In this SuperfastCPA reviews episode, you’ll hear how Kayelani mastered her CPA study process and passed her CPA exams after being extremely overwhelmed when she initially started the CPA study process.
3 Things to Listen for:
- Kayelani’s first big “aha moment” about how to study smarter
- How she gathered strategies that made sense from other podcast interviews
- How she went from a failing score to an 89 just a few weeks later
And there’s a lot more, this interview gets very technical into the specific details about the study process.
- 00:00 Introduction
- 01:13 Free Study Training Webinar
- 01:53 How Kayelani Got Started
- 03:16 How Kayelani found SuperfastCPA
- 04:14 Kayelani’s first big “aha moment” about how to study smarter
- 04:45 How Kayelani’s study process evolved
- 05:26 Gathering strategies from the SuperfastCPA podcast interviews
- 05:41 Taking notes on the actual review notes
- 06:10 Kayelani’s daily CPA study routine
- 07:31 Rushed it the first time, nailed it the second time
- 09:34 From failing a section to scoring an 89 a few weeks later
- 10:47 Kayelani’s biggest breakthroughs in what worked
- 12:00 “Progress indicators” aren’t foolproof…
- 12:46 Kayelani’s opinion on full mock exams
- 14:10 Kayelani’s “Final 48” strategy
- 15:42 Flashcards + writing notes on the review notes
- 17:47 What about “bad days”?
- 18:23 “Don’t drag this out… it can be short-term”
- 19:24 Overwhelm from “not having a plan”…
- 20:17 “but I’m doing all the steps!?…”
- 20:57 Why REG & tax rules can be so confusing
- 22:42 The power of getting “good at studying”
- 23:13 But… don’t get complacent
- 24:39 “What was the hardest part of the process?”
- 25:11 Huge relief once you know your process is working
- 25:48 Accept that this is a daily process and it gets easier
- 26:29 Did you take days off?
- 27:24 Plan your exams around “life events”
- 28:22 How Kayelani studied on weekends
- 29:43 How Kayelani prepared for the TBSs (simulations)
- 32:20 Kayelani’s test-day tips
- 33:38 Non-negotiable timelines to know for test day
- 35:41 “Passing the first one was almost better than passing the last one…”
- 36:30 Kayelani’s top tips for current CPA candidates
- 37:38 Biggest benefits from SuperfastCPA
Kayelani: [00:00:00] I think it’s because I didn’t really have a plan.
You listen to the lecture and then you do the multiple choice questions. And I didn’t know, I didn’t know what I was doing. I would spend the whole day while my husband was at work cause I hadn’t started work yet, it was in the summertime right before I’d started working, I’d spend the whole day on it, but it was just a waste listening to those lectures and then bombing the multiple choice questions and then moving on to the next section anyway.
Nate: Welcome to episode 66 of the SuperfastCPA exam experience podcast from SuperfastCPA. I’m Nate, and in today’s interview, you’re gonna hear me talk with Kayelani and this is another one of those interviews where we get very technical and very specific on the different aspects of the study process and the strategies involved.
So if you’re trying to figure out your own study process, do not miss this interview because we get very specific on all the little parts of the study process. So before we get into the interview, I just want to mention two things, first, make sure you’re subscribed on YouTube and on your favorite podcast app,
so you don’t miss any new episodes – [00:01:00] we have a lot more of these interviews coming up, and then also make sure to share it with someone that you know, that’s working on their CPA exams. Because these interviews are the best free resource available anywhere for people trying to figure out their own CPA exam study process.
Free Study Training Webinar
Nate: The second thing is if you have not taken the time yet to watch one of our free study training webinars, that is the best place for you to start, to get a comprehensive overview of our study strategies and how you can use your current review course much more effectively, much more efficiently. So to sign up for one of those episodes, just go to our homepage at superfastcpa.com.
It’s the main thing at the top of the homepage. Pretty much every person that you have heard on these interviews started by watching one of those same free training webinars. So with that being said, let’s get into this interview with Kayelani.
Okay, so if you’ve been out of school about five years, where in there did you start the study process?
How Kayelani Got Started
Kayelani: Yeah, so I actually started right before I started with the big four in 2016. So I [00:02:00] graduated in may of 2016, started studying June, 2016. I started with tax cause I was most afraid of tax. I felt like if I could accomplish tax, I’d be golden. Jokes on me, I listened to all the lectures and tried to do the multiple choice and was failing miserably.
And I just thought it was me, ’cause tax was hard and I hated tax, totally gave up. I just decided I’m not gonna worry about it. I don’t need it to cause me more stress. I figured I had five years before I needed it to promote, so I’d just wait it out and see what happens. I didn’t start studying again until, August of 2020.
