SuperfastCPA Reviews: How Ying is Passing Her CPA Exams

superfastcpa reviews how ying passed

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In this SuperfastCPA reviews episode, you’ll hear how Ying took control of her study process by switching to studying in the morning before work, and how that helped everything else about her CPA study process fall into place.

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Episode Timestamps

  • 00:00 Interview with Ying
  • 01:05 Introduction
  • 09:41 How Ying Started Her CPA Journey
  • 11:42 “Keep Pushing Through and Don’t Give Up…”
  • 15:10 Discovering SuperfastCPA Along the Way
  • 16:59 Balancing Life and CPA Study
  • 20:15 “I want to be able to tell my kids, mommy is a CPA”
  • 21:53 A Day in Ying’s Study Routine
  • 23:50 “Mommy Guilt” and CPA Study
  • 24:25 Switching to Morning Studying
  • 25:59 How the Shift in Routine Made the Difference
  • 28:28 What Kept Her Motivated to Push Forward
  • 30:10 Her Biggest Struggle in the Study Process
  • 31:08 Ying’s Final Review Strategy
  • 32:29 Ying’s Test Day Experience
  • 35:29 The Key to Time Management on Exam Day
  • 38:37 Ying’s Top Tips to Those Currently Studying

Episode Transcript

Ying: I think the biggest one would be the study tools, the mini quizzes, like so easy to access on your phone, just pull it out and you don’t have to think about it. That’s like one of the apps I open whenever I unlock my phone, I get to check out your quizzes or review notes. And it’s just so useful and helpful all that.

I can’t thank you enough. Otherwise there’s probably not like possible. I just won’t do it. Just everything else just didn’t sound doable to me. When I saw your video I’m like, oh, this makes sense. I can just study for two hours in the morning and then just little times. Cause that’s what kind of time I have with the kids, you know. I’m working full time. Just little time like 10, 15 minutes, even when I’m like hanging out with my kids, I would pull out my phone sometimes do a little 5-minute quizzes when they’re happily playing by themselves. So I would do that and just little time like that they do add up.

SuperfastCPA Reviews: Ying’s Story

Nate: Welcome to episode 77 of the CPA exam experience podcast from SuperfastCPA. In today’s episode, you’re going to hear me speak with Ying. So Ying started her CPA exams when she first got out of school but she was never fully into it. And, you know, admittedly in your first few years, it’s not absolutely critical that you get your CPA.

It’s obviously a benefit and most people would say, if they could come back and do it over, they would do them as soon as possible. But that’s just not the reality, a lot of people kind of put them off for several years. And Ying got to the point in public accounting where the people that got hired around her same time were starting to get promoted, becoming manager. And she just realized that, okay, now it’s time. I’ve got to do these.

Ying had a full on family at home, multiple kids. And so trying to balance all that and pass the CPA exam at the same time, that is what you’ll hear in Ying’s interview.

So in this interview, we’ll cover a lot of the strategic type of things like how she found the time to study, how she stuck to a routine every day with everything else going on, how she managed work and all the things with her home life, dealing with their kids, and also fitting in her own study time each day and just how she figured all that out.

And then like the other episodes, we also will cover a lot of the actual study strategies, how to study more efficiently, how to study more effectively. So, regardless of whatever your personal kind of background situation is, while you’re trying to pass your CPA exams, you will find a lot of helpful tips and advice and strategies in this interview with Ying.

Before we get into the interview, I just want to mention two things. First, if you have not yet, take the time to spend one hour attending one of our free study training webinars. That is where you will get an in-depth overview of our study framework and our study strategies. That’s pretty much where every person you’ve heard on these interviews started with SuperfastCPA and if they were on our podcast, it’s typically usually what they refer to as kind of the turning point in their CPA study journey.

You can sign up for one of those trainings on our main website at superfastcpa.com. It’s the main thing at the top of the homepage or if you’re watching this on YouTube, there will be a link down in the description. The second thing is each month we have a free podcast giveaway where we give away three pairs of Powerbeat Pro headphones and you can sign up for that or enter that giveaway.

