SuperfastCPA Reviews: How Samantha Passed FAR and REG

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In this SuperfastCPA reviews episode, you’ll hear how Samantha dealt with several huge obstacles while still working towards her goal of passing her CPA exams. Even with the odds stacked against her, Samantha forced herself to “figure it out”, and found a way to make it happen and now has the two hardest CPA exams passed and behind her.

Samantha has a ton of great tactical and mindset strategies to share, so don’t miss this episode!

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Episode Timestamps

  • 00:00 SuperfastCPA Reviews
  • 04:01 How Samantha Got Started
  • 06:40 Getting Stepped on by a Horse
  • 09:02 How Samantha Found SuperfastCPA
  • 11:18 “The nitty-gritty material was so overwhelming…”
  • 14:31 Passing FAR and Gaining Confidence
  • 17:03 From Scoring in the 50s to Passing
  • 18:37 Using Study Tools to at Least Do Some Studying Each Day
  • 19:31 Two Hours in the Morning Solves a Lot of Problems
  • 20:37 “I Really Didn’t Study at Night Because…”
  • 23:33 How Samantha Managed Waking Up at 4
  • 28:04 SuperfastCPA Helps Significantly
  • 32:59 Overview of Samantha’s CPA Journey Timeline
  • 39:51 Changes She Made for Her Study Process
  • 43:18 “You’re kind of like the foundation…”
  • 46:53 Study Tips To Those Currently Studying

SuperfastCPA Reviews Interview Transcript

Samantha: But my, the biggest thing is I made in my mind, it was like, if it’s that important to you, then figure it out.

You know, you have to figure it out. I wasn’t under the illusion, the illusion that it was going to be easy. Like it, it stinks waking up at four. But if I wanted it bad enough then I needed to get up at four. And I did. I mean, it’s really, it’s important to me personally to get my CPA license and, you know, like I, that was in the grand scheme of life, I guess that was manageable for me

and I did it with, I think like four to six weeks, somewhere in that timeframe. I was like, “You can do that. You can do anything for four weeks, like suck it up”. So, so that’s kind of how I, I was just very adamant. Like, if you want this bad enough, it’s gonna, you’re going to have to make some sacrifices and waking up at 4:00 AM is the only way that, you know, that you’re going to be able to do it.

Nate: Welcome to episode 84 of the CPA exam experience podcast from SuperfastCPA.

I’m Nate and in today’s interview, you’re going to hear me talk with Samantha. So Samantha’s story is basically about a ton of negative circumstances piling on top of her and figuring out how she could still fit in CPA study each day and try to work towards her goal of passing the CPA exams.

As you will hear in her story, she passed her first section with no problems, and then as she was studying for her second section, all kinds of things happened outside of the CPA study process that made not only the study process but her life much more difficult including a major accident and her husband getting stuck in another country. So she has quite the story to share.

So in this interview, you will hear the breakthroughs that she figured out as to how she could keep going, overcome these obstacles and still fit in the study process, and how to make the little time that she did have to study really count.

So you’ll find Samantha’s story motivating and inspiring and then of course, like the other interviews, we get really into the details of the different study strategies and what things that Samantha figured out that really worked for her.

So before we get into the interview, I just want to mention two things. First is our free study training webinars, as you will hear from Samantha and pretty much every other interview that we’ve done on the podcast, this is the best place for you to start if you have not attended one of these free trainings before. This is where we will walk you through our study process in detail, for free, so that you can see how these different study strategies all fit together, how to use your current review course much more effectively and much more efficiently, and cut the amount of study time in half that you have to sit in front of your review course each day, while getting better results.

So to sign up from one of those free trainings, just go to our main site at superfastcpa.com. It’s the main thing at the top of the homepage.

And you can just choose an upcoming time that works for you.

The second thing is our free podcast giveaway. So each month we just draw three random names from all the people that have entered, and we send out three pairs of Powerbeat Pro headphones. The idea with these headphones is these are my favorite headphones. I’ve tried all the headphones out there, and then the point of headphones is just the idea of listening to audio notes whenever you’re doing other things to continue to just rack up extra study time, and give your brain more exposure to the material, you make connections better things start to really sink in. Again, as you’ve heard in many of these interviews, a lot of people talk about how adding in the audio notes to what they were already doing just made a huge difference in really cementing their understanding and retention of the material.

So to enter the giveaway, all you have to do is go to superfastcpa.com/enter or if you’re watching this on YouTube, there should just be a link in the description or in the show notes in the podcast app, wherever you’re listening to this.

So with that out of the way, let’s get into the interview with Samantha.

