In this SuperfastCPA Reviews episode, you’ll hear Cody’s story about having several exams lapse, taking a few years off, and what he’s changed now that he’s passing his CPA exams using a much more manageable study process.
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- 00:00 – Intro
- 03:43 – Where Cody is at with his exams
- 04:18 – Where Cody’s CPA story began
- 04:43 – Passed 3 right away, and then…
- 05:16 – Starting again after 3 lapsed sections
- 05:44 – Cody’s big turning point
- 06:31 – “What brought you back to finishing your CPA?”
- 08:30 – Passed 3 the “normal way”, but what wasn’t working?
- 08:41 – One sentence summary of the “key” to passing FAR
- 09:14 – Why you shouldn’t solely rely on “checking the boxes” in your review course
- 09:52 – Even going through the “right” motions isn’t enough if you’re missing the strategic aspect
- 10:35 – How three 74’s on FAR feels
- 12:43 – Passing FAR the first time with his new study process
- 13:36 – Finding SuperfastCPA through this podcast
- 14:20 – Cody’s biggest “aha moments” in turning around his study process
- 18:25 – How Cody uses Excel instead of flashcards
- 19:20 – How Cody uses “mini sessions” for added progress, motivation, & momentum
- 21:21 – Don’t underestimate the effectiveness of studying from your phone in small chunks
- 22:02 – “mini sessions” AKA “retrieval practice”
- 22:33 – The obvious problem with the “normal way” of CPA study
- 24:28 – Things Cody would rather be doing than studying
- 24:46 – How Cody still fits in his hobbies
- 26:04 – Rundown of Cody’s daily process
- 29:41 – “The CPA exams can put you in a dark place…”
- 30:30 – The difference between the study process feeling “simple” or being a massive burden
- 31:06 – “You HAVE TO figure out your study process…”
- 31:35 – Know when to take a break
- 33:30 – Quick golf discussion tangent
- 34:55 – Cody’s final review process
- 35:57 – Cody’s lucky sweatshirt and other pre-exam rituals
- 38:21 – How Cody studies on the weekends
- 39:16 – Cody’s final top tips to current CPA candidates
- 45:18 – The most “interesting” CPA section?
Cody: After honestly, after the first one lapse, I was like, I need a break. I can’t. Like, emotionally, mentally, physically, I can’t keep doing this. And it, it, it was, it was, uh, it was a very tough call at the time.
Nate: Welcome to Episode 64 of the CPA exam experience podcast from SuperfastCPA. I’m Nate and in today’s interview, you’re gonna hear a conversation I had with Cody. Cody is one of our customers and he has really two segments or two distinct parts to his CPA exam journey. The first part, several years ago, he had the proverbial worst case scenario happened where he had several exams passed and then eventually lapsed. And he kinda swore off the exams. And then now a few years later, he’s come back to it. So the point of this interview is hearing the changes he’s made to his process. What he realized now, looking back that wasn’t working [00:01:00] or why the process was so burdensome and took so much time you know, the first time around. The changes he’s made to make the study process much more manageable, and he still has time to, you know, fit in his hobbies. The things that he actually likes doing so that this, this doesn’t become just such a, uh, a burdensome process. And it can, can be done, even though he’s working full-time. He’s got people who wants to hang out with, he’s got things he likes doing besides studying of course and how he’s making that all work. And so it’s a much different story the second time around. And so that is what you will hear on the interview with Cody. So before we get into the interview, I just wanna mention two things. First of all, if you find these episodes helpful, whether you’re watching these on YouTube or you’re listening to the audio version on a podcast platform, please take a second to share it with somebody that you know who’s also working on their CPA exams. Because these are the best free resource available for people [00:02:00] trying to figure out this process. Everything comes down to your daily study process and these episodes where you get to hear all these experiences from people that, you know, some people really struggled. Uh, some people just kind of started with our study strategies and so they just hit the ground running. But regardless, these episodes, we talked through everyone’s strategies and people do things differently, obviously. But then they’re also very common themes. That when someone figures out their study process, they’re doing the same kind of key things or their, the key ingredients are in place. So going on from that, if you have not taken the time yet, or this is the first episode you’ve come across, then the best place for you to start learning about our study framework and why our clients and customers get such good results and can actually maintain a, a work-study-life balance, and still have time to do the things they like doing [00:03:00] while crushing their exams at the same time. The best place to start is with one of our free study training webinars. That’s where we’ll walk you through the key kind of study framework. How to use your review course much more efficiently and effectively. Spend less time sitting in front of it each day, while getting better results. So you can click the button or the, there should be a link in the description if you’re watching this on YouTube. Or you can just go to our homepage at SuperfastCPA.com. It’s the main thing at the top of the homepage, you can click on, see the upcoming times and register for one of those sessions. So all that being said, let’s get into this interview with Cody. Yeah, look the your, so you’re halfway done, correct?
Cody: Halfway done. Yeah. So I, I’ve, I’ve, I’ve passed, um, FAR and I passed Audit.