Nate: So not that long ago. Did you get to keep access with your original review course or did you have to buy a new one?
Kayelani: I had to buy a new one, which it sounds like now they’re just forever, which is nice. That would have been nice at the time. My firm purchases, Becker, cause they get a discount, so I purchased it twice.
That ended up completely getting rid of my little [00:03:00] amount that they allow you to use on the CPA though…
Nate: Okay. So in August of last year, did… you just started at the same way? Just going through the lessons, or do you try something different or how did it go the second time?
How Kayelani found SuperfastCPA
Kayelani: Yeah. So luckily I actually found SuperfastCPA before I started studying.
I had purchased the Becker course, I was watching a YouTube video and a commercial for SuperfastCPA came on, and I was like, “Ooh, that’s interesting”. And what interests me is the, I forget what you call it. But, the little like informational one-hour video that you can watch on SuperfastCPA…
Nate: Yeah, just the free webinar,
Kayelani: I was like, I’ll do that, cause that’ll give me something. And it really piqued my interest and I was talking to my husband and I’m like: “I don’t want to do this again, the way I did it before, it was such a waste of time. I’m just going to purchase this. And if it’s a waste of money, oh, I tried something”, so I got lucky.
I found it before I started studying, so I had a plan from the beginning this time.
Nate: Ok [00:04:00] and, what would you say… was there any, just like “aha moments” you had from either the free training or our strategy videos? Just about, just a complete shift in, studying differently?
Kayelani’s first big “aha moment” about how to study smarter
Kayelani: Yeah. I think the biggest one was not to use all the learning material just for the sake of using all the learning material.
I was a really good student. I had to do every little thing when I was in college. No matter what, I get the extra credit, even if I didn’t need to. So having that approach with Becker especially is such a waste of time. Because you learn it perfectly for a few days and then when you move on, you forget it.
And so that was huge thinking of it in that way. Learning it continuously, not by chunks.
How Kayelani’s study process evolved
Nate: Yeah. I agree, obviously. And so how did you start, using Becker? I have a good guess if you were following our strategies, but in your own way. Cause in your little note you said, it gave you a solid plan to start [00:05:00] and then you made small changes as you went, which is what most people do.
But how did that kind of evolve for you?
Kayelani: Yeah, so I started out following the SuperfastCPA exactly. I’d start out early in the morning. I’d go through the multiple choice questions first, and then I would do the 30 set of multiple choice over everything I’d studied so far. And then each day I would spend at least one hour reading the review notes.
Gathering strategies from the SuperfastCPA podcast interviews
Kayelani: And then I evolved from there. So that was my starting point. And then listening to these podcasts, was huge and coming up with ideas outside of just the solid plan. So you set the foundation with your plan and then I added onto it.
Taking notes on the actual review notes
you also mentioned taking notes, someone on a podcast mentioned taking notes on the review notes.
Kayelani: And so I started doing that and that was huge. Being able to take notes in the same sections that were in the review notes already in that same area, so that when I’d read it each day, I was saying it again. [00:06:00] That was huge. And then, I’d also supplement with the audio. So when I go to the gym or if I’d go on walks, I would listen to the audios every day, as much as I possibly could.
Kayelani’s daily CPA study routine
Nate: Okay. And, so starting in August, you were already doing the work from home thing I’m guessing?
Kayelani: Yes, I was.
That helped too.
Nate: Yeah. So you would, you would study do your main session before work. And then, when would the hour of reading the notes happen just throughout the day in little chunks?
Kayelani: So it started that way.
It became harder and harder to try to break it up in little chunks. So my goal was if I could read, because sometimes I didn’t even take a lunch, it’s big 4. So sometimes I wouldn’t even have the lunchtime to take it, but if I did, I’d read small chunks, but my goal was, by the end of the day, when I got off work, if I hadn’t read up to an hour, I needed to do the rest of it.
So if I didn’t get a chance to read anything, I had to read for one hour at the end of the. [00:07:00]
Yeah. It’s good to set a baseline, for how much you’re going to use the study tools. So you’d use the review notes in the audios, or actually I was going to ask, when you started this second time,
how many weeks into it, or how soon was it before it started to click and you were like, okay, this is working better… at least, I’m feeling like I understand things. Or like, how did that go?
Rushed it the first time, nailed it the second time
Kayelani: So I had a lot of pressure at work to kind of fast-pace this. So, I didn’t give myself enough time to study the first time around, to be honest, I failed the first time I took it.