How Samantha Got Started

Nate: Okay. So the little form thing you filled out, you said I had pretty extenuating circumstances and I decided use SuperfastCPA to decide if I could do it with my current life situation. So how about we just, how about we just start there?

Samantha: Sure. So I, um, so I started first, I actually started in, I think it was fall of 2019.

And so I started with regulation. Um, Because I had read, like, start out with your strongest. So I do income tax. And so I thought, okay, I’ll do that. So I did really well on that, um, that test and I found out I passed in like late November but then 2020 started. And it was like, like everything that could go wrong in my life went wrong.

So, um, I was, my hope was to take it before tax season and then. Pretty much that exact same time my son broke his arm. He was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease, um, which required, uh, um, it was celiac disease. So it required a very significant like life initial lifestyle change, um, which involved, you know, lots of different appointments.

Um, my husband, he does his job requires travel while it so happens that he, his current job was in Canada. Well, the Canadian shut down their border. And so even though he had a work visa, he couldn’t like he couldn’t leave. So my husband ended up being gone for almost eight months. Um, in 2020. And then so, um, so

Nate: Meaning he just, sorry, meaning he, he had to stay up there then? Go back and forth? Okay. Gotcha.

Samantha: And they wouldn’t allow, um, family to go at that point. Like he was, he’s a temporary resident, so he could come and go, but like the nature of his job wasn’t such that he could go and quarantine for four weeks and then come back to a successful job, it’s just he works in power. It just wasn’t, it wasn’t an option.

Um, so I tried to take the test and I just bombed it and I, I just like, couldn’t get my bearings.

Nate: I’m sorry. Which, which exam was this one then?

Samantha: So FAR. And I just, like, I think I got a 58. It was terrible. Like, it was just terrible, but I didn’t go into it thinking I would pass. I went into it like maybe I’ll get a hail Mary kind of thing.

Getting Stepped on by a Horse

Samantha: Um, but then like everything just kept piling up. And so then in addition, um, you know, in the summer came and I got injured really like significantly.

I was thrown from a horse and it stepped on me. And so my, um, Like pretty much, I broke like my entire left, left chest cavity and yeah I know that was really bad.

Nate: That’s where you get stepped on then?

Samantha: I mean, I have seven plates in my ribs. I significant physical therapy. Like I’m, I’m still in physical therapy for it. And I just couldn’t like, I couldn’t between like my husband couldn’t come home. I had to have someone live with, like, it was a huge, um, crummy situation.

Nate: By the way, I’m just thinking where you’re trying to help your kids do like online school from home because it was the quarantine 2020 thing.

Samantha: So thankfully like my parents were able to help when I needed it. And then the big kids, they, they ended up going to a private school. And so they were in school. Like it was, the hours were different. Um, it wasn’t, I feel like it was a lot better than, uh, than other family situations. So they still went to school, but yeah, definitely it wasn’t the same. It was like a partial day. Things like that. But I was fortunate to have help from my mom because my kids are eight and six and then the littlest is now two and a half. And so, um, so yeah, so this whole summer, like I just, I couldn’t like physically all this stuff that I was dealing with, I just didn’t have it in me to continue to…

I wanted to, I was just really wiped out. And so I, but it was like, for me, it’s not, um, the CPA has never been like, um, it’s never been about moving on with my job. It’s more of a personal goal for me than it is anything else but it’s, it was just so frustrating to me between, you know, getting her and then just like, I guess kind of whatever the stay-at-home parent is, you know, like you, you ended up making sacrifices for your career, but I was, I was just, it just was so important to me.

How Samantha Found SuperfastCPA

Samantha: So I thought how in the world, I don’t even remember what I Googled, but it was probably like, what’s the easiest way to get this done? You know, like anything that I can do the bare minimum. Cause I just couldn’t like, I didn’t have it in me to have long study days. And so then I found your stuff and I was like, “Who knows?”, like I Googled you to see like how legitimate it was and I thought, well, I have nothing to lose.

And, um, so I tried it and I just decided like, if I can’t, if I can’t do this, if I told myself I could do two hours a day, so I would wake up at 4:00 AM and I wasn’t perfect about it, but I couldn’t rely on nap time to be, you know, my youngest just wasn’t.

Nate: Yeah.

Samantha: And then I was like super tired, um, at the end of the day.

And so it just worked and I just told myself, this is the best you can do. And if it works great, if not, then this is like the sign that you need to really, um, just to wait until my youngest is in like elementary school.