Cody: And I sit for BEC in October, middle to end of October. And then I’ll schedule, uh, sorry, [00:04:00] REG for like December timeframe. Hoping to be done by the, by the end of the year.
Nate: Yeah. Well, you’re on track. Um, and where are you at with like how long have you been studying total? How, how long have you been out of school? Are you, just, yeah. What’s your whole?
Cody: Yeah. So I have been, so I, I graduated in 2015, um, and straight away started studying for the CPA. I was in, I was, uh, on the consulting side of big four. Um, so worked for EY for, for many years and, and, uh, did accounting computer science undergrad. So I was, you know, ripe, wanting to get my CPA, but it wasn’t a requirement. So that threw some wrenches into things. But yeah, I started studying right out of college. Um, passed, ended up passing, um, BEC, REG and Audit. And then I had FAR left. I got a 74, three times. I think you’ve heard this story before. And, uh, and then everything lapsed, you know, and it was [00:05:00] just like heartbreaking, but I was truly like, forget this. I don’t need it. Um, just yeah, really frustrated and like. Yeah, wrecked by it overall. Um, and so then I restarted studying about this, uh, January last year and I sat for FAR, um, in like June or no, May timeframe. And then, yeah, it had been rolling ever since.
Nate: Sorry. So when you came back to it just now, did you pass that first, you came back to FAR and you passed that?
Cody: Yeah. So I’m two for two in this new, this new wave of testing. Yeah. So, um, I, and the question has been asked, but like I, SuperfastCPA like, was I think that big difference maker for me and I, we can get into, um, how I was studying and what didn’t work. I mean, honestly, I’m probably, I’ve listened to a number of [00:06:00] these, these episodes, a lot of them, in fact. But I’m a pretty generic test case, right? Like I went Becker straight through. I checked all the boxes. I made sure it said complete and then I moved on. And then I’d come back at the end and realize I have no idea what I’m doing and, uh, take the test and fail the test. And it was rinse and repeat so.
Nate: Well, yeah. So before we get into that, the question I had, so you have several years after you passed three and then they all lapsed. What brought you back to the CPA career-wise? I, I mean, I guess just whatever, whatever the reason was, what brought you back to wanting to do, uh, do it?
Cody: Yeah. Um, I mean, I think a lot of it is just resiliency, ambition, trying to, you know, make sure that I’m doing the most now that to, to pay dividends in my career going forward. But more than anything, it was for me, you know? Like this was something that I, it [00:07:00] broke me in like back years ago. So I was like, really, you know, tormented of if this was the right thing. I had a couple mentors tell me that, like that it was a sizeable gap on my resume. Going to EY, going to big four and not having a CPA to show for it, was a sizeable gap. And so, um, all those factors combined is really what caused me to want to pursue it again. And so, yeah.
Nate: Yeah. That’s kind of the, I mean, that was a big thing for me was, I viewed the CPA as like, if you go into accounting, you essentially done, I mean, the whole, essentially the whole reason you did your undergrad and then a masters or the equivalent was just for the opportunity to even take these exams. And so, yeah, it was like, okay I’m, I’m passing these exams. Like I’m not gonna not do this. Cause I came this far [00:08:00] just to take these, so. Yeah, you probably just summarized it. When you, when you passed the first three, you were just doing the traditional study approach and spending a ton of time and. I mean, you passed three that way. And it, uh.
Cody: Yeah, so. Sorry, go ahead.
Nate: Yeah, I think we have like a one second delay. And so like I’ll wind up saying something. Yeah. Anyways, go ahead whatever you were gonna say.
Cody: Yeah. Um, so I, so yeah, so I did end up passing three, um, ineffectively is what I would say like, or inefficiently is what I would say. FAR though, that’s where, like the, the real understanding comes out. I think though, because it’s such a major test. It’s such a huge amount of content that you can’t like, you, you have to go back and rereview constantly. If you don’t, you’re gonna forget. And honestly, like, [00:09:00] I wasn’t great with my journal entries. I wasn’t great with my T, T, T-accounts. And so it was a lot of fundamental immaturity, maybe. In my, in my knowledge of the content that led me to fail. And so as I would go through it, of course I was doing everything that Becker was telling me to do but it was just going in one ear, out the other. And I didn’t have the, maybe awareness to say, like, I’m not retaining this information well enough to be able to, um, translate it on the exam. Because you can take these, you can do each of the modules, you can do each of the sections and think you’re getting it. And then when they put it a little bit different in the question, all of a sudden, you don’t know the concept at all and you then panic and then everything goes down the hill from there. So.
