In this SuperfastCPA podcast interview, you’ll hear how Sierra was putting in a ton of time studying for her CPA exams, and it still wasn’t working.
Then, she simplified her CPA study process with some of the SuperfastCPA study strategies, and got her last two exams finished once and for all.
Master your study process by attending one of our free study training workshops: https://www.superfastcpa.com/study-secrets/
Enter our free monthly podcast giveaway: https://www.superfastcpa.com/enter
- 00:00 Sierra Interview
- 00:38 Intro
- 03:15 Sierra Describes How She Felt Studying the Normal Way
- 06:50 The Time it Took Sierra to Study for the CPA Exams
- 07:47 How Sierra Studied the Normal Way
- 10:27 Finding SuperfastCPA and Simplifying the Study Process
- 11:48 Relearning How to Study with the PRO course
- 14:34 How Sierra Gained Confidence Through the MCQs
- 16:25 Using SuperfastCPA Study Tools to Study Everyday for Retention
- 19:23 Managed to Pass Remaining Two Exams Before Previous Exams Expired
- 22:22 Studying Made Easier by Doing Mini Sessions from Her Phone All Day
- 24:23 Sierra’s Daily Study Routine
- 25:43 When Sierra Felt That the SuperfastCPA Method Worked
- 29:07 Sierra’s Realization on How to Deal with the Practice Sims
- 30:23 Weekend Study Routine and Realization About Studying Long Hours
- 32:31 Shifting Study Strategies Made it Less Stressful Studying Overall
- 34:26 Sierra’s Note Taking Process for Difficult Topics
- 38:47 Sierra’s Final Review Process
- 42:23 Celebratory Gift for Passing the CPA Exams
- 45:03 Top Tips for People Still Struggling with the CPA Exams
- 47:41 Outro
Sierra: I remember like before the SuperfastCPA, like I would spend time on the hardest topics, like, I remember I spent time on topics that were not, I didn’t even get one question on the exam relating to it, and I was like, why did I spend all that time, like before this exam on that one topic.
Sierra: Like I felt like I always just studied the wrong things. Like I just never studied the main points, you know? Like I would see questions, I’d be like I know what that is, but like I reviewed the hard topics instead that were not on the exam.
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 Sierra.
Nate: So in Sierra’s interview you will hear a very common story type that I hear from a lot of people where it’s someone who was the perfect studier all through school, you know, grade school, but then high school and even college where they would take notes on everything, they were just very diligent about every class they were in,
Nate: they always got perfect grades, and then they get to the CPA exams, and take that same approach, and it is just so time consuming, and there is so much information to cover, you’ll hear her, describe her, just her note-taking process, where she was essentially creating textbooks of her own filling up entire notebooks because she took so many notes.
Nate: And so, a very common thing is just, there’s a lot of people like that, that operate under that assumption when it comes to studying for the CPA exams and then, they really are making it harder than it needs to be. Even though they’re putting in an incredible amount of work and then it’s just not working. So, it’s a very interesting type of a problem to have when it comes to these exams. But, like I said, it happens all the time. I get a lot of emails about this specific issue.
Nate: So you’ll hear her describe how she figured out how to make the CPA study process work by making her own process much easier for herself. And before we get into the interview, so the thing that led her to that was our free study training webinar. She came across one of our ads like everyone else you hear in these interviews. And she watched the free training and it was just point after point of how you can make the study process more effective yet easier and less time-consuming.
Nate: So you can sign up for one of those free trainings, the link to that will be down in the description of this episode, it’s the best place to start if you are wondering about SuperfastCPA, or if you’re just trying to figure out your own CPA study process.
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 that link as well will be down in the description of this episode.
Nate: So with that out of the way, let’s get into the interview with Sierra.
Sierra Describes How She Felt Studying the Normal Way
Nate: So, I usually just kind of start based on what you wrote on this little form thing. So you said SuperfastCPA was my saving grace. It taught me how to study correctly, learn the topics in layman’s terms, how to become confident with multiple choice.
Nate: So going back to the beginning, uh, did you have a period where, when you first started, you just kind of studied the normal way and found it really frustrating, or when you just started studying for the CPA exams, how did that go?
Sierra: Yeah, well I feel like even from, you know, middle school, high school on, like I never really like learned the correct way to study. Like I would always just try to study everything and anything. And it worked for me for a long time. Like I did great in high school and college. But then when it got to the CPA where the book was like this giant book and I was trying to like, you know, read every sentence and everything and then dwell multiple choice.
Sierra: Watch all the lectures. I kind of do it like one way through. I wouldn’t really repeat it or anything cause I was like, this is taking me so long. I would like read it, write like pretty much everything down for notes. Like it’d be like a long outline to where like I would look at the outline and it would even make me anxious.
Sierra: Cause I’m like, this is basically a book. And then the next week when I would be studying like the next chapter or module or whatever, like I would literally forget pretty much what I had done in the past. Like I didn’t really have any set wave studying. I was like nervous of doing practice exams cause I was like, oh my God, if I don’t score well on this, I’m not gonna score well on the exam.
