In this SuperfastCPA reviews episode, you’ll hear Jeff’s journey to passing his CPA exams. As the years went by, Jeff realized that he needed his CPA to get where he wanted to be in his career, so he buckled down and started the CPA study process. After some ups and downs, Jeff had several breakthroughs in his study process that led to passing all 4 exams in a row after making these key changes.
- 00:00 Interview with Jeff
- 00:51 Introduction
- 05:02 Beginning of Jeff’s CPA Journey
- 07:16 Jeff’s First Attempt at the FAR CPA Exam
- 08:24 How Jeff Found SuperfastCPA
- 09:23 Jeff’s First Study Breakthroughs
- 13:23 How Jeff Used SuperfastCPA in His Study Process
- 17:06 The Before & After of Jeff’s CPA Study Process
- 19:30 Getting the 4th Passing Score
- 21:25 The Hardest Part of the Study Process
- 23:18 Jeff’s Best Tips to People Currently Studying
Jeff: I guess your strategy worked tremendously and it was a game changer for me. You know, whether I would have passed exams if I didn’t use that, who knows, but I did, and it saved me time. It saved me energy and I got passing scores. So I would say, really look into using that strategy and, you know, make it work for you because it’s a great strategy.
It’s the best way to retain information and it really does get you prepared. And then secondly, as we spoke about the “why”, I think that was very important because as you get through the exams, it just wears on you. And it doesn’t mean that you’re gonna have, uh, less to do, you know, it just makes everything harder.
And if you don’t have a reason for continuing then it’s easy to stop.
SuperfastCPA Reviews: How Jeff Passed His CPA Exams
Nate: Welcome to episode 79 of the CPA exam experience podcast from SuperfastCPA. I’m Nate and in today’s interview, you’re going to hear me talk with Jeff.
So as Jeff got into his accounting career and the year started going by, he started noticing more and more that it really seemed like getting his CPA was critical to getting to the spots he wanted to be in, in his career. So he came back later on, went and did his masters, and at the same time was taking the CPA exams.
So as you’ll hear in Jeff’s story, he started with FAR and he spent three to four months studying for FAR that first time, and of course he was studying the traditional way, trying to consume every single resource in his review course. It took a huge amount of time and he ended up getting a 74, and as you’ll hear Jeff say was a huge disappointment after all that time spent.
So after that, he re-evaluated his study process and he made a few key changes, which you’ll hear in the interview.
And after making these changes, he passed his FAR retake and then he went three for three on the remaining three exams.
So Jeff has a ton of great tips and resources and ideas to share in his interview but a few things to listen for specifically.
He talks about the one key study tool that he started using a lot throughout his day that really helped things start to fall into place and just helped make everything about the material easier to understand.
He also talks about the idea or maybe the, the false confidence that you can get from patting yourself on the back too soon, just by spending time studying and not really thinking about or evaluating your actual process as to whether it’s effective or not. And then not realizing that all this time spent wasn’t that effective until weeks or months later when it’s too late and what those mistakes were and what to do differently.
Another key strategy that Jeff shares is the one thing that he would do on the morning of an exam that he felt like made a huge difference once he got into the testing center and started seeing the questions.
He also talks about how he would spend the last two days before an exam that would boost his scores on his practice testlets by 10 to 15 points.
And then how that obviously translated on the actual exam because like I mentioned, once he adopted these new strategies, he essentially went four for four.
So before we get into the interview with Jeff, I just need to mention two things. The first one is of course our study training webinars.
If you would like to learn our strategic CPA study process. In other words, how do you use your review course much more efficiently, much more effectively, pretty much everyone you’ve heard on this podcast started by watching one of these training sessions. These are a free one hour webinar that will do just that: walk you through our core strategies, how to be much more efficient when you do sit down to study. You can sign up for one of those sessions at our main website at superfastcpa.com. It’s the main thing at the top of the homepage, or there should be a link down in the description if you’re watching this on YouTube.
The second thing is to enter our free podcast giveaway. Each month we give away three pairs of Powerbeat Pro headphones to three random people that we select. As long as you’ve entered the giveaway, you can do that at superfastcpa.com/enter or again, if you’re watching this on YouTube, there should be a link down in the description.
So with that out of the way, let’s get into the interview with Jeff.
Nate: Central time, where are you located?
Jeff: In Florida. South Florida.