Nate: Yeah. No, that is a huge thing. Um, and obviously, you’ve probably heard me talk about this endlessly if you’ve listened to a bunch of the podcast, but it’s, there’s just a [00:10:00] kind of the way that review courses present the information, or basically it’s the assumption is kind of, your only, uh, your only tool in this process is time spent studying. You know, just like, watch the video again, do more questions. And it’s never really taught to people to like, you also need to be strategically assessing your own process. Basically, basically what you just kind of mentioned there, that, the kinda the difference. So you, you get the three 74’s and I’m assuming your mindset at that point was just like, I’ve spent all the time I can spend. I’m, I mean, I, I guess I just can’t pass this or is that basically what happened at that point?
Cody: Yeah. Yeah, basically. Um, it was, I mean, you know, of course I sent it to the, the local accounting board and I said, are the, [00:11:00] there are, what, what’s the word I’m looking for? Like, had them relook at it, or I rebuttaled or whatever. But, um, I, I sent it to them twice and both times they came back with Sorry, but it’s still 74. Like, absolutely brutal. And so, yeah. Um, and so after that first one lapse, first one was REG and then it was BEC and then it was Audit. And I was just like, after, honestly, after the first one lapse, I was like, I need a break. I can’t. Like emotionally, mentally, physically, I can’t keep doing this. And it, it, it was, it was a, it was a very tough call at the time. And, uh, something that, yeah, I’ve regretted since. And so that’s obviously why I came back and to do it, but yeah. Yeah. 74’s man. Those are the, the real, those, those ones kill you the most in doing it, getting it three times was like, you know?
Nate: Yeah, that’s. How long, um, how [00:12:00] long would you, did you restudy between those three? I guess the two, so the first one and then being between the other two retakes.
Cody: Yeah, that’s a good question. I did two back-to-back. So it was, so it was probably a month and a half, I would say between the first and the second attempt. Like, it was, go, go through the material at a high level looking at my notes. Instead of like reading the chapters, not listening to the lectures anymore, because I felt like I knew the material. I’m running, you know, practice questions. A lot of task-based simulations, which is a huge piece of the, of what I’ve cut down on. Um, as part of my, my new study strategy. But yeah, so that’s the general timeline.
Nate: Now, did you say one of these two that you’ve passed now is FAR?
Cody: Yeah. Yeah. So that was the first one that I took. I wanted to make sure that that was fully out before my time started. So, um, yeah, I took, took FAR and got an 87 and couldn’t [00:13:00] have been more excited for that. So.
Nate: Sweet. Yeah. I mean, I think you’ve got it handled at this point, so that’s, that’s awesome. So, when you came back now this time, uh, when did, at what point did you come across our, I’m assuming you watched our free training initially. That’s like where everyone starts.
Cody: Yeah. Yeah. So it was actually, I got relatively lucky. It was at the beginning. I had, had probably gone through maybe two of the subsections in, in FAR. Um, so two of the ten or whatever. Um, and then I came across Superfast by, I think it was this podcasts. I was looking up CPA podcasts, just trying to get inspired. And then I found, found super, your podcasts. Listened to a couple episodes, was like, this guy knows what he’s talking about. Clearly I’m doing this inefficiently. And so then I started, then I did the free class and then it was from there. I just purchased it. So, [00:14:00] um, yeah. Yeah, it was, it was definitely, but I, I, I like clearly didn’t learn from the first time because I started doing like, literally end to end just again, and it was taking hours that I didn’t have. And so then I was like this has to change. So.
Nate: Yeah. So, uh, what, what would you say was like the biggest difference or maybe like the top two or three things that, I don’t know, you, I think you mentioned, so you, you’ve gone in and watched the pro videos then, right?
Cody: I have. I have.
Nate: Yeah. There’s the free training and then like the pro videos. The actual course is just a lot more in depth. So what, what were the main two or three Aha Moments or big changes you made and how you study now?
Cody: Yeah, so, I mean, first one, biggest one is definitely taking the, the, doing the questions first. Like that is very, very helpful and I still watch most of the [00:15:00] lectures. Um, but I can, you know, I can adjust how I’m, uh, learning from those lectures. And so I haven’t cut it out, the lectures, in totality. But just because I’ve given myself enough, uh, runway to have that time. So I’m not time bound. I don’t have to get it done in three weeks. Otherwise you couldn’t really watch the lectures. So that’s one, is the, the questions. Um, the two is maybe the, the notes or the, you, you talked a lot about the flashcards. Flashcards aren’t really my, my preferred method. I definitely, I have a, I have an Excel workbook that I use as my like final review. And so anything that strikes me, anything that I struggle with, any kind of formulas that I need to be able to, um, retain, I write them down in this workbook and then I reviewed that. Uh, each of the modules after each of, like that’s part of my, uh, I’m sorry, part of my like, study routine. So I do a section of questions, plus the videos if I have time. [00:16:00] I do a 30 question, a 30 question uh, test or mini tests. And then I review my, my subsection for the week or for the day. Sorry. I just said another one right there. That, that is key and that is doing that 30 question refresher of all of the material. Right? That’s you as well. So, really it’s the questions. How I’m addressing the, the multiple choice questions and that has been night and day difference on the tests. I find myself finishing the, the multiple choice, parts of the exam in, very, very quickly. In under, definitely under two hours, probably more like an hour and a half. That’s, allows me, you know, to have significant amount of time on the test based simulations. Which are more difficult for me to like apply the knowledge. And so having that longer runway has, has given me a lot more, if nothing else, more confidence going into those, uh, the test based simulation sections, to be able [00:17:00] to say like, you’re good. Just breathe. No worries. If you need to go get water, take water. You’re not time bound. You’re not crunched for anything, so, yeah,
Nate: Yeah. Yeah, that is the, uh, that’s like the number one test day strategy for sims. Like, regardless of how you actually approach the sims is just leaving two hours plus, because they’re going to be, there will at least be a few that are confusing, that are different than anything you’ve seen in your review course. And so really your only, uh, your only weapon against that is tons of time. So that you’re not stressed out. You’re not trying to rush through it. And, and doing all the, MCQs in your daily process. So again, you’ve probably heard me say this on other episodes, but just the whole approach just kind of solves all these problems in advance. That’s really what, what it’s all about. Um, [00:18:00] getting really fast at the MCQs. Because on test day they’re just all kinds of advantages. If you’re, if the MCQs are, like easy and you breeze through them, that’s half the test. And then the hardest part about the sims is the, the time constraints, trying to figure all that out. You know. Map out the little documents or whatever. Anyways.
