In this SuperfastCPA reviews episode, you’ll hear Jessica’s story of going through years of CPA exam frustration, and then the key CPA study breakthroughs that are helping her now pass CPA exam sections.
Table of Contents
- Learn our “ultra-efficient” CPA study methods here…
- Enter the free podcast giveaway…
- See CPA score release dates here…
- How to study for the CPA exams…
- 00:00 SuperfastCPA Reviews with Drew
- 04:29 The Beginning of Drew’s CPA Journey
- 10:17 “How do you do this for a living?”
- 14:11 “I wish I was studying the right way…”
- 16:42 Gaining Momentum and Traction Throughout the Process
- 19:45 From Free Study Webinar to Pro Course
- 21:58 Executing the SuperfastCPA Methods
- 28:04 Why Drew’s Previous Study Process Wasn’t Working
- 32:33 Drew’s Routine on the Weekends
- 35:07 When Drew’s Study Process Started to “Click”
- 44:17 From an Illness to Scoring a 74
- 45:48 Setting Goals as a Reward and Motivation
- 52:17 Tips for Struggling CPA Candidates
SuperfastCPA Reviews: Drew’s Interview Transcript
Drew: And I mean, it is, it’s funny too cause it behaviorally and really to your point, it really helped me having a complete overall change in my behavior and how I look at things. Um, and as a result of this program, I mean complete overall, uh, I was definitely, um, somebody before, I guess the best way I could put it as I was really good at getting by very effectively without really doing as much work. So yeah, 2019 is when it was, uh, it was very, very, very strange. I don’t know what was happening and something, I got on YouTube for some reason, and one of your ads popped up and it was exactly what I needed to hear in that moment. And part of that was, um, and so at that point, uh, signed up for the, I think it was the preview class or preview webinar, and I was sold immediately. I was like, how has something so simple, eluded my thought process and thinking over all these years. And it made, it made something seem so easy that seemed previously near impossible. And for me it was all in my mind. It was all my mindset.
And, and so the relief that came from knowing what I had accomplished in the first two hours of the day and then having those wins, those wins throughout the day as big or small as they were, it was, it was a win for me. Because I knew that if I could do that, I mean, what, what, what else could I do, right?
Nate: Welcome to episode 86 of the CPA exam experience podcast from SuperfastCPA. I’m Nate. And in today’s interview, you’re going to hear me talk with Drew. So Drew started working with his dad at his dad’s accounting firm and Drew eventually knew that he needed to go back and get his CPA as he dealt with clients every day and kind of became the face of their firm.
And so you know, at this point he was into his career, Drew was obviously working a lot, had a full family at home with kids, really busy and studying after work was just not working. And he would go through periods of really getting dedicated, trying to put in the time and then it just would, would not work or it was too hard to continue.
And then at some point he saw one of our YouTube ads, watched our free training and got the idea of studying two hours in the morning, locking that in and from there with the consistency, he was able to just make breakthrough after breakthrough in the study process itself. And now he’s done with the CPA exams.
So this will be a very tactical interview, meaning we’re going to get into the study strategies and kind of go point by point about his breakthroughs and the things from our training and our pro course that really worked for him and made things finally click. And he largely stopped watching video lectures or reading the chapter.
You know, if you’re a longtime listener, you kind of know how our study process goes. So if you have struggled with implementing the study process or just figuring out your own study process, this is going to be a very valuable interview because like I said, it’s very heavy on the strategy. We go back and forth talking about the specific strategies, why they work and kind of the mindset behind them or what really makes them click or what makes them work.
So before we get into the interview, I mentioned earlier again, the main thing or the first thing that most of the people that end up on these interviews really started with with us is those free study training webinars. So you can sign up for one of those at SuperfastCPA on our main homepage is the thing at the top of the homepage and then our free podcasts giveaway.
So each month we give away three pairs of Powerbeats Pro headphones. You can sign up for that at superfastcpa.com/enter or if you’re watching this on YouTube, there should be a link down in the description, or even in the show notes or the little description of the episode on apple podcasts or wherever you’re listening to this.
So with that out of the way, let’s get into the interview with Drew.
Drew: Yeah, that sounds great.
Nate: Yeah. It’s nice to meet you face-to-face somewhat.
The Beginning of Drew’s CPA Journey
Nate: Um, I looked back through my emails and it was a, it was 2019 when we sent a few emails back and forth. Is that when you kind of did the study process?
Drew: Correct. Correct. Yeah. So yeah, 2019 is when it was, uh, it was very, very, very strange. I don’t know what was happening and something, I got on YouTube for some reason, and one of your ads popped up and it was exactly what I needed to hear in that moment. And part of that was, um, and so at that point, uh, signed up for the, I think it was the preview class or preview webinar, and I was sold immediately. I was like, how has something so simple, eluded my thought process and thinking over all these years. And got home that day and, and I had a six, no about it almost a year old.
So we a one-year-old, uh, we had just sold our house. We actually had moved in with, with my parents while we were building another house and got settled in there. The YouTube went out and I’m like, okay, I guess this is some calling that now is the time.
And I had been dragging my feet for a number of years, uh, actually a long time. And in that moment I knew it was, I bought in immediately. I think outside of for, for a period of about a year, uh, aside from my wife, your voice was probably the most frequently heard or all I know I used to study course and listen to the recordings just the whole thing.
And it made, it made something seem so easy that seemed previously near impossible. And for me it was all in my mind. It was all my mindset.
Nate: Oh yeah, for sure. And that’s kind of the biggest, uh, I dunno, that’s kind of the biggest thing is a lot of people, you know, doing- doing what I do. I just I get, I don’t know, a hundred emails a day from CPA candidates.
And that times years, I hear some like real horror stories where this has just like nearly wrecked marriages. People are just like they beat themselves up so bad cause they can’t pass these exams. And it’s really just like, okay, it’s not an IQ test. You’re just, you’re just approaching it wrong. That’s all this is.