I also didn’t implement, like I wasn’t writing notes for the first one that I was taking either. That was huge. So I was studying for FAR, I took it. I studied over five weeks , and you recommended six to eight. I should not have only studied in five weeks. Things were clicking, but not the way I [00:08:00] wanted them to.
I was going way too fast. I got a 73 though, which was, even though it’s two points away, I felt amazing that I could actually get a 73 in five weeks of studying FAR, felt huge. And so that gave me motivation to keep going. I started studying tax next. Tax was where I took 8 weeks because I knew that was hard the first time around. That one was clicking so much quicker. It only takes a couple of weeks. You’re not going to get everything. But seeing the questions over and over and reading the notes, it only takes a few weeks before you go, okay, this is working. And then probably about halfway through is when I started realizing, I think I can pass this one.
Nate: So you got a 73 on FAR, and then you switched to REG before you came back to do your re-take?
Kayelani: Yeah. So I took FAR October 1st and started studying for REG right away, October 2nd, I took it at the beginning of the cycle. [00:09:00] So I didn’t find out what I scored on FAR until middle of November. And my REG test was only a few days later.
So, by the time I found out I failed FAR, I was a few days from taking REG, took that and then started studying for FAR, and I don’t recommend doing that.
Nate: Yeah, I ended up taking my FAR retake and AUD like four days apart, but I just knew that this, it was like working so well that I, I mean, yeah, it worked.
From failing a section to scoring an 89 a few weeks later
Kayelani: The second retake was night and day for FAR, cause I got an 89 the second time. So your two to three week suggestion was huge.
Nate: Me and you had sent several emails back and forth. Did you email me about how to study for a retake or was that you just watched… cause we have a video on that. Did you just find that video somewhere?
I believe the, where I heard of it was in [00:10:00] the, I don’t think it’s called a blog, the Superfast…Like,
Kayelani: the forum, yes. In the forum. I had put a little post in there and what I got and I was encouraged, all that kind of stuff. And, you suggested to watch that video. That’s how I found it.
Nate: Okay. Nice. Yeah. I don’t know, it’s anecdotal, but if someone emails me directly like, “I got a 70…something…” Like below a 75, and I’m like, watch this video. Like almost always, they email me back after a few weeks and they pass. Cause it’s just, like you said, if you got a 72, 73, on a different day essentially, with a few different questions, you could have passed it.
So, I mean really close, it doesn’t take that much.
Kayelani’s biggest breakthroughs in what worked
Nate: So going back, so what were some of your modifications that you made as you figured things out,what just, what were some of your own breakthroughs?
Kayelani: I would say they were somewhat minor, taking notes in the review notes, I would say was [00:11:00] probably a big one.
Like it’s a very small thing to start doing, but it’s huge. but don’t write down every single thing that you don’t understand. You’re not going to understand the majority of it the first time. So usually it was in the sets of 30 multiple choice questions, when I would start taking the real notes in my review notes.
I would say another one is, there were some days where I was just struggling to just start a new section that was, I don’t know, 50 to a hundred questions long, and I just wasn’t having it. And so sometimes I’d start with the 30 multiple choice questions instead of doing it at the end, just to boost my confidence a little bit and then do the main study session, that helped sometimes it depended. With Becker it’s a little bit harder because Becker, you can’t do at the end of every section, multiple choice questions, it’s like a whole module.
Kayelani: So that was a little bit more difficult.
Somebody just mentioned in the, the PRO forum, like two days ago that they did some update in Becker that you can do that now.[00:12:00]
“Progress indicators” aren’t foolproof…
Nate: You’re first, or just that whole idea of all the little checkpoints that’s built into these review courses, like dashboards, I’ve talked about that with other people on the podcasts, like how reliable of an indicator that is, that you’re like ready or whatever. So this time around you essentially ignored that I’m guessing? And would you just use the daily sets of 30 as your main indicator of like where you’re at?
Kayelani: Yeah, that’s
a really good question. I remember those percentages on there. Mine were always like 15% when I’d go and take the exam. And it’s really like a percentage of how much you’ve done in the course. So I would use the sets of 30 multiple choice. I’m glad that you asked that because there was, that was something else that I wanted to talk about.
Kayelani’s opinion on full mock exams
Kayelani: I actually used the mock exams, but I don’t recommend sitting through the whole thing. I sat through the whole thing once, I did four hours of taking it and then probably eight hours of studying it. Cause I forgot what I took. I don’t know where I came up with the idea, [00:13:00] but, one day I just decided I was going to take it in chunks.