Cody: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Agreed.
Nate: Um, and then the other thing you said was, uh, oh, you said you have an Excel workbook instead of flashcards. And, and that is, the flashcards is more just like a, a medium. Really the important thing is that you’re taking, just like you said, concepts. Whatever it is that you personally struggled to either understand or you keep forgetting it for some reason. And you put those in your own words somewhere that you can review later. That’s just a, that’s a huge piece versus just using the flashcards that came [00:19:00] with your review course over and over. Those are written by an accountant. Like it’s easy to look at those. And be like, oh yeah, I get this. But all you’re doing is memorizing like flashcards written by somebody else. You’re not taking the concepts and forcing yourself to actually understand it. So.
Cody: Yeah. And, and the last piece that is like night and day difference, I think for me is that are, are the, the little mini quizzes. The five question quizzes, like, even though I run into, you know, having seen the same question many times. Like it, it, it makes me feel like I’m learning something all the time, if that makes sense. And so, like, I, I think it is really helpful and it helps me to like, retain certain aspects of the, the content for the section. But I think more than anything, it helps me to like, stay motivated and take bite-sized chunks of, the of the, of the, of the test and [00:20:00] study process, you know? So if, even if I have to, I, I can’t sit for, I have things going on or I’m busy for whatever reason, I can’t study. Like at least I can do a couple of these things. And then I’m at least looking at the material. I’m keeping it fresh. I’m keeping it, um, in the, in the top, top of mind. So at least I’m thinking about, um, the content throughout the day.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah, there is a, uh, it’s not like I thought of this on my own or anything, but I just, I did that when I studied. Um, strictly out of necessity because my first attempt at FAR, I, I had seven hours a day all day before I started my first job. And I failed that. I got a 74. And then after that I was like, okay, I have two hours in the morning, so what am I gonna do to like, use that two hours? And then I would just take quizzes relentlessly on my phone. Um, and Wiley’s app back in the day was just like dead simple. [00:21:00] But it was perfect. And now they’ve changed it to where you have to go through all these options just to start a quiz. And so people just don’t end up using it in these two minute chunks because it takes two minutes to like set up a quiz. So that’s why I make ours like extremely simple. There’s like only three possible things you can even click on. So that two taps and you’re taking a quiz. Cause it is, it’s like, it’s huge to just chip away at it. Like every time you have a few minutes and I think a lot of people discount that idea, like, what am I really accomplishing, you know, studying for two minutes at a time? But you keep making those uh, connections. Yeah, just like you said, there’s just a huge benefit to that.
Cody: Really adds up. And I, you say it in a couple of the videos, but it’s like truly that, uh, like you want the quickest way to get from a 74 to a 75 is just plug those things. Keep it top of mind, keep thinking about it and it’s gonna be effective. [00:22:00] So.
Nate: Yeah. And there’s all these studies. Apparently there’s a, it’s like an actual, I don’t know what you would call it. That, well, neuro. Jeez, neuroscientists or whatever people who study modes of learning. They refer to that as a retrieval learning. And they, they talk about I’ve, I’ve linked to it to an article a few times from different posts or episodes. But they talk about how it’s dramatically more effective and they’ve done all these studies on it. Two groups of students that take one long, like study session and cover the whole topic and then take a test on it like a few weeks later. And the other group, I mean, it’s, it sounds obvious when you explain it. If you look at something multiple times in small chunks a day, it’s just dramatically more effective. Whereas again, that’s one of those, the issues with the traditional study approaches. [00:23:00] One lesson, which is a huge amount of information. And then the next day you move on to a new mountain of information and it’s essentially like replacing it all in your short-term memory. And then by the time you get to the exam, you’re weeks removed from the first half of the stuff you covered. So it’s just like, it makes sense why it only works for about half of people across the board.
