In this SuperfastCPA reviews episode, you’ll hear how John passed his CPA exams, even after hitting a wall and losing all of his motivation to study after failing his fourth exam.
- 00:00 John Interview
- 00:58 Introduction
- 05:09 John’s CPA Journey
- 10:37 What Studying Look Like: The Traditional Way
- 11:43 Realization After Using SuperfastCPA Materials
- 13:35 Best Thing About SuperfastCPA
- 17:42 How John Studied for His AUD Exam Retake
- 19:33 “I Could’ve Used SuperfastCPA Fully for Everything”
- 22:19 Creating a Flexible Daily CPA Study Routine
- 25:45 “After Using SuperfastCPA, My Numbers Skyrocketed”
- 27:18 John’s Strategies for the First Three Exams
- 31:01 John’s Realizations About the Traditional Way of CPA Study
- 34:24 John’s Top Tips to Those Who Are Struggling
- 38:04 “You Equally Have to Consider your Study Time and Lifestyle”
John: I knew that I had to do something different because I just simply was not going to have the energy to go sit through a 40-minute lecture on some given topic when I know there’s an alternative.
So that’s when I went back to you. Remembered the company SuperfastCPA, looked it up so I got the written out notes and the audio notes, and I want to say like there are flashcards too if I remember correctly.
Yes. Yeah. The quizzes the a quick five question quiz. Yeah. So from there, what I decided to do after receiving the failing Audit score I went completely did a 180 and went to the SuperfastCPA study materials.
Like you say, instead of, you know, opening up your phone and looking at Twitter or Instagram, just take a quick five question quiz, you know, keeps you fresh on a topic. You don’t just focus on one thing. I began to look at your review notes and simultaneously listen to the audio notes. I felt like there was a really strong that dual like learning that you would like seeing something and listening, I thought was really impactful.
Welcome to episode 74 of the CPA exam experience podcast from SuperfastCPA. I’m Nate and in today’s interview, you’re going to hear me talk with John. So John’s story is slightly different, although it is something that I hear pretty frequently from people, he passed his first three sections and he was studying the normal way or the traditional way just trying to use everything in his review course.
It took a ton of time, you know, to make everything in his review course dashboard appear green and check off every lesson at a hundred percent. And it just took so much time and effort that by the time he got to his fourth section, even though he had passed three out of four and was, you know, 75% done with the exams, he just basically hit a wall with his motivation and the willingness to spend that kind of time.
And so he looked around for there’s gotta be, a more efficient way to do this, came across SuperfastCPA, somehow, probably YouTube ad and changed how he studied for that last section. And so that’s primarily what you will hear him and I discuss and the differences, the things he would have done differently, had he had known some of these strategies from the beginning.
And he just has a lot of really good insights that will help you save yourself a lot of time from having to figure this stuff out on your own. So before we get into the interview with John, I just want to mention two things. First of all, if you haven’t yet, sign up for one of our free study training webinars, where John, for example, and everyone else that you’ve heard on these episodes learned how to study much more efficiently so that the study process doesn’t have to be this all consuming thing where all your life is, is work and study.
It doesn’t have to be like that and you’ll learn how in these free training webinars. So go to our homepage at superfastcpa.com. It’s the main thing at the top of the homepage. Or if you’re watching this on YouTube, there should just be a link down in the description. The second thing is if you’re listening to this or watching this, sign up for our free monthly podcast giveaway.
Each month we give away three pairs of Powerbeats Pro wireless headphones because those are my favorite headphones. But really it’s based on the idea of listening to our audio notes, whenever possible as you go around the house doing your daily stuff, or when you’re working out or going on walks, whatever it is, having a pair of headphones, listening to something, just always using your time to progress, packing in extra study time by listening to our audio notes whenever possible, hence the idea of the headphones. So to sign up for that, go to superfastcpa.com/enter, and again, if you’re watching this on YouTube, there should just be a link down in the description. So with all that being said, let’s get into the interview with John.
John: I moved to Chicago in the summer of 2019. I was really excited to live in the city and then the pandemic kind of hit, but still making the most of it, and really loved it so far.
Nate: That’s cool. I did one other interview this morning with someone from Chicago as well.
John: Oh, nice. Glad uh, you’re reaching out to the Midwest too.
Nate: You, uh, where are you from originally then?
John: Cedar Rapids, Iowa. So not too far away, about a four hour drive. And then I attended a university of Iowa,
Nate: nice. Are you a sports fan at all? Do you watch football?
John: Yeah, I’d say so. I’m a more of a fan of college football, uh, watch Iowa quite a bit.
We’re pretty excited about what’s going so far. So knock on wood. It’s a, it’s a different, different, uh, state when Iowa football, starts picking up.