Nate: Awesome. I’ve been out there a couple times. It’s pretty cool.
Jeff: Yeah, on vacation?
Nate: Yes and then I actually did a, uh, kind of a sales internship in the middle of my bachelor’s degree out there. So I actually I lived in, uh, what was it called? Pompano beach.
Jeff: Okay. All right. I’m close by. Yeah. Um, yeah, Parkland.
Nate: Yeah. It was fun on the weekends. We’d go to the beach and, yeah, that was pretty much it.
Jeff: Yeah. I don’t go to the beach, but
Nate: Probably one of those things if you live there, it’s just like just there and, you might go once in a while if people visit you.
Jeff: Exactly, exactly what it is.
Jeff’s CPA Journey
Nate: So where are you at in, uh, you know, like how long have you been out of school? What, uh, what made you want to get your CPA? We’ll just start from the beginning.
Jeff: Sure. Well actually, if we go back all the way to the beginning, when I started my bachelor’s, it was actually in communication. So it wasn’t even in accounting. So I made like a total 180 and uh, I just happened to take an accounting course by, you know, by chance. And I just loved it.
That’s why I switched. But as far as, the CPA is concerned, uh, as I was out of school, the more and more, I worked in different companies. I noticed people had their CPA and if I wanted to get anywhere in life, that was something I needed to have. So I finished my bachelors. it’s been a while forgive me, uh, probably 2010, 2010. And then I started my masters two years ago. I finished last year. So at the same time I was actually taking my CPA and you know, my master’s, finishing that up.
Nate: That’s a lot of work and working I’m guessing.
Jeff: Uh, yeah, I was working for a well working for the first half of that. And then, uh, you know, COVID, lay-offs, and you know, I was part of that.
Nate: Okay. And so now you’re done, right? You’ve done with all four of your exams?
Nate: Nice. And do you actually have your CPA or do you still have like the little state ethics things like those last few things or you actually have it?
Jeff: Yeah, no, no, I have it. Yeah. I, uh, submitted everything in July, I believe. And I took forever but I got the certificate like about a month ago.
Nate: Awesome. Okay. So, uh, when you started studying, what was that like? Did you just get a review course and kind of jump into the lessons?
Jeff: I did. Yeah. So I got Wiley and I started with FAR just because I thought that would be the most interesting one and I heard it was, I don’t know if I heard it was the hardest, but it had the most content. So I figured get that out of the way. Uh, so yeah, as soon as I got it, I just started jumping in the lessons, reading, watching videos and, uh, you know, taking the small quizzes they had after every lesson.
Taking a Section for the First Time
Nate: Okay. What was kind of your progress? Did that work? Did you just start, did you pass the first time you went and took a section?
Jeff: Um, so no, I did not pass. Uh, I think I got like a 74 on the first try and that, uh, study format, I guess that they kind of sell you on when you buy the study course,
it’s very hard because as you’re studying, there’s so much content and you’re learning something new and you’re concentrating on the new lesson, you kind of forget everything you’ve studied as you go. So then when you are at the end and you’re taking the full exam, it’s kind of like, all right, I have to go back and restudy when I, you know, what I learned in the beginning.
So it’s kind of counterproductive, I guess. It just took a long time. Um, I was working when I started that exam but to study the whole thing, it took me to study and take it, I think I probably started for like three, four months. Um, And then to fail it was kind of devastating after taking all that time out to study.
How He Came Across SuperfastCPA
Nate: Do you remember where in your study timeline you came across our stuff for the first time?
Jeff: Uh, yeah, so it was, um, I think it might’ve been before I got the results from the first exam. But I remember walking out of the first exam and I kind of had a feeling which probably doesn’t say much cause you don’t know either way, but, uh, I, I think I might’ve seen your, uh, your ad in YouTube, so it just kind of stuck. And then when I got my results, I was like, okay, I need to do something different. And that’s when I decided to try it out.
Nate: Okay. And so did you sign up for one of those free one hour trainings where you kind of got an idea of what our strategies are? Was that your first thing?
Jeff: Uh, I think I did. Yeah. Um, just to check it out because not just in, you know, the CPA study realm, but there’s so many of those free ads, like, you know, promising, uh, Amazon. Yeah. So I was like, “Is this one of those?”
Some Key Ideas From SuperfastCPA that He Adopted
Nate: So at some point you got our package because you mentioned watching the strategy videos. Do you remember just what was, what was some of the key ideas or like different ways of approaching this that made sense to you? Do you remember just what some of those kinda light bulbs were?
