How Skylar Went From a Psychology Major to Becoming a CPA

How Skylar Went From a Psychology Major to Becoming a CPA

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In this SuperfastCPA podcast episode, you’ll hear how Skylar went from being a Psychology major trying to get a law internship to becoming a CPA, all while working full time. And she was still able to spend time with friends in the evenings!


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Watch the interview on YouTube…

Episode Timestamps

  • 0:00 Intro
  • 02:34 Concerns with the CPA Exams that Led to Finding SuperfastCPA
  • 03:31 The Advantages of Starting Her Study Process with SuperfastCPA
  • 04:32 Using the SuperfastCPA Study Tools Throughout the Day
  • 05:21 Started Out As A Psychology Major
  • 07:10 Got the 150 Credits to Qualify for the CPA Exams
  • 08:14 Skylar Wanted to Think Smarter, Not Harder
  • 09:36 Choosing A Review Course and SuperfastCPA
  • 11:39 The PRO Course Gave Skylar a Daily Plan
  • 13:13 Aha Moments from the PRO Course
  • 15:08 The CPA Exam is Different Than Anything from College
  • 16:27 Do What You’ll Be Doing on Test Day
  • 17:54 Skylar Learned Better Answering Questions
  • 19:11 How Skylar Felt Studying Leading Up to the Exams
  • 21:54 The Only Time Skylar Failed an Exam
  • 25:44 Studying in the Morning Freed Up Her Evenings
  • 28:48 Skylar’s Weekend Study Routine
  • 31:35 Taking Notes Helped Skylar with Retention
  • 33:29 How Skylar Coped with Stress to Avoid Burnout
  • 38:48 Skylar’s Final Review Process
  • 40:25 Traveling to Germany and Belgium After Passing Her Final Exam
  • 42:49 Skylar’s Top Tips for People Still Struggling with the CPA Exams

Interview Transcript

Skylar: [00:00:00] Like I said, smarter instead of harder, let’s figure out a plan. I’m not gonna waste hours of my life on something. So it was really the PRO course that made me be like, okay, like Becker couldn’t provide that. They could provide like a, calendar, but that doesn’t really help you on a day to day of like, how should you structure your day?

And I think the PRO course, that’s where that is the difference the PRO course gave you like how can you structure your day so that you can continue to have a life outside of this and continue to work your full-time job.

Logan: Welcome to another episode of the CPA exam experience podcast. I’m Logan and in today’s interview, you’re going to hear Nate and I talking to Skylar.

Skylar, didn’t start out in accounting. She actually went to school for psychology and was trying to get into law school. She was trying to get some law internships and nothing was really working.

So when her friend told her about a job [00:01:00] at an accounting firm, she decided to go for it. As time went on, she decided she wanted to jump to accounting. So she completed all the requirements that she needed to sit for the CPA exam. And that’s where her story started.

And right from the get go, she knew that she wanted to do this in a better way than the typical approach.

She wanted to think smarter, not harder.

She had heard horror stories about the CPA exam and how long it took.

So she was doing research to know how to effectively complete the CPA exams.

She found SuperfastCPA before she even started studying for the exams. She used SuperfastCPA all the way through her process.

There were two things that stuck out to me in this interview. First was how important daily re-review was to Skylar. And also she said that she was able to have guilt-free evenings with her friends throughout pretty much the whole process.

She didn’t have to say no to her friends when they wanted to hang out in the evenings, because she had already studied in the morning and she had already done mini sessions throughout the day.

I think that’s something that a lot of people are missing [00:02:00] in their process. Being able to have the evenings free with friends and family.

Before we jump into the interview, I want to give a quick reminder about the free one hour training webinar on superfastcpa.com.

In that webinar, Nate talks about the six key ingredients to passing the CPA exam. It’s free it’s one hour long. So if you haven’t seen that already go watch it.

All right. With all that said, let’s go to the interview with Skylar.

Nate: And I pulled up your, you know, you had sent me a thank you email, that I.

Skylar: Yeah.

Nate: Whenever someone signs up, I just search their email address to see what emails I’ve gone back and forth with.

Concerns with the CPA Exams that Led to Finding SuperfastCPA

Nate: And, uh, you said that you found SuperfastCPA before you started studying. So my original question is usually what struggles were you having before you found SuperfastCPA? So that won’t really apply.

But, uh, I guess, before you started studying, what had you heard about the study process or the CPA exams that you were trying to avoid by starting with us from the beginning?[00:03:00]

Skylar: Yeah, so I think, um, definitely have heard that, you know, the CPA exam is, um, it has to be your life. Um, it has to, you have to basically do nothing but prioritize that. Um, and not just that, but that just the, the pass fail rate was, you know, that the, the fail rate was really high. Um, that was definitely something that I was concerned about.

Um, and just like that it was a very, very long process as well, that it was gonna take like a really long time. Um, so kind of all of those things.

Nate: Yeah. Yeah. Okay.

The Advantages of Starting Her Study Process with SuperfastCPA

Nate: And then once you started studying and you were using our strategies and study tools, what advantages did you find, or I guess if you didn’t have the pre-SuperfastCPA, just things that came true that you found to be helpful to you?

Skylar: Yeah, I think, um, definitely time. I think, um, Superfast, specifically the tactics. Um, I, I don’t know what you’re call, what you call them now or what you called them back then, I forget.

Nate: Like the PRO course?

Skylar: Yeah.

So [00:04:00] that definitely I would say that that really, really helped me, um, just like understanding that. Definitely like the waking up in the morning, that was something.

Studying before work was like the number one thing for me. Um, and I think the multiple choice, like prioritizing the multiple choice questions and not going through, like reading everything, the videos, all of that, those were the things that really, really helped. And it allowed me to still have a life after work, um, and still do other things apart from just the CPA exam and still be able to work my full-time job and it not be an overwhelming experience.