Cody: Yeah. I mean, but you said it right there, right? It was, it is so simple, but yet that’s how we learn our whole lives is, is that method. And then it, you take it into your study, your CPA studying same way. Right? I did, I studied the same way throughout my, all of my education. So of course I had just applied that to how I’m studying or trying to study for the CPA. And that didn’t work. So it’s like, I wish I would’ve had this approach for like college. That would have been sweet.
Nate: Right. Yeah. So what, what is a, uh, I [00:24:00] guess kind of two things like what are your, um, your life gets in the way type things like, what do you have to work around outside of work to find time to study and then just going along with that? Like, what is a day of studying look like for you? Like when do you study? Um, if you use the study tools on your phone throughout the day, like, what does that all look like? What is a typical study day for you?
Cody: Yeah. So the first question, what gets, like life gets in the way. I, I think it’s, it’s pretty standard stuff. I, you know, I have a significant other, my, my fiance, she, she takes time for sure. And so like, um, that, family, fun, friends, like everything gets in the way. Um, you know, in the winter I ski, in the summer, I golf. So like that all I have to figure out a way to still keep my sanity and do these fun things. While, making sure that [00:25:00] I’m hitting my marks for the, the day. And like, I can share this for sure. My, my solver. My, my thing for the ski season is I, I listened to, um, all of the, it takes about an hour and a half, two hours to get to the mountain from my, my, my house. And so I listened to the, um, audio recordings all the way there and all the way home. And that’s my like, all right, I did it for the day. It might not be exactly the, I’m not learning new material, but at least I did something for the day and I feel accomplished that I’m keeping it top of mind. And sometimes that really helps. Um, golf kinda similarly, like I, if I’m playing by myself, I will just listen to it while I’m on the course. And I don’t mind that at all. Um, but, uh, those are the kind of the, the get in the way things. And I think that everyone kind of runs into something similar. Um, maybe, like the, the saving grace that I have is I don’t have kids. And so, like, I can’t imagine having, having young children running around while trying to [00:26:00] study for these sections. So anyway. Yeah. So those are my getting the way. Uh, my process though, I’m a morning studier. Always have been, so that just translated really well. Um, so I am up by, up by 5:30. Um, studying, fortunately I’m working from home these days. So, it’s, doesn’t take a whole lot for me to get out of bed and get to the desk to start my study routine coffee in hand. Um, study, start by 5:30. Done by, uh, sorry. Maybe I should say, I immediately start with the next section or sub subsection or whatever you wanna say. So, um, I, I, I space my tests so that I can have one week per section. So if there’s 10 sections of the exam, like FAR, I have 10 weeks to study. It’s probably not everybody’s cup of tea, but that’s how, like, it helps me break it up in my head of like what needs to get done for that period. And so I will either, uh, do one [00:27:00] section, one subset. Oh, sorry. Like the section, subsection is so hard to follow, but like, uh, um.
Nate: It’s Becker, right? I’ve, I’m kinda familiar with how Becker’s laid out. Yeah.
Cody: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So I’ll do, I’ll do the questions. I will either watch the video. If the video is over an hour, typically I save it for the weekend or don’t watch it, honestly. Or I skip to the parts that I struggled in the questions just cause it’s, it’s too much of the time and then I wouldn’t get to my 30 questions. So if it’s shorter, probably 20 minutes or less, 30 minutes or less, I’ll watch the video at that time. I will then do my 30 questions, which usually takes me between 15 and 20 minutes. Um, and then I will rereview my notes from the day, um, or for the section we’ll say. And then, uh, that’s pretty much it for my morning session. Um, I carve out half hour during the day. Like a dedicated half hour to do either one of reading pages [00:28:00] of the, of the notes. Um, doing, uh, uh, potentially more, uh, sections of the, my study materials just in case or lists or doing the little mini quizzes. I probably ended up doing probably five or six mini quizzes throughout the day. And then usually I have, so now I’m at like two hours in the morning. Probably a total of half hour, 45 minutes throughout the day. And then at, in the evenings, if I need to catch up or maintain my, um, you know, where I’m at for the week, then I will have an extra session in the evening. Usually if they’re, if I’m on track, which usually it’s pretty close. Um, I will just do another 30 question section and then call it, call it quits. Usually done by, you know, I’ll get off work at 5:36. Usually done by seven, I would say. Um, with setting for the evening and then rinse and repeat, do it again the next day.
Nate: Yeah. And it is really [00:29:00] nice to.. Once you have like that daily process that works and especially like, you know, it’s working, it’s working really well. Now. And once you’ve like, kind of accomplished it for the day, you just don’t have to think about it for the rest of the evening. And, you know, it’s just, then you get to have that like mental break instead of always grinding and dreading. I think the worst thing is probably like when you got those three 74’s. Like, the worst thing about this is if you’re putting in all this time and effort and it’s just like not paying off. That’s when this gets really, uh, I don’t know, depressing or just really frustrating, obviously.