And if you just change a few things, you know, it’s really…
Drew: Completely completely. And, and I mean, I’m- I’m a transparent person and I never struggled in school. I actually don’t have an accounting degree. Uh, went back to school just to get the accounting classes. I needed to sit for the CPA exam and study for the first one like I’ve always studied and got into it and a few minutes into it, I knew I was going to fail it.
I just knew. And wasn’t even, I knew. I knew it. And it was because the process up to that point and I left that, I left that test and knew that, uh, if I was going to ever pass one of these, I was going to have to completely change the behavior that had on- on paper or out, you know, my accomplishments and everything like that, you know?
Like, yeah, he’s, he’s a smart guy. The problem was is me being smart and me passing the CPA exam had no correlation at all. Um, and it was- it was a I think the process of going through it specifically with, with you, um, and this, the course outline that you laid out. I did every single thing. Um, not perfectly but to the point where, you know, I mean, and, and I remember my wife sending videos the first time, you know, my daughter went to the, um, the fair to see animals and she was walking at that point and I had tears in my eyes because I was at homesteady earlier that morning, she looked at me and said, “Drew, I hate to break this to you. This is what I’m going to go do. And you need to stay home and study because you told me that’s what you need to focus on today. And your schedule says that study time is now”, you know, and it’s like, yeah, you’re right. Yeah.
Nate: Well, yeah. So let’s, uh, so let’s go, let’s go back to the beginning.
Um, so I saw your email address. So do you run your own firm?
Drew: Right now, I do.
Drew: Yeah, we have a team of, um, my father started our business. Uh, we have a team of almost 15 professionals. I’ve been working here for since 2010. Um, very heavy niche focus on construction, uh, BDO alliance firm.
Um, we’ve got clients, uh, both in Washington State also in Oregon, we have clients that work all over the country but we’re really heavily focused on both, uh, the audit and tax side specifically with our contractors as well as our manufacturing clients, uh, some transportation clients that we work with, um, on the year-end reviewed statements and then the corresponding compliance work in addition to proactive communication throughout the year.
And so the model I tell potential clients, our model is similar to a fine dining experience with limited seating versus a fast food restaurant.
“How do you do this for a living?”
Nate: Yeah, that’s awesome. So back in 2010, is that when you started thinking about or I don’t know, knowing you needed to do the CPA and you started messing around with it? Or how- what was your kind of your timeline or when did you start studying?
Drew: Yeah. Yeah. So initially, initially I started, uh, I had a previous experience in the banking industry right out of school. Remember the first accounting class I went to and I, and- and mind you, I came in and helped throughout my life as a kid filing stuff, answering phones, you name that. And I sat in that first accounting class.
I remember calling my dad and I said, “How do you do this for a living?”. And in sitting in that class, I also knew that if I wanted to go the accounting track, I was going to have to work significantly harder than getting a finance degree. Um, I was going to have to put in more work and I, and I- I just knew I didn’t want to do it. Just flat out.
And so when I came to the firm, initially I came on, I had a meeting with my dad at Starbucks and, and he’s showed me what his projected revenue target was. And he said, we need to, I need to be grow this thing. And I don’t know how or I don’t know the right way to do it.
We need to get more clients. And I think you would be a great, um, person to bring on, um, from a client relationship management standpoint and also from a, from a sales standpoint. So that was how I started out. Uh, I knew very quickly within the first couple of years that, um, if I wanted to talk the talk, I also needed to walk the walk.
And even though clients didn’t care that I wasn’t a CPA, I knew for myself and the influence that I had not only within our firm but also externally to- to third parties, as well as our clients that I needed to have that at the CPA license. So a few years into it is when I went back to school, um, was able to get through that pretty quickly and was ready to sit for the CPA exam in 2014 and tried and failed, tried and failed.
Wasn’t really trying and failing and more years went by. And, uh, it was never something that, um, was, was pushed on me. However, it was, um, they’re very much, well I’ll restate it. It wasn’t ever pushed on me. I like it is at some accounting firms where it’s like, you know, if you’re not a CPA by year 2, sayonara, right?
Uh, for me it was, uh, you’ll get it when you’re, you you’ll do it when you’re ready to do it. You just need to get ready to do it. Um, and it took me, I mean outside of that very beginning, January of 2019, I mean there was a few year period there where I didn’t even attempt to study. Um, why in that on having a kid blame that on all these other things.
I found every excuse in the book to be unwilling to do what I knew, what I needed to do. The problem was is I didn’t have the roadmap on how to do that because none of the other and I used Wiley, uh, CPA Excel, uh, throughout that time, even talking with, you know, peers in my office, I didn’t have the roadmap that laid down exactly what I needed to do every single day.
And those the study materials, um, for whatever reason, maybe I wasn’t reading it or maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough or at the end of the day, I just wasn’t ready, um, to show me really what needed to be done.
“I wish I was studying the right way…”
Nate: Yeah. Um, so when you say you were like trying and failing, does that mean you would, uh, you would study for a few months, take a section or would you act, would you just kind of study and just kind of know I’m just not fully committed in this isn’t like working or were you actually taking exams?
Drew: Yeah. Yeah. I- I would, I would, uh, I’d open up a few windows in a six month period and attach to it and then we’d go through the end of it and, and give it a go. I mean, it wasn’t like I wasn’t studying. I wish I was studying the right way. And so it was, it was, my life is going to continue to progress and all study when it’s convenient to me. Behaviorly I was studying the same way that I’d always studied.
The problem was is that, that wasn’t translating into CPA exams and right. Absolutely not. Yeah.