Sierra: And I didn’t really practice the multiple choice or anything outside of, like, when I was going through one module, I used Becker personally. But when I was going through like one module at a time, you know, I would do the multiple choice like once and then maybe, maybe every so often I would do like a set of like 10 or 20.
Sierra: But not consistently. So I would just kinda like forget everything as I was going through. And I was definitely one of those where it didn’t come as easy for me to pass the exams due to also like not feeling as prepared and like test anxiety. So I definitely had my fair share of not passing some exams, uh, which people found really refreshing when all of their friends were like passing exams. And I was like, no, I didn’t pass every exam on the first try, so.
Sierra: But I didn’t have like a set way of studying, which was really hard for me. And then sometimes I would like take off a week of studying and then get back into it and like it was just, yeah, not the most organized way of study.
Nate: Gotcha. Yeah, and that’s the thing is you don’t really, if you come outta college, you get your review course, you don’t realize what it’s really like to kind to study.
Nate: You know, the CPA exams, it’s way more information. Any given exam is more information than any class you took in college. Instead of a professor kind of walking you through two to three days a week, it’s completely on you.
Nate: You know, like when to study the format, the strategies, like how do you, all the information’s in Becker, but what do you actually do with it all strategically?
Sierra: Yeah, exactly. So that was very frustrating for me cause it was like, you know, each test was like two to three classes of material plus some.
Sierra: That was like, it was just very like overwhelming for me, I would say.
The Time it Took Sierra to Study for the CPA Exams
Nate: So how long was that period where you just started with Becker and you were kind of just doing whatever and you were just really struggling with the process?
Sierra: No, it was a long time. It was maybe from the, like middle of 2018, to like the middle of 2020.
Sierra: To like two years.
Sierra: And of course, like bringing the pandemic and everything all into this, like, you know, I got a little bit of extra time. But of course my plan was to finish it. Cause I was getting my master’s at the time from 2018 to 2019. So my plan was like all my other friends to, you know, finish the exams before I started working full-time, which for me wasn’t the case.
Sierra: So I had to do it like while working full-time at PWC. And like finished, I think I finished two exams before working full-time. Then I had to do take two exams while working full-time.
How Sierra Studied the Normal Way
Nate: Yeah. So, uh, when you, okay, so this first period where it wasn’t super effective, but you were, you know, trying to study what did a day of studying look like?
Nate: How much time were you putting in and when would you do it and everything?
Sierra: Yeah. It was like a lot of time, like I would, you know, do like more than, there were some days where I would do a couple hours some days where I would do like eight hour study days with friends or something. Like it was very, you know, kind of inconsistent, depending on the day.
Sierra: But I felt like when I had an eight hour study day, I like did not get much done. Like I was like, you know, cause it took me like a long time to read the module and then, Like I would read the module and my reading comprehension isn’t always like the best either. And then I would like watch the video and then answer the questions.
Sierra: So it would take me just like a really long time to get through each module and I would be like, how the heck am I gonna get through like this entire book in time for this exam? And I was also notorious for extending my exam time. Like, I’d be like, oh, like I don’t feel ready. Let me extend this by two weeks.
Sierra: Which literally just made it worse cause you know, I was just like freaking out more and more and whatnot. So, you know, I always felt like I wasn’t getting enough in my study session than, than I like should have. Yeah.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah, very common. You know, and that’s when it’s really frustrating too, is uh, you sit there for whatever, like, I mean, sometimes in your case it sounds like eight hours in one day, and if you feel like nothing really happened, you’re like, man, I, how long, I mean, this goes on for months.
Nate: And the, I feel like it’s not even working anyways.
Nate: So it gets really hard with, from the motivation standpoint, if you’re putting in a bunch of time and feeling like it’s not even working anyways.
Sierra: Yeah, that’s exactly how I felt. Which is why I would take those like breaks, like week long breaks.
Sierra: Cause I was like, I need a break from this. Like, I’m just like constantly like reading this book and everything. So yeah, it was a tough two years. You know, I took, I wanna say I took every exam. Like multiple times and I only passed two. So by the time I found you guys okay, I you know, I was in, I was like about to start busy season and like in a couple months and two of my exams were close to rolling off.
Sierra: So I was like, I literally have like two more chances basically to take these exams before the other two roll off. And I was like, if the other two roll off, I’m not retaking them again. So like no CPA for me.
Nate: Yeah. Okay.
Finding SuperfastCPA and Simplifying the Study Process
Nate: Uh, so what happened? Did you see one of our YouTube ads or?
Sierra: Yeah, there was just like.
Nate: Like, how’d you find us?
Sierra: An ad that came on, you know, a YouTube video. And I had never heard of you guys before, and I had like one other friend at the time who had also failed a couple exams. Like all of our other friends passed on the first try, and we were like the only two who had failed multiple exams. And a YouTube video popped up and I asked her, I was like, have you heard of this like, SuperfastCPA?
Sierra: Like, I don’t know if it’s like, you know, really works. Or if it’s like a scam or whatever. And then she’s like, I think I have one friend who uses it. And like she said, it was helpful to her. And I was like, okay, well, like I might as well try it. Cause I literally have, you know, nothing else to give. Like, I don’t know, I literally, you know.