Cody: Yeah, man. I mean, the, the CPA can put you in a dark place is what I would say. And so to anybody listening to this, that is in that dark place, like, it gets better. Keep grinding and like push through it. So, um, that’s kind of, I, I was there. I was like, you know, what is, why am I doing accounting? I don’t, like, does it [00:30:00] really make me excited? Do I really love it that much? I can’t even pass these things. And then it starts making you question, but it’s not accounting. We’re talking about a test. Right? You need regurgitate information. And so, like, that’s tough. That’s a tough, like cog in your brain that like doesn’t click after enough of these beat downs. And so like, yeah. So I would say. For sure, I’m with you in terms of like the, the, the mental drag.
Nate: Yeah. And then on the flip side, when you, once you, again, once you have a process, like there’s no easy buttons on this, obviously. It’s gonna take time, dedicated focus. You have to like, keep your head in the game all the time. Uh, but once you have a process that’s working, you know, it’s, it’s momentum. And so like. It’s almost. I say I got to the point where I almost looked forward to like my morning study sessions, just [00:31:00] because I knew it was working. I just knew if I keep doing this day after day. I’m gonna pass these exams and be done. Whereas again, it’s really hard to sit down and study for hours every day. If you just feel like you’re spinning your wheels and what you’re doing, like isn’t working. And so it’s much easier to do it everyday if you have this sense of progress, which yeah, that’s, that’s why I’m always talking about, you have to figure out your study process. It’s not, you don’t just throw endless time at this. It’s, you have to be like strategic, figure out, make sure what you’re doing is working.
Cody: And I, I would also say and to that point, is like finding that balance of, I know I have to finish these seven topic areas for the week in my study, study schedules. Remain, remain on track. But if I’m not, if I’m no longer like cognitively understanding what’s going on or I’m just like fried? Do something else, change it up, take some of these quizzes. Like, it’s [00:32:00] not working, don’t spin your wheels. Don’t waste your time. And of course there’s a balance there, right? You have to get through the material somehow. So figure it out. But, uh, that was one area that I found super helpful was the first time I started taking these exams that I would just, you know, I’d force myself to sit there until it was done. And like, looking back, like how silly or how foolish was that to like force myself to sit there for hours on end. Realizing in the moment that I’m really not understanding what’s going on. But if I just watch this, it’ll somehow just be there when I need it in a month, you know?
Nate: Yeah, yeah. Yup, and then, uh, I liked what you said about listening to the audio notes when you’re skiing. An interview, I did yesterday. Uh, he was talking about how he’ll go mountain biking and he just listens to the audios, while he mountain bikes. And like, well, I mean, I get why, and that’s, it’s awesome that you can still be making [00:33:00] progress and do something. It doesn’t sound like the funnest thing in the world. Like listening to my voice, talk about accounting while you’re mountain biking. But, it the, the point there is, you can be making progress with using study tools as you go out and still do some of the things that you liked doing. Like, you don’t have to just completely close off everything, all your hobbies, you know, for six months, while you get these exams done, like you can be doing both. So.
Cody: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.
Nate: Yeah. Uh, do you golf quite a bit? I’m a huge golfer.
Cody: Are you a huge golfer? I’m not very good to be honest with you. I, uh, I, I started golfing probably 3, 4, 5 years ago, and I’ve gotten down to, I, I broke 90 this summer. That was my big accomplishment for the summer, but that’s what I’m saying I’m not very good.
Nate: No, I’ll be like, you can go out and play and not lose balls every other hole. Like that’s when it gets real fun. Yeah.[00:34:00]
Cody: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah exactly. I would say I’m about I’m, I’m about there. My biggest issue though, is that I love to hit the long ball. So I’ve, I always bring out the, the driver and then, uh, I haven’t, haven’t quite learned course management. So, I put myself into trouble a lot. Feel like Bryson out there.
Nate: I’ve just admitted to myself. I would rather like hit a 330 yard drive than pretty much anything else. So, if I lose one once in a while doing that, there’s just nothing like hitting the driver. So, that’s hilarious. That’s exactly.
Cody: I, I like to live by the motto: Layups are for basketball. So.
Nate: Yeah, I didn’t come out here to layup. Exactly.
Nate: Um, that is funny. So, what about your, uh, we talked about your process for taking notes. What about the, um, the few days before an [00:35:00] exam? If you, if you wanna call it a final review or do you use the little mega cram session thing? Like how, how do you just, how do you do the last few days before an exam?