Nate: And so. Yeah. When someone starts using our stuff, that can mean several things like, um, you know, we have the whole study framework, like our pro videos or a pro course that kind of teaches people how to use their main review course, but really you just need to nail the two hours a day. And then the other side of it, which most people do both is our study tools to just kind of rack up study time from their phone in little chunks. Did you do both of those things? Or just mainly the…

Samantha: So I had Surgent and, um, I, you know, like I would say with financial accounting, especially, I just like, you know, I really like it, but I just was kind of removed from it. I had been removed. I’d never seen government accounting before. I would say, I’m pretty sure you’ve hit on it before where it’s like, you don’t really know where to start.

“The nitty-gritty material was so overwhelming…”

Samantha: I don’t know if that was like your own experience. I can’t remember where exactly I heard that from but it the amount of nitty-gritty material was so overwhelming that I feel like I was on my own. I’m just repeating this loop of not really progressing. And so then I got your, your package. And so I just did specifically the FAR bundle.

So I had the multiple choice audio, and then the paper that came with it. And, um, it was really helpful for me to, I use the audio the most. And, um, I would do that if like I tried to go running or. You know, if I had a car ride without the kids and it really helped me for those, like I would, what I would do with yours is I would pick the one that I was the weakest link and I would listen to it on repeat.

And, you know, I found that to give me enough, like starting points that. I could, like, I felt like I had the big overview and I could figure it out. Like if I was presented with the nitty-gritty stuff, I could rule it out by process of elimination more than, you know, more than anything. So it was, um, it made it kind of like you took your step took the nitty-gritty, pulled it out into like different chunks that were more, um, like.

It was sim- simpler in the sense but like good enough that I could figure it out is what I needed.

Nate: Yeah. That’s exactly. It’s kind of a hard line because there are, uh, there are just kind of bullet point notes out there that you pretty much have to know the material first for those to really help at all, because they’re just very generic reminders.

And then of course on the other side is like full on textbooks and we don’t want to be like either one of those things. That’s basically exactly what you just said deep enough that it would actually help someone who has no idea about a topic get the big picture understanding of yeah, the big things.

And then it makes going into the deeper or the full lesson, a lot easier type thing.

Samantha: Yeah. So that helped me. I mean, I would say I didn’t like some things I knew fairly well, um, with financial accounting, other things like the non-for-profit accounting, I didn’t know. So it was really helpful to like, hear the way you broke like they’re accrual versus modified accrual, you know, like just listening to that and remembering that was really helpful for me.

Nate: Awesome. Yeah. And that’s, uh, that’s kinda what everyone says. Most people end up using one of the biggest sources the most, uh, but that’s typically kind of the main result or benefit, I guess is, uh, just what you said.

It helps people like the last interview I did, she didn’t really use the audio notes at all, but she would just read the topic she was about to go into in her review course before. And same idea. Just get the big picture understanding and it made the full lesson, it made it easier for it to make sense.

Passing FAR and Gaining Confidence

Samantha: Yeah. And so I actually, so I ended up passing FAR which was like, I mean, it was, I was so pumped and it gave me the confidence. I, I actually, like, I emailed the board and they gave me an extension like they, with, with all the things that happened, they, they, you know, gave me that extension that I was hoping for and you know, I had heard auditing was a beast as well. And so like, it’s interesting because I would say I read your notes more than I listened to the audio or it audit. I mean, I don’t know, but I got in the bundle each time and I’m glad because I think I go back and forth with which one is the most useful for me.

Nate: Yeah. I mean, you know, and it doesn’t like whatever works. Audit is more, have you ever worked in auditing? Yeah. So auditing, if you’ve never worked in auditing, I think auditing can be the most confusing because so much of it sounds like it’s all the same thing, but there are these very different or significant differences obviously.

And like the different types of reports, the paragraph you’re talking about what this paragraph needs to say. Um, and yeah, it just takes more. I don’t know. But if you’ve worked in audit, then it’s almost like you said with tax, obviously it’s just a lot easier because you’ve done it every day.

Samantha: Yeah. But, you know, even then, like, as I was saying, I listened like in, in auditing, I listened to the way you do reports, the way the reports are done the most.

And that’s been super helpful because really that’s what I found all I need when I answer questions is if you can just get those basics. You know those, like, you don’t need the nitty gritty but you need, like, you need to know enough to figure it out. And that’s what your notes do for me. So I’ve progressed.

Like I started, my readiness was like 38%. And part of that is because I get so annoyed at their like evaluation. I just click, you know, but I’m already like at a 75 where, you know, whereas before like with FAR, it took me a lot longer. And I mean, once I use your stuff, it, it helps me, you know, move quickly.

But with auditing, like, I’ve definitely progressed like I just started maybe a month ago. And so that’s like 40% and I, you know, it’s just, it’s been helpful.