Nate: Yeah. Now I’m, I that’s what I was going to ask. I’m vaguely aware Iowa’s good, right? Are you guys undefeated?
John: Currently undefeated and, uh, a big game this weekend.
Uh, top five matchup with Penn State. So that’s going to be. A big turning point for one of those things, Going to be a Nashville contender, you know, they are going to be a solid team.
Nate: Yeah. Um, I always go back and I try to find emails that if I’ve sent any, you know, if me and the person I’m going to interview have sent any actual emails back, and I wanted to say that you had sent me an email like a couple weeks ago saying that like, obviously you want, you signed up to be on the podcast, but there was one email that I thought was from you.
Where you said you had a passed three on your own and then, failed audit. Is that you?
John: Yeah, that’s correct.
John’s CPA Journey
Nate: I just couldn’t find the actual email, but anyways, so yeah. So, so how long have you been out of school? What was kind of your, when did you start the CPA study process?
John: So I was officially done with school in May of 2019, started my first job out of college, the following June and started my study process in July of 2019. I originally went with, the Becker package, just all four tests, had the study materials and the book delivered to me. And started going down that route.
And I took FAR first, as I recommend that most people do, it seems like the best choice and had that test planned for, I want to say October or November 2019, and I remember one way or another coming across your material thing and advertisement for SuperfastCPA and I was about a week out from my FAR test, then felt a little bit nervous.
I think it’s hard to ever feel super confident about going to the FAR that’s just its own beast of a test. And I was exposed to SuperfastCPA. I watched one of your intro videos, you know, uh, kind of talking about your philosophy and, I liked what you said and I was interested but felt I would look into just sticking with the Becker plan and seeing how that took me. And I ended up passing FAR uh, the first time with a 78. So from there, I kind of put SuperfastCPA in the back of my mind and think about it much. I thought that, what I had in front of me then would, uh, do the job. And for the most part, it did work out really well.
My next two exams after FAR were REG and BEC. And I think on those, I got a 80 and 85 respectively. So things were going pretty well. It was taking me a while to get through those exams cause at that point we were getting into a quarantine period with COVID. So I was not very ambitious to spend the whole day inside looking at my work computer and then leaving work computer just to look at my personal computer study.
So, the motivation was a little tough there, but you know, slowly got through it. And then, like you said a little bit ago, I got to my last test Audit and it didn’t pass audit, got a 72, and coincidentally at that time I was also dealing with a sick dog. He had a leg infection and that was taking up a lot of my energy, time and patience.
And on top of that, studying with the Becker plan became very, just draining. I thought that on Audit especially, it was just way too detailed. They’re really getting stuck in the weeds, just getting into things that really were not going to produce results on test day. I remember one thing that you said in your intro, kind of like sales pitch if you would, kind of bring people in,
the goal is not to get a PhD with the CPA exam, and I think that’s kind of what Becker was going for. It was really starting to drain me. And at that point, after I had got the failing score on Audit, I knew that I had to do something different because I just simply was not going to have the energy to go sit through a 40-minute lecture on some given topic when I know there’s an alternative.
So that’s when I went back to you. Remembered the company SuperfastCPA, looked it up, saw the Audit specific package. So I got the written out notes and the audio notes, and I want to say like there are flashcards too, if I remember correctly.
Yes. Yeah. The quizzes, the a quick five question quiz. Yeah. So, from there, what I decided to do after receiving the failing Audit score, I did not open the Becker book ever again. I went completely did a 180 and went to the SuperfastCPA study materials. And specifically I was taking those five question quizzes frequently throughout the day.
They’re perfect because you know, you can be, It was sitting at your desk for work. Like you say, instead of, you know, opening up your phone and looking at Twitter or Instagram, just take a quick five question quiz, you know, keeps you fresh on a topic. You don’t just focus on one thing. And then I was also, I tried out the, uh, your suggestion of studying before work.
I liked the idea. I didn’t hang onto it too long but, I could probably get the logic of it. But outside of those quick five question quizzes, I began to look at your review notes and simultaneously listen to the audio notes. I felt like there was a really strong, that dual like learning that you would like seeing something and listening, I thought was really impactful.
There were times I was on the Audit, the time that I passed Audit, there were times I was on the exam and I feel like I could verbatim just start listing out things I saw on the audio notes because of it. It was really successful. I think that my, if you want people will talk about Becker bump,I think my SuperfastCPA bump, my increase in points from the Becker method Audit to the SuperfastCPA Audit was at least 14 to 15 points.
I really think it came down to not worrying about these ancillary ideas and minute details is coming down to what are the bare bones things we need to know that are ultimately going to get point and like when it really comes down to it, the only thing that matters to me. But correct, think SuperfastCPA really focus on that as well.