It’s completely free to enter. You can do that at superfastcpa.com/enter or again there should be a link down in the description. The idea with giving away headphones is just going along with the idea of always be studying. Audio is such a powerful tool to help constantly review the material because while you’re doing other things, some interviews have talked about how they would mountain bike on Saturdays because that’s what they love to do but they’d be listening to our audio notes the whole time, or somebody else mentioned skiing, doing the same thing.

So it’s a great way as you do some of your normal mundane daily tasks, you can still be listening to audios in the background. It’s the same reason that you ended up memorizing pop songs even if you’re not trying to. That repeat exposure just cements the ideas and concepts in your brain and it’s just a great retention tool.

So sign up for the free study training and our free podcast giveaway. With that out of the way, let’s get into the interview with Ying.

Where, where are you located?

Ying: Oh, I am in Valparaiso, Indiana. I just moved here actually a year ago from Illinois, North part of Illinois like Lake Forest. How about you?

Nate: I’m in Salt Lake City. Have you been out here?

Ying: No, I have not. How’s the weather over there?

Nate: It just kinda turned like it was real hot. We get very distinct it’s kind of two seasons, spring and fall are super short and summer is long and it goes into winter pretty fast. So yeah, we’ll have like October is like the one month of fall and then it gets really cold and starts to snow.

So what took you to Indiana?

Ying: So my husband grew up here and my mother-in-law lives here and we just visited here quite often to see my mother-in-law and every time we came here just like everybody’s so friendly waving at you. And we have two little kids, two year old and three year old. So like, wow, it’s a great you know, I just feel like it’s a great place to raise kids, you know. They have great schools here and the cost of living is lower, you know.

Nate: Yeah. That’s awesome.

Ying: All that.

Nate: Do you work in public accounting? Did you?

Ying: Yup, I’m working in a CPA firm. It’s actually in Illinois but they’re so flexible with me. They, you know, most people actually now since COVID, we worked remotely. And I may be going to the office once a month if I choose to. I don’t have to but I do enjoy being away, you know, being in a work environment for one day and see my coworkers face to face.

Nate: That is nice. Yeah, but not every day. That’s that’s like, that’s a nice plan.

Ying: Yeah, it’s a, an hour and half away. It’s a long drive.

Nate: So you didn’t even need to change jobs then, it’s with your same firm. You guys just moved an hour and a half away. Oh, that’s cool.

Ying: Yup. Yeah.

Nate: Awesome. And so where are you at from like, have you been out of school for a while or like what brought you back around to getting the CPA?

Ying: So I’ve been out of school for awhile. And so I graduated December 2012. And I was working, you know, when I was in college and just needed to, well I didn’t have to. I wanted to help out my parents without the tuition costs. So I did not, you know, but right after college I started working. In a small, very very small CPA firm in Chicago.

And then I just never like I just felt like I didn’t need to become a CPA at that time. I mean it would be nice but it wasn’t critical at the time. So now where I’m at, you know, everybody around me is getting promoted to a manager and now I’m a supervisor for a couple of years now, you know, in order to become a manager, I have to get my CPA and it’s been hanging over my head, you know, since I graduated.

And then I also my firm supported me. Helped me pay for the school to get my 150 hours. I’m like, I didn’t just get, you know, spell that time and effort to get my 150 credit hours for nothing. I’m already there. Yeah. I understand some people may not have enough credit hours.

And then they just don’t want to pursue it but I’m already there. I just need one little bit, you know, push. Yeah. To get the CPA. I’ve always envied people, you know, who have their CPAs. What is it like? Oh, she’s a CPA, you know, one day when I grow up.

Nate: Well, that would be frustrating too, you know, especially you’ve stayed in public accounting this long, you have the same knowledge level and experience level.

And yeah, like the only difference is that you don’t have those three letters behind your name. And so, yeah, but it does. Yeah. We have a one second. I’m sorry. Geez. We have a one second delay. So like sometimes I’ll start responding anyways, but that’ll happen. Sorry. So go ahead. Whatever, what are you going to say?

Ying: I did try out a private company working for a private insurance company.

I just, it was not for me and it’s way too repetitive, you know, every month the same thing over and over again so I switched back to public. The public is more challenging and interesting.

How Ying Started Her CPA Journey

Nate: Okay, so how long ago was it from today that you were like, okay, I’m going to do this, I’m getting a review course. And just how did that all go?