So I’d start the whole mock exam, take testlet one, which is about 30 multiple choice questions. Submit the whole thing and review that and then start it again, do the second set and then submit it and review that. And I’d do that with each of the testlets. Usually those scores, as long as they were 15 points below 75, as long as I scored over a 50 on those, I knew I was going to pass based off of that 73 that I got on FAR.
I scored under 50, just slightly under 50. So I knew if I scored over 50, I was golden. I knew I was gonna pass, and that was pretty much consistent. But I have seen some people that score closer, like 10 points above that score sometimes right on. It just depends. But I feel like what bumped me up was probably that 48 hour window of mass studying that you talk about that I implemented.
Nate: Okay. That was what I was going to ask. you mentioned the pro forum, which are, I know you were posting in there. So you had our PRO [00:14:00] videos as well. So you watched all those?
Kayelani: Yes, I did. I watched every single one of them.
Nate: Okay. Yeah. Cause some of the stuff you’re saying is I can, I can tell it’s from that.
Kayelani’s “Final 48” strategy
Nate: So the 48 hour, mega cram session or the final 48 or whatever you want to call it,so you did that exact thing?
Kayelani: Yeah. I followed it almost to the T I will say that, There’s a lot of really good information in there. Some of it may seem overwhelming. The first time that I did it, I tried to, what I would do is I would do the study session of the eight hour study session, where you’re doing the MCQs. Usually I’d fit a mock in there.
Cause the mock is essentially just sets of 30 and SIM, and they’re brand new questions too, which is really nice to really know if you know this material. that’s how the Becker side works, is that they’re brand new questions, that you’ve never seen.
Nate: So they have questions that they reserve just for their full practice exam.
Kayelani: Yeah. And I’ve definitely seen some questions in there that were then [00:15:00] on the exam the next day, when I would take the exam. Depending on the section, cause some of the notes are more heftier than others. The REG ones are very large. I think I split those between two days. I read half of the review notes one day and the second half the next day, as opposed to trying to read the whole thing.
and then, I’d take short breaks once I finished with the eight hours. Um, studying the material and then doing the readings of the review after that, I would try to listen to the audio for the second half. So for example, if I read the first half of the review notes, I listened to the audio for the second half as I was like, getting ready for bed, making dinner or something like that.
and then the next day I do the opposite. So I was still hearing all of it.
Flashcards + writing notes on the review notes
Nate: Yeah. And then your, your notes you’d been writing in the review notes, you went over those?
Kayelani: Yeah. So I would read them as I’d go through, since I’d write the review notes in, since the material that I was trying to understand, in the modules related [00:16:00] to a specific section in the review notes.
So it was very, organized in that way. I tried to keep my notes related to each section in the same sections. So I would read my notes at the same time as I was reading the review notes.
Nate: Yeah, That makes sense. Just anything you’d added over your study timeline is just right there as you… that’s a really good way of doing it, actually, because by the time you get to that final two days, it’s all right there.
Nate: Yeah. I really liked flashcards, but I like that idea too.
Kayelani: That’s a good point. I forgot about the flashcards. I did use flashcards too. Usually for me, I would write the notes in the review notes, and then usually about halfway through studying. So if I’m spending six weeks, usually around week three is when I started creating the cards.
Cause at that point in time, I’ve read the review notes enough times and done the MCQs enough times that I either know it or I don’t, and that’s when I started doing the flashcards. So it was more, because I realized the first exam that I took, I did [00:17:00] way too many flashcards and was spending hours trying to read those cards.
So, that helped me so that they really were the most important things I didn’t understand, in my flashcards.
Nate: Yeah. And again, it sounds so obvious when you point it out but, taking things that you’ve missed questions on two or three times and writing those out in your own words, then, as long as you’re diligent about doing that, as you get close to the exam, you have your, weak areas, but written in your own words and explanations you’ve come up with.
And it all comes back way easier than, just trying to relearn it the third time from the text or whatever.
Kayelani: Yeah. That’s too hard.
What about “bad days”?
Nate: What about, I mean, you’ve kind of mentioned it, you were feeling pressure at work. The question is like, what kept you motivated on days where you didn’t want to study at all?[00:18:00]
Kayelani: Yeah for me. Usually once I set my mind to something and have a plan I can follow through. So having the daily plan and breaking it up into chunks that were manageable and knowing that led to a successful outcome, was huge to keep me motivated. another thing was I had accepted that this was my life until they were done.
“Don’t drag this out… it can be short-term”
Kayelani: That’s huge. If you think, oh, I’m going to study and I’m also going to go hang out with my friends. You’re not gonna spend as much time studying. You’re gonna miss days. you just have to accept, this is short-term. It’s funny. I was talking to my husband. It’s been a year since I’ve taken the first exam that I failed and I’ve been done for… I don’t know, five or six months now, like it does get better. It’s going to be terrible for a short period of time and then it gets better. It’s not your whole life. Just make it that way, make it so that it’s, short-term, don’t drag it out two years. It’s not worth it.