Nate: That’s awesome. And I appreciate you saying that I’m glad it was helpful. It’s very much an 80 20 thing. And I mean, it’s never more true than in this in the CPA exams, like obviously, I don’t know if you’ve heard any of the other episodes, but I mean, we’ve had people on the podcast that we’re working on the CPA exams for almost 10 years. For years at a time during that major grind process, like watching every video lecture, like over and over and over, like reading all the texts, because the assumption with the review courses, it’s kind of presented with the assumption that you should really know everything in here.
What Studying Look Like: The Traditional Way
Nate: And so people like really wear themselves out, trying to get to that point. And it’s not really about that. So previously you mean, like you said, you pass three doing kind of the normal way and a lot of people do, of course. What did your, what did like a full day of studying look like then?
And also kind of just from a routine standpoint, I’m guessing you would just kind of go down the list of the Becker resources and check everything off. Just how did you do it for those first three exams?
John: Sure. So around the time that I was starting studying for FAR was when I started my first job and my typical, like I’d say Monday through Wednesday, Monday through Thursday, looked like waking up, getting on the train, going to work, coming home, going for a jog and then come back, be done with the jog and home maybe around 6-6:30 depending on the commute times that day.
From there, I would just study all night. And just, like you said, kind of go through the Becker plan, watch the lecture, answer the questions, watch the lecture, answer the questions. And I guess I’m criticizing Becker but you know, to their credit, the material did get me a passing score.
Realization After Using SuperfastCPA Materials
John: But now comparing that to what I did just on Audit in the tail end, when I was on SuperfastCPA, I wouldn’t say that there was much difference in study time necessarily, maybe there was a little bit of difference, but I think the difference really came down to the effectiveness of the time that I was studying. I think that, you know, whether we’re talking about CPA exams or life in general, I think there’s this, idea that we all have in the back of our heads we like to tell ourselves, like I just work hard, things will work out well. That’s not necessarily true. If you spend time working hard on things that don’t matter, then it’s totally null. Like I don’t, like, I like one thing I’ve started to learn in the workplace and the CPA exams. It’s like, it doesn’t really matter how hard you work.
You’re like, nobody really cares if you theoretically were able to go into the office 10 hours a week and get done as much as somebody who’s in there 50-60 hours a week, theoretically like at the end of the day, it’s the same thing. And I think it’s especially the CPA so I don’t know if I spent more or less time on comparatively from my first exams when I was using SuperfastCPA.
I would say that just the quick hitting information and sending times in the pillars of each of these topics was really the make or breaks I need, especially with like I mentioned, having a sick dog during that final exam study process, it just simply was not going to be able to spend hours on end listening to a lecture of somebody ramble.
I just am not that kind of person where I sit there and like, that’s how I got to be doing things, like the quick five questions.
Nate: Yeah. I’ve heard that over the years. kind of the general idea of, or I’ve had a lot of specific emails where someone’s like, how can I study? Because I literally cannot listen to, or watch another video lecture.
I just can’t do it anymore. Just kind of that idea is like I’ve gotten to this, I’ve hit a wall with like how much I can tolerate of sitting in there watching video lectures.
Best Thing About SuperfastCPA
John: I couldn’t agree more. That makes me think at one point whether I’m listening to this, or like the study materials or like a podcast, you know, just people talking. I usually listen to it at a speed of like one and a half, you know, just accelerate it a little bit. And so I was accelerating the speed of your audio notes and I did with Becker before.
And I remember comparing the time of all Becker material on Audit versus all SuperfastCPA material on Audit. And I can’t remember the number exactly but the old total audio time had to be, like the total SuperfastCPA audio time had to be 10% or less of Becker. I’m not embellishing.
It is so much more compact and focused on the issues that matter. Whereas I remember you also said in that initial meeting to talk about your philosophy. There are a lot of things that Becker and Wiley are going to put in these study programs because they want to have this big expansive program that they sell, having long books and long lectures, but a lot of the material they put in there, or not even in the AICPA blueprint, which I’m not saying there’s nothing beneficial about knowing those things, but we’re here to get a 75.
I don’t think that’s what really matters at the end of the day. And if you’re not, if you’re putting things in the book that aren’t helping me get the 75, it’s not the best use of the time. And that’s like I said now a couple of times, that’s the best thing about SuperfastCPA.
Nate: But to be fair, we don’t really try to claim that this is all you need, it’s meant to be a supplement.
That’s kinda the idea though, because again, when I was studying, I took FAR once and then I was working full time. So I didn’t have like more than a few hours to actually sit in front of my review course. So I would try to study from my phone and I got audio notes from another source, but like the thing I immediately realized was those because they were like 30 hours long just the audio notes for FAR to get through at once. And it was just like a second source of confusion is really all it was.