Ying: Before I had kids or we had kids that was four years ago, I heard about BEC having changes, content changes. I’m like, oh, you know, maybe I should get that one out of the way before they change a lot of the material. So I decided to go online and found some like answer key like I studied for like a week.

I didn’t even buy textbooks or anything. I just found I was memorizing answer key. And then just scheduled the exam and yeah, of course I, didn’t pass and then I got pregnant so I just put that on the side and then four years later, you know, like I said, everybody around me is getting promoted.

And then I do want to move up in my organization. So I’m like, okay. And it’s after tax season. It was in May I came across your YouTube video. And I’m like, well, this sounds really doable. You know, maybe, you know, sounds almost too good to be true. I’m like, okay. You know, how bad could it be? I’ll give it a shot and I’ll make this small investment. It’s worth it.

It will be worth it. And, you know, in the end. So yeah, I just bought the bundle and listened to your pro course videos or watch them, I should say. And then I scheduled for FAR. I gave myself about three months to study for FAR because I knew that one was the most difficult. Not difficult but well, it had the most material. But at the first month I was like, oh, I have a little scratchy throat. I can’t get up at five today.

Maybe I’ll do it tomorrow. So

“Keep Pushing Through and Don’t Give Up…”

Ying: So yeah, just that morning routine I think was, you know, definitely made the difference for me. Cause before I tried to study at night at a very beginning and I was just so exhausted after working full time and spending time with my kids, all that. I, it wasn’t sinking in for me. And I remember seeing one of your videos. You said like you may look forward to getting up in the morning.

Maybe you didn’t use the exact word but I kind of felt like, okay, I just got to do it. You know, like five o’clock it’s like clockwork, you know. If you want something like my husband says that I’m very determined if I want something really bad. So we just gotta, you know, keep pushing through and yeah.

Don’t give up.

Nate: I do say that in those videos that you can get to the point where you, I think I say, or you almost look forward to it. It’s hard to really look forward to your CPA study. But I think what it is is, uh, when you, when you get into a routine and you do it each morning and you get it out of the way,

it’s basically the reason it feels so good is because if previously you’re always trying to study and then just days go by and it doesn’t happen. You’re not really in a routine. You’re always stressing out about it in the back of your mind. And so getting in that routine just gives you that sense of like progress and you start to gain a sense of momentum.

And that’s why it’s a, it’s almost a relief to kind of get in that cycle because then you’re not always just stressing out about it.

Ying: Yeah, like eight o’clock in the morning. I’m like, oh wow. I got that out of the way. I have full day to work or do laundry or whatever, to spend time with my kids, you know.

Yeah, I did the mini quizzes in between. And then your audio notes whenever I’m driving. So that’s just I’m so glad I found you.

Nate: Now, so did you get a main review course to kind of do your main study sessions with?

Ying: Yeah, I did. My firm offered Roger CPA. Yeah. So I used that.

Nate: So do you kind of just do the like what I talk about the two hour morning session, you just apply that to your Roger materials?

Ying: Yeah, I did multiple choice questions. You know, and then the 30 question overview.

Nate: Awesome. And so you, I saw in your note so you’ve passed one section so far, right?

Ying: Yeah, I did FAR. Yeah. I’m studying. Yes. 84. Yeah, I’ve I posted on the profile. I was so happy. Yeah, it did. And then, yeah, I’m currently studying for Audit, scheduled it for October 26.

Nate: Awesome.

Ying: I’ve been studying since last week, almost two weeks ago.

Nate: Yeah. I mean getting FAR out of the way is I like to say it’s like your that’s more than halfway. Just from my all things considered perspective. It’s mentally, it’s such a big step to get FAR done. Yeah. And once you pass FAR, you know that your process works more or less.

Ying: I would also say my experience definitely helped, you know, like by working in public accounting firm for few years.

Discovering SuperfastCPA Along the Way

Nate: Definitely. You’ve got a lot of experience. So you started, we have a lot of people who do what you did, basically. They find our free webinar thing is that, so you, you saw one of our ads and you started by watching the free webinar, right?

Ying: Yeah. I did.