Using the SuperfastCPA Study Tools Throughout the Day

Nate: Yeah. Then, like the app or the study tools, did you kind of use the mini sessions idea throughout the rest of your day?

Skylar: Yeah, I did, especially when I was first in, ’cause, so the first one that I studied for was FAR. Um, and so definitely when I was doing that, I started that in the summer. So it was kind of like a downtime at work. So it was really easy to kind of take some time, um, in the middle of the day and do some of the mini sessions. Um, and then I definitely use the lectures, especially the ones where you’re [00:05:00] speaking in it. Um, those were really helpful, um, for like car drives or sometimes at nighttime, like if I was in bed and like, I wasn’t going to bed yet, but like I didn’t wanna like have my laptop open or anything, then I would listen to those.

Um, and that really helped me, like just keep repeating the same like processes over and over the same words, like over and over.

Nate: Awesome. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. All right.

Started Out As A Psychology Major

Nate: So yeah, let’s just kind of start from the beginning. So I’m guessing you got out of school or before you started your first job or just how did that all lay out, as you were getting into the CPA study process?

Skylar: Yeah, so I kind of had a, um, unique way of getting into accounting. So, um, I actually went to school originally for psychology, and I got, I have a degree in psychology, um, and kind of like I, my goal was to go to law school actually. Um,

Nate: Hmm.

Skylar: And, you know, psychology is an easy like, um. It’s an easy degree to, not easy, but it’s easier to get, have a high GPA, which is important for law school.

So, um, [00:06:00] that was of where I was at and I had been applying to law internships. happened for me. Um, and I had a friend that was working at an accounting firm and she was like, hey, it was a very small boutique accounting firm. And she was like, hey, we need an intern. Um, is this something you’re interested in?

And at the time I was working at a bakery, so I was like, well, getting into the city, working in an office, that’s better. That’s more in line with like what I wanna do than, you know, working at a bakery right now. Um, so after being there for a bit, they liked me, I liked them, I liked what I was doing, and I was kind of like, do I want to go to law school and spend all money or do I wanna just, uh, pivot into accounting and, and go back to school for accounting?

Um, and so I decided to do that. So, uh, at that point I was already working in accounting, but I didn’t have a degree in accounting.

Nate: Yeah.

Skylar: Um, and then I ended up, you know, getting the degree in accounting while working full time. So that was not really, uh, studying while working full time was not a new experience for me. Um, when I ended up taking the CPA exam. So [00:07:00] basically once I was done with school and I had the credits that I needed, um, to sit for the exams, I immediately pivoted towards studying for the exams.

Nate: Okay.

Got the 150 Credits to Qualify for the CPA Exams

Nate: And where you had a undergrad in psychology, did you have to do some other undergraduate credits in accounting or were you able to just go straight into a Master’s?

Skylar: So I actually don’t have a master’s in New York. You don’t need a master’s to.

Nate: The 150?

Skylar: Yeah. you just need 150, which I had because I had the other degree. So now, uh, I have two bachelor’s. I have a bachelor’s in psychology and a bachelor’s in accounting. Um, but that. That got me to the 150 by getting a bachelor’s in, um, but I didn’t have to do like full four years for accounting ’cause I had kind of the pre-reqs from my other, um, bachelor’s degree.

Nate: I see.

Logan: Just had to do like the additional accounting classes and then you were good?

Skylar: Yeah, exactly. I had to do accounting and some business ones as well. Um, Yeah. I had to basically, I was just making sure, originally I actually wasn’t even gonna get a second degree. Um, I was [00:08:00] just gonna take the required classes to sit for the CPA exam, but then at that point it was only like two classes off, um, from what my school would’ve given me as a degree. So I was like, at this point, I might as well take the extra classes and get the degree in accounting. Yeah.

Nate: Okay.

Skylar Wanted to Think Smarter, Not Harder

Nate: So you were all, it’s all kind of in a tight window. You just went from your bachelor’s or accounting classes right into the CPA what made you look into other things or like the study process? I think that it sounds obvious to me, but most people don’t do that.

Skylar: Most people don’t do it? .

Nate: Yeah.

Skylar: Uh, I’ve always been the type of person that’s like, let me think, uh, smarter not harder. And uh, yeah, from the get go I’ve always been like, let me set up a plan of something before I just start doing something. Um, and so the day. Actually, so the day before I was gonna start studying for the exam, well, the week before I was like, let me think of the best way to do this.

Like, let me manage, like, let me think of what is the best way to tackle this, to approach this, the best study process, the best study tools, all of [00:09:00] that. And so I was just watching YouTube videos and that’s when, of course I stumbled, stumbled upon, um, I think it’s like the webinar that you guys have.

Nate: Mm-Hmm.

Skylar: Um, so I saw that.

And that all happened the day before. It was like the Sunday before I was gonna start studying on monday. Um, so then I was like, wait, okay, like, let me think. This might make sense. Like let me try these tactics, let me, let me see. Um, and so that’s why I decided to, yeah, I’ve always been a like, think smarter rather than harder type of person.

So I really wanted to like approach it methodically and not just like waste a bunch of time for no reason.

Nate: Yeah.

Choosing A Review Course and SuperfastCPA

Logan: And, along with that, I’m just curious because, you’re kind of talking about how you’re very methodical about it. Did you also research the different, review courses? Like did you do trials or how did that go?

Skylar: Yeah, so, uh, my firm offered, uh, a few different review courses, but Becker was one of them that they offered. And I had just heard that, like, that was kind of the standard. I think it’s like, you know, a lot of people gave the advice of like. When I was looking it [00:10:00] up and stuff that like, if you could afford Becker, go with Becker.