Nate: Yeah. And that’s right. That’s kinda like where my whole thing starts is, um, it’s, you know, it’s- it’s easy to, like, if you’re putting a time studying every day, you just kind of assume that like, this is, I mean, I’m- I’m putting in work like this is going to have some payoff but unfortunately,
like the past rates are barely 50%. It just doesn’t work that way. Like I always say there’s no moral victories on the CPA exam. Even if you spend 500 hours studying for a section, if you get a failing score, you know, it’s a failing score. There’s just, yeah.
Drew: Yeah. Hours and hours did not equal results. And I think it was an accumulation of so many hours, not equally to get any results I needed to just step away and, and, and let time take time, uh, to where I was.
I was at that point where it’s like, okay, wow, there’s a way to do it. That actually mimics the way that I prefer to study. The problem is, is how did I miss that? And actually the way I like to study. Very short, very condensed but like I’m very much like let’s put the effort in, get it done, put the effort in tomorrow.
If we need to get it done, I’m not somebody that likes to just continually let stuff drag on and on, but I look back on it and that’s exactly what I was doing for several years.
Gaining Momentum and Traction Throughout the Process
Nate: Yeah. Okay. So, and then, um, let’s start with the, uh, like if you, when you watch the, our, our webinar, when you said things kind of clicked in your head, do you remember what the main ideas were that you just kinda, that just made a lot of sense that was different from what you were doing before?
Drew: Early in the morning, I remember listening to that early in the morning. I hate doing any like when I get home from work today or when I give my wife while she’s like, ” When you’re done, you’re done”. She’s like, “I’m not done yet. You need to turn it back on”. Like, it’s like I get it at seven o’clock and you’ve had a long day but for me, uh, early mornings stood out.
Uh, the other thing that stood out was the amount of time and then what was needed to be done throughout the day. Setting aside that intentional time during the weekends gaining momentum and traction throughout the whole process, stood out, uh, spending that that 90 minute timeframe, jumping to the questions, writing no cards, putting pen to paper stood out.
Um, another thing that stood out was the title is golf clubs like he talked about and I never titled list. I’m a golfer, that’s one. And so, so that, that stood out to me and then, uh, going through the process of and actually grabbed this and still sitting in my desk.
Nate: Oh yeah, yeah. The, um, like the reward thing. Is that what you’re….
Drew: Correct. Yeah. So the reward thing stood out.
Drew: And so I did that from day one. It’s still the, literally the same one that I put in this little sleeve here that stood out. And so it was a combination of several things. And then clicking for me really, um, helped me build that foundation of belief of if I’m capable of doing this and I do this, what else have I to lose.
Nate: Yeah, that’s awesome. Uh, I mean, I love hearing when somebody has just taken the whole thing and, uh, just executed it step-by-step and I mean anecdotally, whenever I talk to someone where like, that was their process that they watched the pro videos maybe in 2019, we were still calling them like the study hacks videos.
I don’t know if you remember. Um, but yeah, like when, when someone will just take the time to watch those and it kind of like sets the foundation so that, you know, okay, this is like the optimal way to approach every aspect to the study process. And when you’re doing kind of like the main four or five strategies, I mean, they all benefit each other and your progress starts happening rapidly versus pouring time, like hours and hours into kind of this black hole, which is video lectures and reading the text and that still hasn’t directly helping you learn how to answer the actual exam questions.
From Free Study Webinar to Pro Course
Nate: Yeah. Okay. So, So you, you got our package and then I’m assuming you went in and like the free training is good but then obviously the pro course or the study hacks videos you went in and watched all those as well before you kind of formally started?
Drew: Yup. Yup. I went through each one. That was the, I think the first, it was the first day. It was the day after I- I sat in on the, well, probably the day after I purchased it. It’s like, okay, the time is now. I’m getting out that I think I was getting up for, uh, during this whole process I was getting up between 3:30 to 4:30 in the morning, usually around four at a, at an average.
I mean, I got a, I got an almost year old at that point and we’re entering in, we’re already in the middle of, you know, getting in the middle of tax season and I just, you know, you look at other people, look at it like, “Oh, wow. When did- when did drew start this and how did he go about and doing it?”.
And I think you could probably the worst time as far as for stuff that I had going on but I also love doing a lot of things efficiently when I have a lot of stuff going on. And so, yeah, starting watching him through all the study hacks videos, um, and really just launching to exactly what you said, um, fall into,
I think the first I took REG the first time, um, or that was a first exam that I scheduled and out of the four, I definitely follow the called the letter of the law of best when I took REG and it made things easy. And I knew, I knew when I left that exam I passed.
That’s awesome. Yeah. Just such a big difference with making a few tweaks, just, yeah, that’s kind of the whole, that’s why every episode of these podcasts been like someone starting, trying to study but once you get your process and you like, know it’s working. It’s just kind of over, it’s just executing every day at that point.
Drew: It was all about execution one day at the time.
Executing the SuperfastCPA Methods
Nate: Yeah. So you, okay, so you’d get up, you would do the two hour session, um, still using Wiley, right? You use Wiley through the whole thing? Okay. And then, uh, you would, uh, do the mini sessions throughout the day? Try to use our- okay.
Drew: Yeah. I mean, to the point where I play the audit, I mean, I don’t know how much people divulge but the audio of the recordings that you had, um, in each section as it’s frequently playing when I was, when I was shaving and showering.
Yeah. I mean, it got down to that. In the car, you name it. Mini sessions all day long, three minutes, five minutes here, there, um, let’s, let’s eat them up and it felt, it felt good too. It’s like, wow, I just did something. I just, wow. You know what? I didn’t know the answer to that. Now. I know the answer to that.
Okay. Let’s write it down. Let’s make a note card, you know, so I had a stack of, um, FAR was definitely the biggest but reviewing my flashcards, writing them in my own words. Uh, I would say that was a turning point, um, for me and something that I had done previously studied. That made a huge impact.