And so that’s kind of the idea is that the 80 20 hit on the most tested parts of every topic in the same context, you’re most likely to see it on exam day. But the biggest thing is it’s short enough that someone can listen to the full section of our audios in like two to three days of just kind of normal, maybe an hour or two of listening a day while commuting so that you are hitting that stuff over and over and over, because that’s so much more beneficial than going extremely deep on 200 different topics, which takes forever.
And then if that’s the case, you’re obviously just, you’re getting so much information. You’re just going to forget so much and it’s overwhelming.
John: Totally. And I remember it and this is a totally realistic. In the Becker program, any given section, it was going to vary in the length of the lecture, the number of multiple choice questions that they want you to complete. But I remember sections where the lecture would be in the neighborhood of an hour and a half.
And they want you to sit through that lecture and then complete like 55 multiple choice questions. We’re all different, maybe that really works well for some people, but I’m not all that interested in studying here for two and a half, three hours just to accomplish. I mean, just to get ahead on this one narrow topic, that’s going to be covered in the exam because there has to be a more efficient way.
It’s just simply not. I’m simply not made to sit there for an hour and a half.
Nate: Yeah. I don’t try to tell people that our stuff’s all you need or anything, or even that in our pro videos, which are kind of our strategy videos about how to use your review course more effectively so you’re not spending all that time watching every video.
But obviously for some topics, depending on the person, their background, what they covered in school, their work experience, some topics might be completely new to them. And for them, a video lecture might be really helpful. Anyways, the point of those videos is to teach someone how to recognize, this lesson,
I don’t need to watch the hour video and do all these questions, if you kind of get it, and then other ones,
How John Studied for His AUD Exam Retake
Nate: Anyways, so my question is when you did your Audit retake, are you saying you strictly used our stuff or did you still kind of use your Becker questions? You just, you obviously weren’t going through full lessons in Becker, or how did you actually study for that retake once you had our Audit bundle?
John: Sure. So now you did remind me, I did not completely close the book on Becker. So I took Audit initially, I failed, purchased materials from SuperfastCPA. And I’d say on the study portion of it, I was exclusively using your content. I would do those quick five question quizzes, I would read the print out of the notes, listen to the audio or have both of those combined.
And I guess the only, at that point, the only Becker material I was using were the practice exams. So just like their mocks and so I guess in that way I was still seeing some of their materials. Even then when you’re just doing the practice exams, you’re not listening to lectures or all that stuff, but you are still answering their questions.
And I felt like their questions were kind of against their content just generally and that, they were not exactly asking questions the way that I’m going to see on exam day. Like I remember seeing a lot of questions where there’d be five to seven sentences of like describing a situation, then they would ask the question.
And if somebody who’s taken all four CPA exams and passed, I can tell you like, that is not how they’re phrasing the exam. They’re like on the exam, they’re going to ask you upwards of 60 multiple choice questions depending on the exam. And they’re not gonna make you look on one question and read six sentences just to understand the information relevant to the question.
That’s more of like a SIM kind of thing, not so much multiple choice. So at that point, I was still using a Becker just in that capacity. And like you said, I think a lot of people do and depending on their previous experiences may need a little bit more instruction in one area or another,
“I Could’ve Used SuperfastCPA Fully for Everything”
John: But if I’m just gonna speak on my experience in Audit using your materials for Audit and extrapolate that widely across all my CPA experience, I think I could have used SuperfastCPA fully for everything.
That’s just me personally. I think that the way that information was taught was much more friendly to the way I think. And then from there, if there were specific areas that I felt were a little tough, I believe you have a YouTube channel, and you have YouTube videos that kind of dig a little bit deeper into these certain topics.
Nate: We have some, we don’t have videos on every topic. No, but that’s like in a plan.
John: That’s I guess what I’m getting to is at least for me, that one test taker, for me I do think that SuperfastCPA could have covered 90% of what I needed. And then from there, seek out independent sources of keeping individual lessons that I may have had weaknesses on them.
But yeah, I think looking back I think you’re being a little humble in my, me personally. I think that SuperfastCPA could have done almost everything for me.
Nate: That’s awesome. Well, I appreciate you saying that and I’m glad it was so helpful. Yeah, each year we kinda make the review notes better, but I’m also always trying to, I don’t want to create a textbook because that’s not, you know, that’s not the point. One thing that people have been saying that I’m hearing more and more is they’ll get a test bank from a review course provider.
And then they use our like audios and review notes as kind of the explainer type stuff. And that I’d be more comfortable saying like, yeah, that makes sense. Because really what again, on test day, you need to be able to answer the MCQs and answer the SIMs, and so a test bank kind of gives you that without all the hundreds of hours of video.