Sierra: So I saw that you guys offered that like it was.
Nate: The free webinar thing.
Sierra: Yeah. Webinar. So I looked at the webinar.
Sierra: And I was like, okay. Like I kind of, you know, connected with the fact that it was like aimed at people who are, you know, maybe have a tighter schedule and like are working and then also.
Sierra: You know, like relearning how to study and there’s like a lot of different resources available. So I was like, let me just try it for one, see if it works, and then like we’ll go from there because I had FAR and audit left at that time. Yeah.
Relearning How to Study with the PRO course
Nate: So, okay, back to your comment, you said it taught me how to study correctly.
Nate: So did you get our uh, PRO course. Or what, what did you purchase and like, how did you start using it?
Sierra: Well I did purchase the one that had like an introduction to like teach you how to study, I think. I think that might have been the PRO one. Like, I watched a couple of.
Nate: Did you like, watch a series of videos about how to study?
Sierra: Exactly. These videos have said even before, like getting to the material itself, and I saw, I remember it said like, do the multiple choice first before you read through the chapter. Like, see kind of where you’re struggling. And then like, don’t try to literally memorize like every word, basically. Like, it was like, you know, you’re not gonna remember every single fact that you read in this book, like the multiple choice, and it was like, let me, you know, I guess take a step back. This was the multiple choice in Becker, cause I know that SuperfastCPA is like a supplemental course, so it was like in your course that you have, you know, do the multiple choice first, see where you’re struggling, then maybe go back and like read those areas where you find that you’re struggling.
Sierra: And then the part that I think helped me the most was taking like the 30 question, multiple choice, little like quizzes, I guess, every day. Because I was always like a slow test taker throughout like high school and college. And even with the CPA, like, cause I know, you know, you’re the one timing yourself, like you don’t have anyone timing you.
Sierra: So, of course,to leave space for like the simulations, which is the hardest part in my opinion. Like, obviously, you know, being able to answer those multiple choice questions in like a minute is like your best bet. So I think that’s what helped me the most, like becoming the most confident with the multiple choice questions.
Sierra: Cause in my case, I guess by the time i, you know, found you guys, it wasn’t my first time taking FAR and audit, but it kind of almost was because like, I think I hadn’t like looked at a CPA exam study like either of those in a year. So it’s like I had like a little bit of a background, wasn’t going in fresh, but it had also been a year.
Sierra: So like I didn’t know, like, you know, there’s like those little details that you don’t remember. But yeah, I think what helped me the most was. I’m telling myself like, you’re not gonna be able to like, cover this whole book. Like do the module, multiple choice questions that they have, see where you’re struggling, review those.
Sierra: And I kind of just went through it that way. I think I would watch like the videos in Becker where like I knew I was struggling, like, let’s say like the, like derivatives portion in FAR or something. I was like I, like, I don’t know if I’m even gonna get this, but let me try watching this video and I’ll see.
How Sierra Gained Confidence Through the MCQs
Sierra: But, so I like really, you know, based my studying on the multiple choice. And doing those like 30, you know, multiple choice questions today I think really helped me a lot because by that, my last exam, I took FAR first after using SuperfastCPA and I was like shocked that I passed. And then cause that was my third time taking it.
Sierra: Uh, and then when I took audit, I think, yeah, I got through the multiple choice even in like less than, you know, like one minute per question. And that was like my highest score that I had gotten on any of the exams. So I think like definitely perfecting that multiple choice is what really helped me pass the exams and just like feeling more confident. Like my hands weren’t like sweating. I wasn’t like shaking, like, so I think that really helped me feel confident, which like I had never really done in the past, so.
Nate: Gotcha. Yeah. Yeah. The, uh, the sets of 30 each day, what I always say on all these interviews is like, it, they solve that strategy solved so many problems, interviews.
Sierra: Oh yeah. It really did.
Nate: You, you’re obviously, you know, reviewing the material cumulatively all the way through your process instead of just in your final review. So you’re kind of always getting a little bit better at everything instead of trying to relearn it.
Nate: In a final review after you’ve forgotten everything.
Nate: But a big thing that like you’re mentioning is it just gives you a lot of confidence with the MCQs in general.
Nate: Because doing those sets every day, you just get good at answering MCQs.
Nate: And so it’s not something that stresses you out. It, it kind of solves the test anxiety thing at least. Is that kind of what you were saying or what you experienced?
Using SuperfastCPA Study Tools to Study Everyday for Retention
Sierra: Yeah, a hundred percent. Yeah. It definitely did. And also what really helped me was like within, cause I mainly used the app the SuperfastCPA app. So I would go on like a lot of walks to decompress and like every walk I went on, I made sure to listen to. Like, I probably listened to the lectures like fully two times through like, I would just like listen to them, like have them on literally all the time.
Sierra: You know, cause like they’ve made it a lot easier to understand things since they were like, in layman’s terms more, so I would, you know, just listen to those constantly. Also read through the, the lectures that you guys provided, like the written lectures and then the.
Nate: Oh, the written notes?
Sierra: Yeah, the written notes.
Nate: Or the review notes.
Sierra: Yeah. Review notes.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah.