Nate: Yeah, definitely. And it’s also an argument for, like using the study tools.
[00:19:00] whether it’s ours or the app that comes with your review course, the fact is, you have your phone, you carry it around all day. You look at it a hundred times and it’s just every question you review or like every one minute segment of reading review notes or listening to audio is just adds a little bit, like increases the chances you pass your next exam.
Overwhelm from “not having a plan”…
Nate: Going back to your very first attempt, five years ago, so back then, would you try and sit down for five or six hours at a time each day? And is that why it was so overwhelming?
I think it’s because I didn’t really have a plan. I was following the Becker plan.
Kayelani: You listen to the lecture and then you do the multiple choice questions. And I didn’t know, I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know how to learn it. And it’s tax… The tax one, you’re not going to master that. You’re going to read a lot of material in the book or the lectures that is not relevant on the exam, in my opinion, [00:20:00] that you’re not going to see.
So it’s just a waste of time. I would spend the whole day while my husband was at work cause I hadn’t started work yet, it was in the summertime right before I’d started working, I’d spend the whole day on it, but it was just a waste listening to those lectures and then bombing the multiple choice questions and then moving on to the next section anyway.
“but I’m doing all the steps!?…”
Nate: Yeah, I know. that’s the thing is, you’re like, I’m doing the steps. I watched the video and then I mess around with the questions, but there’s like this there’s this strategy element you have to learn, like, how do I strategically break down questions? Or You get good at studying or specifically for the CPA exam.
And I think a lot of people, just their only weapon against this is like time spent sitting in front of their review course. And that may or may not be effective. And if it’s not, you can spend years, months, years, and it just never really comes together.
Why REG & tax rules can be so confusing
Kayelani: Yeah, and those lectures are [00:21:00] so dense and then you get to the multiple choice questions and they may seem like they’re coming out of left field and you can’t always go back into the book and teach it to yourself, at least on the tax one, it wasn’t always there black and white teaching you how to do it. It was seeing those multiple choice, and at the end of the day, exactly like what you said and somewhere, I don’t know, I watch so many videos. you’re not trying to teach a class on this.
You’re trying to answer the multiple choice questions. So if you understand how to answer that multiple choice question, just keep doing that for all the multiple choice questions. You’re going to feel much more confident at the end of the day. And you will not have learned what the book was telling you in those lectures, every little thing.
I did an interview earlier today and that person had their only exam they hadn’t taken was REG. I told them like my big tip on REG is especially in the tax questions, confine yourself to the explanation per question. Because if you go back to the full [00:22:00] lessons, you start thinking about exceptions, does this other tax rule come in? And they won’t ever really present it like that, even though in the lecture and the video, they will mention, you know, like, and then, but one thing you got to watch out for is… but they won’t make it that complicated or that tricky. Just confining yourself to the explanation on a per question basis, because yeah, like you said, going back to the full topic, it’s very easy to confuse yourself and convince yourself you don’t know anything about the topic, but again, you don’t need to be able to explain it, and all the nuances of all the different, tax sections that could apply. You just need to be able to answer the questions you’re going to see.
The power of getting “good at studying”
Nate: Another question I was going to ask is, so as you got going, did you feel like the study process just became easier and easier because you were getting, like I said, like good at it.
You’re like good at studying?
Kayelani: Yeah. And I think what started making me feel like I was [00:23:00] getting good at it was definitely once I started passing exams. Once you pass two exams, you got it, just keep doing it, what you were doing. you know how to study, you know, how to pass this thing, it’s just a matter of executing it.
But… don’t get complacent
Kayelani: Which can make you almost not as motivated, like the fear of not passing is motivating in and of itself to keep going and studying hardcore. but just keep going at it. The last exam was the one that I got the lowest score on that passed, because I wasn’t taking it quite as seriously as the other three. So just keep pushing through, don’t fail.
Nate: But, that is also funny, and a testament that you are good at… you just knew what you were doing, whereas, if you contrast that to like your first attempt, you were spending all day studying and still failed an exam, and then by the time you do your fourth one, you’re almost like a phoning it in, but you still pass.
Nate: So, looking back at these emails , what tests would you have been taken in? cause you had emailed me saying you were really worried about [00:24:00] timelines in this email from September,
Kayelani: Yeah, that
was before I took FAR. I’m a very literal person, so I was like, Again, like if I do this exact thing this way, I’m going to pass.