Nate: Yeah. Uh, for me, I mean, that was really like the, the whole point of creating our study tools in the beginning was figuring out, studying from my phone was one of the biggest game changers in my own study process because I had like three months between finishing my masters and starting my first public accounting job and, uh, studied all day
every day for FAR, still went in and failed it. And then I was working and I had like maybe two hours max. And so I just, I mean, I literally did the same process that’s in those videos. Like that was my process two hours in the morning and then studying from your phone and all these little gaps, it, uh, you know, like the content, you know, I, I obviously think our review notes are really good, really effective but even above and beyond that, it’s more, there’s something about just having it hit your brain over and over multiple times a day versus just one big, huge study session each day that it, uh, you can assimilate it or retain it just so much better.
Drew: Yeah. And that combining with the, with the 90 minutes and then a 30 MCQs at the end of every day and building on that, um, I mean, that was also a game changer because I was something that’s like, okay, I’ve done this section. Now let’s move on to the next section. Well, wait a second. What if I didn’t understand that section and going back and doing those 30 MCQs and building on that foundationally, um, what, what was huge as well.
Nate: Yeah, well, and even if, you know, even if somebody, uh, spends a bunch of time on one lesson and like, feels like they really understand it, the problem with the normal way of studying is then you do that for a hundred other topics. And it’s been weeks, maybe even a month or more since you mastered it the one time and you haven’t looked back at it.
It’s just, it’s obvious when you explain it like that. Why so many people get into the exam and it’s stuff they’ve covered they even know it, but just the wording on problems. It’s just a different context than learning it in like paragraph format, you know, from like a video lecture or a, the textbook and just…
Drew: oh, absolutely.
And so for me buying into that process, they’re very rarely in Wiley. Very rarely did I watch any videos the entire time. Yeah, very rarely that I actually look. I would go back and reference it if it was something that I didn’t understand or needed more clarification on, but the actual, the actual tax for each section, very rarely did I ever reference.
Nate: Yeah. That’s what a lot of people say. Yeah.
Drew: I mean, for some people that are doing that and I’m sure it’s like, what are you talking about? That’s not what, what I’m currently doing and it’s, “Hey, if that’s working for you, great. If it’s not working for you, Danny, your first exam then it might be something you might want to think about”.
And that’s what I tell our team members because we have, how many do we have right now? 1, 2, 3, 3 or four of them that are better studying to pass the CPA exam and I’ll send them updates. I’ve even offered, “Hey, I’ll- I’ll cover the cost of Superfast if you want to do it, um, uh, reimburse you for it.
This is the outline of, of what it looked like. And this is what the tools are and it brought me success.
Nate: Yeah. I mean, uh, you know, people kind of use our stuff like two ways. There’s- there’s like the way you did it where, um, and it kind of depends on how long they’ve been messing around with this, you know. Like someone that’s just starting, they don’t, they don’t know what this is really going to turn into and what it’s like. And so they’re very resistant. They’re like, I don’t need this extra stuff. I mean, look at these textbooks like everything’s in these books already.
Like, why would I need anything else? And it’s like, well, yeah, that’s, that’s part of the problem you’re going to run into. So, uh, yeah, the most simplified version is, okay, whatever you want your main study session to be like, whatever that, you know, whatever you want to do, that’s great. But then it just makes sense to be chipping away at the material in little five minute chunks all throughout the rest of your day, you know, because you don’t want to retake exams, obviously.
Like if you can do anything to increase your odds of a passing score, like if you’re already committing to this process, why wouldn’t you do that type thing?
Why Drew’s Previous Study Process Wasn’t Working
Nate: Yeah. Okay so before switching to our strategies, um, you, you know, you had, well, when would you try to study previously?
Would you in the beginning where you trying to study after work each day?
Drew: After work occasionally in the mornings, on the weekends, yeah. Just kind of like if I study yeah. If I study for 12 hours on the weekend, on a Saturday, you know, it usually meant that I didn’t study for a few days before. Yeah.
Nate: And that’s rough. I mean, 12 hours at one point 12 hours in one day, you have to wonder like how much of that is actually going to stay in your head because you know, your, your short-term memory is like a little cup kind of…
Drew: I mean, in my opinion, nothing. Yeah. Because if it would have stayed, I wouldn’t have had a problem passing them or not enough. Maybe not nothing but not, not nearly enough of what you needed.
Nate: Right. Yeah. And so, so one, one question, I mean, I’m pretty sure I know the answer to this, but just for the sake of people that are gonna listen to this. Once you started with this process two hours in the morning, and that’s kind of like your big important task, was that just, did you find it to be just kind of a mental relief or like you’re able to, to start your work day and just think I’ve already been very productive?
And then your evenings, were your evenings, or was just your whole life less stressful once you just kind of adopted this format?
Drew: Absolutely, it was. And so I think mindset wise, and to your point, the feeling of accomplishment and I- I had a, an immediate feeling of accomplishment and it was 6:00 AM, 6:30.
Right, right. And so I haven’t even taken a shower yet, and I’ve already, I feel like I’ve already conquered the whole day. And I haven’t even really started the day yet leading into that, um, or going from there and then continuing doing that throughout the day when I was able to with work. I knew that tomorrow was coming soon.
And so I never really felt the need with the exception of a few days before the exams. I never studied in evenings ever.
Nate: Yeah. And that’s another, it’s just a cause then you don’t have to dread that in the back of your mind all day, right? You- you’ve done your big study session. Um, and then you don’t have to work all day dreading.
Okay. Like I’m tired. I’m my brain is fried already, but I’m still, I’m going to try and sit down and study for four hours tonight. Even, even though that sounds like torture, not just completely taken away.
Drew: And if people are able to do that and flip it and do it at the end versus me doing it at the beginning more power to them, I just, I just knew that, that wasn’t going to work for me.