Sierra: Yep. I would read through those pretty often since they were like pretty short and easy to read through.
Sierra: And then I would also do, like, let’s say I was like waiting in line at Walgreens for a prescription or something. I would just knock out like five multiple choice questions on the app or something.
Sierra: So like, I would really try, cause I know you also said like, Just like the more you expose yourself like no matter what you’re doing, it all ends up like adding up throughout the day. So I really just tried to like, use all the resources available. And you know, I think that’s what really helped me like that and, uh, just like the multiple choice, just going through it.
Sierra: Like, cause like I said, I had an issue with like forgetting things kind of once I learned it like a week later so, definitely staying, you know, refreshed on those topics once I learned them. I think that’s what helped me the most, honestly.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah. Just all those little, uh, doses of repeat exposure.
Nate: You know, over and over. It just, it gives you like a deep kind of comprehension or kind of burns it into your memory where again, when you explain the traditional approach. It’s pretty clear why it doesn’t work that well.
Nate: You know, you cover each lesson once, you never look back at it over six to eight weeks and then try to relearn everything in a one or two week final review.
Nate: You know, it’s obvious. And you’ve covered, like on FAR, you’ve covered over 200 topics that way, so it’s obvious why it doesn’t work that way.
Sierra: Yeah. Which for me, since there was like so many topics in FAR, for instance, like my review. Before, you know, SuperfastCPA was like a one to two day review, so I would be like freaking out those last few days. So much anxiety, and then like, go into this exam with even like more anxiety and just be like, there’s no way I’m gonna pass this. And like, yeah, few times I didn’t, like I think it might have been on an audit, actually I got like a 74 at one point, which was like, I was like, I didn’t even know this was possible.
Sierra: Honestly, it’s against 74 on the exam. So yeah, like, honestly, like I said without SuperfastCPA, like I’m pretty sure my, my two exams would’ve rolled off, my two exams that I had passed a couple years prior, so.
Nate: Yeah. Well, I’m glad it helped.
Managed to Pass Remaining Two Exams Before Previous Exams Expired
Nate: So how, so how long was that? You had, how many months left to pass those two?
Sierra: So, I think I passed my last exam, I think I started, I got SuperfastCPA maybe in like August or September or something. And I had like six weeks to study for, I think it was FAR. I had to take that in October. And then with my client that I was on at the time, we also had kind of like a pseudo busy season where the hours weren’t like as crazy as busy season, but they also were more than 40 hours a week. So I like knew after I passed FAR in like October. I think I studied for like November and like half of December and took audit, like, you know, I got my score literally like the end of December and then I’m pretty sure my two exams were gonna roll off like within like the February to March timeframe.
Sierra: And that was obviously busy season, so I was like, there’s no way I’m gonna be able to study. So I maybe had like one more attempt. Like after I took those two exams and I was like, I’m not studying for these exams during, you know, busy season hours. So yeah, I was like very, very close. Like I said. Like if I didn’t pass it by like January and I passed mine in December, like I, you know, the exams would’ve rolled off.
Sierra: So it was like added even more anxiety there. Cause I was like, if I don’t pass this, but using SuperfastCPA, you know, I passed both exams. Like I didn’t have to retake them, passed them both on the first try once I started studying which was really nice and, you know, definitely made me feel more confident in my abilities.
Sierra: Cause at first I started to think like, maybe this isn’t for me, but I think it was just the studying that was the issue. I genuinely didn’t know how to study for just like that big of an exam, so.
Nate: Yeah. No, and that’s the, that’s the crazy thing is you can get totally different results by just tweaking, you know, your strategy.
Nate: Like how you study. It’s, that’s what the, that’s what it’s all about.
Sierra: Yeah, exactly. Cause I was like, I got good grades in school. Like, this is pretty much what I learned in school. I don’t understand why I’m doing so bad. But yeah, it was definitely like the mix of the not being confident, which I think the, the multiple choice really helped with.
Sierra: And then the, you know, just learning how to study. Cause I think even with the audit exam, I might have finished like 30 minutes or 45 minutes, like before the time was, or like, you know, before I needed to be finished. And usually with all my other exams, I would like literally go into the last minute and most likely not even finish the exam and just have to like, fill in everything.
Sierra: So I was like shocked that that even happened.
Nate: Yeah. That’s cool.
Studying Made Easier by Doing Mini Sessions from Her Phone All Day
Nate: So before using us, or whatever, finding us, getting our study tools or whatever. Did you was the mini sessions idea, like brand new or like a new thing you added in studying from your phone in all the little gaps in your day?
Nate: Or were you doing any of that before?
Sierra: No. I know there was like a Becker app but I never used it.
Sierra: Cause I think I liked the idea too, of you guys making the questions very like using easy math you know, like literally like one through five or however. And uh, cause I think with Becker I was like, how am I gonna be able to answer these like, crazy questions while I’m just like waiting in line somewhere or something?
Sierra: And I never, I don’t even know if Becker had like lectures or anything like that, like audio lectures. But yeah, I never like did any of those little mini sessions. Like every session was just like, you know, like you’re at the, in the library, like at your desk, just like studying your life away.