Nate: Okay. And then, so you started, when you jumped into the full study process, it was kind of following our study framework from the beginning then?

Ying: Yeah. I started using a Quizzlet and I just felt like after like a week or two felt like it wasn’t, you know, sinking in the way I wanted it to. So I started writing down the notes in flashed paper flashcards. And I would put them in this little pocket with a zipper. I’ll take them wherever I go. If I have to commute somewhere, my husband usually drives. If we go, you know, go out of town to this family or friends, I would bring that little pocket with me. Just take them out, you know, in the car and wherever I go and just.

Nate: It’s not, the idea with the flashcards it’s not like it needs to be Quizzlet or anything. It’s just some form. And I dunno if you’ve heard other podcast interviews but like a lot of people have ways of doing it, it’s whether it’s notes or physical note cards like you’re talking about or Quizzlet or whatever it is, the point is just some way of taking the topics that you personally find difficult and putting them in your own words, or you know, breaking apart, practice SIMS and making a series of flashcards for journal entries or whatever it is.

Ying: Yep. That’s what I did. Yeah. Breaking things apart.

Nate: Yeah. That’s awesome.

Balancing Life and CPA Study

Nate: So how do you balance because in the past we’ve had like specific requests for like the busy moms, they want more episodes with people that are working full time and have little kids. How do you balance that? Like, what is a typical day of studying look like for you?

What does a typical full day look like? All things included like you, when you study how you, you know, family time in the evening, all that.

Ying: So I’m very fortunate my parents live five minutes away from me so they would come over every day pretty much. And then, you know, watch the kids.

And then sometimes my mom would pick them up for us. But I tried to cause I, I do need breaks in between, you know, I can’t study. I sit down for five or six hours at that time. So I would go pick up my kids, bring them home and then my mom would, you know, feed them lunch and I would just lock myself in our bedroom actually. I lock the door and study.

So typically they would say like, today’s Monday, I would get up at five, study for a couple hours. And my husband usually drops off the kids at school. And then I would just work and I work full-time. So I usually check my emails and work. And then, you know, in between breaks, I would pull out either your mini quizzes or review notes. When I go pick up my kids, I would turn on your audio notes in the car on the way there, even in Carlisle, I would listen to your audio notes. Yeah, just bring them home. They’ll hang out with either my husband or my mom. My dad actually cooks for us.

He used to run a Chinese restaurant so he would usually come home. Yeah. So I have a very good support system. And then yeah, my friends are supportive and I’ve often turned down invitations from friends. Oh, Hey, you wanna come to this party? But you know, we’ll have this going on and we’ll go shopping and I just you have to say no.

It’s only temporary. I tell myself fixed. It’s okay to miss those things for a little while. And then I still have play dates for my kids and I’m actually hosting for a birthday party. My eldest son is turning four next week. I’m hosting a birthday party for him. You know, it’s a lot but I, I sacrifice sleep, right.

It’s we, what moms do. And it just it’s only temporary. I keep telling myself that. I, sometimes before I go to bed, I listen to your audio notes.

Nate: Yeah, I hope you don’t have any nightmares.

Ying: I laughed when you made that comment. I think it was John.

Nate: Oh yeah. The most recent one. I already used that joke.

Ying: Yeah, the most recent one like I’m but yeah. I can’t. I’m so glad that again I found you.

Nate: I’m glad it’s been helpful. It’s great to hear. I love hearing these stories.

“I want to be able to tell my kids, mommy is a CPA”

Ying: Like I’ve seen the textbooks that you get, you know, from the review courses. They’re like this thick. I’m like, how can anybody that’s a lot of time to read through the entire book and it just sounds so daunting to me every time. And I didn’t and I never opened, well I opened it once. I did not open the book for FAR when I was studying for FAR. I just read your notes and listen to your audio notes and mini quizzes.

Yeah, just followed the blueprint. Oh, this right here. I taped it on my wall.

Nate: Oh, oh, that’s the, uh, that’s the actual mind map. Huh? That’s funny. And then your, uh, did you do the thing where you write out like the good things that will happen?

Ying: Yeah. It’s here. It sit down my desk.

Nate: That’s awesome.

