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 Jessica
- 08:43 Beginning of Jessica’s CPA Journey
- 10:20 Experience with Live CPA Lectures
- 13:01 Having to Buy Becker Three Times
- 15:21 Jessica’s First Big CPA Study Breakthroughs
- 20:22 Maximizing the Use of Flashcards
- 22:43 Making the CPA Study Process Harder Than It Needs to Be
- 24:18 “I’m at a level where I can’t move up unless I have the CPA”
- 28:44 What Jessica’s Daily Study Routine Looks Like
- 31:53 “That’s what the overwhelming part for me was before…”
- 33:53 “Sacrificing now will be worth it in the long-term…”
- 37:45 “I’m trusting the process…”
- 41:36 Why Studying in the Morning is a Huge Relief
- 43:43 Using or Not Using Review Course Progress Indicators
- 48:05 How Jessica Breaks Down Practice SIMs
- 51:00 Jessica’s Tips for Struggling CPA Candidates
- 54:25 Almost Giving Up on Getting the CPA License
SuperfastCPA Reviews Interview Transcript
Jessica: I was like really overwhelmed just sitting down for countless hours like four to five hours at a time trying to study like every single day. It’s very draining. It’s very overwhelming. And it’s like very depressing to like, you know, you have to kind of do this huge study session before you can do anything else.
And it has to be every day. And you know, you’ve got to check your boxes, watch the lecture, do the multiple choice, do the SIMS. It was just, it was way too overwhelming.
And I was like, ” why am I still not passing?”. The rest of my 2021 was kind of hectic, I didn’t pick it up again, and then this December, I saw your, um, an ad. I’ve seen your ad pop up before I have never clicked on it.
Actually, a coworker sent that to me and I probably clicked on it and watched your free one-hour program. And then, yeah. And then just decided to purchase it. Then I watched all the pro videos. I got your bundle to watch the pro videos over the holidays.
And then um, the new year hit and I immediately started studying. So within three weeks I studied for REG. Um, and I, I passed. I just got, this is my first section passing. And just like in such a little time, I’ve just, I’m like blown away and just surprised and all these people telling me, “Oh, you can pass your CPA” and now I’m finally passing.
Nate: Welcome to episode 85 of the CPA exam experience podcast from SuperfastCPA. I’m Nate and in today’s interview, you’re going to hear me talk with Jessica. Now, Jessica has what is probably my favorite overall story arc. And we’ve had several people with a very similar type of story on this podcast. And what I mean by story arc is Jessica is super sharp, she’s really good at her job. She’s moved up in her job pretty quickly over the years. And then at the same time, she has also really struggled with the CPA study process. And this is a very common thing with some of the smartest people because you, you have that, that part of your brain that you really want to just, you want to know it all.
You really want to memorize everything in your review course. And so what happens to these type of people usually is they make the study process a lot harder than it needs to be. And at the end of the day, you know, of course they don’t realize that that’s what’s going on, that they’re making it harder than it needs to be, and if this goes on for years, it really starts to eat away at your, you know, like your self-confidence like, “I know I’m really good at my job. I know the content of what makes me good at my job. So why can’t I pass these exams?” And so Jessica just has a really good story.
It’s going to be very motivating and inspiring, and it was a lot of fun to talk with her and just hear her full story about how this has all unfolded for her. And again, it just comes back to these exams, it is strictly a matter of how strategic or how effective your study process is. Because obviously, over the years, you know, we’ve helped countless people with very similar stories, someone that’s struggled for months or even many years and once we can just kind of help them tweak their study process and make the right tweaks, it just starts happening like that. So the same person, the same brain, the only thing that changed was their strategy or their process.
And that is exactly the case with Jessica. So I don’t want to give anything away about her story. So we will just get into the interview. Before we do that, I just want to mention two things. So first our free study training. Every time we publish an episode or I send out the emails, I will get five to 10 emails from someone who’s, you know, on our email list or they hear some of our podcasts here and there, and they say something like, ” Okay, Nate, I’m ready to start. What’s the best place to start?”. These free study training webinars are exactly that. It is the best starting point. In fact, all of these success stories that you’ve heard on this podcast, pretty much every single person Jessica included, the place that they started is by watching one of these free training webinars.
So the only downside, you know, is that it takes an hour of your time. But this one hour will save you months and months of time and frustration. And at least monthly, I get at least three to five emails from people that were never our customer didn’t even buy our products, but they’re sending me a thank you email months after the fact just about the free training and just a few key things that they realized about their study process that changed everything.
So if you are ready to get started or you don’t know where to start, the best place for you to start is by watching one of these free study training webinars. So you can sign up for one of those at our main website at superfastcpa.com. It’s the main thing at the top of our homepage. And then the second thing would be our monthly podcast giveaway.
So if you are listening to these episodes or you watch these episodes on YouTube, you might as well enter that. It’s basically putting in your name and your email, and then we draw three names randomly at the end of each month and we give away three pairs of power beat pro headphones to our listeners, customers and non-customers.
So you can do that at superfastcpa.com/enter or there should be a link either in the show notes for this episode or if you’re watching this on YouTube, down in the description. So with all that being said, let’s get into the interview with Jessica.
Um, so Eastern time, where, where are you located?
Jessica: Um, just South of Boston. So it’s five o’clock here but the work day has not ended. It’s tax season.
Nate: Do you do tax?
Jessica: Yeah. I work in tax and, um, yeah, I’ve been here for over six years. Um, but my tax experience started when I graduated from college. I had a tax internship. Um, at the time of graduation, I stayed, um, at school over the summer after graduation to work in tax.
And I started full-time that fall back of Boston, um, full-time in tax. Uh, but I’ve kind of jumped around and this is my third job. I have had audit experience but I do like tax and working in tax now and only tax. So..
Nate: Nice so, uh, what hour weeks, how do you even ask that? How many hour weeks are you putting in right now?
Jessica: Um, right now it’s not too busy. We’re like 50 to 55 hours. Um, it’ll go up to like 60, 65 at the, at the busiest, but it really doesn’t reach a crazy amount of hours. I’ve worked way more than that at previous firms. So there’s a good kind of work-life balance here. And especially with like the, you know, most people are remote.