Nate: Right. Right. And that’s the, that’s what’s so nice about studying from your phone is you can kind of rack up study time throughout your normal day. You don’t have to find, you know, this dedicated four or five hours. All at once.
Nate: You know, outside of work, like go to work for 10 hours, then you still gotta find four hours or five hours to study.
Nate: Two or three of those hours can kind of happen as you go throughout your day.
Sierra: Yeah. And I would definitely, so utilize like downloading the audio lectures too. And like a lot of times, let’s say I was driving to Breton a two hour drive to see my parents, like, I would be like, hmm, like what are either like, listen to whatever topic I was studying or I was like, what is like the most, you know, difficult area for me and then like, listen to those lectures while I’m like driving or something. So it just makes it, you know, like I’m like using my time wisely. You know, so I think that’s really helpful.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah.
Sierra’s Daily Study Routine
Nate: So once you started, once you watched our PRO course videos, did you change your daily routine at all?
Nate: Or like when did you do your main study session? Did you switch it to the mornings or were you doing it after work?
Sierra: I think I was doing it after work. Cause usually for me in the mornings, like I wasn’t much of a, I would’ve to do it at like before 9:00 AM, like I, so I would do it after work. Yeah.
Sierra: Like I would do it, like, okay. And we were working at home at the time, like this was during, you know, COVID, so.
Nate: Oh, okay. Gotcha.
Sierra: So at least I didn’t have any like, commuting time or anything. But I would study after work and then I would usually go on like a, like sunset walk or something for a break, and then bring my headphones and listen to like lectures also.
Sierra: But I would usually study after work and then like on the weekends probably starting at like 11 or noon or something like that. Yeah.
Nate: Okay. Once you watched our PRO course videos. You were obviously kind of following our study format where you were going through the multiple choice first for each lesson and then ending your study session with one of those sets of 30.
Nate: Is that right?
Sierra: Yeah. I like made sure through that 7:30 every single day, I was like, I will not miss this set of 30 multiple choice. So I literally did it every single day while I was studying.
When Sierra Felt That the SuperfastCPA Method Worked
Nate: So you start using our strategies and you pass FAR, you know, on your first try after that. Did you, was it like a few weeks in or a few days? Did you kind of have a sense once you shifted your study strategies that. Like, okay, this is different like this. I feel like this is actually working. Or was it until you got the FAR score that you were like, okay, this actually worked?
Sierra: Yeah, I mean I noticed after, like right after I took the exam I was like, okay, that felt a little different.
Sierra: But I like also, you know, didn’t wanna get my hopes up too much cause I was like, I failed this exam twice already. Like, you know, this is my first time using this program. But I definitely felt a difference. Like I don’t think I was as like, concerned that I failed coming out, but I was like, let me wait until I see my score to, you know, buy the audit portion.
Sierra: But it definitely did feel different. Like, I think just like going in and having that like multiple choice like epiphany to where I’m like, okay, like I got the multiple choice. Like I don’t feel so bad about it. I think that really helped me and then I think, cause from what I remember, like you’re in your strategy, like you don’t really go over like the simulations too much right. Because I would try to go over, like when I was studying, like mock simulations and then I was like, you know, like, who even knows if these are gonna be on the exam or not? So it’s like nice to see a couple but I think, you know, just going through the multiple choice, like and remembering those details also helped me with like, the simulations and remembering like, you know, those little details for that. Even though I know for the simulations, like you can reference the like, guides and whatnot, but yeah, so I think it like really helped me cause like my big thing was like, I need as much time for these simulations as possible because that’s my, my weak point.
Sierra: But I definitely did feel different coming out of like my FAR exam, then I had felt coming out of like any of my other the exams. Yeah.
Nate: The previous ones. Yeah.
Sierra: Like I was like, wow, I might have not failed this one, so.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah, the sim strategy is kind of, It’s, it’s, yeah, you have to, there’s all just the things that go into it.
Nate: So you can do endless practice sims.
Nate: Which is valuable up to a point. But the fact is because they’re dynamic, the format’s gonna be different. And you know, what you see on exam day, there’s gonna just be a few surprises no matter how much you go through practicing so that is a fact. So there’s diminishing returns to just going through thousands of practice sims. But you want to see, you want to do enough of ’em to where you’re just familiar with the format at least you, you don’t want to go in completely blind.
Nate: You want to know how to fill ’em out. And then, you know, the, there’s value in working through several, especially on the most common ones, uh, you know, like everyone always mentions bank recs.
Nate: Cash flows, stock compensation. They’re just like the big pillars of FAR, you know, that you want to, you want to have done some practice sims on those.
Nate: But yeah.
Sierra’s Realization on How to Deal with the Practice Sims
Sierra: Which I think I did do. And then also I guess my situation’s a little different also because, I, you know, was familiar with what the simulations looked like.
Sierra: I had taken the exams before. But yeah, I think I did like a couple, you know, of the main sims and just looked over those. But after that point I was like, you know, like these sims are mostly kind of dependent on my knowledge and not as much just like repeating them over and over. Yeah. So is like, yeah, like you.