Jeff: Yeah. Uh, with the first and most prominent one, it’s probably, you know, just using the quizzes and the, well just the quizzes honestly, as your first kind of line of defense in learning everything. I think that kind of, it’s something that as soon as you start it kind of just, it kind of just clicks the way everything is, uh, the way that everything falls in line.
It’s much easier to retain, uh, the information because you’re going through everything, you know, not just new material but old material that you’ve gone through already so that was actually the approach I used for all the other three exams or the four exams cause I had to retake FAR. Yeah, and I, I didn’t fail a single one after that.
Nate: Awesome. Like you mentioned before, the retention component is really hard when you’re kind of studying the traditional way. You spend all this time up front on each lesson, trying to feel like, okay, I feel good about this lesson so I can move on, but then if you think about it, it really doesn’t make any sense to put in all that work up front, just to leave it behind for several weeks or even months, you know.
Jeff: Right. Yeah. Yeah. And some of like the, the study lessons and videos they’re like 20, 35 minutes long. And I mean, that’s just information that you’re not gonna use all of it. You know what I mean? Uh, so it, it just makes sense because the quizzes are modeled after the exam to start with that.
Nate: Yeah. Right. It sounds obvious once you say it, but like that’s one of the key things I try to tell people is like, okay, listen, you’re, you’re studying to pass the exams you’re going to see on test day, you don’t need to be able to get up and teach a class on every topic. And you know, those two approaches are obviously totally different.
Jeff: Yeah, yeah, yeah, no, it’s totally true. And, um, you know, aside from that, another point, I think I remember you making I’m pretty sure, uh, was, you know, when you’re studying the quizzes, you’re preparing yourself to answer questions too. You’re not just, you know, listening to information. You’re also, you know, studying to actually take an exam.
Nate: Right. There’s several components. It’s the whole idea of kind of like active learning versus passive. It’s easy to press play and start watching a video and pat yourself on the back and think, okay, I’m studying right now. But maybe 5% of that is actually getting in your head.
Whereas if you’re, you’ve got to be clicking through questions and reading explanations, it’s just, it’s just different. Your, your brain is more engaged the whole time.
Jeff: It is. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And it’s funny, you mention that because I think, uh, when I was taking, when I was studying for FAR for the first time, I was kind of patting myself on the back after every lesson, just because it took so much for me to listen and get through it.
Nate: Yeah. That’s the, that’s the bad thing is again, I say this all the time on, on the other episodes but there’s so many people out there that are dedicated, putting in the work, and the bad thing is even if you’re studying ineffectively and you don’t really know that until test day, you’re still taking all that time away from stuff you’d rather be doing.
You know? So whether you’re whether you’re studying is effective or not, you’re still like missing out on whatever it is. You’re your hobbies, family time, I mean stuff you’d rather be doing obviously And so you really want it to pay off so that you don’t have to keep redoing exams.
Jeff: Yeah. Completely agree.
How Jeff Used SuperfastCPA in His Study Process
Nate: And what about your, did you use the study tools kind of throughout the day like our review notes and everything or were you mostly just kind of using the strategies, applying it to your review course?
Jeff: Well, I used, um, I, I think another thing you mentioned which was a great idea was, I would take my dog out for a walk and, you know, I’ll pop out the app and start going through the questions.
I would supplement your questions with the ones that the review course provided, to kind of get, you know, different questions. Uh, so they didn’t get repetitive and I would go through the notes, um, you know, I would read them sometimes, and then when I was in the car, listen to it, but I think I went through the notes more rigorously on exam day, like before the exam.
And I think you mentioned this also, about going through the notes and making sure you get any last bit you can out of them. And that’s exactly what I did. I would wake up early and go through the entire notes. And I, I mean, I think it helped tremendously. I think for every exam, there was always one thing that I remember from the notes.
Nate: Yeah. And a lot of people use them like that. Uh, you know, you can use them throughout the day, whenever it makes sense. But a lot of people really focused on them in the last few days, almost as a, uh, well, as part of their final review but almost as like a cram course type thing.