Um, I choose to come into the office but with the remote work, um, you know, you’re, if you’re at home, it’s easier to kind of work and do whatever you need to do. But, um, I still am able to make time studying, um, you know, kind of on the way to the office. I listen to your audio notes and throughout the day here, I’m kind of more, more motivated to be at work and do work.
And then any time I have a second when I’m picking up my phone to shoot a text or check something online or anything I’m using your app to make do with the study time that I can.
Nate: Nice. Yeah. That’s the, uh, I guess that’s the idea, right? Just whenever you would normally just do those things you mentioned, you know, just throw in a mini quiz or read a few pages in the notes or something like that, because it does add up, obviously. Those springtime reports point out how much it adds up to.
Jessica: Yeah. And just like the study time before, um, and I had chosen to do the SuperfastCPA method. I was like really overwhelmed just sitting down for countless hours like four to five hours at a time trying to study like every single day. It’s very draining. It’s very overwhelming. And it’s like very depressing to like, you know, you have to kind of do this huge study session before you can do anything else.
And it has to be every day. And you know, you’ve got to check your boxes, watch the lecture, do the multiple choice, do the SIMS. It was just, it was way too overwhelming. And I know studying for the CPA in general is overwhelming but your method makes it way less overwhelming.
Jessica’s CPA Journey
Nate: That’s awesome. So, yeah, we’ll get into the specifics. So I just wanted to ask about what you wrote on, on here. Uh, So you’ve been, you’ve been studying for years off and on. Yeah. Let’s, let’s just, let’s start there. Um, so would you, do you, did you have like failed sections or did you just, you would start studying, get really overwhelmed and just kind of put it off because I’ve heard uh, you know, I’ve heard everything in between. So what was your experience?
Jessica: So there was a little both in everything. So, um, when I had that tax internship, my boss was saying, “Oh, study for the CPA”.
And I prolonged it. Got my full-time job, prolonged it. After that tax season started starting before my second job, um, you know, purchase FAR at my first purchase for Becker.
And I forgot that was FAR and all that I took first but took a section thought I could pass, you know, having had an undergrad degree and kind of trying for the Becker a little bit. Obviously I needed to study more. Um, I, I, my second job I think I chose each of the other parts after doing Becker the normal way, you know, watching the lectures, doing most of the questions I didn’t get through all of them.
I didn’t do like the 80% of the program that they tell you to do. Um, so that they would reimburse you to purchase the program again, when it expired. And, uh, that program expired on me and I wasn’t able to like repurchase it cause I didn’t do an off and I had stopped for each one of the exams once. Um, so then I had to repurchase the program and I repurchased it with the live lecture option.
Experience with Live CPA Lectures
Jessica: I was actually going to, to do live lectures. And I thought that maybe in-person learning would kind of help me focus because when I was watching the lectures at home, I wasn’t, I wasn’t focused. Like I, I tune out as soon as the lecture started, I tried to kind of follow along and my book and I’d be highlighting everything.
And it just wasn’t, it was all passive learning. It was just, you know, what am I highlighting? I have no chance to read this. You know, I’m trying to listen to him and read it at the same time and maybe like write my own notes on the side. And I pause a lecture a lot to like half hour lecture might turn into an hour cause I’m pausing it. It’s a highlight to write notes. Yeah, I was just, it was a lot. So at the time I’m done with the lecture I’m trying to do with multiple choice but I’ve already taken so much time, so much time to do the lecture that the multiple choices, you know, now I’m, I’m so already mentally drained. I still have to do multiple choice but I’m not doing all the multiple choice cause I’m still mentally drained.
So even though the live lecture options, it, it helped a little bit, and I was able to kind of keep up with the first section. I think it was like BEC I’m not sure this was a while ago, but, um, I did the first live lecture, took the exam on time and then within like two or three weeks, the next live lecture section was starting.
And I was kind of already getting behind. I was kind of overwhelmed where the first section that I didn’t do everything and I, I knew I couldn’t keep up. So I just told myself, okay, just you know, get through the rest of the live lectures, um, and then go back and study more and take each exam. But that didn’t work.
I think I went back and took like the second section that was live. Um, didn’t pass, you know, because I didn’t do everything in the study program. Um, decided, okay. I, I could have rescheduled the live lecture somehow, you know, calling customer service and stuff like that but I just never, I was just like, this is, this is not working.
I’m going to kind of give up on this. And then that the live lecture program then expired, um, shortly after I kind of, um, moved on to another job. Um, so it was like, okay, I’m not, I’m getting nowhere in my, um, nowhere my studying, nowhere my CPA journey. The job I was at, I was doing audit and I wanted to go back to tax.
I was just miserable in my career. Um, but uh making the job change I also applied for a grad school at that time, got into Bentley’s Master in Tax program, decided I’m going to do this, put the CPA on hold. So I did the part year program for five years, finished May of 2020, and then started studying again. I had to repurchase the program.
Having to Buy Becker Three Times
Jessica: This is my third time repurchasing Becker. But now it doesn’t expire, so that’s good. Um, but, um, Yeah, I purchased your program, um, shortly after graduation and then started studying, um, I think it was at fall. So after the tax deadlines that fall, um, like November 2020, I started studying and I picked REG. I’m in tax.
I felt like after now this was probably my third time taking it. Um, uh, so I started for that November to January of 2021. So like two and a half months and I had studied a different way. Like I was finally doing I watch the whole lecture. I wasn’t, I didn’t pause it. I went to the multiple choice. I did all the multiple choice.
And at the end of the week, if I had time with the chapter, I would go back to each module and do the multiple choice again. It didn’t hit upon the SIMS as much. Um, but just, I try to stay on track. And at the end of January took it, I think I got like a 67 or 69. I can’t remember, but it was like the best I had ever done.