John: Yeah, exactly. So yeah, when it comes to preparation, I think your materials cover pretty much everything you’ll need, but yeah, I would agree that finding another source for mock tests is going to be necessary because not only do you have to answer, understand how to answer multiple choice questions and SIMs, you need to understand how to understand those question types over a duration of four hours.
And that is like I don’t think for FAR, I don’t think I had taken a test that took me four hours and was like, there’s a certain fitness that’s required of you to be able to sit there and just focus for that long. So yeah, definitely having mock exams, wherever you get them, is valuable.
Nate: And so going back to your Audit retake, I tried to tout the benefits of this because with our study tools, you can obviously do them from your phone. So you said you spent about the same amount of study time, but I’m guessing you were at least able to do the same amount of studying as you kind of went throughout your day.
Creating a Flexible Daily CPA Study Routine
Nate: It didn’t require as much like dedicated, I can’t be doing anything else, I’ve got to be sitting here to use my review course. I mean, was that the case? You kind of used it as you went through your day?
John: Exactly. I frequently use those quick five question quizzes anytime ranging from sitting at your work desk, you just kind of want to take a short break.
That’s a good time I would use the five question quizzes. Maybe if you’re sitting in line at the grocery store, you know, things like times like that, when you have a moment to take a quick five questions, you know, kind of glance through a thing, see where he went wrong. I was using those throughout my day, like he said, and since, you know, you have the audio notes I was studying, if I’m driving to a friend’s house, if I’m walking the dog, just kind of, if I’m doing an activity that doesn’t need all my focus and I can listen to something, perfect.
I’m going to listen to the audio notes and I’m going to drill those down again and again and again. I’m going to listen to you tell me maybe for the hundredth time this week, the, all the assertions, and like, it’s just so much more efficient to have, audio notes that aren’t spending so much time on one given topic.
It’s just like you just say the things that really matter in my opinion, and you move on. And like you say if you really get the 80 20 and you understand like the bare bones of what’s going on, most of the questions you’re going to feel really comfortable answering, and even then, if you’re a little bit short, if you understand the main concepts from there, you can kind of wrap, like you can kind of piece together those final points that you need just to get over the hump.
So yeah, I would say that, like you said, yes, exactly. The free SuperfastCPA study method was I’m going to block off this amount of time, whereas when I had SuperfastCPA and I was just needing a different method, especially when my dog was sick the whole time, I kind of needed those moments throughout the day that I could just piece together a little bits of information and just slowly start to accrue the knowledge base required.
Nate: Yeah. I mean, I agree that’s how I did it too. Again, once I started working, I was trying to use my phone as much as I could because again, I say this on every episode at some point, but we have these phones, we carry around, we look at them a hundred times a day. You get that screen time report at the end of the week even people that are extremely busy, the screen time report points out that somehow you found three hours a day to stare at your phone. And so if you’re trying to do these exams, you might as well use that to just keep adding whatever you want to call it, adding points to your score, increasing the chance that you’re going to pass.
John: Yeah. It’s so smart. I mean, we all do it. We’re all, we’re all guilty of that. I mean, I look at my screen, but there’s an opportunity there. It’s a great opportunity just to do something a little more productive. I agree.
Nate: And so would you also say that your last study period, once you were using our study tools, was it just kinda, was it less stressful in general because you weren’t having to find as much dedicated study time?
John: Yeah, that reminds me. Like I said, yes, it’s much more flexible and you can just find those little bits in your day, rather than having to end your work day and just get back on the computer for a few hours. And I would say when I was first studying with SuperfastCPA, I was still a little nervous because I was a little bit patient I would say in taking my CPA exams.
There were some times I took some breaks, you know, just because, of the fitness of it it’s tough to, you know, if you’re using the old, like Becker way, in my opinion, it can really drain you out. I need to take a break from studying for a little while.
“After Using SuperfastCPA, My Numbers Skyrocketed”
John: So I was getting fairly close to my 18 month deadline. And so I was a little nervous, even though I could, I had the feeling I was making better progress with SuperfastCPA. And then I remember the first time I took a mock exam after using SuperfastCPA, my number skyrocketed. I could see, cause they, you know, the Becker will keep all of that data of, you know, the mock exams taken.
And I just saw like the percentages aren’t that accurate, you know, there’s always the Becker bumps people talk about, but nevertheless, I just saw the progression, you know, kind of going. And then that first exam back, it just shot right up. That made a big difference. Yeah. And that’s when I’d say I’m really no longer was stressing at all about the CPA. That’s when I knew like if I just stay on this trajectory with the audio notes and the five question quizzes, I would be so solid on the main points that I could comfortably get a 75.