And my firm, firm was paying for any of the ones that we chose. So I was like, well if they’re gonna pay for Becker, I might as well do that. Um, and that was actually a big reason my firm paying for that was a big reason that I decided to go with SuperfastCPA ’cause I had a friend of mine that was studying at the same time and her firm wasn’t paying for any of it. And so she paid for Becker and she, you know, paid like $3,500 or whatever it is.

And, um. I was like, I, I had the luxury of not having to pay anything. And so I didn’t mind purchasing your course because I was like, well, I’m only paying X amount of money for like, my whole study process. And like that’s even like, you know, I could pay nothing, but like, why not boost my chances a little bit higher and pay a little something when there’s people out there who have to pay a, like thousands upon thousands of dollars.

Um, just for like the review course in and of itself.

Nate: Yeah. Um, I mean. I guess this is almost asking the same thing again, but, so in that position where you had Becker, you know, just paid for, um, [00:11:00] and you know, you, you hadn’t started the process, so it’s like you, you weren’t used to what the day-to-day study process looks like? Uh, I guess again, it’s, it’s just kind of uncommon ’cause what will happen sometimes is people buy SuperfastCPA thinking, it’s like a full review course.

mean, we, we try to make that super clear because that happens, but anyways, it still happens. And people who haven’t gotten into the process to see how hard it actually is, uh, that’ll be a common thing.

Like, I didn’t realize this was, you know, just a supplement. I think all I need is Becker, so I need a refund or whatever.

The PRO Course Gave Skylar a Daily Plan

Nate: So where you’re there, you have Becker. What was it, or what had you heard that made you think you might want something on top of Becker before you had even started the study process?

Skylar: Yeah, I think it was, uh, honestly, the PRO, the PRO course, like having the tactics I think was, you know, the, the supplemental information of like the, um, [00:12:00] the notes that you had the, um, you know, like mult extra multiple choice questions and things like that. Those were all great. Um, but for me it was really the Pro Course that I was like, I need to get these, like these tactics.

Like, because like I said, I’m not like, smarter instead of harder, let’s figure out a plan. I’m not gonna waste hours of my life on something. So it was really the PRO course that made me be like, okay, like Becker couldn’t provide that. They could provide like a, you know, um, calendar, I guess it is, but that doesn’t really help you on a day to day of like, how should you structure your day?

And I think the PRO course, that’s where that is the difference the PRO course gave you like how can you structure your day so that you can continue to have a life outside of, um, this and continue to work your full-time job. Um, so yeah, that.

Logan: Yeah.

Nate: I appreciate that. Yeah, it’s, go ahead, Logan.

Logan: I think Becker the expectation is that you’re gonna study after work. You see those ads where I think it’s like Pete, whatever his name is he is like [00:13:00] CPA candidates wake up.

Skylar: Mm-Hmm.

Logan: You know, and he is saying ’cause he.

Skylar: Get, get yourself big cup of coffee.

Logan: Yeah, he is expecting you to study late at night.

But, um, but anyway, so yeah, the PRO course I think is just super helpful in that way.

Aha Moments from the PRO Course

Logan: And was there any, uh, were there any big like light bulb moments or aha moments when you were watching the PRO course that you remember being like, okay, that is, that’s exactly what I want to do, or was there anything like that?

Skylar: Um, it was a long time ago now, so I remember for, I can’t remember like the exact, you know, what the PRO course said, but uh, definitely the before work, definitely the morning study session. ’cause it was funny, I also was going to acupuncture at the time and, uh, my acupuncturist, I told him like, I’m gonna, I’m about to start studying for the exams. And he’s a super smart guy and he was like, number one like tip of advice is like study first thing you do when you wake up in the morning. Um, and so it was like the same week that I heard that. And then also. So looked at the PRO course and that was something you guys are saying. And so I was like, okay, like that, [00:14:00] that’s a big thing.

Um, and there’s, you know, there’s that thing of like. When you do the thing that you’re gonna prioritize that, like, that should be the first thing that you do in your day. The thing that is like the most important. And so that’s how I felt about like the CPA. It’s like this is my number one priority right now in order to pass these exams and not, you know, unfortunately there are a lot of people who have to take it for a really long time, um, or have had that experience.

And so, um, for that to not be the case, I needed to prioritize it. And that was the first thing I wanted to do in the morning.

Nate: Yeah. Okay. Yeah. I totally agree with that whole line of thinking, basically like, okay, let me see if someone out there has figured out a more efficient way to do this, and I’ll just do that. Typically the PRO course is like a harder sell, you know, because a course about how to study.

Most people just hear that general idea and just think, well, I have a master’s degree, like, I don’t need to learn how to.

Skylar: Yeah.

Nate: How to study.

Skylar: Yeah. It’s an [00:15:00] ego thing a little bit, I think. Yeah.

Nate: Yeah. But these are totally different than college, and that’s kind of the buzzsaw most people run into.

The CPA Exam is Different Than Anything from College

Skylar: Yeah, I definitely agree with that sentiment. Like it is different from college. Um, these exams are difficult. They’re like a diff, they’re something that you’re not used to. They’re more in line, I think with like studying for the SAT, um, things like that, right? Those standardized tests, and I think. Uh, that was my experience with studying for the SAT as well. I kind of like, was like, oh, like I know what I’m doing here. Like I don’t need to go to a thing that’s gonna tell me how to study for this. And then I did, and then my grades significantly improved. So, um, I think with standardized tests it is very different from college. So, uh, it is definitely something like, figure out how to do this and how to pass this, not just sitting there and thinking that it’s gonna be the same experience that you have on your like online college degree classes ’cause it’s very different.

Logan: For sure.

Nate: Yep.