Ying: Yeah. Keeps me motivated. You know, I want to be able to tell my kids you know when they’re little there, you know, mommy is a CPA. Yeah. I just want to be proud of myself and want my kids to be proud of me. And not that I’m not successful or anything. But just I felt like I don’t want to waste, you know, all my 150 credit hours, the time and money I’ve spent.

Nate: I mean, if you, if you go into accounting and you stay in accounting, especially public accounting, it does. It’s very much like, okay. You essentially, the whole reason you did a bachelor’s and then whether you did a masters or the 150 hours was just to be able to take these exams. And so it’s just kind of like that capstone.

A Day in Ying’s Study Routine

Nate: So in the, what about the evenings, if you, if you nailed the morning study session, let’s say on a weekday. If you nailed the morning study sessions, you do all the mini sessions throughout the day.

So you feel like you’ve really got put in three, four or five hours of study time. Do you kind of take the evenings off or you’re just available in the evenings, have dinner, the family and everything?

Ying: I, yeah. I have dinner with my family every day. Sometimes on the weekday you said, right? Okay. After the kids go to bed, I would maybe study for like 30 minutes, just easy things, you know, review my flashcards.

Maybe do a few multiple choice questions or review the answers that I got wrong, you know, on the multiple choice questions, nothing too intense.

Nate: And then when you said your parents will take your kids, that’s more of a weekend. That’s how the weekends go typically? You get the five or six hours in?

Ying: I don’t think I can get five or six hours in other weekends. So, you know, I was used to get up at five on the weekends. And then, yeah, maybe. And then my husband, you know, would take them somewhere at the park or something I can study for an hour or so. And then in the car before we go to the mall or something. I would again pull out my flashcards and maybe off that time adds up to five or six. I never timed it so I’m not sure.

Nate: Yeah. But I mean, the thing is like whatever you’re doing, you know, is working. And that was my big thing was I, it was just easier for me to not take days off and that’s just what I did, but I didn’t have kids at the time.

You know, I was able to like, do that. There wasn’t these. But your kids, kids is just a whole different. Like now I have two kids similar year ages and yeah.

“Mommy Guilt” and CPA Study

Ying: Yeah. We have this mommy guilt, you know, I often feel guilty. All I could be spending my time, you know, this time with my kids right now. But I spend enough time.

Like they’re only in school for half days. So I spend a majority of my afternoon. Like right now, it starts to slow seasons at work. So I don’t have to work that many hours every day. So yeah, I don’t feel like, you know, I’m neglecting them or anything. On the weekends. Yeah. My parents would take them to their house and played there for a couple hours.

Switching to Morning Studying

Ying: Lunchtime, you know, I miss lunch sometimes just have my husband bring me back a sandwich, you know. We still have play dates on the weekends. Just that morning time is very, very important. At least for me, you get that all up the way you feel so much better, you know, you don’t feel like, oh, I got to study, you know, throughout the day.

Yeah, such a good strategy. Why didn’t I think of that? Well, I’ll say this though. Everybody who knows me knew that I was not a morning person and you know, before kids, I could sleep for 13, 14 hours a day easily. And then yeah, now it’s like, if I can get seven hours, I’m lucky.

Yeah.

Nate: Well, that’s an interesting question. And we’ve had a lot of people I’ve interviewed, they’ve kind of pointed out that fact. They’re like, I’ve never been a morning person but studying at night and all the other stuff I had going on was just not working. So I watched your videos and just decided. This is what I’ve got to do just to get these exams over with. And then once they got used to it and like got in the routine, they really, really like it. Or again, like we were saying earlier, it’s just a relief to build that in, in the morning so that it’s just over with and they highly prefer, it’s a small trade-off to make, you know, to wake up two hours earlier to just have that feeling of basically a feeling of accomplishment before you even start work for the day.

How the Shift in Routine Made the Difference

Nate: So I guess that was my question. How long did it take you to kind of get used to waking up early and I’m guessing you would never, you wouldn’t go back to trying to study, you know, not in the morning. Right?

Ying: So it took me about a month, I would say to get used to it.

I guess that at the beginning I’m like, oh, You know, the kids will be up in the middle of the night. You know, I, you know, again, I didn’t get solid six hours of sleep. So maybe I was snooze for half an hour or so it took me, it took me really about a month, I would say. Give or take and get used to the five hour.