Jeff: Right. Exactly. And exactly what it was. And then another strategy I think you mentioned was, uh, you know, cramming a day or two before so that’s what I would do especially as I didn’t have a job anymore. I was able to take my exams on the Friday as opposed to Sunday. And I would just have the cram sessions on Thursday where I would just 8 9, 10 hours a day to, you know, exam questions all day. I think that was the difference. I think that really helped me.
Nate: Yeah, yeah, yeah. That doesn’t solve if you’ve kind of slacked off and not studied very well for the weeks before that won’t solve your problems.
But when you do that in addition, I think that that two day strategy is, is honestly worth 10 to 15 points maybe. I get just a huge boost to just those last two days, get essentially all the exam information floating around in your short term memory before you walk in there.
Jeff: Yeah, and yeah, that’s exactly right.
I do remember you mentioning that and I would remember going into those cram sessions thinking, okay. You know, I’ve been getting scores of like 85 somewhere around there, after these cram sessions I would be getting like 95, a hundred. And that was always my goal after, you know, taking the last practice exam or a quiz section, quiz session, whatever.
Um, it’d be getting 95 to a hundred.
Nate: Yeah, that’s awesome. And, uh, I mean, just as a, I don’t personally care what you scored on the exams, but just to see how that translates, what, what were your score kind of score ranges on the actual exams?
Jeff: Sure. Um, so for FAR I got a 82. Audit was I believe at 85, Tax was 84 and BEC was 79.
Nate: Yeah, those are, those are really good. I was squarely in the seventies the whole time. I was just shooting for perfection, pure efficiency.
Jeff: Well, you know, I don’t blame you cause I think by the last exam, I wouldn’t have cared if I pass by at one point or 10, you know, at this point it be over.
Difference After Applying Our Study Strategies
Nate: So that’s one thing you mentioned. So when you kind of shifted your study strategies after watching our videos, did you, did it kind of free you up, make the study process less stressful? Give you some of your day back? I mean, you’re obviously still working hard. You got to study every day but was it less intense than the first, kind of your first attempt?
Jeff: It was. Number one, it was more organized because I think when I was taking the review course, I would just review, review, review, and, you know, sometimes I try to cram in one more review and that kind of would know when to stop. But when I was just following your, your strategy, it was more for me, at least it was more organized, I would say, okay, from, you know, eight to noon, I’m going to study and I should be able to get four practice exams, two SIMS in there, take a one hour break and then come back till five o’clock and then, uh, you know, take however many practice exams and SIMs in there as well.
And at the end of the day, I felt much more refreshed and like I retained more information and I wasn’t bogged down with, you know, lessons and reading and videos.
And I had the, you know, the third half of the day, the second half of the day, you know, free to, you know, just do personal things. So it was a game changer.
Nate: Yeah, that’s awesome.
Jeff: It was, and when I got towards like the last exam, um, I, my wife had a son, so, you know, that meant I had even less time to dedicate to the studies. So that made everything, it made everything harder but I’m so glad I was able to have the schedule and a study, a strategy that I could use. You know, it really benefited me, I was able to spend time with my wife, my son and studying. It was a lot but, you know, I was able to get it done.
Nate: Yeah. That’s great. Yeah. It’s a lot. Is that your first Is that your first kid?
Jeff: It is. Yeah. Yeah.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah. It’s, it’s a lot but it’s cool though. And I, yeah, I mean, luckily I wasn’t, I had mine done years before we ever had any kids, but yeah, I, that would have been just an extra yeah.
Doing it with kids, especially a new baby. That’s a lot.
How He Felt After Finishing All the Exams
Nate: So what was it like getting your fourth passing score and just realizing you were done?
Jeff: Uh, it was relief. Before I took the fourth exam and probably even the third exam, I was just ready to be over, ready for everything to be over.
I was over studying and, and, uh, it’s funny because I am not sure if everyone feels this way but coming into the CPA exam, um, you know, I mean, I like accounting, I like theory. So I thought it’ll be fun studying all of this but, uh, yeah, that lasted probably one, maybe two exams.
Nate: Right. Yeah. That’s funny because, well, one of our strategy videos is about finding your why. And I think I mentioned in there, you know, whatever, whatever motivates you right now, but a few months into this, it’s going to quickly turn into the only thing you care about is just getting done. And it’s not even about the, the increased salary. The, you know, the benefits that come down the line, the only thing you’re going to care about is getting done.
So that’s, yeah, that’s pretty much everyone’s experience, I think.
