In this SuperfastCPA reviews episode, you’ll hear how Patricia managed to pass her CPA exams while working full-time, and having 3 kids at home doing online school during Covid lockdown in 2020. She has a ton of very helpful CPA exam study tips and insights to share that will help improve your own study process, so don’t miss this interview!
Important Links Mentioned in the Episode
- 00:00 Episode teaser
- 02:07 Introduction
- 06:29 How Patricia Got on the CPA Path
- 09:12 How Patricia Started the CPA Study Process
- 12:21 How Patricia Found SuperfastCPA
- 13:26 A Day in Patricia’s Study Process
- 14:49 Emails Between Patricia and Nate Early On
- 16:52 Breakthroughs in Patricia’s Study Process
- 18:57 How Patricia Studied with 3 Kids During Covid Lockdown
- 20:17 How Patricia Made Her Kids Listen to CPA Audios
- 24:21 The Power of Your Study Process Starting to “Click”
- 28:16 How Patricia Did a Final Review
- 31:13 The Non-Obvious Skill for Passing the CPA Exams
Patricia: So before, I would read the notes and watch the videos, then do the questions, go through the questions, do some simulations, and that was my process. Then when I started using a superfast review, I changed it. I started by reading the notes that came with the pack, with the bundles, because I found the notes to be brief and to the point, you know, then by the time I go on and read and listen and read the Roger’s topic video, I knew what to expect. You know? And then I go to the questions and all that. But in addition to that, I think there’s, it’s the five questions
Nate: The mini-quizzes?
Patricia: You have… oh my, that’s the first thing that I think that should be the thing that should be on top of your marketing. Like I’m going to give you a mini quiz and the mini quiz will not be on the topic you have studied that day,
Nate: it stretches your brain to like jump around between topics.
Patricia: and that really helped.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah. I appreciate you saying that because you know, sometimes we’ll get emails and they’ll be like, I wish in your quizzes, I could choose the specific topics, and I’m always like, okay, no, you don’t like, trust me, for what this is, as you’re going about your day, This is how this is supposed to work. Just trust me. And then the people who use it, like that…
Nate: Get the result, you know, like you’re sitting here now you’re done with your CPA.
Patricia: I’m actually one of the people… I’m actually one of the people who wrote to, I wrote to you and asked why can’t I… I did. And you responded the same way you’ve just explained.
Nate: That is funny. Oh my gosh. That is funny. So you use the quizzes a lot then just all through your day or whatever?
Patricia: A lot… a lot… In between meetings,
Nate: Welcome to episode 71, of the CPA exam experience podcast from SuperfastCPA. I’m Nate, and in today’s interview, you’re going to hear me talk with Patricia. Patricia is one of our customers, she’s now a CPA. She was originally a CPA in Kenya. She moved here to the U.S., I believe she worked for around 10 years before deciding, “I want to get the U.S. CPA”, and so what you will hear is her story of going through that process. In the beginning, of course, like for most people, she underestimated the exams, they ended up being a lot harder than she thought, not so much the difficulty on test day, but the amount of material, and of course it’s the daily grind that makes the CPA exams so hard. It’s not really the test day experience, it’s the months and months of preparation and the daily dedication that it takes to get to the point where you can get a passing score on test day. I really enjoyed hearing Patricia’s story and her experience getting the CPA and passing her CPA exams.
I think you will too. But before we get into the interview, I just want to mention three things. So first, if this is the first interview or podcast or YouTube video, you’ve come across from SuperfastCPA, the best place for you to start is by watching one of our free study training webinars, because you’ll get a cohesive overview of our study approach and how to use your review course much more effectively, much more efficiently.
What I always say about these trainings is this is one hour that will literally save you months and months of time and frustration from having to, go through the trial and error process and try to figure this stuff out on your own. So you can sign up for one of those free one hour trainings, either through the link that will be down in the description,
if you’re on YouTube or, you can go to our main website at superfastcpa.com, it’s the main thing at the top of the homepage. The second thing is to enter our podcast giveaway. So at the end of this month, whatever month you’re hearing this in, at the end of each month, we will just do a drawing three random names or entries, it’s based on your email address, basically, for three pairs of powerbeat pro headphones.