Nate: Yeah. That’s funny that, uh, you remind me, like sometimes when someone buys one of our packages or study tools and the first few days they’ll email us and they’ll be like, these are, this is like too simple. Your audios, are like way too short.
And I’m like, I don’t want to be like, listen, I know better than you. Just do what I said and like use these over and over and over like, trust me. And I’ll, we try to like, we have like a, kind of a nice way of trying to say that.
Like, that’s why we give you 60 days so you could actually can like use these and evaluate the results you get. Just trust the process for a few weeks, but yeah, that’s, uh, that’s funny.
John’s Strategies for the First Three Exams
Nate: So going back to your, your first three exams, you obviously had things that were working really well. What were some of your own strategies or, I mean, what was working for you in those first three exams?
John: Sure. So my strategy, like I said a little bit ago, was to repeatedly, watch the lecture, do the questions, watch the lecture, give you associated question. And I would get roughly about 60 to 70% through the study material and then I would schedule the exam because I can kind of gauge when I would be ready.
So I’d do lectures and the questions through all the material and then I would take, you know, go into their recommended mock exams. I think there was one they want you to take two weeks out from your exam one week out, and then the week of. And on those I would go through the exams and then at the end I would go through the questions I got wrong and take notes on what I got wrong.
Like, let’s… let’s just say for simplicity, if I got a question wrong on like the definition of a current asset, maybe I’ll take a note and say current assets, like you can rely on it being limited in a year, you know, something like that. Um, and that was my, that was my plan throughout all those first three exams.
And as I moved through each exam from FAR to REG to BEC, I started modifying my study process a little bit. I started to kind of sussed out the questions that weren’t really comparable to what we’re going to see on exam day. I started just like seeing the things that Becker put in front of me that I knew were not going to help me answer questions.
It’s simple as that. Just they’re really going after a quantity of material rather than the quality of the things you’re listening to. And you start to realize that a little bit. I especially modified my study program on a BEC, you know, I think I’ve heard a range of opinions on BEC.
I felt like BEC was just kind of a combination of all of your introduction business courses. Thought about what the question was asking and just applied like that kind of like business intuition, you would be good to go. So I did not use the Becker program anywhere, anywhere near as much on BEC.
So there was a part of me kind of a subconscious part of me that started to realize that there was something with the Becker program that had significant flaws. And I don’t think that materialized until I failed Audit and thought about the way I was studying for Audit. Because at that point, you know, out of fatigue and out of no desire to be efficient, I was no longer doing everything that Becker was telling me to do, because if you’re really gonna go off the Becker way, in my opinion, that’s kind of like a part-time job, because I want you to spend so much time watching these lectures and doing everything the way they tell you to do it.
I just knew for the sake of my energy and sanity that something needed to be changed. And I eventually, you know, faced that reality once I, uh, failed audit.
Nate: Yeah. Well, that’s interesting because you’re kind of just describing, you kind of made these strategic breakthroughs in your own process, which is like, that’s why, that’s why we have those, uh, those pro videos. Like if someone just starts with our program from the beginning and the entire idea is , what I said earlier, the review courses kind of present all the information with the assumption that you need to use everything they’ve put in there, use all their resources all down the list for every lesson.
And that just takes an inordinate amount of time and it’s like way more confusing than it needs to be. Whereas, we try to teach people this strategic approach where your review course is just a series of tools, and depending on the lesson, you might use multiple resources or none, and just creating a process that like, you know, best once you get this down.
And it sounds like you were starting to kind of figure that out on your own.
John’s Realizations About the Traditional Way of CPA Study
John: So yeah, definitely like I said, it was just a combination of really starting to realize the way I learned it, the way I grasped content and that combined with just the tiredness and just the inability to constantly keep going back to the lectures and just sit through.
I just eventually started realizing that if I sit down for an hour lecture on any given topic, realistically, I’m engaged in listening and thinking about what they’re saying for maybe 10 to 15 minutes of that hour. And I think, you know, like I gave the example earlier, they may, this is not out of the realm of possibility at all.
The lecture that’s like an hour and a half with 55 practice questions, once you’re finished with that. And the practice questions are going to be really repetitive. And, you know, you may get like seven or eight in a row that are really getting down to the same idea, but realistically out of that hour and a half lecture and 55 uh, questions, you know, hypothetically, what proportion of those are you really engaged?
Are you really sitting there soaking in this material, maybe taking notes, you know, sitting at, like setting up on your feet now, nodding your head. For me, it was getting less and less. As I went through the Becker program, I just think that realistically we have a finite amount of energy, right?
Like we can think that you’re a great hard worker and you can get through all these tasks realistically, so much task every day.