So I was very worried that I was only taking five weeks to study instead of the full six to eight. so I was like, maybe if somebody tells me it will be okay… Like my nerves were shot, but that’s the one I got a 73 on that encouraged me that I felt so bad about the material and still scored decent, not passing, but decent.
Nate: Yeah, that’s
funny. And then by the end, you were doing it the easy way, but you still passed.
“What was the hardest part of the process?”
Nate: Overall, what was the hardest part of the study process
Kayelani: I think getting going. That fear, these things are intense. I had already studied one time, five years previously and hadn’t, didn’t even sit. I didn’t even sit for that exam because I was just so overwhelmed. These are very difficult exams and just [00:25:00] accepting that this is going to be really hard. You’re gonna, you’re going to be very stressed out. yeah, they’re just difficult. I think I forgot what the initial question was…?
Nate: Just what the hardest
Huge relief once you know your process is working
Nate: And then just with the overall stress level, once you knew your study processes working, I’m guessing you would say the overall stress these caused you went way down as long as you just executed your daily process?
Kayelani: Oh yeah. The first one that I was studying for, I was stressed almost every day, but then the next exam, I would probably only get stressed a couple of times.
And then right before the exam, I was stressed on all of them. Like the day or two before the exam. but it definitely made the days less stressful. Each one I got to, it was mainly just those few days before the exam and on the exam day,
Accept that this is a daily process and it gets easier
Nate: What about your, because on doing these interviews, because, cause my philosophy for me, it was just easier to never miss a day of studying, because if I missed a today,[00:26:00] the dread factor would come back. But you mentioned it earlier, just accepting that, like this is a,
this is a daily thing. This comes first. I will not do anything else except this first. And as long as I do that, then I don’t have to really think about it the rest of the day. But anyways, other people doing these interviews, there are people who took the full weekend off, but they still pass their exams.
They would take Sundays off. How did you treat that?
Did you take days off?
Kayelani: Yeah, so in audit, busy season starts, especially at the big 4, busy season starts in January. So my goal was, I wanted to pass FAR and REG before busy season started, I actually got lucky and started a new position in that timeframe. So I didn’t end up having a busy season in January, but I still, I did that and I did it every day.
I studied every Saturday, Sunday, I spent probably at least eight hours each day studying. that’s just what worked for me. And then, so I’d still wake up early and wake up at five. So it was usually [00:27:00] done studying by, I don’t know, like two or three most days. And so I still have half the day where I could enjoy it and do what I wanted.
And then, once I passed those at the end of 2020, I started BEC and took that. I did take a break between the third and the fourth one. My sister had a baby. So I had something to look forward to is like a break, took about a month off. And then I came back to the last one and just knocked it out.
Plan your exams around “life events”
Kayelani: So I liked your example, in one of the videos that I watched where you said, if you’re gonna, if a big event is coming life event, something that you want to do, plan your exams accordingly.
So it’s in between. I wouldn’t recommend taking off a whole weekend or even a whole week to go on a vacation in between these things. Just do it in between studying.
Nate: Yeah. I think that was one of the other interviews where, can’t remember the name of the person, but that’s what they did. They took them over the summer and they had some weddings or whatever, life events yeah.
That they knew they were going to go to either way. So they would [00:28:00] take an exam the weekend before one of those things. Obviously, didn’t even have anything to study for those two days and then get back to it when they got back.
Kayelani: That’s also, yeah, it’s also less stressful if you just took one.
And even if you don’t know if you’ve passed yet, it’s a weight taken off your shoulders. So if you’re trying to do things in between, you’re just stressed about, oh, I should be studying…
How Kayelani studied on weekends
Nate: and then how did you study on weekends? Was it, I think you just said that you would just still get up early and study.
Through the afternoon and then you’d be done for the day?
Kayelani: Yeah. So I would do, the main study session with the multiple choice questions, I would get through a section. sometimes I do multiple sections depending on how many I needed to get through. I usually would map out my plan at the beginning of studying, based on how many, multiple choice questions were on each section, how many sections I was going to do each day in which days.
So usually the weekends, I had more sections that I was going to get through. And then I do the 30 sets of multiple choice questions. And then I do, five to seven [00:29:00] SIMs. And then depending on how those went, if I felt like I wanted to study one more thing a little more, or if I felt like I was good for the day, I would just go read my review notes for an hour and then I was done for the day.
Sometimes I’d go on hikes and still listen to the notes, but I didn’t actually open a book or look at the computer anymore that day. It just was helpful to just disconnect the second half of the day.