From Scoring in the 50s to Passing

Nate: Yeah. That’s awesome. And so you’re going back to your FAR retake. Uh, you got the, you scored in the fifties or whatever, and then was it your next attempt that you passed?

Nice. Yeah, that’s great.

Samantha: Yeah, but I watched, like, I still, I did watch you’re like, what do you do if you fail?

Nate: Oh, yeah.

Samantha: Yeah. So I was like, I was doing that in case I failed, you know, so I don’t, I don’t know if I had really failed if I could’ve like really put it down, but, um, they just gave me the confidence that I needed and it just, it really allowed me, like my life was just, I mean, anything that you could think of just turned upside down and took my time away.

And I thought I’m going to have to figure out how to use the bare minimum and get, you know, to get what I need and so I was, it was, I think it’s like 60 multiple choice and you know, so many simulations a day so I was just, I was like, I’m doing it. I better freaking pass the SIMS. I just, oh, I hated that test. So, but I was like, I was just so pumped because, you know, I was so disappointed. Um, just how, like it’s not at all how I thought life would go, you know?

And I had done, I did you know, from my regulation, I had gotten a 91 and I did really well. So it was like, it was very frustrating because it wasn’t an issue of knowing I got, I knew that I could pass this. The issue for me was time. Like, how do I figure out how to learn all of this? Not even learn.

Using Study Tools to at Least Do Some Studying Each Day

Samantha: It just, you know, memorize all the different topics they expected you to know. And so it just felt deflating especially after all I had gone through. And so, you know, it really, I was so helpful that like I could just because I mean, it was all about how do you, how do you achieve this when you don’t have time and still like keep your life, like, I can’t tell my kids like you know, “See, I got to study”, like it’s just not how it works. They get sick, you know, whether it’s kids or work or both, or, you know, you just like you gotta figure it out. And that’s what made me the most hopeful is that it was presented in a way that you could do it. And it was possible while maintaining what you currently had to do.

And you know, that, that to me gave me the most like hope that I could get it done.

Two Hours in the Morning Solves a Lot of Problems

Nate: Yeah. The two hours in the morning solves a lot of problems. If someone will lock that in because like you said, you know, someone who’s just out of school and they’re still single or whatever, whether they study in the morning or at night, it’s kind of strictly a discipline thing but someone with kids and just these other things going on, that you can’t really control.

Uh, like the only thing you can do is set aside maybe two hours. And if, like you said, where did you say it was 4:00 AM or 5:00 AM?

Samantha: 4:00 AM. Yeah. The two year old gets up early and like, I mean, that’s, it totally stinks. It’s like, it wasn’t, it’s, I’m tired, but at the same time, like, it was important enough to me that that was all I could do.

And I just saw, you know, like that was, it’s just, I’m going to do it. And if I can, if I can do this waking up at four, you know, and I didn’t do it every day. I gave myself like three to four days a week that, that, you know what I did. And, um, and I was like, if that’s not enough and that’s really all you can do.

And, and then you’ll, you’ll know that you may need more time.

“I Really Didn’t Study at Night Because…”

Nate: Yeah, that’s awesome. So, uh, doing it three or four days a week, obviously was, was enough for you. And is that still kind of how you do it?

Samantha: Yeah. I mean, I try like if I have days where I can get like four hours in, I’ll definitely do it, but it’s just, um, it’s just really hard.

Like for me, my husband’s job is really demanding. Like he works really long hours. He can travel a lot. So I can’t like, I can’t really rely on him for help. Not, you know, not that he wouldn’t, it’s just his career is such that it doesn’t allow that. And so, uh, you know, I’m sure you can relate like with the kids, it’s just like, I don’t know, one day they’re fine.

The next day they have the flu and they’re home from school and your name gets turned upside down and it’s just, so I just always did the best that I could and like that, you know, I wasn’t perfect but I was, I would really prioritize waking up at four. And I really didn’t study at night because I found that as I was waking up in the morning, I was so much more productive than I had been at night.

Nate: Yeah. That’s another thing. Uh, you know, two hours, sometimes people will say that, like, you’re just trying to, I mean, you, you make it that’s too good to be true. You can’t just study two hours a day and that’s kind of like, well, there’s a few things that go into it. Once you get your study methods really nailed down, you can make twice as much progress in half the time. But the other thing is what you just said when you do it in the morning and you kind of like gift that you use your, uh, your optimal brain. For this thing that’s no one else is going to like set aside time for you. Like no one can do this for you type thing.

So yeah, using your optimal brain time which is when you first wake up, that’s another way or a reason you can get twice as much done and yeah. It’s just so much more productive. Yeah.