So you can enter that giveaway at superfestcpa.com/enter, or again, that link will be down in the description, or in the show notes of this episode page. Again, this is episode 71. Or there should be a clickable link in the actual description of this episode, if you’re viewing it in something like Apple podcasts on your iPhone. And then the third thing is to make sure to subscribe on YouTube, and/or to the podcast so that you don’t miss future episodes. My big, my other big claim about our free resources is that these episodes, these interviews, are the most helpful free resource available anywhere as far as helping you improve your own study process.
And, uh, that should logically make sense. You just get to hear the entirety of people’s experience going through the four exams from the beginning, the struggles they go through, the things they dealt with, that they had to overcome, their breakthroughs, their realizations about mistakes they were making that they didn’t realize, just the full story.
These are insanely valuable for you trying to put together a successful study process, and again, in conjunction with our study strategies that you can learn on those free trainings, these will save you a ton of time by avoiding having to make these mistakes on your own. So with that being said, let’s get into the interview with Patricia.
Well, you’re done with all four, right? Cool. And when did you finish your fourth one? Was that just recently or has it been awhile?
Patricia: Just recently in April, April is when I sat for my BEC, that was my last one, so I started out with FAR, yeah.
Nate: Cool. Well, congratulations on being done with your CPA, that’s awesome.
Patricia: Thank you.
Nate: So, uh, where, where are you located?
You’re on the east coast?
Patricia: Yeah. East coast, in Baltimore, Maryland.
Nate: Okay, awesome.
How Patricia Got on the CPA Path
Nate: Okay. And, or how did you kind of get into accounting? How’d you get started down the CPA path. How did that all start for you?
Patricia: Uh, so, um, I’m from Kenya, that’s in east Africa. And so in Kenya, um, I’m a CPA back in Kenya. And when I immigrated to the United States in 2009, I thought it would just be a simple process because, you know, we are using international accounting standards and all that, but shock on me, things are different.
So life happened, 10 years later is when I came in. And, um, really, I think my turning point was when I turned 40 and I was kind of at that point of thinking, okay, what do I want to do for the next 15 years or something. While still on active, you know, job market. So I said, okay, let me get in and do my CPA.
And that’s where my journey began.
Nate: Cool. So when you came over here, did you get a job just in accounting somewhere? And then, you just realized you had to, it had to be the U.S. CPA, if you wanted to like, be a CPA here, like you could work in accounting obviously, but yeah, you just, okay.
Patricia: Yeah. And during that time I did a master’s in accounting too. So it prepped me, gave me the proper out the correct, the number of hours for my CPA.
Nate: Gotcha. Yeah. I was going to ask that if, uh, so your, your bachelor’s from Kenya was, was fine. You just had to add on the masters?
Patricia: Yes. And the funny thing is when I sent my CPA credentials to, uh, the organization that was evaluating, you know, though they do an evaluation to see how it matches with the U.S. education and it came back as equivalent to an associate degree. And I said, probably I needed to give them more information if at all, I really was focused on that. But yeah, that’s what I’ve got up front. Yeah.
Nate: But it did work out. You didn’t have to do like a second bachelor’s you just had to do the masters?
Nate: Yeah. Awesome. Okay. So, when you decided you’re going to get your CPA,
where did you start? You know, like, did you just look for review courses online? Just how did you even get started studying?
How Patricia Started the CPA Study Process
Patricia: Um, so I looked for review courses online. First, I went, I checked on the boards of accountancy, you know, I looked at, I went to NASBA then onto boards of accounting, and my first stop of course was Maryland because I live in Maryland, but since they required a different organization to do, to evaluate my credentials, I, I thought it was too expensive and need to take more time.
So luckily the state of Virginia, they accepted the same organization that did my credentials evaluation. So I jumped over to the state of Virginia. Yeah.
Nate: Nice. And, uh, you just chose a review course and just started doing the lessons?
Patricia: Yeah. So while I was doing my masters, sometimes I would get into YouTube to look for videos and watch things how to, uh, you know, to do some research, and I stumbled on Rogers.
So that’s how I ended up with Roger’s review course. Yeah.
Nate: Okay, and how did it go? And I mean, just how did it go for the first few months or whatever? Like how, just, how was the study process when you first started?
Patricia: Oh, my, when I first started, I think I really didn’t grasp the, how much time I needed to put in how much I needed to study for it.