And I was like, “I changed my study method. Why am I still not passing?”. Um, work at tax season and, um, that was so earlier 2021, the rest of my 2021 was kind of hectic. I didn’t pick it up again. And then this December, I saw your, um, an ad. I’ve seen your ad pop up before I have never clicked on it.
Actually, a coworker sent that to me and I probably clicked on it and watched your, um, your free one-hour um, program. And then, yeah. And then just decided to purchase it. Then I watched all the pro videos. I got your bundle to watch the pro videos over the holidays. I was actually on a ski trip. Um, you know, my drive there, drive back.
I was able to kind of listen to those. And then, um, the new year hit and I immediately started studying. So January 3rd, I might, my exam was January 22nd. So within three weeks I studied for REG. Um, and I, I passed, I think it was a 78. I just got this is my first section passing. And just like in such a little time, I’ve just, I’m like blown away and just surprised and all these people telling me, “Oh, you can pass your CPA” and now I’m finally passing.
Jessica’s First Big CPA Study Breakthroughs
Nate: Yeah. That’s awesome. So maybe my first question would be, so when you listened or watched the pro videos, were there any just like “Aha!” moments where you heard something and you’re like, okay. Because especially like, I feel sometimes the people with the biggest breakthroughs when they kind of hear our strategies is the people that have been struggling for a long time because they are, they’re very deep in the study process. Like they know what like when I say you do this because of this it’s those people that are like, “Oh, that’s exactly what I’ve been doing wrong”. So anyways. Yeah. What were some of the big breakthroughs you had?
Jessica: Um, I guess, so there was a lot, I was doing wrong and I finally changed my method to like to the a hundred percent the normal way this both last year. So 2021, 2020 and to 2021 and still wasn’t passing. Um, but a lot of the like “Aha!” moments where like passive learning. So watching the lectures like I knew that, that that’s kind of a waste of time which is kind of like sitting in class when, you know, you can maybe just go to a spark notes and read and know what you need to know from there, read a classmate’s notes and kind of know what you need to know for the exam type of thing. Um, so you, a lot of the passive learning, you know, um, you know, studying should be what you’re doing on test day.
I wasn’t doing that. I was spending too much time on the lectures and trying to learn through the lectures instead of like gaining an understanding from the answers to the multiple choice questions and, you know, taking a glimpse at the SIMS and kind of understanding, you know, how to do a SIM type of thing.
Um, instead of just being frustrated with the whole study process, the passive learning, and then the, the rereview was a big thing for me. So like we’re tanning information I never really did that before. I had done the final review when I drive around last year. Because I purchased out through Becker and that helped, but didn’t help enough, obviously.
Um, so the rereview was key for me.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah. And that’s one of those things that just sounds so obvious once someone points it out, you know, like, okay, I’m trying to learn 200 plus topics if you’re talking about FAR and so it really doesn’t make any sense to like go really deep, try to master each lesson, but then not look at it again for six to eight weeks.
Nate: Whereas like, yeah, the idea of kind of getting a foundational understanding and then you’re constantly going back and like learning everything in layers, just constantly improving on all topics. It’s like a, just makes so much more sense.
Jessica: Right. And you know, just the, the retention and stuff like that.
And I find, I have that issue at work. Like if I’m not kind of doing the same thing every day, or if I have to put a task down for a while until I see it again, I don’t really know what’s going on. So it’s the same thing. Yeah.
Your flash, the flashcards helped a lot when you mentioned flashcards and the pro course, I was like, there’s no way I’m going to write down flashcards on a piece of paper.
You know, I, I don’t want to carry around this huge deck with me. Um, but I did download. I think it’s BrainScape that’s on my phone when I put the, um, flashcards through there and it’s so much easier to like have virtual flashcards, um, that are your own, um, to study with.
Nate: Right. And they, some, some people, you know, if you’ve heard other episodes, like a lot of people still just prefer that the paper flashcards, which is, you know, whatever like whatever someone wants to do but the uh, with the digital ones like you said, I think the biggest advantages you, you have this account that’s I mean it’s like any online service. So you can write the flashcards in another tab or a window when you’re studying.
And then your same flashcards they’re just automatically on your phone with you wherever you go. You don’t have to try to carry them around. And then they also like there’s other features like you can, uh, you can review your decks in different ways, right? Like rate ones or color code. Um, yeah, yeah,
Jessica: Yeah. So it’s pretty good. If there was something that kept coming up that I kind of knew or the more I did it, I was understanding it more. I would, you know, increase the color to, you know, weak to strong and it wouldn’t show up as much. Yeah, so that program’s really good.
Nate: Uh, so when you, sometimes, you know, I haven’t gone back and like tried to actively use BrainScape since I studied, but that is what I used. Is it still, is there a free version that you’ve used?
Jessica: The BrainScape? Yeah,
Nate: yeah, yeah. It’s still free or there is at least a free version?
Jessica: Yeah. The version I have is free. I don’t know if like, if it gets to so many cards, is it going to charge me, um, you know, at that point, maybe well I’ll start deleting sections that I’ve passed or make another account or something like that.
But, um, yeah, it’s free right now. It’s really good, yeah.
Maximizing the Use of Flashcards
Nate: And, uh, just a question on how you do it. Like, how do you create decks? Like for me, I just went till I had 30 cards regardless of the topic, and then it started a new deck. So I just had numbers like deck one, deck two. Um, how do you do it?
Jessica: I did the same thing. I took your advice.
And I did the 30 or so per deck just so I could like play the deck over and not have, you know, 200, 300 flashcard at once that I needed to get through.
And I felt good kind of just doing 30 at a time type of thing. Um, especially, you know, the 10 minutes before bed, that’s all I had kind of time to do so I would just pick a deck and kind of go from there, but splitting it and putting it on the app, you know, it just makes sense to do it that way. And it’s easy to add the cards.
You know, when I was doing my 30 multiple choice after the, or the second half of the two hour session in the morning, I would just add multiple choice or start flashcards from the multiple choice that I got wrong. Um, and it adds up quickly. I mean, it’s easy to make three or four, five decks, you know, per section so…
Nate: Yeah. And, uh, so did that really help?