Samantha: Yeah. I know, I mean originally I just bought it with the intent, like, um, if I can pass FAR, then I know I can do the rest, like, and that’s true, but I was like, well shoot, why wouldn’t I buy this? This made my life a lot easier. So I ended up buying auditing and I mean, honestly, like had, I, I probably would’ve just bought the entire bundle had I like really understood how helpful it was for me. Um, you know, like when I bought auditing, I was like, well, you’ll just do that.

But then even if I do. The, you know, like the business portion, it’s like, “Well, again, like why wouldn’t I just go ahead and get it? It made my life so much easier.

Nate: So, no, exactly. And that’s, I mean, that’s kind of like the whole, uh, like my opinion obviously is that our study tools could help anybody pass faster.

How Samantha Managed Waking Up at 4

Nate: I was going to ask you just practically, what did you do to like going from whenever you woke up normally to that drastic change of 4:00 AM? I mean, uh, just for the benefit of people listening to this, that can’t stand the idea of waking up that early or even 5:00 AM.

Did you change anything about your settings or, what did you do to kind of groove that in and make that a habit?

Samantha: Um, well I mean, I drank coffee like for sure. Um, but my, the biggest thing is I made in my mind, I would, it was like, if it’s that important to you then figure it out.

You know, you have to figure it out. It’s like, it’s not, I wasn’t under the illusion, the illusion that it was going to be easy. Like it, it stinks waking up at four. But if I wanted it bad enough then I needed to get up at four. And I did. I mean, it’s really, it’s important to me personally to get my CPA license and, you know, like I, that was in the grand scheme of life, I guess that was manageable for me

and I did it with, I think like four to six weeks, somewhere in that timeframe. I was like, “You can do that. You can do anything for four weeks, like suck it up”. So, so that’s kind of how I, I was just very adamant. Like, if you want this bad enough, it’s gonna, you’re going to have to make some sacrifices and waking up at 4:00 AM is the only way that, you know, that you’re going to be able to do it.

Like the kids aren’t up at four o’clock. I mean, most days, like, you know, like that was, that was really time that I knew that I could do it. And if I didn’t wake up, then I would miss it some days or it wouldn’t be as productive. And I tried to, um, go to sleep earlier. But again, like I would say for me, I just ended up being short of sleep.

Um, because I still had to do oftentimes by myself like the responsibilities of getting ready for the next day or cleaning up after the, you know, after everything. So, um, I just had a lot of coffee and determination, I suppose.

Nate: Yeah. Well, and it does, it goes back to that. It just goes back to that idea of what you prioritize, you know, you’re like, okay with my kids or whatever your life looks like.

If it’s the evenings, I can’t rely on that for X number of reasons, or this always happens. And then, or if you’re just super tired and I’m sure when you’re getting up at 4:00 AM by six or seven or 8:00 PM, you’re probably real tired but you’re at least smart enough to, you know, again, you wake up at 4:00 AM because you decided this is

what I have to do, like, this is just the price to get this done. And yeah, the two hours in the morning at 4:00 AM and that just kind of walks it in. And then the nice thing is once you, once you make that a routine, you can kind of let go of the pressure or whatever of, of always thinking, “Oh, I should, I need to study today.

I’m behind on my study plan” or whatever, when you walk that in, in the morning, the rest of your day is less stressful because you can kind of forget about the CPA study cause you’ve already, you know, mark that off. Did you, did you have that experience at all? Just kind of a sense of relief?

Samantha: Yeah, I mean, because like, I didn’t, you know, again, like my husband was gone for so much of this and so like it didn’t stress me out that I had a commitment or a birthday party to give the kids like, you know, there’s my, my daughter’s swim. So like she doesn’t get home from swim team until 8, like 7:30, 8 o’clock at night.

And it just, it didn’t matter. Like I had done it and you know, in my head, I was like, “If you can do more, you’ll do it and that’s great. But if not, you’ve done your baseline”. And so I just didn’t like, I mean especially for me after like my accident, um, I just didn’t like, I, I couldn’t do more, like I was maxed out with like medical stuff and, um, it just gave me like, I don’t know, not, not peace of mind, but kind of peace of mind

like I had just, I couldn’t change my life for this test. I didn’t have it in me. Um, and so this allowed me to keep that busy lifestyle, carve it in and just feel like I was doing the best that I could.

SuperfastCPA Helps Significantly

Nate: Yeah. Uh, and, and so you, you mentioned the two hours in the morning, so at some point, did you end up watching one of our free webinars where we kind of go into this is how you do the two hours or what did you watch where you got? Yeah. Sorry, go ahead.