Cody: Yep. So I do have the final review for Becker. And that actually is, is a, is a product. I don’t know. I’m not trying to tote other products here, but is a product that I would encourage people to get because it’s, it’s definitely helpful. Um, and it, it just consolidates it. So I can do the, I can get through that entire book in probably two days, three days. And so let’s say I’m out a week or so from exam day, I will make sure to get through that final review. Anything in that final review that doesn’t click immediately, I write it down and I go back to, um, either the section or the notes or the, you know, wherever it is that finally allows me to make it click. And so I would do that. Honestly, I’m kind of a headcase. A couple days before I get into a very, like, stable state and I have to keep it. [00:36:00] Like, I have rituals of where I, what I do like night before. Like I have a sweatshirt that I wear for every exam, it just, you know and, like, I’m not lying.
Nate: That’s hilarious.
Cody: Like, I’m, I played baseball growing up, so I’m like quite superstitious. I’m a little stitious. And so, yeah, so I, I like, I have a routine. I have what I eat in the morning before my exams. I have, you know, uh, I have a specific exam location. I mean, there aren’t that many, like Prometric places in my area, but like I have one that I go to and I know like, I’m not gonna go somewhere else. I would wait an extra amount of time to, to go to this one specific location because it’s working. So why mess it up?
Nate: That’s funny. The, the interview, I just did. Like, couple of hours ago and we’ll publish that next week or something. But she was saying that, once she got her study process figured out, and then she just felt like she was ahead of schedule and wanted like good vibes before her [00:37:00] first exam or, her first exam once she really felt like she knew what she was doing. So she had like a cookout with friends, drank a beer, and she’s like the whole time she was saying she was really super superstitious. So she was like, now, before each of my exams, I get my friends together and have a beer the night before and. Like she went four for four after she was doing that. It’s just, it’s funny.
Cody: I should’ve said a more fun ritual. That’s what I’m trying to say now.
Nate: You could add that in while you wear your sweatshirt.
Cody: Yeah. Yeah, for sure.
Nate: Okay. So you use the uh, I’m assuming you also go through your Excel spreadsheet where you’ve collected kind of all your struggle areas, right?
Cody: Yeah. Yeah. I definitely leverage that more during the daily, like daily process. Rather than the, the final review. I do call it my final review spreadsheet, but I don’t go, you know, tab by [00:38:00] tab. That would take too much time. And again, it wouldn’t be super effective for me. Um, so I do like reference it, but I don’t go end to end on that. In that workbook. At the end. There and like that week leading up.
Nate: Yeah. Uh, and then how do you study on the weekends? Is it any different than what you do on the weekdays?
Cody: Yeah, definitely different. Um, I focus a lot of my time on multiple choice or not multiple choice, uh, task-based simulations on the weekends. So, well, first, if there’s any sections that didn’t get done during the week, which is pretty rare, I’m usually pretty diligent. Um, in which case I take one Saturday or Sunday. Get up in the morning and probably spend three, four hours and do the TBS’s for the section. Um, anything that isn’t clicking, again, go back and rereview that. But I usually spend a day or I take one of the days to like decompress as like a free day. For sure.
Nate: The last thing I kind of [00:39:00] ask is, uh, what would be your top two or three tips to someone who’s currently, like someone who is like putting in a bunch of time, but really struggling with the process? Even if it’s stuff we already covered, like, what would be your top two or three tips to people?
Cody: Well, number one, tip is buy your product and trust the process because no, I’m just kidding. But like seriously, like there’s no reason to be putting in insane hours. You’re not retaining the information and unless the test is in a week and you haven’t started studying, in which case you should probably reschedule that test anyway. Like, there’s no reason for you to be grinding that hard, studying that hard, um, if you plan accordingly. And so tip, tips, I would say, trust the process. I, in terms of breaking it into bite-sized chunks daily. Uh, second tip, make time for yourself. Like it’s a, it’s a [00:40:00] tough thing and not many people understand it. And so find a community of folks that, even if it’s on Reddit or, you know, people that you don’t actually know, or even Superfast. Like the chats, like sometimes there’s good stuff in there. Um, but, like find a community that, that can sympathize, if nothing else, with what you’re going through and just be, um, open with them about what you need, uh, in terms of support or, Hey, I’m gonna go dark for the next month. It’s nothing personal type idea. So take time for yourself and keep, keep people that are in your corner around you. Other than that, I would say, like, we covered a lot of what I do and I think that’s been working. So those would be kind of my tips, but.
Nate: Yeah, well two not, not two questions, I have one question on that. But I liked what you said earlier about, uh, doing something each day, even if it’s just with like study tools or reviewing your own notes. [00:41:00] Or, like you said, you’re gonna go skiing, but you listened to the audios. I mean and, you end up, that’s like four hours total. So I mean that’s highly worthwhile or highly valuable study time you’re putting in. And then, uh, what I was going to ask was, when you mentioned finding like a community, did you, because a few times people have said they, they were part of like a very specific like Facebook group, like for, uh, like moms that were studying for the CPAs, CPA exams. Or do you, do you go on Reddit a lot? You mentioned Reddit. For on the CPA sub Reddit or?
