of mini sessions as well, the two hours in the morning, and then just as much as possible, you’re just switching between reading the notes, sometimes taking quizzes, doing flashcard. When you, uh, walk or exercise, you listen to the audios. So you’re just kind of doing the, you’re kind of doing the program to the letter, it sounds like.
You Need to Take Action to Pass and Commit to It
Julian: Yeah. Yeah, because I, I feel like this is one of those questions you have, do you have to ask yourself like, am I all in on this? Do I really want to pass the CPA or is this just something that I want to tell people I’m doing, but you know, I’m gonna blow it off and I’m gonna take, you know, 18 months to, to pass it.
Julian: I’m gonna take as much time as I want. I’m like, no, I want to get through this as fast as I can so I can get on with my life. And, um, I can do the things that I want and career-wise, and I have so many friends that they get to this point where they’re like, I don’t really need the CPA, you know. I’m, I’m good where I’m at or I don’t want to take the time. It’s too much sacrifice. Um, I didn’t want to be one of those people and so I really drank the koolaid, you know, all, all the, all those tips that you gave out. I definitely, I applied all of them.
Nate: That’s awesome.
Julian: As much as I could anyways.
Passed the CPA Exams in Four Months
Nate: And it sounds like, uh, you know, once you started with this, you passed BEC right off the bat, you passed your audit retake.
Nate: It sounds like you took several months off and then from, it must be, what, like August to January when I got your email?
Nate: So you really like all total, you mean you did it in around five?
Julian: Six, like six months. Yeah.
Nate: Yeah. Okay. Yeah. That’s awesome, and you had your evenings, it’s just, just all about that two hours in the morning as far as like dedicated study time where you have to be sitting only doing that.
Nate: It was just those two hours.
Julian: It was just those two hours and those, those mini sessions. Yep.
Nate: Yep, yep. That’s.
Julian: Yeah. I think I, correct me if I’m wrong, but in one of your lectures you said like on Saturdays you can do a little bit longer sessions and sometimes I would do that.
Nate: Yeah, I was, yeah, I was gonna ask you that if you did anything different on the weekends.
Nate: Um, yeah, I think in the PRO videos, I just, you know, say on, uh, on the weekends, I always aim to study a little longer, like four to six hours.
Nate: Um, so yeah.
Julian’s Study Routine on Weekends
Nate: What, so what did you do on the weekends?
Julian: Yeah, on the weekends, um, I, I did exactly that. Um, my wife is sleeping in, so she’s not gonna wake up for until like 10 or so.
Julian: So I would stick to the schedules, wake up at five, study those two hours, and then take three, take another three hours to go through all the sessions and make sure that I’m, I’m absorbing all the knowledge and really applying the information well, and the, the best thing about this is when I told my, my, you know, my family, my friends, what I was doing, they all respected it.
Julian: Like, they didn’t say, oh, you know, he’s, look at this guy. He’s, he thinks he’s back in school, or he’s, you know, he’s not cool to hang out with, they respected that I was because they knew how hard the CPA exam was. And they, they respected it and they, they didn’t protest when I said like, no, I’m sorry. I can’t, I can’t stay the full day, you know, at my brother’s birthday party.
Julian: They knew what, what I was doing and.
Julian: Uh, yeah.
Nate: And especially when you can say, you know, like, yeah, well I, I’ve been crushing these exams. Like every, you know, everyone that I’ve taken, I’m like, I’m passing these, like it’s just a matter of time. I’m gonna be done.
Things Julian Had to Adjust for the New Study Routine
Nate: Um, uh, so one question two, one thing I explained to people in emails when they ask me, you know, I get asked like, well, how do I, how do you like get up early? I’m like, well, you pin your day to two times right when you wake up and therefore when you go to bed. Like those have to be, it has to be early enough that you can actually get up early. So, would you, uh, were you rigid about your bedtime or how’d you deal with, like, getting to bed on time?
Nate: Did you have cut things out that you would’ve normally done in the evenings just to make sure you were in bed on time or?
Julian: Yeah. Um, there’s a lot of studies that show that scrolling on your phone at nighttime affects your sleep. Um, something with the blue light and so I cut that out like I, I stopped scrolling through my phone before I went to sleep, and, and then I would waste like 20 minutes, like going through my messages, going through like my social media accounts in the morning.