I mean, I’m sure the answer is yes but like, did, did it help, did doing that writing in your own words was that just another kind of, cause most people mentioned that idea is another kind of like game changer strategy.
Jessica: Yeah. So it’s another “Aha!” I should’ve been doing this before type of thing which I kind of was doing before.
I would like I’m, uh, I learned by like seeing and doing so I have to write out like notes for myself. That’s what I was doing with the lectures and the book even. I would rewrite stuff in the book that I was having trouble with. Um, and I never made flashcards. The flashcards are good. And you know, that’s in my own words, kinda like if I took a note and put it on a piece of paper, flipped around, it was it’s a flashcard but I had pages and pages of like notes type of thing. Kind of like, you know, when you’re studying for an exam in college and they say, “Oh, write everything on one piece of paper, it can be your cheat sheet”.
That’s kind of what I was doing for like final review. I was going through the book stuff. I didn’t really know I was writing it out and I’d have pages of computer paper and just one of stuff that should have been on a flashcard for me to kind of flip through every day not just the weekend before or the week before the exam.
Making the CPA Study Process Harder Than It Needs to Be
Nate: So it sounds like this, this kind of seems like a, it wouldn’t be possible to do. but I got an email a few months ago and this has happened multiple times, just the general idea of someone who is very dedicated like it sounds like you are. And you’re taking all kinds of notes.
Like you’re doing just everything but you’re really just kind of making it harder than it has to be type thing. Did you have a sense of that as you kind of switched to our study strategies or saw this study process differently?
Jessica: Yes. So before, like last year when I was doing Becker the normal way, I thought oh this is, this is easy, this is manageable but it was still overwhelming and it was still very time consuming. And I was going nowhere with it. I mean, my multiple choice scores weren’t as high as I wanted them to be. And I still took the exam. Um, but doing like the flashcards and the rereview, just everything, it just made so much sense. With everything, all your tips just coming together as a whole, it made, it made things so much easier, so much less overwhelming.
And I was able to like focus on studying instead of saying, you know, “Oh I gotta put all these hours in, all this time”. And, you know, hopefully I’ll get somewhere with it instead of, you know, cause I hadn’t gotten anywhere with it in the past. Um, and I just kind of I had faith in your program just from your story, which, um, they say, you know, have faith in something.
“I’m at a level where I can’t move up unless I have the CPA”
Jessica: So this is like my last, last try here. Cause I kind of need the CPA now to move forward in my career. I’m at a level at work where I can’t move up unless I have that. So…
Nate: Yeah, no, that’s awesome. And uh, yeah, I mean the biggest thing is like getting a, like getting your study methods or your, your overall, I guess you would just call it your study routine really nailed down and finding the time and being dedicated that’s like the first step.
But the thing is, is like, you can, you can nail that. But if you’re, if your study methods or that time spent, even if it’s five hours a day, if it’s not, you know, like translating into higher scores, I guess, on multiple choice and SIMS then it that’s the next thing you have to figure out.
But once you have those two things then it’s just a matter of executing it each day,
Jessica: Like a, the time thing for me was like a big issue because I’d always look for, I’d always be distracted on studying. I’d be looking for like the next best thing. I didn’t want to be studying. I, you know, make excuses.
I don’t have time to study. And last year I was doing the studying after works or get home, you know, outside of tax season maybe 5:30 I’m studying till 8:30, 9 o’clock at night. And in-between there quickly I’m making dinner and stuff. And it’s just, you know, the hours like the lecture time and stuff that, that wasn’t helpful.
Like if I had been doing your method then with the multiple choice and the rereview, I would have gotten the score I wanted to get then type of thing. But doing it in the mornings now like I’ve printed out your motivation, uh, form sheet. I filled that out. I look at it every day. Um, and it, if I, you know, feel like I am exhausted in the morning, I can’t get through this session, you know, I’ll read that. It kind of motivates me to keep studying. Um, and honestly, two hours isn’t a lot. And some days I would only have like an hour and a half to study cause I caught up later but that hour and a half, I would use to you know, my full advantage, you know? Yeah. Start doing the multiple choice, get as much rereview and as I could even if it was like 20 questions instead of the normal 30 that I was doing.
Um, and then just maybe try to find time throughout the day to do more multiple choice like the mini quizzes or maybe do another review during lunch or right after work, um, just to make up for a little bit of that time that I missed in the morning.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah. That’s another idea that is just trying to do something every day because not every day is going to be just ideal.
And, uh, the nice thing, cause that was really big for me, was studying from my phone even though back then. Because once I had started working in public accounting, the only time that I did have was like two hours in the morning. I mean, that’s, I did exactly what I preached to everybody. Uh, but studying from my phone was huge because
you’re just carrying this thing around and you know, that you use it hours a day added up and there wasn’t really anything made for specifically for your phone then. And I would argue that even now, there’s not really except for our study tools because you know, the apps that come with your review course give you these full strength questions is that you can’t do that
if you’re standing in line. The bank or I dunno, whatever. Right.
Jessica: It is hard. It is hard to do Becker on my phone but sometimes I will do it if I’m like walking on the treadmill and I have an hour, I can do multiple choice especially if it’s not like if I don’t need to write down numbers and stuff, the mini quizzes on the app that you have are so much more easier to get through.
And if I have a lot of time, I can do not just one but like maybe 10 in a row or something like that. So, yeah.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah. And we, I mean, obviously, and you’ve probably heard me say this a thousand times but we made them that way on purpose because you know, complicated questions as hard as you want questions to be, the review courses they’ve done all that.
Like they have that. And, uh, again, It would really frustrate me to be on like the train or something and trying to do questions for my review course just on my phone. And it’s not really feasible or you always run into one that’s, you know, just, you can’t do it in your head. And so I think, okay, this is why I don’t do this more often just because it’s not practical.
What Jessica’s Daily Study Routine Looks Like
Nate: So yeah, that’s, that’s why we use the simplified numbers and everything. Um, one thing I was going to ask was uh, oh, so what does a, what does a full day of studying look like? Do you study in the morning? I’m guessing you kind of mentioned that and then how do you use or if you do use our app throughout the day, just what is a full day look like?