So, um, my first exam, I had scheduled it for July of 2019. A month to my exams, obviously, it dawned on me that, I can’t do this, you know, I’m not ready. So I just, you know, I just decided to show up just to see what happens in the exam. And I failed terribly, I got a 53, but I wasn’t, I was not really down, you know, it didn’t hit me so hard because I knew, okay, I have to do this, I’ve spent a lot of money on the review to start with, so I got to do this. So I planned, um, to re-sit in December, in December, I followed what everybody does for, you know, read your notes, watch the videos, sit for the exams. And I think luckily for me, because of my strong knowledge in accounting, I was able to pass accounting.
So when it came, I mean FAR, but when it came on to the other units, I immediately recognized that I needed to change my, my tactic, but that was after getting three 74 results. I got 74 twice in audit and a third time in regulation. And then, you came along.
Nate: Yeah. Okay. So, so it was after that, that’s when you found, found SuperfastCPA?
How Patricia Found SuperfastCPA
Nate: Do you remember what the first, was it like a YouTube ad or do you remember how you found our website?
Patricia: Yeah, it was a YouTube ad and then I followed one and there was a longer video on the process itself.
Patricia: And I thought, yeah. Okay. I could relate like, you know, the fact that it’s a lot of material, but you have, it’s about passing.
You just have to constantly… you know, you don’t have to read all the materials. You have to listen to the questions more and more often and listen to the audios, uh, read the brief notes. And that’s what worked for me.
Nate: Okay. So, so you got one of our, uh, bundles or packages and you started, how did, how did you actually use the, the study tools along with your review course? Well, what was your study process before and then, how did you kind of adapt it to what you were already doing?
A Day in Patricia’s Study Process
Patricia: So before, I would read the notes and watch the videos, then do the questions, go through the questions, do some simulations, and that was my process. Then when I started using a superfast review, I changed it. I started by reading the notes that came with the pack, with the bundles, because I found the notes to be brief and to the point, you know, then by the time I go on and read and listen and read the Roger’s package, I me now subject topic video, I knew what to expect. You know? And then I go to the questions and all that. But in addition to that, I think there’s, it’s the five questions or the little batches…
Nate: The mini-quizzes?
Patricia: You have… oh my, that’s the first thing that I think that should be the thing that should be on top of your marketing. Like I’m going to give you a mini quiz and the mini quiz will not be on the topic you have studied that day, you will not select and say today, I want to read on individual taxes and know it’s going to cover everything.
And that really helped.
Emails Between Patricia and Nate Early On
Nate: Yeah. Yeah. Thanks. I appreciate you saying that because that’s one thing that’s hard to get people to a, you know, sometimes we’ll get emails and they’ll be like, I wish in your quizzes, I could choose the specific topics, and I’m always like, okay, no, you don’t like, trust me, for what this is, as you’re going about your day, you, two taps and you’re already taking a quiz.
You don’t have to mess around with a bunch of options and it it stretches your brain to like jump around between topics. Like, it’s just, this is how, this is how this is supposed to work. Like just trust me. And then the people who use it, like that…
Nate: Get the result, you know, like you’re sitting here now you’re done with your CPA.
Like, yeah. So.
Patricia: I’m actually one of the people… I’m actually one of the people who wrote to, I wrote to you and asked why can’t I… I did. And you responded the same way you’ve just explained.
Nate: That is funny. Oh my gosh. That is funny. Well, I’m glad you, I’m glad you listened, or at least at least gave it a try and then realized like, okay, this actually does, or it is really effective. That’s funny cause normally before I get on a call, I’ll check my emails to see if I’ve ever like, if we’ve actually ever written emails back and forth. And I just, because the babysitter’s not here, I didn’t do that. Yeah. Yeah. That’s funny. So you use the quizzes a lot then just all through your day or whatever?
Patricia: A lot a lot in between meetings, I’m done with the meeting and I have it on my phone, even after passing the CPA, I would look at my phone and feel like I’m missing something. And it helped it helped. Yeah. And thank you. Thank you so much. Yeah,
Nate: yeah, yeah. You’re welcome. I’m glad they could help.
Breakthroughs in Patricia’s Study Process
Nate: And, uh, did you get our pro videos as well? Like the strategy videos? Did you go in and watch those? Okay. What were like the top two or three differences that you learned from those videos that really helped you when you kind of changed your study process?