Julian: So I cut that out too. And with the, with just the breath of everything I was doing, I was tired by 10. Like there was no way I was gonna go stay up till 11 or 12. And, um, it, it, it was hard at first to just say, oh, I’m just gonna study at five in the morning and then not do anything. Not eat breakfast, not work out until seven or eight.
Julian: Um, but, you know, it takes time to, to, I think it takes like two weeks in order for a habit to become a routine in your life and, um, to, you know, anyone who’s struggling to do it, just give it a chance, you know, stick, stick, stick it up for a week for, for another two. You’ll see that you don’t even notice it.
Julian: Like waking up five is just like, you don’t, like, I, I didn’t need an alarm clock anymore. Um, yeah. I would wake up before the alarm would go off because when you put in your mind that, Hey, this is what I’m gonna do and I’m not gonna stop until I succeed at it, you’re, you’re, you’re, your mind is like, it already knows that.
Julian: Like it’s built that into it. And so it just, it just does what you, what you need it to do in order to get through this, through the exam.
Nate: Yeah. I think another way of, you know, say, well, not really that, just kind of an idea that goes along with that. So you, you adopted, you know, everything like the highly, it’s a highly disciplined approach, but it also gives you a lot of freedom because it’s so disciplined, you know, two hours in the morning, then you just have to do the mini sessions with your phone which you go about your day anyways, you know, you use your phone a bunch anyways, and so by the evenings you’re freed up to do, you know, kind of whatever you want in the evenings. So, um, the only real, you know, like the only negative thing is that getting up in the morning, but this highly disciplined approach gives you a lot of freedom, right?
Why It’s So Much Better To Study In the Mornings
Julian: Yeah, yeah, exactly. And, um, the, the upside to it is that something comes up, you know, life happens throughout the day [and you might not have that time to dedicate to studying for two hours, but if you wake up at five in the morning, there isn’t anything else going on. Everyone’s asleep. Um, no one’s starting work at five unless you, you know, you work your graveyard shift or you work, uh, kind of like a non-traditional job.
Julian: But, you know, if you’re an accountant, you’re, you pretty much have office hours, you know, nothing in nothing in life is going on at five. So why not use that on the study? Why not dedicate yourself to, um, to passing these exams?
Nate: Yeah. Yeah. And the whole other thing, it’s just, I don’t know, everything lines up. It’s just better in the morning.
Nate: Like, the other thing is that our, uh, whatever you want to call it, our, our discipline or our ability to make productive choices is just like a candle that starts every morning. and it just goes down. So by the nighttime, trying to force yourself through a study session just when you’re tired or you’re hungry or you’d rather be doing anything else, just, it’s just so hard, just so hard to stay consistent and disciplined and focused.
Nate: Um, and so much easier in the morning.
Julian: Yeah. Yeah. That’s right. I, it was, it was hard to get myself to do something after I was tired from work. All I wanted to do was just relax, uh, de-wind, you know, just read a book or watch a mindless show. Um, so it was, it was a lot easier to negotiate with myself to just, as soon as you wake up, just study for these two hours.
Julian: They’ll go by so quick you won’t even notice. Whereas if I, I tried negotiating myself, uh, to study after work. I was like, I was so tired that I was lucky if I studied for 10 minutes. It just didn’t work.
Nate: Yep. Yep. Well, yeah, so, um, this will be, this will be like the, uh, the discipline episode. I just, I love everything you’re saying and, you know, just directly, it just worked.
Nate: You know, you, you did exactly everything and, and it worked. So, um, I think that’s the biggest thing, just this highly disciplined approach about every little thing, you know, like you removed the time waster apps off your phone, you fully committed to the morning session, um, you still found a way to weave in your exercise.
Nate: And we, uh, listened to the audios at the same time. It just, yeah. And it all worked. It all paid off. It’s awesome. Yeah.