Cause I knew my, you know, my exams, I wasn’t going to change my exam day. I’m like, okay, I’m getting closer to the test day. You know, I can’t. I don’t want to reschedule it. That’s just not gonna you know, be good. So I knew, okay, I’m going to have two months left now. And now I’m only, like one third way through the material.

Maybe not even. So I would say, okay, I gotta really start getting up right at five. I can’t do snoozing. And then I feel like after this is done, I may be able to get up at maybe seven or 6:30 I can even go for a master’s degree or something. And I feel like if we can do this, maybe I can pursue further education.

My mom was joking with me the other day. She’s said, oh, if you know maybe you can get your masters by studying like this. I don’t know. We’ll see about that.

Nate: And that’s another, that’s another funny thing. I mean, it’s not funny, but a lot of people mentioned that they’re like they see the power of getting up earlier and two hours of dedicated focus on just some like external personal goal, whatever you want to call it outside of work. And they’ve all, a lot of people have said that. I mean, you’ve probably heard it on the interviews. A lot of people have said something like that now that I’m in this groove, I’m gonna, I almost miss getting up and doing something extra productive.

And like, I’m trying to find what I’m going to do next to or I’m going to get another certification, something like that. Yeah.

Ying: Yeah. That’s exactly how I feel too.

Nate: I mean, you’d be almost done with the masters. I would think with the 150 hours you already have. I mean, I don’t know how that works.

Ying: Yeah. I haven’t looked into it to be honest but I might looking to it and just see.

What Kept Her Motivated to Push Forward

Nate: Well one question I’ve been asking is on days where you really don’t want to study, what do you tell yourself for like, what, what I did do you keep coming back to?

Ying: That’s that, you know, I don’t want to waste my 150 credit hours and people around me are getting promoted. My boss really has high hopes for. And my kids, you know, I didn’t waste, I don’t know, three months of my time, just to let it go to waste. Cause I told everybody, I know, I know that will be another motivating factor as the people around you know all you’re taking the exam and then all of a sudden you’re like, oh, I quit.

Or, you know, it didn’t happen. Not that I cared that much about how much people think of me, but they’ll be like, oh, she is a quitter, you know? She quit. Yeah, I have kids. You can make up excuses. Oh, she does have two little kids. But again, I’m very fortunate to have my parents here.

And my husband’s very supportive, so I just don’t want to disappoint them. Yeah.

Nate: I mean, whatever helps motivate you. Like whatever thought. I mean, that’s why the first video in the pro course is find your “why”. And I think when people are just starting, they might discount that or just kind of think like, okay, that’s kind of like a fluffy concept.

Like who cares? Just show me how to study. But once you get a few weeks in or a few months in you, then you like get why that’s so important because it is a grind to do this every day, like every single day for hours.

Ying: You got to have a strong will power.

Her Biggest Struggle in the Study Process

Nate: What was your, what have been some of your biggest struggles? Whether, I mean, it might’ve been stuff you already kind of mentioned, like finding the time or the motivation but what’s been your biggest struggle in this study process?

Ying: Finding a time like mommy guilt, like I mentioned, um, you know, like not spending time with my kids, you know, I could be picking them up from school today, but instead grandma’s picking them up. But I don’t want to call myself a helicopter mom. I don’t know you’ve ever heard of that term but I’m much better now, but when I had my first, I was that way.

I’m like, everything has to be like hands-on like perfect by the book, you know? But now with my second, I’m more laid back, but still.. Still, you know, I wanna do it myself. I just feel bad not to do things for them. Maybe I’m crazy.

Nate: No. I mean, my wife’s very much like that. I mean, I think it’s normal. I don’t think it’s weird or anything. It makes sense.

Ying’s Final Review Strategy

Nate: Okay. And then we kind of covered how you studied on the weekends. The few days before an exam, what’s kind of your final review strategy or what did you do for that?

Ying: Okay. So I scheduled my exam on a Friday at 9:00 AM.