Patricia: Um, there was a video you did on deep work by Newport, somebody about having consistent… That really helped. I had read the book before, but now putting it into the study.
You know, adapting it to my study. I knew, okay. I needed to put in, I mean, set up set at least one and a half hours in the morning or something like that. So I knew I needed some deep work. And there was also the video on writing short notes or, or, you know, um, the cards, but I was not very good, flashcards,
I was not very good with the flashcards because it requires you to organize them. At least to be able so that if I need to pick them up, I can. So I tried it, but it didn’t work for me, the notes worked for me. So for all the sections, I have a notebook specifically for regulations, for audit, and yeah.
Nate: Yeah. It’s not, it’s not necessarily, you know, about like the flashcards.
It’s more just, in some way you are writing things out that you struggled to understand and you’re writing them in your own words. So it doesn’t really matter if it’s notes or, people have different ways of doing it, but, but that process is, that’s how it’s, you know, it’s easy to read an explanation and think, okay,
yeah, I understand that. But then if you see it slightly differently later on the test, it can throw you off. But if you’ve written it out in your own words, It’s much more likely that you really understand it.
Patricia: You really, yeah. And then you can also remember to go back to it and maybe add on something to it.
How Patricia Studied with 3 Kids During Covid Lockdown
Nate: Yeah. Oh, and you mentioned, so you would do your main study session in the morning, like before work, before anything else?
Patricia: I would do that. So I am a mother of three. So I have three children and you can imagine with COVID dealing with homeschooling, um,
Nate: that was a complete nightmare. We did that with our kindergartners.
You did it with three kids, three kids online school?
Patricia: Uh, two kids online school, the older one is in high school. I mean, college.. So it was sometimes you could help, but yeah, there’s only so much you can get help from yeah. So at that point I knew, okay, if I don’t work or study before they wake up, I there’s no other time I can study.
So I would study in the morning and do maybe an hour after they go to bed.
Nate: Nice. Yeah. I mean, it’s a lot of work, but it’s like you said, you, you have to create a routine that you can just, and you get used to it so that it happens every day. If you’re inconsistent and you only study every few days, it’s just really hard for this to work.
How Patricia Made Her Kids Listen to CPA Audios
Patricia: Yeah. And another thing was on the audio notes. I would listen to it every time in the car. At some point, my kids were asking, is this the only thing we’re going to listen to the car?
Nate: I feel bad for your kids, they had to listen to that?
Patricia: But it was fun. Yeah, it was, it was the only, even when I’m driving to do an exam, I would be listening, listening to audio notes because sometimes something you could pick up just something and you never know. Yeah. You never know. Yeah.
Nate: I mean, it’s like when you, when you watch a movie five times, like you see little, little different things every single time you watch it, even if you’ve seen it three times and then it also just, it also just keeps helping you, it makes it deeper into your memory and you keep kind of making connections you hadn’t made before. So it’s just that ongoing repeat, hitting the same stuff over and over and over is gets boring,
but that really is like the key to not having to worry about retention on test day. So we talked about your, your morning routine and then throughout the day, but you already said this, you would do the quizzes, and did you, did you read the review notes or how did you use the review notes or did you mostly use the quizzes and the audios?
Patricia: I would read the review notes before I list, because the materials that came with my. My main review packet was a lot. So I printed the review notes and did you know, spiral binding on it. So I would read the review notes before I start the topic. So then I know where I’m getting into,
Nate: Yeah, a lot of people say that, actually I think we added that to the pro videos. Read the section in the review notes, so you get a big picture overview and then the other way is just, just basically work your way through them, but doing the mini sessions just over and over and over. And then what was your process for, did you study differently on the weekends or how did you use your weekend study time compared to like weekdays?
Patricia: With kids I didn’t really, I didn’t have four hours to study. The most I could get was maybe two hours for little chance in between, you know, how it is. So early morning. Yes. And then I, during the day I just squeezed it squeezed in an hour or two like that and late in the evening. So I didn’t have the privilege of having a full eight hour to study, no.
And, um, I’m glad I didn’t have. Because at least, then I knew during the day out picking one thing or another, you know, but I had my dining table always had my, whatever I was studying for at that time. And my kids knew that once I sit there, yeah. Th the elder two knew that, but my youngest, she was awake with.