Samantha: No, I did. Um, I think I watched the first one, maybe like when you first are interested in it, you know, like sign up and I feel like I listened to it. Um, I knew enough that it was basically do new stuff, go back and review what you learned for 20 to 30 minutes, you know?

And so that’s kind of what I, I didn’t watch anything beyond that. And I didn’t apply really anything beyond carve out those two hours in the morning and then, you know, learn new stuff and then review it. And, but I didn’t like, as far as integrating, like my Surgent stuff with your stuff. No, I just knew like here are my weaknesses.

This is what I’m going to use your stuff for and that helps significantly because then, you know, I didn’t know the nitty-gritty but it was enough that it propelled me forward with my study material because all I felt like my experience with the CPA test is you get to a point where you have, you know, you have the four answers.

Usually you can knock out two cause they’re right away wrong. But then there’s two that or, you know, if you don’t know your stuff, they get ya and you’re, you know, listening to yours I could always remember something that allowed me process of elimination. You know, it’s not necessarily that, like, I’m trying to think of the best way to say it.

Like it’s not, as I knew the material a hundred percent, but I knew enough to be like dangerous with it. You know?

Nate: I know, I know what you mean. And I’ve tried to… yeah. It’s a hard idea to put into words because when you kind of focus on the questions because again, not to try to explain the whole philosophy but, um, like you said, your first time with FAR, each lesson is just so big that you’re just like, holy cow.

I, okay. I guess I got to, you know, kind of memorize this and that’s even if you do memorize it, then you go to the questions and realize. Okay. Even though I know this in like paragraph or textbook format, I’m still not really sure how to answer these questions. So at the end of the day, it’s just so much more efficient to start with the questions because you’ll learn the material kind of backwards in the same context that you’re going to see them on exam day.

And it allows you to kind of skip for the most part that whole huge process of trying to understand the text and the video before you even look at the questions.

Samantha: Yeah. And like the, the exams, I feel like the questions like oftentimes are, you know, have fancy stuff thrown in there, but when you take away like deconstruct the question or the answers, it’s almost always rooted in a simple

like, if you know something simple about that topic, you can learn to eliminate it. If you, if you figure out what the excess noise is. And so I feel like maybe that’s the best way to put it, your study material for me allowed me to not listen to the excess noise and I could eliminate it that way.

Nate: Yeah.

Yeah. So our notes and our audios, the way that I do those is because when I went through, when I kind of all this dawned on me, cause I failed FAR my first time after studying the normal way. Three months, eight hours a day before I started my first public accounting job still got a failing score anyways.

So I would go through questions first and what I’ve realized is okay for any given lesson, I don’t know, 80, 80, or 90% of the questions will always come back to like three or four main ideas from this huge chapter. So that’s how our review notes and audios are set up. And we went through, we go through just past exam questions to, uh, to write the review notes so that when you’re reading it, it’s very concentrated as far as again, like the context of from this topic,

this is what you’re most likely to like see questions about. So, yeah, but that’s why, and I’m glad, you know, I’m glad you’re confirming. That’s kind of how it turns out.

Samantha: Yeah. I mean, that’s how I would say that’s exactly how it felt for me. And it really allowed me the areas that I was weakest in. It allowed me to get that extra knowledge, the basics to figure it out.

Yeah, it was a huge help. Like, I feel really lucky. I mean because like I said, I just had so much stacked against me and it was so important to me personally. So it was definitely, it was definitely a great experience for me.

Overview of Samantha’s CPA Journey Timeline

Nate: Yeah. That’s awesome. I’m glad to hear it. I’m glad it could help. Uh, going back to your timeline thing, when you said they, they gave you an extension, so you, so you passed REG and then an extension, meaning you were coming up on the, like the 18 month thing, is that what was going on?

Samantha: Yeah, so I mean, so I took REG and then it was going to expire at the end of this coming April. So April 2022 and you know, like my stuff like my son with his auto-immune all that was early 2021 and then my husband leaving was like February to November of 2021.

And then I got hurt in June and I thought, you know what? Like I didn’t email them until I passed FAR cause I thought if I can’t pass FAR then what’s the point of email. So I passed it and I thought, you know if I know that they don’t grant extensions very much but I thought if I don’t get it, then who in the heck does because and even then it’s three months, like it’s not a ton of time, but I thought I, you know, I’ll do whatever it takes.

I don’t want to take regulation again. I don’t think I’ll have to but I know I can pass it. You know, if I like, if I absolutely had to, I know I could do it again.

Nate: So you have until July, is that right then?