Jessica: Yeah, so I’ll get up around like uh, keep pushing it later, later, but like 5:45 and I’ll study till 7:45. Um, but the last half hour being the rereview so I’ll do 30 multiple choice from everything I’ve done in this section so far, uh, you know, chapters 1, 2, 3, whatever it is. Um, do the rereview, uh, look at the ones that I got wrong.
Um, usually only have like, I don’t know, maybe 10 minutes to quickly look at what I got wrong. Um, try to make a flashcard or two from that. If I don’t have time to do that in the morning. I’ll try to do that, you know, maybe during the lunch or later in the day. Um, but when I drive to and from work, I’m listening to your audio notes.
Um, and then anytime I try to pick up my phone and I like force myself to open a crap first before I go to text somebody, or it looks something up. I’m opening the app. And whether I’m reading something, you know, on the notes for five minutes or listening to your audio notes, I’ll play the audio notes a lot.
I found that to be really helpful when I pass REG. Um, I would just, any, anytime I had time to listen, I would listen to your notes. Um, just kind of listening and like processing that or saying it, saying it to myself again in my head. Um, it like helped me learn and that was more helpful than watching a video of watching someone kind of talk to me, I guess, for whatever reason, the audio notes helped a lot.
We all listen to the audio notes and then, um, I’ll go to the gym after work and switch it up. I’ll either read your notes, listen to the audio notes, you know, it depends on what I’m doing at the gym too. Um, or I’ll open up Becker again and do the rereview or pickup set of 30 and just do that type of thing or two sets of 30 or whatever it is I have time for.
And then when I got home at night, I just, I don’t pick it up again. I know you had mentioned like, oh, while you’re cooking dinner but I just like, I can’t look at it again.
Nate: Oh yeah, no, I would say, uh, yeah, if you’ve nailed it to that degree which like you are, yeah. I would, uh, take a complete mental break from CPA stuff. How, how long is your commute?
Jessica: Um, it’s like, it’s really only like 15 minutes, maybe a little bit more with traffic. So 20 minutes tops. It’s not a long commute but that like to and from adds up that half hour and then commuting to the gym which is a little bit further. And then my workout at the gym, you know, it adds up to like the two hours in the morning, plus an hour at the gym, plus an hour during the day, plus a commute, you know, maybe like what four and a half hours.
Nate: Yeah. Which is right. And that’s solid. And yeah, it’s like, you know what you’re doing now so the time you do spend is effective. And it’s four hours but it doesn’t have to be, you don’t have to find four dedicated hours to like sit in front of your computer.
“That’s what the overwhelming part for me was before…”q
Jessica: Right. I think that’s what the overwhelming part for me was studying before is like, “What am I going to fit this shit?”. And just like stressing the whole day about studying. And then when I finally went to study, I was so overwhelmed that I, I then had to study and, you know, having had this long day in front of me, it just, it wasn’t, it wasn’t making anything easy. So…
Nate: Yeah. Yeah. Uh, and so that was, that was my next question.
So you kind of just mentioned it but so doing the two hours in the morning and then the mini sessions throughout the day, is it made your daily schedule just way less hectic or way less stressful?
Jessica: Yeah. Way way less stressful. Yeah. So I know I’m getting in the studying throughout the day so that when I get home from work, I don’t have to study and now I’m getting home really late.
So like maybe the hour I have before bed, I don’t have to, I don’t have to study cause I have to study during the day. I’ve made time, you know, even when there was no time I’ve made time and you know, you might have to double task, you know, here and there going to, um, studying while I’m working out, I’m studying while I’m driving, I’m studying you know, in between tasks at work.
No, it’s just it, it really adds up. So there’s time in the day. I mean, if you have time to pick up the phone and be on social media here and there, text somebody, you have time to do a mini quiz or, you know, study a little bit, it really adds up.
Nate: Yeah. I mean, and that’s the thing is like, if you. I, I fully admit, I mean, it’s, does not sound fun to listen to CPA study or listen to audio notes while you’re working out at the gym.
I would much rather be listening to music. However, if you are forcing yourself to fit in four to five hours of study time, you know, again, the normal way, then you’re not going to the gym, period. Like you literally, if you’re working full-time you don’t have any extra time if you’re also trying to study four to five hours. So…
“Sacrificing now will be worth it in the long-term…”
Jessica: Yeah. And just like the, yeah, maybe some days when I’m driving to work, I want to turn on the morning show and listen to the radio or something like that. But like sacrificing that now for a couple months, we’ll be like worth it in the longterm. Kind of what you said in your pro video I was like, “what are you willing not to do right now?”.
So, um, so yeah, that makes sense.
Nate: Yeah. And what, what section are you working on now?
Jessica: Um, I decided to do audit, so I didn’t get my REG score until like a week, a week ago week and half ago. So I started dabbling in the audit stuff last week and I’m studying out of this week. So if I can keep up with the studying, my goals to take the exam by the end of March, so that, you know, a little over a month kind of isn’t, to me now is enough time.
I mean, if I can pass REG in a couple of weeks, I know I had sat for it a year before, you know, this past January, but I can’t study for months at a time. I mean, just the information is like in one ear out the other, if you’re doing that. So yeah. Um, just, I think a month would be enough for me doing it this way now.
Nate: So, so now having moved on to audit, does it just feel like a, I mean, are you like the stuff you study, is it like clicking? Does it feel like the process is still working for this new section?
Jessica: All right. So it’s like, it’s a little different cause it’s not like math based. I haven’t seen math yet.
Um, a lot of is like reading and kind of understanding and I don’t work. I used to work on audit by working on auditing more, so maybe a little bit of the concepts are unfamiliar to me. That’s why last week when I kind of started dabbling in the studying, I was listening to your audio and notes.