Cody: You know, I peruse, I wouldn’t say I follow it or anything too crazy. Um, I’m fortunate that I have, uh, a number of friends that are also big four and have gone through something similar. So, I’m fortunate to have that community. Um, but I would say like, I do go on Reddit on occasion and just to see, especially after like test releases. [00:42:00] It’s always nice to hear people, Hey, I, you know, share their story. Like, I struggled with this one part and I got an 87. I got a 74 three times and I got an 87 on FAR. Like, I did it. I made it. Like, and just sharing that, that like celebration I guess. Like it’s, I, I really, it, that’s, that part’s great. Reddit can be tough. These other forums can be tough because sometimes it turns into like more of a sob story type, type thing. And, um, I, I, like, like that can be tough, right? If it’s constructive and they’re looking for, you know, how did you overcome this hurdle? Great. Love it. But as soon as like, it’s unfair. Like woe is me, then that’s kinda where I check out.
Nate: So that’s, that’s partly because it, partly why I was asking about Reddit. If there was maybe some other sub Reddit I wasn’t aware of. But when I look on like the CPA sub Reddit, it just seems like people [00:43:00] mostly just complaining like about just about how stupid the exams are and like, blah, blah, blah. And it’s kind of like, well, even if all that’s true. I mean, this is still like, you either pass these or you don’t. So anyways, that’s kinda what I, that’s kind of why I was asking about Reddit specifically is. At least that one sub Reddit.
Cody: Yeah. And I’ve seen it also on, on like some Facebook forums as well. Like I think that’s everywhere. And so just filtering that out, keeping that in mind. I mean, I would not, I would never look at like the CPA subreddit, like the day before an exam. Like that would stress me out. So, do it at your own, own, uh, at your own pace, but yeah. It’s a good, it’s a good resource if nothing else, just to have somebody that’s going through something that you’re going through. So.
Nate: Yeah. Well, and that’s, uh, with this, did you say you had listened to several of these episodes before, or like during, [00:44:00] just in the last year or so?
Cody: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I started listening, uh, on occasion, like starting in January.
Nate: Oh, you said that’s how you found this actually. Was the podcast.
Nate: Yeah. Okay. Yeah, when we started that, I mean, I didn’t really have, I don’t know. I didn’t really have goals for like the podcast. But, that was one unintended thing that we just get constantly is how, uh, motivating it is. Just to hear someone’s complete story arc, like. They, they may or may not have struggled in the beginning. And then there’s all the study tips about, you know, I passed all four. This is exactly how I studied. This is what would work. But a lot of the stories, you know, there’s this period of like struggle first and just have it, just people hearing that. And there’s all these, depending on like who you are, there’s just striking similarities. Different episodes you identify with. And, uh, I don’t know. That’s one thing we hear constantly about these episodes. That’s why we keep [00:45:00] doing it, because it’s just a, just a really good resource. Yeah. Okay. Well, we’ve kind of gone through everything. So, so you’ve passed FAR and which, what’s the other one?
Cody: Audit, audit.
Nate: Nice. So you just have to be, which one are you doing next? I know you said this I just forgot.
Cody: Yeah, BEC in October and then I’ll do REG in December timeframe-ish. So. Yeah. BEC, I’m not terribly concerned about. I’m uh, you know it, like internal controls is kind of what I’ve done for a lot of my career. IT stuff. Like economic, uh, yeah. Uh, all of the material, like if I was gonna say I’m comfortable with any of the material, it’d be BEC. So I’m excited to, like, and I also think it’s the most interesting material to learn. I think there’s a lot of people that would disagree with that statement, but that and then REG. And yeah, REG is REG. It’ll be a lot of, that will, will be a lot more flashcards and a lot more just [00:46:00] memorization stuff, but.
Nate: Yeah, but if you got, uh, if you got an 87 on FAR. You know, you just do that. Like you, you have your process down. And so, it’s just, yeah, it’s just execution at this point and doing it every day and yeah, you’ll be done, so. Well. Yeah. I’m, I’m glad, uh, I’m glad our stuff could help. And that you found our, found our podcasts. I guess that’s another benefit of the podcast. We’ve found, I mean, a lot of people have found us that way. So yeah. I appreciate you doing the call. It was awesome to meet you and yeah, congrats on being done with two and well, on your way.
Cody: Thank you. And I would say to you, like, thanks for doing these man. Like the, it, the pro, the, the, the product itself is, is awesome. And like, it’s, it’s helping more people than I think you even know. So just, yeah. Thank you.
Nate: Yeah. That’s good to hear. Yeah. I, I love getting on here and like hearing these full, when, you know, like talking with [00:47:00] our actual customers and. Hearing people’s full stories has been really cool too. So, so yeah, I appreciate you saying that. So that was the interview. I’m sure you found that very helpful, motivating, inspiring, all the above. If you did find it helpful, again, please take a second to share this episode with someone you know who is also working on their exams. And if you haven’t yet, sign up for one of our free study trainings. So thank you for watching or listening and we will see you on the next episode.