I much rather, I mean, I’m a get up early person anyways. And so if I can get more done before the kids wake up. Now I have another kid. Awesome. That seems to be, that window seems to be getting condensed and dense, you know, even more and more and more, you know, did they with both of them up at 5:30 in the morning, but you know, there’s one of those.
Nate: So you have, you have two kids?
Drew: Two kids. Yeah. Yeah. I’ve got a daughter who just turned four and then a son that’s seven and a half months.
Nate: Oh yeah. So a little, little baby. Yeah. We have a, uh, I have a four-year-old daughter, but then the older one is so seven and four, two daughters. Okay.
Yeah. That would be, that would be an extra, um, yeah, like you said, trying to get the two hours done before, you know, your kids are gonna wake up because just work-wise like, yeah. Once the, once the kids are up, they just man kids, they just wake up so early.. It’s annoying. Yeah. Yeah.
Drew: Kids seem to get up earlier and earlier it’s like, “Go back to sleep right now”.
She’s like, “Daddy, daddy but I want to get up and eat breakfast”. I’m like, “It’s like five o’clock in the morning”.
Nate: Yeah. And sometimes I don’t know, and I’ll make an attempt to like some logic or just like a logical statement. Like you guys, you don’t know how tired I’m going to be this whole day because of this.
Drew’s Routine on the Weekends
Nate: And they’re just like, you know, you just can’t, you can’t do anything about it. Yeah. Um, so you mentioned sometimes doing 12 hours on the weekends, uh, under this format, would you just kind of knock out four or six hours on the weekends and in the morning, and then you kind of had your weekends back? Or how did you treat the weekends?
Drew: Yeah, the, the weekends were, uh, just like you said, so four to 6 hours. And then I’ll promise that I studied every day. I didn’t stop something every single day, period. When I didn’t, uh, I mean, I just, wasn’t not negotiable. And so two hours during the day, um, during the week, sometimes it was an hour and a half on the weekends.
I’d always commit first thing to do four to six. And so there were times where, you know, it’s Saturday during tax season and I’m already done and I’ve already put in four hours or maybe it’s five hours and it’s 9 in the morning, 10 in the morning. And so to have that time back to then be effective at work, and then also to be effective, you know, as a, as a father and as a husband.
Yeah. Same deal on the weekend.
Nate: Yeah, that’s a good point too. Um, which I never had to, I didn’t really experience it cause I was done before we ever had kids. But, it just that whole stress level. I mean, if again, if you have kids and uh, you, you can’t, again, you can’t logically tell them like listen, you guys need to just in the evenings, you gotta be really quiet and just let me like study and I need this two or three hour block.
That’s obviously just never going to happen. You know, with, with kids.
Drew: It may, it may happen time, meaning the time may go by but it’s not happening.
Nate: Exactly. Yeah. So, uh I think you mentioned momentum, which is something I talk about a lot, uh, once you get that daily routine. Well, yeah, so, so what I tell people is the two hours in the morning is so important because if you study infrequently or kind of whenever, like, if you wait until the circumstances are ideal, then it’s maybe going to happen twice a week. And it’s really hard to have breakthroughs in your own study process or with just the material if you’re only really putting in time two to three times a week. On the other hand, it’s amazing how fast you get good at something when you do it every single day.
When Drew’s Study Process Started to “Click”
Nate: Um, and so, yeah, just, just, what was your, like how many weeks of, of this process did you feel it really started to click and you just kinda knew that this was gonna work.? Do you remember having that thought of two weeks in or something?
Drew: Probably the, I mean, I don’t even know if it was the week. I think it might’ve even had, now that I met with you asking that question, me thinking back on it.
I was convinced before I even started. And so momentum, momentum wise, um, gaining that momentum, uh, so much happened before I even started doing it as a result of committing to doing it that when I started doing it, um, that momentum, I think I probably really saw it, uh, second or third day when I was going, you know, after I had a few days of, of obsessions and to where I was spending that last 30 minutes, uh, doing the 30 MCQs where I think that it’s like, it clicked for me again.
And they continue to collect from me throughout the process where it’s like, why, why didn’t I think of that before? Right?
Nate: Yeah. Yeah. The, the, uh, the whole rereview thing that, that came to me when I was taking far the first time because like I described a minute ago, I was seeing this pretty simple, just conceptual questions on stuff I’d covered cause I’d, I’d covered everything.
Um, but some very specific question about something relatively simple and then the way they word questions and, you know, two answers always seem pretty close to like being the right one. And I just had that idea like, okay, I spent the last, I basically spent my final review going really deep on like the five hardest topics.
And I barely saw two of them. And I’m seeing all these simple questions that I ignored because I just thought they were easy topics. And so going forward, I’m going to do like a set of 30 every day on just everything to prevent this problem. And that was like, it was that and studying from my phone that were like the two big just complete game-changers.
Drew: Yeah, I know. And I would agree with that. Uh, the 30 questions studying from the, studying from the phone, you know, I’m driving to and from work and boom, I got content right there and, and whether or not it was, you know, five minutes there, 10 minutes there, uh, being able to pull it open, you know, when I’m eating lunch, hit a couple of them or if I’m dealing with stomach complicated at work and I get to step away, it was funny that a source of relief for me at times throughout the day was pick it up my phone and get it on the app and feeling, you know, going through five questions and hitting five of five and being like, yes.
And then, boom, I think like now I’m ready to refocus on what I was doing. It was instrumental.
Nate: That’s funny. I, that made me remember cause I’ve said this before that I, I got to the point where I- I actually, I mean, I really looked forward to my morning study sessions and thinking back because like the CPA material and practice questions, it’s very concrete, you know.
If you do the, if you know how the questions work or the topic, you know, you’ll arrive at the exact right answer. And at the time at work, I was a brand new associate. The auditing thing was like, so confusing day to day. And I- I think that I liked the study process because it was just, uh, almost like this reinforcing thing, or like, yeah.