Logan: You just reminded me of something that I never thought [00:16:00] about, but when I was doing the ACT, which, you know, similar to SAT, took it, wanted to do better and I didn’t read a book to get better. I bought a practice book to do questions over and over again. And that’s what helped me improve my score.

I totally forgot that I did that, but yeah, it just applies in almost everything that is kind of like the CPA exam, do the thing that you are actually doing on the exam, and that’s what will improve your

Skylar: scores.

Do What You’ll Be Doing on Test Day

Skylar: Yeah, yeah. A hundred percent. And that reminds me too, with the PRO course you said earlier of like, what was the number one thing? That is also, the other thing is just like do what you, it made so much sense to me of like, do what you’re going to do on this exam. Like what will you be doing when you hit the exam?

And that is those multiple choice questions, that is what you’ll be doing on the exam. So like, get very comfortable with them. Get comfortable with like, how, even just, I think too, like these exam creators, they’re gonna structure the like questions in the same way every [00:17:00] time that you take it. Um, and so like they have a structure for themselves.

And so like the more that you do it, the more you understand their structure, the more that you get comfortable with that structure.

Nate: Yes, there’s, right, half of, maybe not half, but a good percentage of just doing good on the questions and the sims is having done it so much that there’s all these little nuances and just, it’s like the skill of answering the MCQs and sims itself almost as much as, you know, knowing the underlying material.

Um, but it’s also about the context, kind of like you mentioned, it’s the exam question context is very different than how it’s presented in a video lecture or a textbook.

Skylar: Yeah, exactly.

Nate: Yeah, it just makes the most sense to spend most of your time on that same, I guess you’d call it exam day context.

Skylar Learned Better Answering Questions

Skylar: Yeah, 100%. And even when I was going through Becker, um, you know, like for the most part, I really didn’t watch videos. [00:18:00] I didn’t honestly, like, I didn’t look at any of the notes. I really just did multiple, multiple choice questions. Like I, from the get go, I would learn by just doing multiple choice questions and like writing them down. Um. I literally barely watched videos. I, I didn’t read the textbook at all. I ordered them and then like, they would just sit there and I would not really look at them. But on a few occasions I would, and it didn’t translate. Like I would watch this video with this person explaining this thing to me, and then I would go to do the questions and I’m like, I haven’t learned anything here.

Like, you know, I, I heard what that person said. I tried to learn it, but that doesn’t help me answer this question here.

Um, and I don’t know why that doesn’t like transfer, but it just doesn’t.

Nate: Yeah. Yep. Maybe you remember this, but in the PRO course I described that, like you can test this for yourself. Go watch the hour long video lecture. And by the time you zone out a few times and rewatch the key parts, that video might end up taking you two hours. And even then go to the questions, you still have to go through that [00:19:00] process of being confused and figuring out how the solutions work or how this calculations work.

So if you have to do that anyways, just skip that two hour process up front.

How Skylar Felt Studying Leading Up to the Exams

Logan: So you got into studying, you pretty much used our process, like right from the start. So once you got into studying, was there anything, like, how did that feel? Did it take a while to get used to, or did you feel pretty confident right from the start?

Skylar: Yeah, I think, um, well, so what, well, what I did appreciate about Becker was that like the calendar was helpful because it let me know like which lessons you kind of need to get through in order to keep on a, on a good timeline like you can schedule your exam based off of that. So that was really helpful. Um, so throughout the process I was feeling pretty comfortable. I did, um, I always did the 30. I also cannot stress that enough 30 cumulative multiple choice is like the absolute number one, like most important thing for studying for these exams so that you don’t forget the stuff that you’ve learned so far. Um, and [00:20:00] so that was like a good parameter for, uh, how am I doing? Like you said, like, were you nervous or things like, I, I was. For the most part, kind of sitting there and being like, well, I’m getting decent grades, like I’m getting in the eighties, I’m getting in the nineties. Like that seems like I’m pretty in line with where I should be.

Of course, when you know the actual exam comes, you’re never sure it’s a brand new thing. You’re going to a new testing center that you’ve never been to, like now you have a time, uh, limit on it. Even though I tried to like time that myself when I was doing the 30 multiple choice of being like, okay, I have a minute, I have a minute and a half per question. Um, but at least I kind of was like, okay, like I’m not getting forties every time that I’m taking these. Um, I’m, I’m like, in the range. That seems like where I could, should kind of be.

Nate: Yeah.

Skylar: Uh, also, I just remembered, yeah, I remembered what I was gonna say before, uh, when you were talking about the, um, the questions and, and the videos is that, uh, with the videos you’re watching and they provide so much [00:21:00] information and, uh, most of the time you’re not being, like you’ve said, um, you’re not being tested on that information. You’re being tested on like two or three topics per, uh, like chapter. And so why would you waste all of this time learning all of these things when you’re really only gonna be tested on like two or three topics?

Nate: Yep. Yeah, that’s another thing when you do the questions first or the planting the seeds from the PRO course, you go through the questions for a lesson or for a topic, and yeah, the pillar things like emerge from doing the questions. There will always be three or four things that multiple questions hit on.

It’s just letting the questions inform what’s most important from each topic. How to answer those questions, the context you’ll see it in. I, yeah, it just, I mean, it just works so much better. So much easier.

Skylar: Yeah.

The Only Time Skylar Failed an Exam

Nate: Were there any big setbacks or life events that happened in the middle of your process? [00:22:00] Anything that threw you off for weeks at a time or anything?

Skylar: Yeah. Uh, I mean, life always gets in the way. So I think for, in total, I studied for the exam for like, uh, I don’t know, maybe a little over a year. Um, and so of course, like throughout the course of a year, things are gonna come up. Um. I definitely remember when I was taking audit, um, my, that was like around Christmas.