Nate: That’s another, uh, kind of one of my, I don’t know, gripes or criticisms of like the traditional way of studying is because if, if your brain power or your ability to focus is finite, which it is, and you try to force yourself to sit there, and the thing is, it’s like most people don’t just watch the video lecture once. They zone out, like you say, then they restart it.
So it’s very easy for even a 20 minute video lecture to actually take like two hours by the time you watch it and feel like you kind of understood it. And your ability to like focus and make progress is whittled down at that point before you even get into what matters, which is going through the practice questions.
And so day after day, the study process is like that. And the most important part has had like the least effective time spent which is doing questions, you know.
John: That reminds me, another thing I constantly ran into in the Becker process was I could be going into a lesson that’s, you know, an hour lecture with 40 multiple choice questions.
And it could be something that I’m pretty confident on. Maybe it’s some specific, you know, tax procedure that you’re really comfortable with. And the Becker way is just going to say, listen to the lecture, do the questions. When in reality, maybe you shouldn’t do that at all.
Maybe there should be some kind of exam from the forefront that kind of gauges your strengths and weaknesses, and then you know, gives you that, puts that in an algorithm and builds your individual study plan. That’s one thing I thought about a lot is, you know, some of these topics, especially when you get into BEC you know, we might spend 25 minutes talking about supply and demand and unless we’re getting really into supply and demand, I feel like the depth of, you know, that idea that’s going to be questioned on the BEC exam.
I may not need any content preparation on there. Maybe a little but like it’s just assuming that it’s a one size fits all and that size is maximum. Quantity of content is where you are going to see picks up and yeah, you may pass, but ideally you don’t take 17 months, you know, ideally like you said, you take three months, four months.
John’s Top Tips to Those Who Are Struggling
Nate: Yeah, definitely. We’ve kind of gone through everything. You had a lot of nice stuff to say about our study tools, so I appreciate it. I’m glad they were really helpful. The last thing I ask is just, if you have any, even if it’s something we already covered, what would be your top two or three tips to people that are studying and feel like they’re really struggling or, you know, they’re about to like give up because it’s just so such a grind. What would be your top tips to those people?
John: Sure. I think one thing we talked about a lot today is really knowing yourself and the way you learn. I think there was a, like I said earlier, there’s a part of me that always knew going through the Becker material that there was a better way. And I didn’t really answer that call until I failed Audit. So in a way I’d say like follow your gut and really ask yourself if what you’re doing is effective. You know, especially once you’ve taken an exam and you pass it and you can see they frame these questions, you know, you start to learn that.
One thing that one piece of advice, I don’t know where I came across from it. When I began my studying was the thing is Rome wasn’t built in three days but bricks were being laid every hour. You have to understand that the forefront of this, the designation of being a CPA is highly respected and it’s going to be for a long time as it should be.
It says about a lot about your dedication and your knowledge of the language of business, what people say about accounting. You know, it’s always going to be something that matters. And as such, you know, it’s going to be a grind, whether you are, you know, going to a fast, efficient way with SuperfastCPA, or, you know, you elect another method it’s going to take awhile and you have to understand before you get going, that this is not going to be a quick process and be the best way to tackle the mammoth CPA, uh, haul of work over time, is to constantly keep chipping away. And that’s why I love the practice questions so much as quick five questions constantly. It’s getting a little bit better. You’re constantly just proving yourself day by day. That’s the only, in my opinion, the only way to really get through the CPA exams, uh, it’s chipping away at it bit by bit.
Nate: Yep. I like that. And, I think that’s one of the, sometimes I think people see our like our business name, like SuperfastCPA, or they’ll watch that introductory training for a few minutes and they kind of misinterpret kind of our general message of I’m not trying to claim that this can just be super easy and like, it can be pretty fast.
Whereas our approach is actually somewhat hardcore. Like if you watch our videos, it’s all about a disciplined approach and using every spare second. Study in the morning, ideally you knock out your main session in the morning.
Then you use these study tools all throughout your day. And if you do that, rigid about doing that. By the time you’re done with work, you still have studied like four or five, maybe even six hours, all things considered, but then you get to take the evenings off. And like the big shift is if someone’s working full time, you maybe have four to five hours of actual free time a day. And with the traditional approach that is supposed to be completely used by, you know, sitting in front of your review course, which makes life pretty unbearable. And so this way it’s essentially the same amount of study time, really, but it’s just half of it is woven into your average day, so that you still have two or three hours of free time in the evenings.
So you don’t feel like you’re just going crazy and it’s, it’s just much more effective to the whole 80 20 idea, constantly hitting the most tested things, instead of going just so deep on things that you may or may not see on the exams at all.