Okay. You’re not an idiot because you can at least do this stuff. Like you can answer these questions and then go to work and just feel confused all day. Ask my senior a thousand questions. But yeah, I kind of what you just said. I did have that same feeling.
Drew: And I mean, it is, it’s funny too, cause it behaviorally and really to your point, it really helped me having a complete overall change in my behavior and how I haven’t and how I look at things. Um, and as a result of this program, I mean complete overall, uh, I was definitely, um, somebody before, I guess the best way I could put it as I was really good at getting by very effectively without really doing as much work.
And, and so the relief that came from knowing what I had accomplished in the first two hours of the day and then having those wins, those wins throughout the day as big or small as they were, it was, it was a win for me. Because I knew that, if I could do that, I was committed to doing that.
I mean, what, what, what else could I do, right?
Nate: Right. I’ve had a bunch of people, a bunch of people tell me that, that like getting up the extra two hours and they did that for whatever six months until they were done. And then just thinking like, well, I’m in the habit. Like, what else can I accomplish by still getting up at the same time, even though I’m done with the CPA or just kind of just in general like you said, just, uh, just realizing you can tackle some big external project outside of your actual, your normal work just by, you know, kind of just always chipping away at it, whatever that might be.
Drew: The, I mean, yeah, beating the sun up every day is a big thing for me. Uh, making sure that I’m doing that today and to your point that not as rigorous structure but I definitely am a routine type person. And so, um, do I get up consistently way earlier than I did before I was studying for the CPA exam on a consistent basis,
I absolutely do. To the point where, when I doubt even today, like if I- I don’t know, let’s say the kids actually continue to sleep throughout the night and maybe they slept until 7:30. If I was still sleeping at that time, you know, my, my wife would be like, why are you not getting up early? Like, what’s up with that?
I think that that is more of a, uh, uh, cause for question that then because that’s just what I’ve done since then. It’s helped out.
Nate: Yeah, no, it’s true. Yeah. If I’m, if I’m still asleep at like 7:00 AM my wife’s like, “Are you sick? Because I’m downstairs just hours before they’re awake typically. So how did you work practice SIMS into your process? Um, just how did you treat those?
Drew: Didn’t do.
Nate: So I’m assuming you did enough to just be familiar with the structure?
Drew: Yes. I should rephrase that I didn’t, it wasn’t that I didn’t do them. I did them occasionally, but my mindset and looking at them was, ” Hey, we’ve got five multiple choice questions embedded in here”, you know, or 10 or whatever it was.
And so for me, it was more of a, a mindset of when I did, when I did start to fit those in to an extent, my approach towards them was no different than if I was taking, you know, if I was sitting in front of an MCQ.
Nate: Yeah. Uh it’s- it seems like there’s not much of a difference in these two approaches, but yeah, I would always try to just break them apart strategically, almost like, I don’t know, almost like taking a toy apart to see how it works type thing instead of you just look at it and just think, I don’t know, a lot of people just open a SIM and stare at it for 20 minutes and maybe fill out two or three pieces. And yeah, I mean, that’s just kind of a waste of time. Like you submit the hard ones, break them apart, so to speak, make some flashcards on journal entries that you find confusing, put it in your own words
and then you kind of like have that in your cards to review later. Um, yeah. Versus just like endlessly filling out practice SIMS cause the ones you’re going to see on exam day are going to be so different anyways.
Drew: Oh yeah. Yeah. And it was so for me it was, if I understand the concepts and I’m training myself over a period of time to understand them, um, I need to be familiar about what, you know, give me a couple of different flavors of what I may be looking at.
But if I understand that, it doesn’t matter what SIM I give during any of them by approach it that way, then I’m going to be good. Yeah. So when I, when I would spend time on them usually the heaviest would be before a few weeks before the exam, um, where I, I look at, you know, three, four or five really hard ones and then spend a couple of hours you’d typically on the weekends is when I would do it, uh, picking apart, you know, I’d spend two to three hours on one SIM making flashcards, all of those things.
Um, and what I gained from that was way more effective than sitting there and cranking out five or 10 of them.
From an Illness to Scoring a 74
Nate: Yeah. Um, so I remembered what I was going to ask you, so sure. Once you started with this process and you could just, you know, get gathered momentum. You knew it was working, you were nailing the daily process did you, did you go four for four at that point? Did you have any stumbles or like, what was your total timeline to just finish once you got rolling?
Drew: Yeah. I had one stumble on the second one and it was, um, I think I let my foot off the gas a little bit and it didn’t help that I got really, really sick.
Like couldn’t get out of bed the two days before, um, literally two days before the exam and I, as far as rescheduling it, the way when I opened that window up initially, um, I was going out of 10. It just, it wasn’t, I was like, you know what, I’m gonna, I’m gonna go for it and see what happens.
Uh, I’d got a 74 on that. But it, what I learned from it was I need to continue the process that I started with. And I’m also fully capable of passing these exams. I’ve already passed one. And so after that, pass BEC, passed FAR and then passed audit. So as far as timeline went from the first day when I started, um, I was done with all of them in about a year is when it was as far as how long it took me right around when the pandemic happened, essentially.
Setting Goals as a Reward amd Motivation
Nate: Okay. Yeah. And you showed me the little, um, reward thing. Did you have a, uh, a big trip plan as your reward? Like what’d you do to celebrate when you got done with your fourth one?
Drew: Yeah. So after my, after my fourth one, we had, we went, um, so if I buy look up here, we’ve got a lot, a couple of suitcases.
We had gone to a few, we had a trip plan, a tiny place and ended up needed to be canceled because of COVID. Um, but then there’s, there’s this one here too, which was a watch that I wanted. And so after, um…
Nate: Did you actually buy it and like leave it on your desk and look at it without wearing it?