And so of course you’re like dealing with the holidays and there’s family and all of that. And then on top of that, um, like Christmas night, my grandmother went to the hospital and I was supposed to take audit, I think like the week in between Christmas and New Year’s or something like that. So that was like very like, okay, there’s a lot going on right now. Uh, I did take audit. It was the only exam that I failed.

Um, I failed by two points.

Nate: That attempt. Did you keep that exam date?

Skylar: Yes, I kept the exam date because I was like, I’m already, I’ve already studied the majority of it. Um, and I’m also the type of person like. I’m gonna do it [00:23:00] and like, if I fail, I fail, I’ll retake it. But, you know, I didn’t, I never really wanted to push my exams back ’cause I felt like that would prolong the process.

And like, you never know. Like you could, you could walk in and you could pass. Um, and even that, I was two points off. So like, there was chance that I could have passed that, you know? Um, so I just, I got my score and I like. Uh, rescheduled it for two weeks later and I took it and I passed. So, um, but yeah, life definitely does get in the way, and you have to, one thing I would say is like, still try to commit to the process.

Like, if you take a day off, it’s okay. Just, it’s the same thing with working out. Like if you take a day off, don’t get discouraged. Just like the next day, just do that thing again, you know? Um, and then two, yeah, take the exam anyway. Like if you’re like kind of there, just take it anyway. Don’t reschedule it ’cause you can always just retake it, like if fail, but then at least two, you know, where you’re at. Like, if I would’ve walked in and gotten a 50, then I would’ve been like, okay, I need to study a lot more. But I got a 73 and I was like, okay, like I can retake this in two weeks. I can [00:24:00] just, you know, study for two weeks and retake it, so.

Nate: And that, that is a good point. I do think there’s value in, as assuming someone has studied and actually tried for six to eight weeks to go in and just take the real exam, especially if it’s your first one ’cause sometimes people will say, okay, I’ve been studying for, I’ll get an email out of the blue it’s like, I’ve been studying for six months. I’m not sure I’m ready and that, and I’ll be like, okay, go take it. Because.

Skylar: Yeah.

Nate: It’ll help to see the real thing and you’ll get your real score to just see where the six months has gotten you. But then on the other hand, sometimes people will say, well, I paid for these three exams, you know, upfront six months ago.

And so I haven’t really studied, I’m just gonna go in and see what it’s like. And then, you know, in that case exam’s not even gonna mean anything to you.

Skylar: Yeah, yeah,

Nate: You don’t even know what you haven’t studied.

Skylar: Yeah. You gotta study. You definitely have to study and if you’ve studied, then see how you’ve done.

Logan: Yeah, definitely got to put in the work. And with [00:25:00] these, uh, I don’t know if you’ve heard much about like the new score releases. With these new score releases coming up, it’s more important than ever to like be ready. And then, you know, obviously when you take it, you’ll find out, but you won’t find out for multiple months.

Skylar: Mmm-Hmm. Yeah.

Logan: I’m so glad that when I took it, and obviously when you took it, it was like two weeks apart.

Nate: Yeah.

Skylar: Yeah.

Logan: It’s gonna be brutal.

Skylar: Yeah. I definitely like rushed to once the moment that I, I actually took three classes during tax season just so that I could get in the like chunk before they change the exam. Um. Yeah, because it, yeah, it, it is, I, I don’t envy, um, the people who have to wait that long. It’s definitely a hard process, I would imagine.

Nate: Yeah, it’s, I know it changes a lot about kind of the strategy almost, but.

Skylar: Mm-Hmm.

Studying in the Morning Freed Up Her Evenings

Nate: One thing I was gonna ask is, you studied in the mornings, right? You, said that already? Yeah.

Skylar: So I study in the mornings. I would study after work here and there, but, uh, not all the time.

Nate: Okay. So because of that, it did kind of free you up [00:26:00] to, it just makes your life more flexible, right? Did you have things that you, even if it was just having the evenings off, do you have any key hobbies or things that you liked doing, that you kept doing, made it a point to keep doing throughout the process?

Skylar: I wish I could say yes, but honestly, I, I wasn’t very hobby like I had just been in school for so long and working full time during it so that like I just for a really long time didn’t have the time for hobbies. Um, but that being said, I definitely am, so working, studying in the morning, I always study in the morning and then after work if I had no plans and I had nothing to do, I would sit on my couch and I would do 30 multiple choice and I would review them. Or sometimes like in the morning, I would be rushing to start work. So I would do the 30 multiple choice and then after work I would review them. Like I would review what I got wrong and review what I got right and stuff. Um, but it was nice because studying in the morning, if a friend wanted to hang out after work, I would always go, like, I never, [00:27:00] not, I, there was never a time where I was like, no, I have to study. Um, and you know, where I live, like our, our friends, we, I have roommates and stuff and we all like live and work in the same area.

So, um, that happens very often, like multiple nights a week, people wanna hang out. Um, and I was able to do that and I didn’t feel guilty about it because I knew I already got my study session in. Um, so if I was sitting on the couch and I was reviewing, um, and it was after work and somebody said, let’s hang out, I was like, yeah, that’s fine.

And I don’t have to feel guilty about it. I already got two hours in this morning.

Nate: Yes. That’s very, it’s very nice to have that because yeah, most people, the thing they hear is that this just, it just has to be a nightmare and like almost to the point you’re not doing this right unless your life’s a complete nightmare until you pass.

Skylar: Yeah.

Nate: And it just, you know, it doesn’t have to be like that.

It requires discipline, but that’s also very freeing too. You know, like you you never had to miss with friends and you were still crushing the exams.

Skylar: Yeah, yeah. I agree. As long as [00:28:00] you’re, I agree with definitely discipline. Like as long as you have discipline and you get your study session in, then when you have extra time, you can study more, but when you don’t, that’s okay.