Samantha: I have till the end of July. And so, um, I don’t think that’ll be a problem, but I thought I’m, I’m working like I don’t work very much. I work, you know, pretty part-time regardless because of, you know, the kids, but I work a little bit during tax season. I thought I need all the help I can get. I’m getting your auditing package. So I did. I mean but I didn’t, again, I didn’t expect to but I thought this is making my life way easier than that’s like, that is what I’m about right now.

And, um, it it’s done a great job. I mean, like I said, it’s propelled me. It’s helped propel me much quicker.

Nate: Yeah, yeah, no, I would think, uh, I, you can definitely pass audit and BEC by July. Yeah. And, and now you have a process, you know how to execute. It’s just kind of the execution at this point.

Samantha: I mean, to be honest, I wish I would’ve known about it when I did REG cause I studied a lot.

I was able to study quite a bit and it makes me a little bit sad, a little bit less, you know, like not wasted my, my life with submerging in CPA stuff.

Nate: Yeah, that’s a, that’s a very common thing. Multiple people have mentioned that on other interviews were pretty similar to you. They were studying the normal way.

They passed anywhere from one to three sections and then ran into one that just for some reason was really tough for them. And that’s when they found us. And then, yeah, just kind of say that same thing. Um, I mean the idea of the study tools just makes sense like everyone we carry around these phones.

We look at them constantly, you know, and just to have these study tools that you can use in 3, 5, 10 minute chunks, or like you said, the audios. Audio is such a helpful thing because you can do it while you’re doing other things. And so, yeah, just, it’s just an obvious way of like fitting in more study time, uh, when you’re otherwise way too busy to find for dedicated hours, you know, to sit in front of your review course.

Samantha: Yeah. And it allowed me like, um, if I couldn’t fit in that too, like if it was a day where I didn’t wake up early, um, and you know, something happened, I would end up just listening to the study material and, you know, I was like, okay, just do that for two hours.

Like you, it was nice to have that. Like it wasn’t all or nothing, I could figure out a different method which, you know, Surgent didn’t have, I had to be at a computer or like, you know, you can log in on your phone I guess, but it’s not quite as convenient. And so like with driving, it was nice to have that audio.

Nate: Yeah. And, and that’s a good point. Um, that’s when I did talk about a lot is try to do something every day. And, uh, when your only method of studying is you have to have like dedicated time to sit, open your laptop, pull out your notes, or however you do that, you know, you pretty much have no other option except finding time to be able to do that.

But if you have stuff you can use on your phone. People mentioned that a lot. Um, two people, recent interviews, one guy, his weekend thing was mountain biking. And so he would just listen to the audio. So he wouldn’t worry about studying on the weekends but he would listen to the audio is like while he mountain biked.

And, uh, I guess you gotta do it. You gotta do that. Sounds like torture to me, but, uh, and then another guy would do it skiing, but, but that’s, uh, that’s a good idea is try to do something every day and when you have these study tools that you can use if everything goes sideways and you can’t find the two hours to sit and study, you can at least listen to audio is like you said, so, yeah, that’s a, that’s a really helpful idea.

So going from a 91 on REG to then scoring in the fifties. Did you have any like a week or two of thinking like what did you think, you know, those two experiences, once you got your REG score?

Samantha: It made me mad because it wasn’t… I knew that I was smart enough to get to what the material was not too hard. It was figuring out how to learn it all with, with what I had going on in my life. So it just like, that was the most frustrating thing for me, because with FAR especially like it’s so big and you know, it’s just like, I guess it was daunting because there was, um, there was just a few topics that I just, I don’t remember.

I, it, you know, and I didn’t certainly didn’t remember to the degree that they were expecting me to know it. And so it was more like, oh my gosh, like, how do I stop spinning in circles? And, and then with, you know, then everything else happened and it’s just. It’s just, if anything, it just frustrated me because, you know, I knew that I could pass it and it just made me so angry that I was stuck.

So I never thought about giving up. I mean it never felt I guess too hard in the sense that I wasn’t too hard like I knew I couldn’t learn it. The hard part for me came and finding the time to, to remember it I guess, and to, to fit it in, in a way that I could make sense of that questions.

Changes She Made for Her Study Process

Nate: Okay. That’s a very common experience especially describing it as just like going in circles or like a hamster wheel. So going from that process wise, what realizations did you have? Or when you open your Surgent stuff, from the time, you know, scoring the 50 and then what did you change using Surgent specifically, like your two hours in the morning, how did you approach that differently? Or what changed in your process with your main review course that started making things click?

Samantha: Um, I would say I would listen to your audio, um, like especially the government non-for-profit stuff was huge for me because it, you know, a lot of it was memorization. Um, and I could, you know, like once you knew the basics, I found that I could do process of elimination, but I, your software allowed me to take that chapter and get the, like the big bullet points and then apply it.