Julian Actually Tried Out Other CPA Programs Before SuperfastCPA
Julian: There’s, you know, there’s a lot of programs out there. There’s like Ninja CPA, there’s i-75. I, I, I’ve looked at all of them and you know, I, I didn’t, I didn’t just click on your lecture and say, okay, this is the first one that popped up, so I’m gonna follow what he says. You know, I, I analyzed what you were saying. I, I, I tested it off for myself and I, I was seeing the results in how I was doing in my, in my quizzes,and how fast I was going through all the sections and, uh, so, you know, don’t, don’t just accept and test it off for yourself and you’ll see that it works.
Nate: Yeah. I appreciate you saying that. Yeah.
Julian’s Wife Reaction to Him Taking the CPA Exams and Passing
Nate: Um, uh, so what did, so once you passed your fourth one, um, you know, and a year before that your wife saw, cuz like before you would come home from work, I’m guessing, say I can’t do anything tonight or tomorrow or on the weekends cuz I’m studying. So from her perspective, was she ever, like, so are you still studying for these?
Nate: Or you know, cuz you study in the morning, she doesn’t ever really see you studying. Was her, was she almost like surprised that you start passing these so quickly and stuff?
Julian: Yeah, so the funny thing is she, my wife was, um, when we were engaged at the time, she was pushing me to, um, just not work, like, not work at all and just study for the exams.
Julian: And she was gonna work so that I would have sufficient time to, to be able to dedicate to these exams. And so I told her like, no, I can’t do that because you know, there’s an opportunity cost there. You know, I’m losing a lot of money. And, there are people who have done it. There’s people who have kids and who, who have way more difficult life than I do.
Julian: And they, they’ve managed to do it. So there has to be a way. And, you know, luckily I found your, your series and I was able to adopt your approach and that’s exactly what happened. The, when I passed the first exam, uh, I was really happy, but my wife, Ben, she, she cried. She was like in tears, like how happy she was when I passed.
Nate: That’s cool.
Julian: Yeah. And she’s, she’s been, you know, the, my biggest cheerleader ever since. And, um, she’s, she’s really, really happy and really ecstatic for me, and she’s so glad that, um, I didn’t have to quit my day job to just, just study for these exams.
Nate: Yeah, for sure.
What Julian’s Wife Did to Celebrate Passing His Final Exam
Nate: Um, so, okay, so when you passed your fourth one, did you guys do anything big to celebrate?
Nate: I mean, the, the sense of relief is the biggest thing anyways. But yeah. Did you guys do anything?
Julian: Yeah, so, um, she surprised me with the CPA party. Like she told me we were going to, uh, to hang out with some friends. We’re gonna celebrate them. Then when I walk in, we went to Bonefish and I see, like, I see my parents, I see her parents, I see my brothers and sisters.
Julian: I see those big, you know, the cheesy CPA balloons.
Julian: Um, they all, they all got me, um, a gift card to suit supply because, you know, every CPA’s gotta have a nice suit for the clients.
Julian: So they all bought me that and they were all so proud of me and they just, they could, they told me that they look up to me and they, they couldn’t believe that I passed.
Julian: You know, one exam is hard enough, but four exams. Um, you know, they couldn’t believe how just dedicated I was that I was able to succeed and yeah, you’re right, the, the sense of relief. Like there’s just no words to describe the feeling that you, you get once it’s over.
Nate: Oh, yeah, yeah. I, there was like a palpable, um, well sense of relief, almost like a high for several months after passing.
What’s Next After the CPA Exams
Nate: Cause, I mean life seems easy after that. It’s like, oh, I only have to go to work and then do you know, whatever I want in the mornings and evenings. Like it’s, so have you gone back to working out in the mornings again?
Julian: Yeah. Yeah, that’s right. I go back to working out in the mornings. Um, I’m still, uh, working through busy season, but the amount of confidence thatI have is just like through the roof.
Julian: Like I know that if I can get through the CPA exam then there’s no other challenge that’s gonna even come close to that. Like, work will be fine. Um, if I have to pick up a new challenge, then I know that I have the discipline and, and the dedication to make it happen.
Nate: Yeah, definitely. That’s awesome.
Julian’s Top Tips for People Still Struggling With the CPA Exams
Nate: Okay, well we’ve gone through everything and I don’t want to take up much more of your time, but the thing I always end on is, even if it’s stuff we already talked about, what would be your three biggest tips to someone who’s still trying to nail down their own process?