So I was trying to like learn from you kind of teaching through there. Um, that’s made it easier for me to start with the multiple choice cause I already have kind of an understanding. I’ve already gone through your audio notes like two or three times already. So I’m kind of doing that already and starting multiple choice, um, has helped, uh, you know, I’m not grasping it as much as I thought I would immediately, but you know, it is a different like topic.
I don’t work in audit but I think that, you know, if I continue to do this and, you know, start to do more multiple choice, more rereview like, it’ll, it’ll hit eventually. Even with the REG, it was like when I started doing this, I was like, “Oh yeah, I remember that”, or I remember that with your audio notes.
And then until I started in the multiple choice like I struggled initially but then I was able to like, get it the next time type of thing with every rereview and stuff. So…
Nate: Yeah, that’s what I was going to mention is it uh, it’s kinda like the, I guess snowball analogy, you know. At the beginning, you’re going through topics pretty quickly to do the whole planting the seeds thing but you have to remember. And that makes people really, uh, uncomfortable the first couple of weeks.
Cause they’re like, I feel like I’m moving on before I really understand this. But the, the daily rereview that all just kind of compounds and you kind of hit a point where it all starts to really click. Maybe it’s different for everyone but like the three to four week mark, maybe.
Jessica: Yeah. I would agree with that.
Yeah. So until I like cover enough material, I don’t think it’ll like really click and I’ll see like, you know, more than a 75, you know, big higher scores on my multiple choice type of thing. Like I’m getting in like the sixties or 60%, 65% but I’ve only just started studying. Like, it’s just been a couple of days, um, you know, the materials kind of still new.
Um, and I haven’t made flashcards yet, so, um, yeah. I know will click I’m hopeful that it will click because it, the same thing kind of happened with REG so yeah, yeah.
“I’m trusting the process…”
Nate: Yeah. And another thing that was a really good point on the interview I did, I don’t know, two hours ago, uh, she was talking about how her study process kind of evolved. Well everyone’s process evolves obviously but what she was saying was that she used different strategies more heavily based on the section. And so she mentioned audit, uh, specifically where she used or she, she wrote a lot more flashcards out for audit to make the, whatever the, the different paragraphs of the different audit reports, you know, to, to help her understand that. Um, yeah, so that’s just, I guess maybe a tip or something you’ve already realized, like you said. Yeah.
Jessica: I was, yeah, I’ll probably, I was going to actually probably start next week or like writing out, like when I listen to your notes if I’m not at the gym, maybe I’m sitting down and writing out like an outline to the audit reports and stuff like that.
Just the different sections and stuff, stuff that I can refer to. And if I can see it in front of me, um, it might be easier than kind of listening to the audio notes but listening to the audio notes has helped and until I get to that section in the multiple choice, I’m not gonna really know like how much it’s helping until I kind of do it and rereview it type of thing.
I know, I know you’re like Becker doesn’t line up with the way your audio notes are. So your, your first section might be on like materiality but that’s not chapter wanted Becker. Um, until I like listened an offer, cover on of both your audio notes or the regular notes. Um, until I do that in Becker, I’m not gonna it won’t line up until I get through it so I’ve got a couple of weeks.
Nate: Yeah, no, I think the biggest thing is, you know, you’ve been working, you’ve tried a bunch of things over the years and just getting a process that now you know works. That’s like the biggest thing. You already have like the discipline, you know, your daily routine and yeah, from here it’s just now doing what you know works for the other three. So…
Jessica: Alright. Yeah. And, um, you know, it, it’s hard during tax season. It’s hard to get up in the morning cause I know I’m going to have a long day. Sometimes I’ll like forego the gym and just when I get home, you know, that that’s it for the next it’s already so late.
Um, but I’ll try to study a little bit more at work. Like towards the end of last week, I was listening to your audio notes more or cause I, I knew I wasn’t going to have the time afterwards. Um, you find the time for what you want type of thing. So I, I want and need this and that’s worked so far, so, um, I I’m trusting the process.
Nate: Yeah. And you’ll, you’ll continue to get better at it. One thing, a lot of people I can’t remember, I asked you this at the very beginning but I don’t even remember what you said. Have you heard a bunch of these interviews or just a few or?
Jessica: Um, most recently your, you had interviewed someone in December that was kind of similar to me.
Nate: Oh, uh, you said Mitch right?
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Um, yeah. And that’s what a lot of people say is once they kind of get this nailed, they put in a bunch of time on the first section. And then from there, it kind of like, by the end sometimes there’ll be like, I felt like I kind of did a crappy job studying for the fourth one but I still passed it.
And that’s how you know your process has gotten really good. If you, you can just kind of naturally, I don’t know. You just, you just get good, you just know what you’re doing once you figure it out and you can almost spend less time. I mean, ideally you want to just make sure you get passing scores every time but, but yeah, it does work like that.
Jessica: Yeah. That make sense. And I don’t care what the score is as long as it’s a passing score. Yeah.
Why Studying in the Morning is a Huge Relief
Nate: So what about, so one thing I was going to ask you was, uh, just the general stress level of, so when you were trying to go to work all day and then come home and study for four or five hours at night, I’m guessing you would kind of be dreading that study session all day during the day.
And is it just almost a sense of relief to just do your main session in the morning and then you don’t have to really worry about it as you work all day?
Jessica: Yeah. It’s a huge relief. So that’s what I was talking about the like the overwhelming feeling. You’re just thinking about it all day. It’s kind of like if you have a task to do like where you’ve been putting it off for a while, you know like a personal thing and you don’t want it to it, but you’re thinking about it all day.
So I’ll just like, that was the Becker session after work. I was driving it all day. I didn’t want to do it. I knew I had to do it. And I knew I had to put now three, four plus hours into my session after work. And, you know, if I was mentally drained from the work day it didn’t matter, I, I still had to do that.
And then when I was doing that, it wasn’t productive because I was mentally drained from the whole day. So yeah, doing it in the morning and just little bits here and there, it doesn’t make it overwhelming at all. It’s like, it’s very doable. It’s very doable also. Yeah.
Nate: Yeah. I, right. I mean the only, like, obviously the big obvious downside is waking up two hours earlier or whatever but after that it’s I mean, everything about it works better.