So I actually took time off. I took that week off Monday through Thursday. So I would drive to my parents. It’s five minutes away from our house. So I would just hide in their house and just start, you know, maybe around six o’clock. Just do multple choice questions and maybe two sets of two testlets of multiple choice questions.

So yeah, simulations, I would do maybe like five sets. Just do it till my brains feel fried. I can’t take this anymore. And it was probably around lunch time, I’ll say.

And then, you know, I would take a break. Well, I would take breaks in between, like I get emails. I would check my emails but I probably, I would say I got a solid six hours total, you know, each day you’ll study.

Nate: Yeah. That’s really good.

Ying: So Monday through Thursday, I feel like that really helped me, you know, getting a confidence.

Oh, okay. You’re used to the format of the test. I did a mock exam, one of them, so yeah. A good one. Let’s see.

Ying’s Test Day Experience

Ying: On the test day, I got there at same time. I got up at five. I drove it’s about 30 minutes from my house. So I drove there and I found the location. Make sure it’s the right address and everything.

So I took out the review notes. I actually printed it out, put it in a binder. I would just go through them. I don’t think I got through all of them actually. Maybe I was going too slow. I just wanted to make sure I understand every item. I study my flashcards first. Maybe that was why I didn’t get through the whole review notes.

And then, it was a surprisingly there was a long line so I was in line for like an hour to getting to the exam room. Oh, can I say that, I dunno, if you call it deceptive break. You know how you get a 15 minute break in between the exam. When you walk out of the room, I looked at the clock, right.

But the clock wasn’t like exact time it was, I want to say maybe 11:30. I was like 11:23. So I missed the clock by like one minute. So by the time I get back to my computer, it was already like 16 minutes. I missed a minute of my, I didn’t realize it automatically starts. Yeah, maybe it was.

I’m like one minute I had extra time at the end, but still that got me a little nervous, like, oh, hopefully, I will have enough time. And then I can’t focus you, my stomach is crawling. So I made sure I brought snacks with me. Well, that will fill me up for a good solid two hours.

I don’t want to be like hungry in the middle of the exam. And then, you know that they have those headphones. I don’t know if each test center is different. I’ve put on the noise canceling one, but after like 20 minutes, my ears, like I started having a headache by this is too tight.

I was sweating so I took, I took them off and that made me feel better if it was just me. Yeah, just little things that get me nervous. Like I just want to be prepared for a test day. Like I’m like, I wish I knew someone to talk about the test day experience before I went in, but it’s not that bad.

Nate: It’s almost like you’re going through prison security or something. They, you know, it’s a little bit, the first time, it’s like a little bit shocking, like holy cow, this is like, I felt like if I say a word during the test they’ll kicked me out or something.

Ying: Oh, I had to wear a mask and they just by default I took it down lowered. I was trying to focus on that question or something, and this lady came over and said, oh please, put back your mask.

Nate: I’m glad I didn’t have to sit through the four-hour exam with a mask on. That would be just get, you know, it’s just an extra annoyance, just hot.

The Key to Time Management on Exam Day

Nate: How was your time management? Did you get through the multiple choice pretty quickly by like about halfway?

Ying: I did. I made sure I wrote down the time slots. Well, not the times that I supposed to finish each testlet, you know, you get about 45 minutes for each testlet. So at first, you know how they have you and review the policies that you get five minutes I think. So during that five minutes I wrote down the times that I’m supposed to finish each testlet just to keep myself on track.

Nate: And then also doing those all through your study process. Do you feel like doing the sets of 30 every day really helped? Just yeah.

Ying: Absolutely and towards the end when as I was getting closer to test day, I picked 33 questions instead of 30 just to get, you know, more used to it.

Cause I did forget. Cause when I got to the 30th question, I’m like, okay, I’m done. I can go back and get review but I actually missed the last three questions cause I was so used to doing the 30. Yeah. But I was glad that I tested it out before the actual exam day.

Nate: Okay. That was on your mock exam where you got used to it.

Ying: Yeah.

Nate: Awesome. Well, I mean, it sounds like you’re well on your way. I’m glad our study format, whatever the study tools have been helpful to you.