Nate: Yeah.

Logan: Yeah. And kind of along with that, so you know, you got your two hour session in and then, did you study throughout the day as well? That probably made you feel even better about hanging out with friends in the evening? ’cause you’re like, not only did I get my two hours in, I did some other stu like, did you do other studying throughout the day?

Skylar: Yeah, I work from home. So, um, if it was a slow day, then I would take like a proper lunch break and I would study. But if it wasn’t and I was super busy, then I wouldn’t, so it just would depend on, you know, in the summer when it was kind of dead and I was studying for far, that was great. But like in January and February when I was like, restudying for audit, no, definitely not.

So it just depended on like what was going on workwise. Yeah.

Skylar’s Weekend Study Routine

Nate: What about, oh, the weekends? Did you study longer on the weekends or study differently? Or what did you do on the weekends to study?

Skylar: I didn’t study much differently, I would say. I would probably, [00:29:00] it was probably pretty much the same. Um, I would study a little bit later. I would wake up like just kind of as I woke up, but I would still study in the morning. Like I would still kind let it be the first thing that I did. Um, it just wasn’t that I was like setting an alarm for six in the morning to wake up study.

Nate: Mm-Hmm.

Skylar: Um, and I would study maybe an extra hour. Um. Maybe two, an extra two hours. But for the most part I would do like two to four hours in the morning and then that was it. And I would just be done for the day. I also studied every single day, um, apart from like, maybe I miss like three days tops, but like I can not stress that enough as well.

Like you can have a lot shorter study sessions and you don’t have to like make it your whole day if you study it like pretty much every day ’cause then you don’t forget that information.

Logan: Yeah.

Nate: Yeah. I got my classic, uh, my guitar hero story from when I was in college. Um, you just get really good at something you do every day. And so even if it’s something as [00:30:00] stupid as a video game, I was like playing this song on expert with my friend, blowing off class at the same time. And I just had this realization like, you are an idiot.

Like you’re here, you’re an expert at Guitar Hero, but you’re missing

Skylar: yeah.

Nate: class. But that idea hit me like how fast do you get good at something that you do every single day?

Skylar: Yeah. Even for a short amount of times. Um, I think that that goes back to that discipline. Like I’ve now like used that towards exercise and like, I don’t go to the gym for two hours. I do like 20 to 30 minute class, but I do it every single day. So it’s like, discipline, like that really helps with discipline ’cause it doesn’t feel like this giant task every day. It seems like a manageable task, but it becomes a routine.

Nate: Yes. And that, that reminds me of, uh, you know, the mini sessions or studying from your phone. It just, it’s very low friction

Skylar: Mm-Hmm.

Nate: to do five questions. Whereas if in your head all day, you that you’ve gotta sit down and fight yourself through like a four hour [00:31:00] study session that night. Then you’re just, you’re stressed out the whole day before you get to the evening, you know, just, yeah, it’s just really crappy.

Um, and yeah, those, the little mini sessions, if you do those every time you have five or 10 minutes or these 20 or 30 minute stretches, it easily adds an extra hour or two of studying each day. But it, there’s not that. So you’ve hit four to five hours. You didn’t have that dread factor of four to five hours all at one time.

Skylar: Yeah, absolutely. I agree.

Nate: Yeah. Those little things add up.

Taking Notes Helped Skylar with Retention

Nate: What about any study methods that emerged in your process that you felt were really effective for you? Anything different?

Skylar: Um, I wouldn’t say that there was anything that I really, um, took and learned myself. Um, I would say, I know that you, um, you talk about the flashcards.

Personally, I’m not, I’ve never been a flashcard person, but I’ve noticed that some people [00:32:00] like that come on here. They say like, if they’ve always been a flashcard person, it worked for them.

And if they’ve never been then it didn’t. Um, I definitely, the one thing that I did was I always took notes. Um, but like I never reread my notes. It was just the process of taking the note. I think there’s like this weird part of my brain where. If I got something wrong, I would force myself to write it down.

And the process of writing it down made me one, not wanna get it wrong, and two, like slow down. Uh, physically writing it down made me slow down and really read the question and read what I got wrong, as opposed to just moving on to the next one.

Nate: Yep.

Logan: Yeah, that’s a big part of the flashcards. Like even though you didn’t necessarily do flashcards, that is a major idea behind the flashcards is that you are stopping and being like, okay, well I got this wrong for like the second or third time. I need to sit here and make myself understand it in a way that I understand it and then you can write it down.

That’s like one of the biggest ideas behind the flashcard. So obviously, that helped you as well.

Skylar: Yeah. [00:33:00] Yeah. I definitely agree with that.

Nate: Yes, and it’s easy to think that a solution makes sense when you’re just looking at it and reading it kind of in your head. But then, can you write it out yourself without like looking at it? And if you can’t then yeah, you don’t really know it. So that act of doing that kind of forces you to make sense of the solution or the formula, whatever you’re trying to make sense of.

Skylar: Yeah.

Nate: That is a very valuable part of the process. Yeah.

Skylar: Yeah. Yeah, I agree.

How Skylar Coped with Stress to Avoid Burnout

Logan: You mentioned that you’d kind of done this for a long time, where you did school and worked full-time and now you were studying and working full-time. How did you manage and you were probably already good at this, how did you manage, the stress of doing so much?

You were so busy all the time. How did you avoid burnout? Is my big question.

Skylar: Yeah, I think, I mean, not everybody has the luxury at work to kind of, um, take breaks when you need to or things like that. And I know that I’m lucky in the fact that my partner was really, really supportive of me, um, taking the exams and stuff. And so, um, [00:34:00] not that I had like a lighter workload, but like. I definitely just prioritized the exam.