Uh, it makes the rest of your day better or whatever, less stressful, um.
Jessica: And I used to wake up really early. I was a rower in college. Um, so I, I was on the 5:00 AM and it’s just, I’m used to kind of doing that. I mean, other days I’ll get up between 6 to 6:30 so I’m up by six. If I can get an hour and 45 minutes and before after rush to work, that’s good enough for me.
Nate: Yeah. That’s what I was going to ask is if you have always woken up early or if this was like a major change to try and…
Jessica: Not a huge change for me now.
Using or Not Using Review Course Progress Indicators
Nate: So like Becker specifically, I know their interface. They have this maybe not pretty is not the right word, but this elaborate, like these things light up and, you know, as you progress it, like.
Uh, what do you call it? Just like this progress…
Nate: Do you try to make that all get green or?
Jessica: Not anymore but I used to. I used to but the first time I used to, I knew it wasn’t feasible to do everything. That’s why I wasn’t like I wasn’t doing the 80% that Becker says you have to do or get right to get reimbursed. So I quickly fell behind with that. Um, and then when I repurchased it, yeah, I did try to do that again.
Cause I didn’t want to have to repurchase it another time but, um, I just fell behind again. And, but now I know I don’t need to do that. And I don’t, I don’t really care what the proficiency is, you know. I don’t care that I, I didn’t do the, they have these like after every or two or three modules, there’s like a pre-exam kind of review.
But yeah, it’s essentially doing like a simmer two and multiple choice rereview. But like, I’m doing that every day. I said, why do I need to do the pre-exam review after two or three modules when I’m doing that every day? So, yeah. And it, you know, if you don’t do that, they say you’re not exam ready but obviously I was exam ready
cause I passed one already. So without having to do the pre-exam review through Brecker so…
Nate: Yeah. Yeah. There’s, there’s been several interviews where the, the, uh, person said that they would take the time that it took which was a lot of time to make all that green and be a hundred percent ready. Um, and then still like fail the section in it and stuff.
Jessica: I don’t know if that’s like a come on with them, you know? Cause I mean, I know the program doesn’t expire now but it used to and maybe they are, they’re getting, you know, with the, you gotta do everything and you know, if you you’re spending too much time doing all this other stuff, not passive learning, you’re really not passing exams.
You’re going to have to buy the program again which obviously I did three times. So…
Nate: yeah. Yeah, thinking back, that’s really annoying that, uh, it’s really only been in the last, I think, I think that Wiley kind of forced that change in the market because for a long time, Wiley was like that they had the unlimited access thing and, uh, everyone else just had an 18 month timeline which doesn’t even make sense because you have to have, you’re going to study, uh, at least a month or two to take the first section and then you can be 18 months from the AICPA.
So you’re like, anyways, that always just pissed me off when I was like looking at review courses. It didn’t make sense. Okay. Uh, so what, so last two questions. So you mentioned doing the, the rereview the last two days or the, like the mega cram session thing. Did you kind of do that?
Jessica: So, no, I didn’t really have time to do that because I had to put the exam on a Saturday.
Um, just with, um, for personal reasons, I, I was going away. We had a death in the family who was waiting on a funeral date and the only available exam was that Saturday. Um, so I wasn’t able to do your 48-hour cram session and I was like, “Oh no, I’m not going to pass again”. I’m going to be so overwhelmed, depressed, and I’ll probably put it down after this.
Um, and you know, think about my career. Um, but, uh, just that, that week, I think I just did more rereview. Like whenever I had the chance, even if it was during the gym, instead of listening to the audio notes again, I would just keep doing the rereview. So 30 questions of the whole section. Um, and just whenever I had time.
Nate: Yeah. I mean, the thing is that the two days it’s really just about getting those two days freed up but then the strategies are still exactly the same. It’s just sets of 30 of set of practice SIMS and keep making flashcards. So yeah, if you’re doing that the whole time it’s, yeah. Not a huge difference.
How Jessica Breaks Down Practice SIMs
Jessica: I was going to say, you’re the SIMS the advice you get about the SIMS like don’t sit there and do the whole problem kind of gain an understanding from it. Answer a few like the boxes. There might be like 24 boxes you have to fill out but maybe do like one row or one column or whatever it is, the problem that they’re giving you. And then move on to the next one. I was spending way too much time trying to fill out every single box.
And then, you know, if one, a couple were wrong, I would go back and see which ones were wrong instead of like, just gaining an understanding from the one question when it’s, you know, asked 10 times in the chart or whatever it is. Um, so just doing the, when you said five to seven SIMS I’m like, I’m not, um, weekend is going to be, you know, forever studying if I do five to seven sentence but getting through five to seven SIMS with just touching upon each one, that’s doable.
Very, very doable.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, as soon as you see something you don’t know, you submit it instead of there is kind of this mental, uh, I don’t know if it’s like a pride thing. I don’t, I don’t know really how to label it but people don’t want to like do that. They want to sit there and stare at it and really try and figure it out.
But that’s very costly in times of time or in terms of time.
Jessica: And I found my exam that the SIMS were easier than the multiple choice. And I mean, for REG I got a lot of, uh, like the business law questions. And when I was studying those, um, you know, it’s towards the end of Becker, it’s the last two chapters.
And I was just, you know, trying to cram this into my three weeks and I did get through all the multiple choice but I didn’t do as well as I wanted to when I was like, I’m never going to know everything here. Let me just kind of get a basic understanding with like the main words or definitions I’m seeing a lot.
Um, and those are the ones I got on the exam but it was difficult to see all these, you know, business law, you know, where’s the, where’s the fiduciary and non-profit questions and basis questions. You know, my multiple choice were a lot harder than I thought they were going to be. And the SIMS were easier. And usually it’s the other way around from it. The SIMS are very difficult on the exam.
And it’s probably because I spent too much time trying to fill out every stupid little box and doing them on practice, practice days. So…
Nate: Yeah. It is uh, it’s just crazy how, how different just changing up your strategies can be just trying to think strategically, like starting from the end and working backwards, like, okay.