Sierra: I could only go through them up to a certain point, and then it’s kind of like a waste of time after that. Just to be, I definitely made sure to practice also the, just like the lookup sims, like as I was going through Becker. Cause I know like that was kind of like a make or break too. You’re like, I don’t wanna spend like 10, 15 minutes on this one lookup sim.
Sierra: So I made sure to like practice a lot of those and just like get used. Like learning the manuals and things like that. So that was probably the one that I practiced the most actually, now that I think about it.
Nate: Just cause that’s almost, if you’re just familiar with the authoritative literature.
Nate: And where things are, that’s your easiest points on the sims to get, so you wanna make sure you know those. Yeah.
Sierra: Yeah. Exactly, so.
Weekend Study Routine and Realization About Studying Long Hours
Nate: So on the weekends, would you study longer or do anything different, revisit stuff from earlier in the week or like what, what was your study format on the weekends?
Sierra: I’d say it was pretty similar. To what I had done during the week. Like I think before SuperfastCPA, I would be like, I’m gonna study like eight plus hours on the weekends. And I’m the type of person too where I’m like, I like to do things on the weekends. So it made me feel a little bit of like resentment towards the CPA exam.
Sierra: Cause I was like, oh my god, it’s stealing my weekends away. But yeah, with SuperfastCPA, you know, I don’t think I really ever had like eight hour study sessions, like maybe it was like a four hour session or something like that. So I felt like I still had like the weekend, you know, to myself, like depending on what time I started studying during the day.
Sierra: So that was really nice. Like it was, you know, it is a really true factor. We were like, you really don’t need those like eight hour study days. Cause I remember, you know, feeling connected to like your story when you had taken the CPA exams and you were like, I studied for like. Two straight minds for eight hours a day and like, I still didn’t pass my exam and I was like, I felt that same exact way.
Sierra: And it’s like, you know, really quality over quantity with the CPA. Like you don’t need those eight hour study sessions if you are studying, you know, correctly and like what works best for you. And you know, thankfully, I didn’t need those eight hour study sessions after like learning the right way to study the exam to like, remember as much as I could. So I’d say like, not really much changed from during the week. Like maybe I would do like one extra hour cause I was like, you know, I didn’t have to work or something. Or maybe do like, Two sets of multiple choice maybe instead of one set of 30. But it really didn’t change like drastically, like it didn’t like double in time from what I was doing, like during the week, so.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah. And oh, so that’s a whole other point is, uh, and I’m guessing this is what you would say.
Shifting Study Strategies Made it Less Stressful Studying Overall
Nate: So once you, once you had your study strategies kind of nailed down, what, just day to day, the overall process was just much less stressful.
Nate: I’m guessing.
Sierra: Yeah, it definitely was much less stressful. I was like, I don’t need eight hours to do this.
Sierra: Like, I think even during the week sometimes I would study like two hours, like two hours, three hours max. So it definitely was way less stressful and I felt like I was getting like a lot more out of it than I would literally get in like an eight hour session. Which was just like really nice and like validating where I was like, okay, like this program is actually working for me, uh, unlike, you know, the past two years.
Sierra: So, yeah, it was just like a nice change of pace and made me feel like I still had a life you know, while working and still studying.
Nate: Yeah. Well, and that’s, that’s another factor in itself. If, if your entire life is, you know, work and study, it gets pretty miserable real fast.
Nate: And it’s like, you know, it’s unsustainable.
Nate: Like you said, you would just get to a point where you just had to take a week off, which, you know, can kind of throw off your whole plan please. But at the same time, you can’t just keep, you can’t just keep doing that for months on end, you know, just purely work and study. So, a more, uh, strategic like daily routine that lets you have time in the evenings or time on the weekends just makes the whole thing more doable.
Nate: So that you can keep going. Yeah.
Sierra: Yeah. And I think I would even try to maybe take like Sundays off or something or have like a light load on like one of the weekend days. Cause I think that was like the biggest thing for me too, you know, just like being able. Enjoy life outside of work and studying.
Sierra: Cause I felt like that was like literally robbing my life.
Nate: Right. Yeah.
Sierra: Yeah. So that’s.
Sierra’s Note Taking Process for Difficult Topics
Nate: And what about, uh, what about notes or flashcards did you like when you were doing the sets of 30? Anything you missed? Would you make notes on things that you just kind of kept missing or forgetting? What was your process for that?
Sierra: Yeah, I think from what I remember, I’m pretty sure I just had like a notebook or something and I would write, like, write down like facts that I wanted to come back to. Cause I wanna say when, I think I might have also printed out the the outlines that you guys provided as well, and maybe like a couple notes on there, like highlighted important things. But yeah, I think I would just write down a notebook. Cause there was a time before SuperfastCPA where I like had flashcards and I just like wrote way too many to where I was again, like overwhelmed. And I wouldn’t even look through them.
Sierra: And I was like, this is like, why did I write hundreds of flashcards when I’m not even gonna look through them? So I think I just wrote like, little notes on things to like make sure I wouldn’t forget them versus like the flashcards. Cause I just got like too, like overwhelmed by the amount of flashcards that I had by the end.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah. And that’s a good point. Cause that, cause that happens, you know, it’s uh, I think a lot of times stuff like highlighting the chapter, you know, it. You can tell yourself you’re studying and doing something or watching the lecture, but it’s almost like a form of procrastination from doing like the hard work of working through questions and it’s kind of a struggle.