Like I, I was still a good employee, um, but I also was like the, the exam is my number one priority right now, and it also is towards my career and towards this job as well. So, um, I never really let work get in the way. Of course, there were stressful days and stuff, but. Um, at the end of the day, I always signed off at a reasonable time because I was like, my number one priority right now is this exam, and after I’m done with the exam, then it’ll be, it can be a different story, but right now this is the most important thing.

Logan: Yeah, that’s exactly how I felt too during it.

Nate: And it makes that easier to just embrace that fact, right? Instead of like, I don’t know, kind of. So with our approach, it’s, it’s attractive to be able to say, you only need to study two hours. You know, you can have your evenings free, but the over the underlying thing that has to be going on there is it is still your first [00:35:00] priority.

You know? So that’s gonna determine if you’re gonna get up at four or five in the morning, then that’s gonna kind of dictate what you can do in the evenings, or at least when you need to go bed. Um, so yeah, but like you said, as long as you embrace that and you’re executing it in that way when you, when other things come up, like your friends wanting to do stuff, you’re able to do that, you know, within the confines of, this is my first priority, but it’s still, you know, you still have time to do other stuff.

Skylar: And that’s why I feel like too, doing that first in the morning helps because nothing could like, if I wake up, which getting outta bed is hard, of course, like waking up early, setting that alarm, getting outta bed, it was tough. But as soon as you get outta bed and you study, then it doesn’t matter how stressed you got at work that day, it doesn’t matter if your friend calls you, you already did that.

So like doing the thing that you’re prioritizing your life first definitely helps with like staying on track of that priority.

Nate: Yes. It’s just [00:36:00] very, I feel like maybe this was this interview we did like one earlier, so I can’t remember if I said this

Skylar: Okay.

Nate: Or not, but yeah, it was, that was the biggest advantage to me of studying in the morning is how mentally freeing it was to just have that over with and not have it. I didn’t have to know that no matter how crappy work is today, or if I get home at seven or eight, I still have to grind through, you know, four or five hours of studying.

It just, I didn’t have that whole, didn’t have to think about that whatsoever ’cause it was already done.

Skylar: Yeah, I couldn’t imagine that ’cause you know, I get tired at nighttime too, and like, um, it would be very hard for me, like sitting on my couch if I was studying at nighttime to not, I mean, it’s boring. Like it’s boring. It’s a boring thing, right? Like as easy as like this has made it, and like the discipline has made it, it is still a boring thing and like. Of course I would be falling asleep if I was studying at midnight or one in the morning. Um, so yeah, I think that that, and then also you, going back to your question before about, [00:37:00] um, how did you like, manage all of the things. I also didn’t study during tax season. Um, I just from, I think like February, I think my, I took audit like first or second week of February, and then once I was done with audit, I didn’t study again until after April 15th, so.

Um, that was something that I, if you have the luxury of the time to be able to do that. I know it’s different now with the evolution. I don’t know if that’s possible, but, um, yeah, I definitely personally didn’t study during tax season.

Nate: You, you work in tax then not audit?

Skylar: Yeah. I work in tax and like accounting, uh, services. So like, uh, outsourced CFO like, uh, controller work.

Nate: So at this point, what thoughts do you have as far as, you know, now you’re obviously down the tax path instead of law school and being an attorney and everything. How do you feel about that now?

Skylar: You know, it’s really funny ’cause like while I was studying for the exams, um, having like the [00:38:00] pro, I also just like, I like the discipline. So like, I’m not gonna say that I like studying or like that, you know, all of that. But I do like the discipline. I think it’s like helps and it’s valuable. Um, and so I was like, oh, like. This makes me think I could do law school. Um, and so like a part of me wants to do that, but the return on investment is just not what it is with accounting, like on law is just not what it is in accounting. And I’m already like so far into accounting that I don’t know, it’s like this thing that I’m like maybe one day, but right now I’m fine.

Nate: Yeah. My dad was an attorney

Skylar: Yeah.

Nate: And, uh, really wanted me, or one of my brothers to be an attorney and then work with him, but I was, yeah, not gonna live in Blackfoot, Idaho.

That was my first, That was my first reason.

Skylar: Yeah, that’s fair.

Skylar’s Final Review Process

Nate: So one of the last, uh, like CPA study process questions, how did you do a final review and did it evolve over the four exams or did it, did you just do the same [00:39:00] thing each time?

Skylar: Uh, for the final review, I, I always went, I did like the Becker final review. It was funny because I was like, so Becker had, and I, I don’t know if things have changed since then. I don’t think for this it has. But, um, I never watched the videos, like I said, but I was like, I’m gonna watch the videos of the final review ’cause I feel like they’re only gonna be talking about like, the most important topics. They were, the videos were a lot shorter, so I was like, okay, I’ll watch the videos for that. And I did for FAR, and then the other ones I was like, eh. I’ll just continue to do the multiple choice. So I like really did the multiple choice. Um, but the, like the Becker finer review was helpful because it like condensed the questions into the most important ones and I would just, and they were new questions too, which was helpful.

Um, but I literally just did that for like the week and a half leading up to it.

Nate: Nice.

Logan: So I had a comment and then a question. So the comment really, ’cause we’ve already kind of moved on. But like, you know, I felt the same way. Like, I wanted to apply what I, like the discipline that I had earned from super fast. Uh, I wanted to go apply that to like, stuff afterwards, [00:40:00] you know, I was like, I’m gonna spend two hours a day working out, you know, like, I don’t know.

I was just like, it, it definitely gets you pumped. You’re like, I could anything. Um, because it makes you realize that, like Nate was saying, like guitar hero, whatever, like you, if you just put in the time and the effort, um, like actual good, smart effort. But if you put in the time and do that every day consistently, um, you could, it makes you feel like you could do anything.