Drew: No. Oh, gotcha. Yeah. So, so afterwards, when I’ve had the fourth one. My wife said, well, you got to go buy the watch now. And I told her, um, uh, I don’t know if I want to do that. I mean, it’s a little expensive, yada yada. And she’s like, no, that’s what, you know, you set aside money for it and you go do it. And that I had a very hard time finding it.
Um, but eventually I was able to, to find it and get it. So, um, I think the, the reward, um, and the cool thing is, I guess I can ever reminds me of the CPA exam every day. I wear it every day.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah. That’s funny. Oh, I’m a, I’m a huge believer in the, uh, all the mindset stuff because this is very much a process like , yes, you can nail the the morning session, your mini sessions and feel good about taking a complete mental break at night. But you also kind of have to always keep your head in the game is the best way I can describe it. You, you of, you know, you’re like, well, okay, I nailed it and I can enjoy the evening.
But at the same time, I can’t stay up mindlessly for four extra hours on my phone, whatever, watching to my too many shows or because I’ve got to get up to nail the morning session again. So you kind of just have to, it just, all the whole, every part of the process affects every other part.
Drew: And I thinking back on it, I couldn’t, did you talk much about it in the process of writing down goals?
Did you talk about that?
Nate: Um, so I have a, as far as that, I usually send this out in like emails, uh, or no, it’s part of one of the, the pro videos or study hacks video. There’s a two. You write down all the good things that are going to happen as a result of you passing and then, but you also put the negative.
So there’s one, there’s one form. That’s like part of the program where you write those, those two, two aspects of it, I guess.
Drew: That’s okay. That, that sounds, that makes sense. Cause I think what I, what I did from there, I think I tweaked it, modified that specifically to where I would, I would write down my, well, I still do but writing down my goals every day, um, and manifestation of what I’m seeking and here’s the actions that I’m doing, uh, for that year.
Plus, you know, it was, I will become a licensed CPA I will note pass FAR on this day and you’re writing that out every single morning. Um, usually I would do that first thing in the morning before I started the actual two hours.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah. And that stuff, uh, I mean, if nothing else, it just, again, it kind of brings you back to, this is why I’m doing this.
I’m I’ve set aside this time like today’s got account basically just every day has to count. And like you said, always doing something.
Drew: Yeah. I mean, the writing, it, writing those down different than riding out note cards. Um, I mean, it’s, it’s that behavioral shift that, that I needed to, uh, catapult me to be able to gain traction day in, day out.
Um, and, uh, the cool thing is, is the, what I’ve learned since becoming a CPA and since passing all the exams is that I think I’ve learned more about myself, honestly, in my whole life, but as a result of doing it. And part of that is knowing that what I put my mind to and how I’m going to go about getting there, there’s really nothing that’s off the table. It’s just a matter of what am I willing to do.
Drew: You go get it.
Yeah. And so I think I learned more about the PR and then from there as a result of, you know, become into a licensed CPA and everything like that, my approach work-wise day in, day out. Um, also communication too to other team members, clients, you name it.
It’s evolved to another level that previously wasn’t there.
Nate: Yeah, that is, that’s a good point. Um, and that’s one thing, cause I’ll, I’ll get emails sometimes about, do I really need the CPA you know, to have a successful career?
And I tell people I’m like you don’t but at the same time if you are like if you’re going to really do good in your career, meaning you’re going to show up every day, you’re going to be effective. You’re going to be somebody that’s like impressing your clients or superiors. Then it’s like, that’s kinda what the, the CPA is, is just kind of proof, extra proof that you are that kind of a person.
Cause it’s, it’s hard to do, you know, and it just that extra add on that just kind of solidifies. Yeah, this person’s super sharp. And of course, because they are a CPA.
Drew: And we get to ask questions that to, uh, you know, Hey, do I need to become a CPA? And, and my response always is I have no idea.
Yeah. That’s what I can tell you is if you go through the process and commit to doing it and achieve the designation of certified public accountant, the learning experience as a result of doing that is going to allow you to have way more opportunities. Not because you have a CPA, that’s a no brainer that’s going to come but it’s going to allow you to have way more opportunities because of what you’re going to have to learn for yourself as a result of going through that.
Nate: Yeah. That’s a great point.
Tips for Struggling CPA Candidates
Nate: All right. Well, I, I appreciate you doing this. I we’ve gone a full hour, so I don’t want to take up much more of your time, but, uh, what would be your, your top two or three tips to people that are maybe not just even just still studying but are in kind of like in your first experience but basically struggling with the process.
Drew: My tips, uh, number one, make a plan, stick to the plan and that people will do accountable for planning. And if you do that then you will be able to achieve so much more as a result of doing that versus not. And it’s going to make something that seems impossible or way more arduous it’s way, way too strenuous on my gosh.
I don’t know if I can do it. It makes, at least for me it made it feel like it not only was achievable but I was capable of achieving that.
Nate: Yeah. It’s yeah, it starts with the daily routine. Like you have to have that in place. You have to have time dedicated to even make breakthroughs or discoveries, whether it’s like the material or your process itself.
And then if you’re setting aside the time, then the time you do spend needs to be effective. And that’s where the process comes in. Like, what do you actually do when you sit down to study? And, uh, yeah, from there you just gained momentum and then it’s relatively simple once the process clicks, it’s just a matter of executing it everyday after that.
Drew: It’s so simple. It’s so simple. And, and even even today, I mean, I, I could write out the process. Right now off the cuff in a couple of minutes. And I had a few team members tell me, is that, that’s it? That’s all you did? Yeah, exactly. Yeah. That’s it. And they’re like, wow, that’s not what I thought I should be doing.