Nate: Yeah. You can’t tell him anything. That’s funny, but yeah, that’s what I mean. That’s what you have to do. But when you study for far or, uh, when you, when you failed, uh, what was the audit a couple of times, um, were you still doing, were you still studying in the mornings then?
Or was your study routine different at that point?
Patricia: Um, to be honest, I think I used to study more when, before I learned how to, you know, to go about the strategies. So, and I used to study more out. I used to think more outs out, spend more time thinking about studying before too. I listened that I felt tired, but it’s, it’s funny.
The Power of Your Study Process Starting to “Click”
Patricia: I think once you pass a section, the moment I passed auditing, then after that I was able to pass the others within. So I passed, I sat for auditing, um, I’m looking, sorry. I’m looking at the dates when I, so I finally passed auditing when I sat for it on November 30th and regulations, I sat for it January 23rd and I passed, and then April 20th, I passed BEC.
So you see, that was a very short time to pass the three peppers. And yet I spent so much, so it’s yeah, you can’t use, you have to work, work, work until you get, once it clicks, you’re gone…. Yeah,
Nate: yeah. Yeah. And that’s, that’s what I tell people is like you like, okay, walk, watch the pro videos and then watching the videos is one thing it’s like learning to ride a bike.
You can’t learn to ride a bike from watching a video, so you see how to do it, then you implement it, and when you’re trying to get to like the two or three week mark, and it will click and you just, you know how to study, you know how to break down lessons, like make your own notes effectively, and once you do that, like you said, it’s, uh, if someone’s really struggling with the study process, even if they’re spending a lot of time, but they kind of know that it’s not really working.
Then it’s like just you’re stressed out all the time, cause you’re always thinking about it, worrying about it. But once your process is nailed down and you know, when you spend a couple hours studying, you’re actually making progress, then when you do that each day, then you can kind of not, once you get your study session done, not worrying about it the rest of the day.
And so it’s just a lot easier mentally once you get your study process figured out.
Nate: so, okay, so the weekends, and then, how did you use practice simulations in your study routine? Did you use them a lot or not really? Or when did you use those?
Patricia: I liked to use them, right. Not maybe I do a question or two after I study a topic and then I’ll do one simulation, but I think the review courses really don’t have a proper way of either grading. Uh, the simulation is that because if you go by whether you you’ve got it right or not, it kind of discourages you, but, and, but. I think when exams, I found it easier to do them when exams were, when I was close to sitting for the exams, then that way I would be checking off and saying, oh, it’s because of this you know, and you tie the knots together and yeah,
Nate: Yeah and that’s, that’s a good way of doing it. It’s uh, and, and I agree. I mean, I that’s in the one pro video on practice simulations. It’s really not that beneficial to sit there and fill them out and make sure you’re getting a hundred on all of them. It’s a lot more beneficial to kind of deconstruct them, like figure out the pieces,
like why, why is this piece? Or because then, because on test day, if they’re going to, they’re going to be way different than the practice Sims in your review course. So it’s more beneficial to try and understand the, kind of like the why behind simulations, right? Yeah. So, what would you do in the last few days before an exam?
How Patricia Did a Final Review
Nate: Uh, your final review or whatever you want to call it, how would you do that?
Patricia: I would now go to short review notes and then,
Nate: Our review notes you mean? The ones you printed out?
Patricia: Yes, the ones I printed out and now do questions. So I would start with just one topic, do the questions on that particular topic on Rogers, and then I keep adding on as I go, but I don’t, if, if I say I’m studying one topic, that would be for one day. I don’t say I don’t put it like one week because you don’t have that. So in a day out do that. And then I keep adding on until to a point where I am selecting all the topics and, you know yeah, I said the questions, but I think really it’s always about you do the questions.
Yeah. You get it right. You ask yourself, did I know it? That’s why I got it right. Or did I guess? If your guessed, go look and see the explanation. What, what was the reason or what, what is, yeah, and it’s, and the reason why we do the questions over and over, because coming from, in Kenya, in my throughout college and all that, I never did multiple choice questions.
We only, I think I left multiple choice questions in elementary. After that we were doing that describing what? Not no multiple choice questions. So I had to rely on them.