Skylar: Yeah.

Traveling to Germany and Belgium After Passing Her Final Exam

Nate: Did you do anything big to celebrate or just what was it like, you know, getting your fourth score, knowing you were done.

Skylar: Uh, it was definitely nice to know that I was done. I also really wanted to get done with it, uh, far ahead of like the following tax season because I just wanted a break. Like, while the process was easy, not easy, but it was like manageable and doable and all of that, uh, I just still wanted like a break where I could just like do anything that I wanted and not have to worry or like, just go, just have work. Um, so that was important to me. And I did, luckily I did, I finished my exams I think [00:41:00] in July or something. Uh, June? No, yeah, I finished REG in June, so I had like a, a very decent amount of chunk between June and like when I got busy again. Um, my, um, fiance and I, we were just dating at the time, um, and we hadn’t been like, on a big trip together. Um, and so we both were like, okay, like we had been dating for a little while, then Covid happened, so like we didn’t really travel and stuff, so we booked a trip to go to Germany and Belgium. Um, so that was something, and then we actually got engaged over there, so that was really exciting.

Logan: Oh, awesome.

Nate: Awesome.

Skylar: Yeah.

Nate: Congrats.

Skylar: Thank you. So, um, yeah, that was definitely like, we knew that we wanted to do like a big trip after. Um, so that was something that we had to look forward to.

Nate: So was that like last fall? Somewhere between when you passed?

Skylar: Uh, now I’m trying to think of like, so I passed in June and then we went, we just went in December, so I had a few months in between. Yeah.

Logan: So just [00:42:00] last month you went, is that right?

Skylar: Just last month we were away. Yeah.

Logan: Okay.

Skylar: I know. It’s funny too the exam feels like it was so long ago, but it was only, it was less than a year ago.

Logan: It, I, I mean. It’s crazy how fast you just, your brain is fi is like I’m free. Like I, you don’t like, yeah.

Skylar: Yeah, It feels like a year a half. And it’s been half a year. Yeah.

Nate: I mean, when you’re not studying every day, it’s just, uh, yeah. It’s such a different thing that, uh, yeah, it’s just being done is like the biggest reward. It’s just so

Skylar: Yeah.

Nate: Just the, such a relief that don’t have to do that anymore.

Logan: So do you have your license? Like you have your license now.

Skylar: Yeah. I have my license. I think I got it in maybe October or November or something like that. Yeah.

Yeah. I had all the credits I needed. I had the work experience, so I was just waiting on passing the exams.

Skylar’s Top Tips for People Still Struggling with the CPA Exams

Nate: Let’s see. I think we’ve gone through everything. The last question I always ask is just even if it’s stuff we already covered, what would be your top two or three tips to people [00:43:00] that are trying to study and are having a hard time just struggling with the process?

Skylar: Yeah, um, definitely the 30 multiple choice questions. I think that that’s like probably the number one thing. And with that studying every day, like doing, oh, uh, something that I’ve heard you say before. Um, even if you don’t learn new material that day, do the 30, like, if you don’t have time for anything else, do 30 multiple choice cumulative questions. Um, because then you’re not losing information. Um, so I think that that is very important. Um, studying every day is very important. Um, and discipline definitely is important.


Nate: I mean I say this all the time, but there’s these key parts of it that solve a lot of problems in advance. Studying in the morning just solves a lot of problems in advance. The daily set of 30, same thing. And yeah, just being consistent, but that’s what the morning makes doable, anyways.

Skylar: Yeah. And also don’t be scared to do something different. Like I know that it’s [00:44:00] weird to think, like, don’t look at the video like, or, I mean not, don’t look at the videos, but like, you don’t have to waste time on the videos or like, you don’t have to waste time on reading things. I remember when I was first. So I obviously had not studied, um, another way, from the get go, studied this way. And so I like told the people in my, um, job like, oh yeah, I’m gonna, I’m not gonna watch the videos. And they were like, you’re not gonna pass the exams. I was like, okay. And then of course, like I passed the exams with almost flying colors, so it’s like very funny, like don’t be scared to do something that like you might originally think is like out of the box or something. Especially if what you’re doing is not working. Like if what you’re doing is not working, it’s not gonna all of a sudden start working.

Nate: Yes. Yeah, I unfortunately most people out there just think that just blindly putting in time is what will eventually get ’em there. And it’s possible, you know, to do that for, 10 years in some cases, and it still isn’t working, so.

Skylar: Yeah.

Nate: Skylar, I appreciate, well, I’m glad you emailed me so that I, you know, [00:45:00] even was aware of your story at all.

I’m glad you found us and that it helped, it made your study process, not easy, but it just makes it so it’s not this complete nightmare, right? That’s like the whole thing.

Skylar: Manageable.

Nate: So yeah, I appreciate you doing the interview and congrats on being done.

Skylar: Thank you. Yeah, I appreciate your tactics. It definitely helped. It, it’s crazy to me to think that it’s like already done and like now I have my whole career to not ever have to worry about it again. So I definitely appreciate it as well.

Nate: Yeah. That’s so awesome. Yeah.

Logan: All right. That was the interview with Skylar.

I really liked that interview. I think she had a lot of fantastic tips and I’m sure you found it helpful as well.

I love being able to see people from all kinds of different backgrounds coming and being able to pass the CPA exam. It just shows that no matter who you are. You can pass these exams if you put in the work and the effort. And if your strategies are effective.

Don’t forget to like, and put a comment in this YouTube video. Or leave a rating in the podcast app that you’d like [00:46:00] to use. Be sure to share the interview with anybody you know who is going through the CPA exam.

Thanks for watching or listening and we’ll see you in the next episode.

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