It’s like, I don’t know what you should or shouldn’t be doing. I just telling you what I did and what I did seem to be way more effective than what I was doing before which we all know that was not very effective.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah. It’s funny. Just how, uh, the elusive obvious, I, I kind of refer to that, like when you, okay.
Your goal on test day to get a passing score, you’ve got to just answer the questions you’re going to see. So working backwards from that, most of your study time should be spent doing that exact thing instead of trying to learn everything again, in like paragraph or textbook format, whatever you want to call that.
And it’s so simple, it’s like, It’s elusive at the same time, because…
Drew: When you are hearing whether it’s new year’s resolutions, people wanting to get in shape or it’s losing weight or what, you know, it’s like, I can’t manifest getting in shape by not eating healthy and not exercising. And, and it’s these little simple things that almost played tricks on our mind.
And we rationalize almost, at least for me, it’s, it’s so easy to rationalize something when the obvious answer is so simple but it seems so hard to do. It’s like, oh, we’ll do that tomorrow. You know, I’ll get, you know, I’m gonna, you know, I’m not going to exercise today or do this or do that. Um, and, uh, I- I would one thing to add to I’d say to the, uh, the exercise for me during the CPA exam was gold.
Getting up and exercising with something that really helped me out. I didn’t start doing it till, uh, midway through into it. Um, and part of that was because I didn’t want to purchase a Peloton bike, but my wife made me and that’s, I think I love the bike more than two guys at this point. Um, but I’ve continued to, to stick on that on that road map. Not to just the feeling, feeling good, you know, whether it’s studying for two hours, um, getting up exercising, sweating a little bit.
Uh, I mean, it’s, uh, it’s, it’s pretty awesome. Um, at least for me in my experience, what came from a YouTube advertisement, right? Thank you for, for doing what, what you do and making the obvious be obvious, um, and communicating it in a way that, that made it so simple and, and, and so easy. Um, cause if I hadn’t seen that YouTube video, I don’t know what would have happened.
Nate: Yeah. That is that’s, uh, it’s funny, uh, that because that’s essentially where everyone, everyone that I’ve had on the podcast that’s kind of what they see eventually are a YouTube video. It’s like, it’s, it’s your process. That’s what I’m trying to help people understand. It’s, if you’re already putting in the time, you would get 10 times better results by just changing a few things.
Drew: And it’s funny too, because I have my youngest or my middle brother. He works with me as well. He’s a CPA. My dad is still active in the business, um, phase in his way out. He’s also a CPA. I’ve a brother went four for four, right out of the gate, right after he finished his masters in taxation and then passed them all.
I think it was within like five months. And then I asked him what he did. I remember the first time. I think it was leading up to that first exam when I bought into your methods and, uh, I was telling him, he knew that I had an exam coming up and he would ask like what I was going to do to prepare for it.
And then I asked him what he did to prepare for it. Um, and it’s funny because he had been licensed for a number of years at that point. I don’t think I’d ever asked him prior to that. Like he just assumed he was studying all the time and before I take the exams and he told me that two days before he took the exam, he wouldn’t do anything.
And I go and I go, why not? He goes, I had to just clear out my mind get ready to go take the exam. I was done at that point that I just needed to flush out. And I’m thinking to myself like, that’s not what I’m planning on doing but I’m going to do what I was told to do. And I’m glad that worked for you too.
Nate: Yeah, I, uh, yeah, the two days, uh, and I, I didn’t specifically ask you this, but the, uh, the two day cram session, I feel like those two days, right before just that’s worth 10 to 15 points by itself. So..
Drew: No brainer. 100% and I did exactly what you said to do and I saw it. It was, um, yeah, I dunno what it was worth but it was, I think worth a lot.
Yeah. Yeah. Um, I mean, it was worth enough to where had I have not done it and I look back on it it’s like yeah. What it was worth? Well, if you look at the time when that didn’t happen to the extent that that needed when I got a 74, I literally couldn’t get out of bed. And so I’m sitting there hobbling down.
I’m trying to get, you know, trying to do my two day cram session that turned into, I don’t know what, uh, my best attempted it and the results that I got from it was not as 75, which at that point I would have rather gotten a 60 or something, I knew it.
Nate: That’s rough. Yeah, 70. That’s what I got on my first far exam. The 74 is tough because on a different day with a few different questions, you know, it’d be 75 or 76.
Drew: Yes, I bet. But to your point, I really believe that I hadn’t even thought of it until you, you made that comment. I- I wasn’t able to do that the way that I did it for the other ones and, you know, like you said the impact of what the results can have versus doing it versus not doing that, at least in my experience where you…
Nate: Yeah. It’s just, uh, it won’t fix a bad study plan, obviously. Like it’s not cramming, like when you’re in high school. It’s just like filling up your short-term memory or I don’t know, just reinforcing everything, repeat exposure in those last two days, just on a huge scale. Um, yeah, it’s just, yeah, just seems to work.
So, all right, Drew. Well, I, again, I really appreciate it. It was great to meet you. It was fun to chat.
Yeah. Yeah. This is going to turn into a really valuable episode.
Nate: Alright. So that was the interview with Drew. I hope you found that very helpful as I said in the beginning and as you just heard, if you listened to this whole thing, we got really in the weeds about all the different strategies, a bunch of mindset stuff, and the reward framework that’s discussed on those free trainings.
So again, if you have not yet, the best place for you to start with our study strategies, it’s like watching one of those free one-hour training webinars because we’ll go through point by point, tell you how to use your review course much, much more effectively and efficiently, how to crush your CPA exams only spending two hours a day with your main review course.
Also, if you found this episode helpful, send it to a friend, share it with someone you know who is also working on their CPA exams. These interviews are the most helpful free resource available anywhere for someone trying to figure out their own study process.
And obviously success on test day comes down to the effectiveness of your daily study process. So thanks for watching and we’ll see you on the next episode.