“You Equally Have to Consider your Study Time and Lifestyle”
John: Definitely. I think, I think one thing you, uh, that we didn’t talk about a lot, but one thing you harp on that and totally agree with it, that you equally have to consider your, you know, in your studying time, but also your lifestyle. There is a way that you can frame your life around these CPA exams that you get through it quickly, and it doesn’t take over. And it was hard to believe, until I, you know, bought the material. I think that was, once I started going through it, and I was, you know, uh, having that flexibility of my study schedule.
And then I saw the mock exam where I was, you know, projected to pass the Audit exam with a little bit of cushion. I think that’s when I really it’s kind of like, uh, it’s just, it might be too good to be true feeling, you know? Like, do you feel like if I go through these long lectures and take a lot of questions, I’ll be good.
And I’m like you said, that’s why you have interviews with people that were failing for 10 years and they come to you and they, you know, find a solution. I think, uh, you know, I think I was unique too, in the sense that. It was working for me and I had a method that was producing until it wasn’t. So I’m guessing that’s a little bit unique, uh, you know, compared to your other customers that I just had to kind of get over the hump there when I was getting close to my 18 months.
And, you know, I think a lot of people could benefit from it. I’ve heard a lot of stories of people having, you know, to pass, repass and they just can’t get over one. And then their 18 month hits, they lose an exam. They lose in another exam. You know, had they just changed it up maybe at the end, maybe, you know, whenever it takes to get a 75 4 times, you know, maybe a lot of people could benefit from a little bit of a supplement on that exam that’s giving them trouble.
Nate: Yes. We’ve kind of have we’ve had all types. I’ve talked to people that have passed all four at separate times. Which is like, that’s, that’s like worst case scenario just they’ve had other ones lapse, just couldn’t get the four altogether in one 18 month period together.
Yeah. Well, yeah, again, I appreciate your time. I appreciate all the nice things you had to say.
John: No, it does. Yeah. Um, love what you do. I think more people should know if it wasn’t I think a lot of people come out of school, you know, they might go a big four.
and you know they’re they’re they’re affirming
Nate: The last part, I mean, I don’t know what you said about, did you say your, your firm gave you like money for, uh, supplements? Or is that not what you said?
John: Oh, there were some, I, I think, uh, it’s my initial employer and I think a lot of other people had said the same as that they were willing to purchase one program. Yes. Yeah. You’ve purchase one program. And then from there, you know, they’re not willing to do anything else, so you think, oh, do I want to shell out, you know, five or 600 bucks on the supplement and I get that thinking, I was at that point, but, you know, in retrospect I would totally go back and do it because, um, you know, it’s a little bit of money you spend. Uh, it, it’s not a little bit of money I guess, but like, it sounds like a lot of money at the moment. For me looking back, the time saves is, you know, months, months of your life.
Um, I would have saved probably eight months study had I, uh, gone, uh, super fast, uh, full speed right away um, a lot less drastic, just there’s this idea that, you know, the harder I work, the more likely I am to, uh, see results, then it’s not exactly the case. You’ve got to be efficient.
Nate: I think most people’s just kind of the way again, review courses are presented. They just think their only tool against the CPA exams is just time spent like hard work, like you’re saying. And that even doesn’t always work.
But again, people that just struggled for 10 years or whatever. So, yeah, you have to, there’s a strategic component that has to, that has to be there Okay. Well, um, again, congrats on being done. I’m glad our stuff could help and it was awesome to meet you, man.
John: Yeah, you too. Thanks again. Um, I, yeah, I can’t tell you… if I would’ve, if I had to take FAR again, I would have freaked. So I’m really glad I went back to Superfast and got your Audit material. Yeah.
Nate: Yeah. I guess you could consider it that way. We saved you from taking FAR again. That would, that would suck.
John: Yeah. And that’s, I don’t know if there’s ever I don’t know if you can repay somebody for not having to take FAR again. That’s a monster that nobody wants to take twice.
Nate: All right. So that was the interview with John. I’m sure you found that very helpful. He had a lot of really good insights and I think the biggest overall thing with his story is again, it’s a pretty common experience from the people on this podcast. The study process can be incredibly effective without it having to take over your entire life.
When you learn how to study strategically and you take advantage of using effective study tools from your phone, as you go about your normal day, you can fit in a ton of high quality study time, without having to spend four or five dedicated hours sitting in front of your review course each day. And obviously if you work full time, four to five hours is essentially all of your free time, otherwise outside of work.
So again, if you haven’t yet make sure to sign up for one of our free study training webinars so that you can learn how to use your review course much more efficiently, much more effectively.
And then also make sure to sign up for our monthly giveaway for the three pairs of Powerbeat Pro headphones at superfastcpa.com/enter or go to the link in the description. So if you found this episode helpful, share it with a friend who’s also working on their CPA exams. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you on the next episode.