Ying: Thank you. Yeah. Thank you. I can’t thank you enough. Otherwise there’s probably not like possible. I just won’t do it. Just, you know, everything else.

just didn’t sound doable to me. When I saw your video I’m like, oh, this makes sense. I can just study for two day, two hours in the morning and then just little times. Cause that’s what kind of time I have with the kids, you know, I’m working full time. Just little time like 10, 15 minutes, even when I’m like hanging out with my kids, I would pull out my phone sometimes do a little 5-minute quizzes when they’re happily playing by themselves. So I would do that and just little time like that they do add up.

Nate: Oh yeah. It’s huge. I mean, I would say that’s like the biggest thing that I think people discount or they don’t think like how effective can five minutes from my phone really be and so most people just don’t do it.

But it’s the accumulation. I mean, if you think about it logically, it’s like okay, whatever you’re doing in your main study session, whether that’s two hours or four hours, whatever that is, you know, that’s what it is. But then if you read review notes, listen to audios whenever you’re in your car, you took quizzes and you add even an hour, an extra hour a day, that’s an extra 50 or 60 hours over the course of your study timeline.

That can only help. And then when the most common failed scores between like a 70 and a 74, you know, three, four or five points that can easily be, you know, just make the difference.

Ying: Absolutely.

Ying’s Top Tips to Those Currently Studying

Nate: What would be your top two or three tips to people who are trying to study but they’re struggling to come up with this successful daily process? What would be your top tips to those people?

Ying: Just to find what motivates you. Don’t give up. I know some people can study at night but after a long day, you know, everything that happens during the day, I would recommend to study in the morning if you can. I strongly strongly recommend because that made the difference for me because I was not a morning person and I somehow became a morning person.

Do the mini quizzes, don’t underestimate the mini quizzes and the review notes. Maybe print them out if you can. That to me looking at it on paper, I don’t know. It’s just flip them through, just make the mental, you know, it helped me sink in the material.

Nate: yeah, I think just getting in a, getting in a daily routine just starts to kind of unlock progress in all the other areas. It’s hard to make progress if you’re inconsistent because then you’re always feeling like you’re behind on your study plan. And that’s just such a first crucial step. I mean, that’s like the foundation is. That’s why I preached the two hour thing because it’s easier to find two hours than four hours a day and two hours in the morning it’s locked in.

Obviously, you know my thoughts.

Ying: I find myself you know, after the two hour mark, maybe it could do three hours, but after that my brain, just yeah, you’re reading the questions but it’s not sinking in. You’re just going through the motions, you know? You’re just wasting your time. You might as well maybe go for a walk or do something else.

That’s what I do. Just you know, get up and do something else and then maybe come back to it if you can.

Nate: And there is something to that as well. When you’re doing the study thing, you’re putting in so much new information that at a certain point, your short-term memory, like can’t even handle anymore.

So yeah. Awesome. Well, it was awesome to meet you. Like you said, virtually.

Ying: Nice to meet you too. When I was listening to your podcast, I was thinking at the beginning, I’m like, “oh I wonder if… I’ll get to go on one of those?” it’s fun. It’s helpful. It’s definitely motivating. It was motivating to me when I listened to the podcasts.

So thank you to all of those people who have agreed to go on the podcast.

Nate: A lot of people it’s been very helpful to other people. Putting people’s full story or study experience, CPA story, whatever you want to call it.

People just find it really, really helpful. And it makes sense to just hear other people that have struggled, then they started figuring it out, the mistakes they were making. You just hear all these experiences of other CPA candidates going through exactly what you’re going through.

All right. So that was the interview with Ying. I’m sure you found that incredibly helpful and motivating and hopefully gave you several ideas that you can apply to your own study process.

If you found this episode helpful or the podcast in general, take a second to share these interviews with someone you know who is also working on their CPA exams. These interviews are the most helpful free resource available anywhere for anyone that’s struggling with the study process. Whether it’s trying to find the time to study or how to use your review course more efficiently and more effectively or how to build retention into your process so that you don’t forget all the things that you are spending so much time learning in the first place.

And don’t forget to sign up for one of our free study training webinars. If you haven’t done that yet and if you are watching or listening, you might as well join our free podcast giveaway where you will have a chance to win one of three pairs of Powerbeat Pro headphones each month.

So thanks for watching and we’ll see you on the next episode.

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