Julian: My, my three biggest tips are, um, come up with, with the routine, you know, something that works and stick to that routine, uh, become dedicated to that.
Julian: Um, my second tip would be to study in the mornings. Use, use that time where everyone’s asleep. The world is still, nothing’s going on. Use that time to study, you know, wake up before everyone else. Do what you gotta do to make it work, to make it happen. And my third tip is don’t give up. You know, become dedicated to this.
Julian: It, it takes, it takes perseverance to get through something as challenging as the CPA. It’s, it’s not easy. Um, there’s gonna be so many times where you’re gonna be, you’re gonna be setting and you’re gonna be like, man, is it worth all this? Is it worth all the time in the sacrifice that I’m doing? And, and I’m gonna tell you it is, it absolutely is.
Nate: Yep. Yeah, I agree. And, uh, I don’t know why, but when you said, don’t give up it all. Alwa geez. Also made me realize, uh, when you start getting really consistent with a, a daily routine and you’re putting in consistent time, that’s when you have breakthroughs. You know, just in, how, like getting good at MCQs or even with the individual lessons themselves.
Nate: You just get good at studying because you’re putting in such consistent time, whereas like you said before, half the time that you’re sitting there studying, you’re not really studying and it when you’re just like, when you’re inconsistent and not putting in like concentrated effort on just studying, it’s hard to have breakthroughs.
Nate: So it’s like you’re almost always starting over every single day. Um, anyways, that just what you said, your tips two and three made me think of that. .
Julian: Yeah. Yeah, that’s, that’s right. I, I would, I would go to sleep so frustrated because I felt like I just, I wasn’t understanding it. And no matter how, no matter, like, I even tried like taping my eyes open to these , it didn’t work.
Julian: I always fell asleep.
Nate: Uh, that’s funny.
Julian: Yeah. So, um, Nate, it’s, it’s a pleasure, man. Thank you for having me on board. Um, I should be paying you, man, for the help that you gave me. I mean, I did, but you Yeah, you, you charge, you charge way too cheap for what you offer, man. Seriously, it’s, it, it really changed everything, man.
Julian: Thank you so much.
Nate: Yeah, that’s, that’s awesome to hear. And I’m, yeah, happy to do it. Um, every year when we, uh, update the notes, that’s when I hate this job, like reading tax code and figuring stuff out. Yeah, hearing, talking with people doing the podcast has been really awesome just to hear instead of just an email, you know, cuz I always used to get just emails like yours and it’s cool to get the emails but then to get on and hear someone’s full story is awesome.
Nate: So yeah, I’m glad you found us and it just was so helpful to you. And yeah, congrats on being done. It’s great to hear.
Julian Spreading the Word About How He Passed
Julian: Yeah, thank you man. And everyone who asks they, cuz they all tell me what’s my secret? It’s so impressive that you, you passed all four and, you know, in one try except for AUD,] they’re, and I tell ’em the same thing that you always say, you know, uh, take those two hours.
Julian: Don’t, don’t bother with the lectures. That’s the first thing I say. Don’t bother with the lectures. Don’t bother reading the book. Just take the quizzes, highlight the keywords, and, and, yeah, I’ve got one coworker who’s, who’s doing it now. She’s waking up at four though. I don’t know why but.
Nate: It’ll pay off.
Julian: One me up.
Nate: Oh yeah. Yeah. Try to, yeah, pass faster than you or something. Oh, that’s cool. I appreciate you spreading the word.
Nate: All right. So that was the interview with Julian. I’m sure you found that very helpful and informative. I really liked all the things he talked about. Just basically the mindset things, because when you get that locked down in your daily routine. You start to just have your own breakthroughs, really regardless of what study strategies you’re using.
Nate: On the other hand, when you kind of study haphazardly, several times a week or you miss a day here and there, it’s really hard to have breakthroughs just because you’re not fitting in that consistent time.
Nate: So, if you found this episode helpful, please take a second and share it with someone you know, who’s also working on their CPA exams. These interviews are the most helpful free resource available anywhere for people trying to figure out their own effective study process.
Nate: So thanks for watching or listening and we’ll see you on the next episode.