Nate: It’s confusing to understand the answer.
Nate: Whereas like highlighting the chapter is just very, you know, it’s simple like so, so people get into the groove of spending a lot of time doing that, but there’s not a very big payoff in terms of what happens on testing.
Sierra: Yeah. And I think for me too, I would highlight like majority of the chapter and like I would try to go back through my highlights and then be like, I’m basically doing a chapter again so I wouldn’t even do that.
Sierra: Like, it just, I think, yeah, just like without SuperfastCPA, everything, like from all across the board it was just like overwhelming. Like, just like too many chapters, too many words. You know, like they, like to use a lot of like bigger words and stuff and like using like yeah, like the layman’s terms to just like really understand like the main topics.
Sierra: Andnot kinda like beating around the bush. Like I don’t need like a background on how this came to place, you know, like, just like the, really like honing in on like literally what is this topic? This is what you need to know. I think really helped me, you know, versus like attempting to read through like a whole like 10 page chapter on like a topic where I may, you know, like a couple sentences or something.
Nate: Yeah. It’s very different what, what they cover in the video lecture and then what shows up in the questions for that same topic.
Nate: And that was, that was like the big thing for me. I mean, that’s how this whole thing came about was I kind of thought that my first time studying for FAR, I would be like, okay, I just spent an hour watching this video, but these questions really just go in on these same like three or four things.
Nate: So once I failed that, uh, failed FAR once, I was like, okay, well I did everything like by the book and it didn’t work. So I’m just going to use just the questions essentially and, you know, got totally different results in way less study time.
Sierra: Yeah. So more efficient, you know, efficiencies comes to the CPA exam and any, I guess, I mean that really applies to any big exam.
Sierra: Like I’m you know, gonna be studying for like another certified exam soon and I’m gonna use the same method, you know, looking through the question.
Sierra: So it applies to really any exam besides just the, the CPA as well, so, cause unfortunately in school they don’t teach you how to study.
Nate: Yeah. Not strategically at least, that’s for sure.
Sierra’s Final Review Process
Nate: So what was your, so those last two exams FAR and audit, what did you do for a final review? How long did you leave and what did you, like, what was your process for the review plan?
Sierra: My final review was just like going through as many questions as I can. Like for me it was more just like multiple choice based, like, whereas I would, you know, include every single chapter in there.
Sierra: And then again, kind of just like going through like if there were any trouble areas that I remember that really, really stood out to me. And I think I would go on like maybe literally two hour walks and just like listen to as many lectures as I could. And just maybe like, I think I might have read through like the outline a couple times, like your outline that you provided.
Sierra: So really just like using my resources, but also not going like super overboard and being like, I need to study for like 20 hours the day before the exam, you know? Uh, but I think just like really using the resources the best I could. Cause I was like, I can’t really like read the book anymore and the last like couple days or like week before the exam, like that’s not really gonna get me anywhere.
Sierra: So I think I tried to look at, for resources wise, like as many like high level things as possible, like outlines or listening to the lectures. And then really just like, doing as many multiple choice questions as I could do. And like looking over my little notes that I wrote were, that were like, you know, from if there was a multiple choice question that I would like repeatedly get wrong or something a couple times, like writing that down and like reviewing those.
Sierra: But like I never took any like practice exams or anything like that. I tried to take a couple, like pretty SuperfastCPA and it just like always made me more nervous. So I was like, I’m gonna, but yeah, mostly just going over things like at a high level like the best that I could.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah. In the last few days, that is not the time to, you know, go back and do a deep dive on like, individual topics, because on the exam, you know, you could see anything from these 200 topics.
Nate: So the, uh, reading the notes, I, maybe you saw this and remembered it or whatever, but that is in the that like one of the last videos in the PRO course, the uh, the last 48 hours you want to try to read through our notes like two to three times.
Nate: And it sounds you would do that with the audios as well.
Nate: Go on those long walks just to listen to ’em.
Sierra: Yeah. I think that really helped me. Cause even I remember like before the SuperfastCPA, like I would spend time on the hardest topics, which wouldn’t even, like, I remember I spent time on topics that were not, I didn’t even get one question on the exam relating to it, and I was like, why did I spend all that time, like before this exam on that one topic?
Sierra: Like I felt like I always just studied the wrong things. Like I just never studied the main points, you know? Like I would see questions, I’d be like I know what that is. But like I reviewed the hard topics instead that were not on the exam. So I think, yeah, like the lectures you know, going through, maybe in one day I did like four or five sets of like 30 multiple choice questions or something.
Sierra: Like, just like going through like multiple choice, uh, reading the lectures and listening is probably the best way that I, uh, reviewed for the exams.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, that’s kind of a perfect description.
Nate: That’s exactly what I would tell someone. All right, well, we, or I guess two last questions.
Celebratory Gift for Passing the CPA Exams
Nate: Did you, uh, do it, what’d you do to celebrate when you got your fourth passing score and realized you were done?