Jeff: Right, yeah, I’m glad I’m not alone. I do think it is important to have a “why”. Whether I believed it or not, I think in the moment I always just start, you know, I don’t want my son to grow up and see that I didn’t finish something I started, so that’s what kept me going.
Nate: Well, I think almost everyone that I’ve interviewed, you know, that has kids, they kind of mentioned that idea and again, it’s it’s whatever motivates you, but also like having kids, you do start kind of thinking like that, you know, monkey see, monkey do, you know, like your example is everything.
Jeff: Right, exactly. Yeah. And it’s funny, you kind of that your mind changes after you have kids, but, yeah, that was something I, I, like kept me on for sure.
His Hardest Part of the Study Process
Nate: So overall, what would you say was the hardest part of the study process?
Jeff: I guess to be honest, maybe less so the process and more so the material, bEC, I think was the hardest for me, just because I was the least interested in that portion. So it made everything harder. Even the questions I think, the ones that had less to do with numbers and more like a theory or just remembering facts. It was just…
It made everything harder. And I think going into the exam, I wasn’t even sure if I was ready, honestly. I knew, I trusted the quiz and the study process and had having high scores in the quizzes but sometimes going through the questions, it was like, I don’t even know if I, the quiz questions, like, you know, brought this subject up or I don’t remember but, I mean, it worked obviously because I passed so…
Nate: Yeah, so going back, that’s funny because BEC is, it is basically like, if you do a bachelor’s in business, it’s just a mix of like your undergraduate business classes is what BEC is. And you said you did Communications, right?
Jeff: Uh, well, no, I started in communications and then I switched to accounting.
Yeah. So I, I mean, I did remember some of the concepts from, you know, my undergrad but all the stuff that in my undergrad, I have
Nate: long time ago.
Jeff: Right. Well, yeah. And also in my undergrad, I remember thinking like, yeah, I’m not going to be like in finance or I’m not going to use it. You know, this isn’t in accounting, so I put it away.
Nate: Yeah. BEC definitely has just the most stuff that’s pretty much outside of what you ever really do as a CPA. So yeah. Okay, well, we’ve gone through pretty much all the stuff I normally talk about.
Jeff’s Best Tips to People Currently Studying
Nate: Even if it’s something we already covered, if you gave two or three of your best tips to people currently studying, what would those be?
Jeff: Well for me, I guess your strategy worked tremendously and it was a game changer for me. You know, whether I would have passed exams if I didn’t use that, who knows, but I did, and it saved me time. It saved me energy and I got passing scores. So I would say, really look into using that strategy and, you know, make it work for you because it’s a great strategy.
It’s easy. It’s the best way to retain information and it really does get you prepared. And then secondly, as we spoke about the “why”, I think that was very important because as you get through the exams, it just wears on you. And, uh, you know, it doesn’t mean that you’re gonna have, uh, less to do, you know, it just makes everything harder.
And if you don’t have a reason for continuing then it’s easy to stop.
Nate: For sure. Yep, I was, I got into that idea on the, yeah, on an interview I did yesterday where motivation is again, when someone’s starting and having like videos or talking about motivation, someone starting the study process is just like, just tell me, like, you know, give me the information so I can study. I was like, well, trust me, couple months into this motivation is going to be a huge thing that you deal with every day like, you know, the best strategies, the best material won’t do any good if you can’t get yourself to sit down and study. So yeah, that, that, that does pretty much cover it. The strategy side of studying and why you’re doing this in the first place. Yeah. So
Jeff: There are two big points. Yeah, for sure.
Nate: Yeah. All right, Jeff.
Well, I appreciate you doing the call. I don’t know if you’ve heard any, any of the other episodes, but uh, people find these just really, the main thing we hear about the podcast is how motivating it is for people that are just trying to put this together themselves. And they’re still, you know, in the middle of the process.
So yeah, I appreciate you taking the time. I’m really glad our stuff could help. I’m glad you uh, found us through the ad or whatever and uh, congrats on being done. That’s awesome.
Jeff: Thank you, Nate. I really appreciate everything. Like I said, everything helped tremendously and finally great to meet the voice behind the podcast. So…
Nate: Yeah, that’s what everyone says. They’re like, I go to sleep with your voice in my ears sometimes listening to this stupid audio notes. Like, wow. That’s hard to imagine, but okay.
All right. So that was the interview with Jeff. I’m sure you found that very helpful and informative and motivating.
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