Nate: And then, you, again, you just kinda mentioned it, but how did you use practice SIMs? I say not to endlessly fill out practice SIMs, but you also want to do enough of them that you get used to the format and everything, and then from there, you’re way better off just learning the concepts from the MCQs in general.
How Kayelani prepared for the TBSs (simulations)
Nate: But anyways, how did you use practice SIMs in your study process?
Kayelani: Yeah, so I’ve used them, when I was studying for the first exam, I’d used them Saturdays and Sundays was usually when I would work on SIMs. if you get the multiple choice questions down, you pretty much got [00:30:00] the general idea, but like you said, especially since I hadn’t taken any exams yet, I didn’t know what those SIMs were even going to look like.
And sometimes those SIMs have information in them that you would’ve never learned through multiple choice questions. So for me, it was just another way of broadening my understanding of a topic. And since most of the SIMs is like fill in the blank and not just multiple choice, sometimes it’s presented in a way that’s harder than a multiple choice. So if you really know it in the SIM, you’ve got it down. I probably did a bunch all over the place, the first exam, but by the last exam, I only did them on topics that were hard.
So I generate probably 10 and then just click through and find the harder ones and do the harder topics that I hadn’t seen yet or didn’t know as well…
Nate: That’s how
you do it. Yeah. Generate a bunch and just look through the ones that are hard for you. Cause there’s no point in doing the ones where you look at you open it and it’s easy.
Kayelani: yeah, I was going to say, you don’t have to know it a hundred percent either. [00:31:00] If you’re looking at it, you’re like, I know like 80% of this, 75% of this, that’s all you need. Don’t waste your time. Filling out the whole thing.
Nate: What I would always do is I would findthose hard ones, instantly submit it.
I don’t stare at it for no reason for 20 minutes, cause I don’t know it. Submit it, get an idea of okay, this is how this is solved. Start it over, see how far I could fill it out, and then as soon as I was stuck, resubmit it and then just go a little bit further. And for the hardest ones, I don’t know that for me, that was like the fastest way to learn how they work.
Kayelani: Yeah. Most of the time I would spend no more than five or 10 minutes on one and if I was chugging through it and I felt like, okay, I think I can answer these. I keep going. But if I was like, I haven’t gotten anywhere in five minutes and I just submit it because at that point, for me, it’s easier to, to learn if the answer isn’t there right away. So trying to understand the question before I actually see the answer, and then [00:32:00] I’d submit it if I didn’t know what was going on.
Nate: Right. And that’s a good point too, because yes, I would do that step,formulating some type of guess in my mind, almost like a hypothesis, because then you have these… things you’re trying to answer in your head. And then when you see the answer, it’s like easier to remember if you are wondering what the answer was.
Kayelani’s test-day tips
Nate: Oh, your test day experience. Was there anything that surprised you on test day? Once you started passing, did they each go progressively more and more smooth on test day?
Anything notable from test day?
Kayelani: Yeah, I would say, one of the biggest, pieces of advice that I heard was managing your time. I would generally give myself no more than two hours for the multiple choice section, the first two testlets. So I knew if, once I got to the end of testlet one, if I had already taken an hour on that section, I needed to speed it up.
Generally most of the time I was done with the first two sections after about an hour [00:33:00] and a half. So I had a good chunk of time to spend on the SIMs. The Sims are hit or miss, you could end up with Sims that are like so difficult, and hard to figure out. And other times they might be easy. I remember FAR I was getting to the end and I was like struggling to get those answers in there in the last couple Sims.
Kayelani: And then on REG I pushed myself. I was like, okay, I know I need to go by the time limit, not sit here and stare at a multiple choice question for five minutes. So by the time I got to the end, I had an extra like 20 minutes that I was like, “oh I could’ve spent that on this other SIM”, but just keep in mind, the whole exam is just as important as that one multiple choice question you’re looking at.
So just keep moving.
Non-negotiable timelines to know for test day
Nate: Yeah, definitely. The aiming to be done with the MCQs at the halfway mark is like a bare minimum because the number one thing for Sims on test days to just to leave as much time as possible. That’s, it’s really all it’s about.
Kayelani: And then for the Sims, I wouldn’t give myself more than 20 minutes, especially if I hit that [00:34:00] two hour mark, I would think through how many minutes per SIM do I have now once I finish the multiple choice questions.
so if I was spending like 15, 20 minutes, I would just have to be done, put in an answer and move on because the next one may be super easy, but if you don’t have enough time to do it, you’re not going to get those points.
Nate: So once you get into the SIMs on test day, would you just try to do them in order?
Or would you look through, would you look through and start with the first one or do the easiest one?