Nate: Yeah. So that’s funny. Uh, yeah. I mean, all American school is basically all it is, is multiple choice. Like, I mean, every quiz, every test, essentially.
And anyways, yeah. Yeah. I didn’t realize there was, I mean, it’s a big difference. Yeah, but like you said, uh, well, and what I always tell people is answering exam questions, you know, there’s knowing the material, and then there’s like the skill of answering questions. If you can get good at questions themselves, you just learn to recognize patterns like you,
if you spend a lot of time with questions you just pick up on, okay, I know what they’re really like. I know what they’re getting at here. I know what they’re wanting me to, or, you know, it just there’s like the two sides to doing well on exams. And then did doing the daily sets of questions,
did that help you with time management on exam day? So like you were finishing the MCQs pretty quickly, so you had a lot of time for the SIMs?
The Non-Obvious Skill for Passing the CPA Exams
Patricia: Yes, I did. And, um, so what happens with the small quizzes you have on the app, um, some of the questions, the, when you look at them, they look like they are repeated questions, but they are not because they are asking different things.
So I quickly learned, I think, from doing the questions over and over again, I knew that you have to read through the question and then it, and it really helped. It helped with answering the MCQ questions. And I think when, if we are left to study by ourselves, we think that the examiner will be coming for the hard staff, you know, like for the student.
But it’s not that it’s the little things here and there that you have to check off, and then go on.
Nate: Exactly. Yeah. Yep. That’s such a good point. I mean, so I took FAR once and then failed it, and when I was sitting there and looking at it in person, that was the main realization I had was like, okay, I spent all my time basically on my last few weeks on like the hardest topics.
And so I narrowed my studying down to like five topics and it obviously tests you on like 200 topics. I would see all these questions that were like so easy, but they were asking a very specific thing and I just could not remember it because I hadn’t. So, so that was the direct idea I had was like, okay, there’s moving through the new lessons, but then I’m going to spend part of every day constantly re-reviewing everything I’ve already been through. And that was just like, just the key. And so that’s like what our whole thing is based on. Yeah. Awesome. Okay. Well, we’ve kind of gone through everything. The one thing I always ask is if you had, or if, if you were going to give your top like two or three tips to somebody who’s struggling with the study process, trying to get this figured out, what would your top two or three tips be?
Patricia: My first one would be, the mind is a very powerful tool. I think you have to approach it fully. You’re there fully, and you tell yourself I’m going to pass this, I will make it. And you might fail not once, not twice, not you might fail, but go back to asking yourself why you want to do it in the first place.
Right. Then the second one would be consistency. Just keep doing it, keep doing it, keep doing it. And the third one is, it’s not a lifetime thing. It’s a short time, very short time. Sometimes even less than a year, but two years, it is short. Just do it and get on with your life.
Nate: Yeah, exactly.
Patricia: And it’s worth it. Yeah. I got my license, in May, so I am, I feel, um, eventually trying, I know reaping the benefits of having the license, the title it’s good.
It feels good. You know, uh, I think I had it on my vision board sometime back beginning of 2019, where I wrote my name, uh, comma, and CPA, and it’s come to pass. So, um, my plan is to use, you as the title for any, you know, I’m currently studying QuickBooks pro so that I can start supporting small businesses. See how it goes from there.
Nate: yeah. No, it is. It’s a, it’s a big deal to, to have that behind your name. I mean, like if you’re in accounting, that’s kind of what it’s all about is yeah, getting the CPA. So, yeah, congrats again. I mean, that’s awesome. Uh, and the fact that you had to do it twice, basically, you’re a Kenyan CPA, and then now in American CPA, that’s really cool.
Patricia: Yes thank you.
Nate: Okay, so that was the interview with Patricia. I’m sure you found that very helpful and inspiring, motivating all of the above. And of course we talked through tactically, a lot of very specific study strategies.
So if you found this episode helpful, take a second and share it with someone you know, whether it’s a friend or a classmate or a colleague who’s also working on their CPA exams, tell them about the podcast, send them a link so that they can subscribe and listen to some of these interviews.
And again, if you want the deeper dive into our full cohesive study framework approach, you can learn that on those free study training webinars, just go to superfastcpa.com, it’s the main thing at the top of the homepage.
So thank you for listening or watching, and we will see you in the next episode.