Instead of trying to memorize this full textbook and all these video lectures, what do I actually have to do on test day? Just be able to answer multiple choice and the SIMS. And it seems, again, it seems so simple when you pointed out like that but that’s not how everyone’s like approaching it day to day. Um, anyways, so, uh.
Jessica’s Tips for Struggling CPA Candidates
Nate: So last question that I always ask, what are your, even if it’s something we’ve already covered, what are your top two or three tips for someone who’s maybe not even working on their exam still but someone who was in your previous position where you were really struggling with the process?
Jessica: Um, get rid of the lectures, get rid of the passive learning and learn from the answers and the questions.
That’s where you’re going to learn. You just have to trust you’re going to be able to learn. You know why something’s right and why something’s wrong. You really pick up a lot there. And I didn’t realize that, you know, when I was doing the multiple choice, I would just, you know, go for an answer.
If it was wrong, I would read why it was wrong. I would read the other answers. And, you know, that was, I was just going through the multiple choice and then maybe I would do it again and again. And I was just, I was memorizing answers, you know, like, oh, that was A, you know, I’mma select A but not really understanding why it was A, you know, or why it wasn’t the other answers type of thing, which is why reading the answers and learning that way was kind of a lot better for me.
Um, what’s the other, the getting rid of passive learning. Don’t don’t do lecture unless you have to do it or feel like you need to, you know, hit upon that topic more. Um, and then third the rereview. I never really did that in the past until I did final review with Becker last year when I tried the REG but that didn’t really work.
It was overwhelming and I should have been doing it all along. So like the, every morning doing the 30 multiple choice or whenever I have time during the day that helps it helps retain information because you’re going to forget quickly after you start. Even if it’s a couple of weeks and you won’t remember what you did in the first chapter.
Um, so I had issues with that in the past cause I didn’t do it. Now I’m doing it and it really has helped. Um, and then just, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming if you make time to study and you know, you can, you know, make time through the day to pick up the phone. Well, you can pick up your phone and study for five minutes.
You can, you know, listen, listen to notes, going to and from work or to and from a friend’s house, wherever you’re going. Now, listening to your audio notes in the car and maybe people say, oh, I go to drive somewhere. I have to pay attention to where I’m going. But you know, most of the roads that we’re driving, you’d probably driven on every day commuting to and from somewhere.
So almost you need to pay attention to your GPS. You can listen to audio notes easily, and then, you know, there’s time in the day to make time for studying. And if you know, you don’t have to sit down in front of a computer and do it. It can be while you’re walking while you’re working out. Now a few minutes in the morning, a few minutes in the evening, any time during the day type of thing. Getting the studying done in the morning is I, how you, you said it a lot and like I agree that the two hours an hour and a half, whatever you have for your main session, just to do it in the morning to not be overwhelmed and thinking about it all day really helps.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah. The, the two hours in the morning, it’s just the thing I always say is it solves a lot of problems in advance. Um, I could go into the specifics but that’d be like a hour long tirade, so yeah. Well, yeah, that’s awesome. I’m I love hearing these stories. I’m really glad it’s kind of helped turn things around.
Almost Giving Up on Getting the CPA License
Nate: And, uh, you were, so you were saying you were starting to consider just giving up on the CPA?
Jessica: Um, yeah which sucks cause I really like what I do. I like what I work. I, you know, I don’t want to leave here. I don’t want to leave my job. I mean, yeah, I could, but I, I really don’t want to, so, um, I’m going to push myself to get through these.
Nate: Yeah, no, you’re, you’re going to get it. You’re gonna, yeah, you’re going to finish the last three and I’m sure I could just, I can just tell by the type of person you are like I’m sure you’re good at your job. And so it’s probably just very frustrating that there’s like this thing that can kind of affect it.
You know, that’s really a different context or it’s a different, it’s almost the thing I always rant about in football is it drives me nuts that, uh, entire games come down to like a field goal when the whole, the whole sport of football is such a different thing. You know, it has nothing to do with kicking but like all the big games come down to like a field goal.
Anyways, it’s kind of similar.
Jessica: Yeah, no, it, it has been really frustrating not to like have that. And then, you know, to like put stuff down to like start my career again at every job I’ve been to. This is my third job and I’ve been here for over six years. I like to stay here and move up and I am good at what I do.
And I believe I, I do a lot here and it sucks not to have my certification. I mean, I have my master’s in tax and, um, this is the last thing I kind of need to feel at ease type of thing.
Nate: Well, uh, six, six months or less I’m sure I’ll be hearing from you that you’re, you’re all done. So I can’t wait to hear that.
Jessica: I hope so.
Nate: All right. Well, I appreciate you taking the time to be on here. I promise a lot of people are going to find this one very helpful. There are so many people out there that are, uh, in just a very similar situation. So, so yeah, it’ll just be very motivating to people.
So, yeah, I thank you for being on here.
Jessica: Yeah. Your, your program is my Hail Mary, so yeah.
Nate: It’s going to be one of those Aaron Rogers highlights that ends up working.
Nate: All right. So that was the interview with Jessica. As I said in the beginning, I’m sure you found that very informative, very inspiring and very motivating. I really enjoyed hearing her entire story and it is just very fulfilling to be able to help somebody just make a few changes, a few of the right changes in their study process that unlocks these dramatically better results than what they’ve been getting in the past.
So if you found this episode helpful, please take a second to share this episode or your favorite previous episode with someone you know who’s also working on their CPA exams. As you could probably imagine, these are typically 30 minute to hour long interviews, it takes a lot of time to you know, find times where we can get on zoom with, with the customer, schedule the call, do the call, edit the video, edit the podcast, put these out. We do all of these for free obviously. So the best thing you can do to help support the podcast, to keep it going is to leave a rating and review ideally on apple podcasts or wherever you listen to these podcasts or give a thumbs up or subscribe to the channel on YouTube.
I have a lot of fun making these episodes, but at the same time, it takes a lot of time and energy and work. So we would really appreciate that. So thank you for listening and we will see you on the next episode.