Kayelani: Yeah, I would look through, but I didn’t spend a lot of time looking through it. It was like a quick, some of them have really long explanations or like instructions. So those ones I didn’t read through the whole instructions and then decide, usually I’d get a general idea, a quick read, probably a minute on each one, and then just pick one, usually pick the easier ones cause I can knock them out, because then I’d know if I spent 10 minutes on the easy SIM and 10 minutes on the medium SIM. I had an extra 10 to 20 minutes to use on the harder one. so that’s kinda how I did it, so that I wasn’t struggling through the hard [00:35:00] one and then spending five minutes on the easy one that I could have got tons of points on.
Nate: Yeah. Because when I took them, you just got them all at once, but I would do the same thing: easy to hard. That makes the most sense I think.
Kayelani: Yeah, it sucks they don’t give us all of them the same time anymore.
Nate: It, does. It changes the strategy quite a bit, like you said, because you don’t know what’s waiting for you in the second or is there three? There’s three SIM testlets, right?
Kayelani: Yeah, three. the first SIM testlet two Sims and the second two are three SIMs.
Nate: Yeah, you’re forced to submit each one because you don’t know what’s waiting.
Kayelani: Yeah. Yeah. And you don’t know what they’re going to throw out either.
“Passing the first one was almost better than passing the last one…”
Nate: Correct. So you got your fourth score recently, fairly recently, right?
like amonth ago or something?
it was in may it’s about five months ago.
Nate: Okay. So what was that like getting your fourth passing score and realizing you were done?
Kayelani: That was huge. it just, it makes all that time spent all [00:36:00] those mornings waking up early, totally worth it. And now you have your whole life back.
So it’s an amazing feeling. Even just passing the first one, is such a great feeling, honestly, passing the first one for me felt almost better than the last one. Cause the last one, I was expecting it. Because I knew what I got on my mock. I was like, if I don’t pass it, that would really suck, but I was expecting to pass it.
But, once you start passing, especially the hardest ones that you really put extra time in. And it’s an amazing feeling. It’s a great accomplishment.
Kayelani’s top tips for current CPA candidates
Nate: Yeah. So we kind of went through everything. Was there any of your best tips? Or even if we didn’t cover it, just what would be your top two or three, tips for people that are currently working on their exams?
Kayelani: Yeah, I would say, we have covered them, but taking notes is huge, making sure that you’re taking notes in some capacity. you’re not gonna understand exactly what you are, reading.
You’re not going to retain every single thing that you read. It’s not an active way of learning. so definitely taking [00:37:00] notes. I would also say finding a way to review that works for you. So for me, it was the mock exams. Those were huge, seeing brand new, multiple choice questions. I didn’t mention this, but I also used the SuperfastCPA multiple choice questions as well.
That’s another good resource that has questions. That’s different than what you’re going to see on your review. that’s really going to challenge you. If you keep looking at the same multiple choice questions over and over, you’re going to start memorizing those and you don’t want to do that.
I would say those are some of the biggest things and just know that it’s not forever. It’s going to end. There’s only four of them. Once you start passing one or two, you’ve taken big chunks out of the process.
Biggest benefits from SuperfastCPA
Nate: What would you say, just to you, what was the most helpful part of our, cause you had our, you had the full thing, you had our study tools and the PRO course. what was the main benefit you got from either the strategy side, like how to study or the study tools, what would you say the main benefit was?
I would say [00:38:00] probably the top couple things that really helped me was the review notes were huge.
Having all that information in a form that’s much more understandable and condensed so that I can review because some of these, review notes, since I spent an hour on reading them each day, usually take me about three days to four days to get through them once. So in a week’s time I read through them twice at least. So that was huge. and then I’d say the other thing that probably helped me the most was just strategies in general, all those videos that talk through how to do the multiple choice questions, doing the 30 sets of multiple choice questions, reading the review notes, having somebody there, telling you what to do, and that it works, is huge because in college, sometimes you have professors that are like, this is what you gotta do to pass and CPA stuff, they don’t, they’re just like, here’s this huge course to use. Just try it. That’s not [00:39:00] helpful.
Awesome. yeah, like I said, we kind of went through everything. And we covered a lot of really good strategies.
Yeah. I’m glad you found us and, that it could help and yeah, congrats on being done. That’s awesome.
Thank you. I really appreciate it.
So that was the interview. I hope you found that very helpful. And if you did again, make sure that you’re subscribed on YouTube and on your favorite podcast app and take the time to watch one of those free training webinars. It will literally save you months and months of time and frustration from trying to figure this stuff out on your own.
So thank you for watching and listening, and we’ll see you on the next episode.