Sierra: I got a dog.
Nate: Oh, really?
Sierra: Yes. I really wanted to get an animal. But I was like, knowing me, I’m gonna get very distracted by the animal and not study. So I was like, I’m gonna wait until after I passed my CPA exams. I officially, since I passed it at the end of December, I got licensed like the first week in January, and then I got my dog, uh, the first week of February in 2021.
Sierra: So that was my big celebration present to myself. Like just having, like coming up with like a goal and, so mine is like, I’m gonna get a dog.
Nate: Did you have a dog growing up?
Sierra: Yes, I had.
Nate: Okay. And so you just, you didn’t want to get one, I mean, you hadn’t had one already out on your own just because you were trying to like get these exams and it was like your first couple years working and everything.
Sierra: Yeah, it was like, you know, like I wanna make sure I’m a little more like financially stable and have more time for it. Cause I’m like, it’s also not fair for the dog if I’m studying, you know, my head off and I have like no time for my dog.
Sierra: So I wanted to wait until I had like more time and like was out of the way to get like my own, like he’s my first dog that I’ve had on my own compared to just like family dogs, so.
Nate: Yeah. That’s awesome. We, we let our kids get a dog finally, a year ago. We’ve had the dog one year, like in to January.
Nate: And uh, I’m the one who walks it every night. I mean, I knew that would happen, but.
Sierra: Oh, yeah. I don’t know if I could actually flip, I don’t know if you could flip the camera on here, but these are my two dog. That’s my dog. And then that’s my, my family dog who just got surgery a couple days ago, so.
Nate: Oh yeah. That’s, that’s cool.
Nate: So do you love having a dog now that you have one?
Sierra: Yeah, I love him. Definitely a lot of responsibility and it would’ve been tough for sure. I’m glad I didn’t get him while I was studying, so it was definitely something, you know, nice to look forward to letting myself get the dog after passing all the exams.
Nate: And, and that is the, the motivation thing. Like choosing a big thing you want and then like you, I will not get this for myself until I’ve like passed these.
Nate: That, uh, it’s kind of just like this process, you know what it’s like. I mean, anything that helps in any way, whether it’s motivation or strategic.
Nate: Is just you do it to get these over with.
Sierra: Yep. Exactly.
Nate: Okay. So yeah, we’ve kind of gone through everything.
Top Tips for People Still Struggling with the CPA Exams
Nate: The, so the last question I always ask is, even if it’s stuff we already covered, what would be your top three tips to someone who’s, you know, like in your shoes a year ago, still trying to figure out an effective process?
Sierra: I would say, you know, first of all, purchasing SuperfastCPA. And, definitely, you know, starting off with the multiple choice questions before like heading and diving in straight into the material and like reading, you know, the book or watching the lecture videos from your main study material.
Sierra: And then for two, I would say just utilize the resources. Like you said every, you know, minute, whether you’re in front of your book or like listening to something or taking five multiple choice questions here and there, it all adds up. So, you know, if you’re mindlessly doing something, like going on a walk or whatnot, like listening to the lecture, standing in line you know, a quick five question you know, five questions maybe took me like two minutes sometimes, like while I was standing in line somewhere.
Sierra: And then definitely utilizing the, the 30 questions every day. Depending on how much you’ve covered, like a whole overview of what you’ve covered up to that point. I think those three things combined really changed the game for me.
Nate: Yeah. That’s awesome.
Nate: Yeah. The way that I always viewed studying from my phone is that, I, like any, every little five minute session could honestly be the difference between passing and failing.
Nate: Like this might be the moment that, that one thing finally clicks that I see the question on, on exam day. That could be the difference between like a 74 and a 75.
Nate: And uh, I mean, it really does. It like adds up several times a day over six to eight weeks. Yeah. All those mini sessions make a huge difference.
Sierra: Yep. They definitely.
Nate: Well, thanks Sierra for doing the call. These, people find these really valuable. Just hearing, you know, getting inside the head of someone who was where they’re at, but now you’re done. And, uh, just, you know, your, your way of describing it. We just get so many comments about these podcasts. So, yeah.
Nate: I’m glad you saw that ad or whatever it was.
Nate: And found us and finished those last two. That’s awesome. So congrats
Nate: on being done.
Sierra: Thank you. Appreciate it, wouldn’t have been able to do it without you guys, so.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah. I’m glad it could help. Yeah. It’s always good to hear.
Nate: So that was the interview with Sierra. And so like I mentioned in the introduction I’m sure you found that very helpful and informative and it’s just interesting to think that, you know, there are a lot of people out there putting in a huge amount of time and being very detailed and thorough with their study process.
Nate: And the fact that, just by the nature of these exams and how much material there is that that typically doesn’t work that well. So the idea that you can study less or make your study process easier and then have it work better as far as these exams go, you know, is a reality as you heard on her interview.
Nate: So if you found this interview helpful, take a second to share it with someone you know who’s also working on their CPA exams These interviews are the best free resource available anywhere for people trying to figure out their own daily study process and really, your success on the exams comes down to the effectiveness of your own daily study process.
Nate: So thanks for watching or listening and we’ll see you on the next episode