And that made it so much easier. And so, you know, I didn’t really like do a particular topic. Like I didn’t go to like other comprehensive income and then listen, you know, I didn’t, I just did it as a whole but I would, I would take turns like focusing, I would read a page in, in your study guide and then I would listen to that and then I would do it all.

So, you know, I still took my software as a whole. I didn’t break it down into sections. Um, as far as topics. If anything, what I did was I would focus on the topics that were the most heavily weighted but, you know, even that I don’t really give much, um, like I do focus more on it but like my regulation exam and even my, my FAR exam, I mean for me, I had like so much government and non-for-profit questions.

And I’ve heard people don’t. So I don’t really give those topics weight, like, I guess, um, like I look at them more but not like I don’t rely on it, I guess if that’s, if that makes sense but I would just, I would do everything and then I would hone in on a specific skill with your software and then I would go back and then review that, like, I would write anything I needed to down or listen to it again.

You know, like for, for FAR, like I said, it was what I listened to the most was learning to memorize those basic facts that were easy to hear over and over and remember. Like you, I think maybe you would start to say something in the study material and then I would out, I would verbally be like, I know, you know, and I would say it out loud and same with auditing.

Like you go over the different types of like non-issuer, issuer. So like before you say it, I’ll try to say it, you know? And so it helps, like I run. And so that’s what I listened to. I listened to the different types of reports because I can hear it and then I can repeat it. And that for me, that helps me learn

and it’s easy to hear. Like, I don’t need pen and paper for that. I that’s just a different, I guess way to study the same material but then I’ll go home like, I’ll go to my computer, I’ll pull up Surgent and then I’ll do, you know, 30 mixed questions and I’ll do random SIMS.

“You’re kind of like the foundation…”

Nate: Yeah, no, I mean, that’s basically the process. And you mentioned seeing our restudy video. So you, did you kind of follow that for FAR where you did 2 sets of 30 and then random practice SIMS? Yeah. And that’s like you said when you, when you’re hearing stuff and you try to kind of say it in advance because at this point you’ve heard it so many times.

That’s just another thing with just the idea of like repetition. Whereas with the standard study process, you go really deep on each lesson but you only really do it once. And you go lesson by lesson over whatever, six to eight weeks, and then try to kind of rereview everything and a two week final review.

I just think it makes more logical sense to be kind of miniaturizing everything and reviewing, hitting everything as you go just multiple, like over and over and over and over instead of once. And then one final review because like you said, it helps you internalize and start to make connections in the material to where you can, you know, almost say it on your own because you’ve just, you’ve hit it so many times.

Samantha: Yeah. I would say that’s a good way to put it. You’re kind of like the foundation. So you, if you know the foundation, you’re almost always equipped to like add on. So it was helpful too, to have that, you know, really solid base in the areas that I was just more challenging for whatever reason.

Um, and I mean, like with auditing those reports like what would you like, what else would I do? Write out every report over and over? That’s a hard to, those are big. And they’re like, for me, I don’t, that would suck. I don’t know what else you would do but hearing it, you know, you learn quite a bit and you can hear it and then write it down if you needed.

And so that’s, that’s helpful because that’s kind of one of those things where that takes a lot of time and effort. And you don’t really need to know the nitty-gritty you but you do need to know like these key, like, you know, these key things. And if you, if you can hear it and know it, you can, you can figure it out.

And it saves a lot of time. Right. Because I mean, I don’t really know what else people do to learn the different types of reports. Like I’m not an auditor, it’s not, you know, it’s not something that I deal with and would know normally. So it was, I mean, that’s a big part is knowing the reports. So, it is helpful.

Nate: Yeah. And that’s again, it’s I think what most people do is they’ll watch the video on that just go super deep on like this type of report. And they feel all confused. Like, holy cow, it’s a lot of stuff to know and that’s just one report before they even look at the questions and then.

Anyways, we’ve covered that idea, but yes, having a foundation and I talk about that all the time. You, you go through lessons quicker but you’re also going to do a set of 30 every day. So that over time you’re just hitting things over and over. So you’re, you’re getting a foundation on everything and then learning the deeper stuff in layers, instead of trying to memorize the entire lesson.

But then not look at it for six weeks because obviously you’re just going to forget a bunch. So it’s like, it was a waste of time to spend eight hours on this one lesson three weeks ago or whatever. All right. Well, uh, I don’t want to take up much more of your time.

Study Tips To Those Currently Studying

Nate: Uh, but the last question I always ask is what would be your top three, whatever, two or three tips to people that are currently studying?

Or really struggling with the study process, I guess I should say.

Samantha: Well, I would say, I mean, I think you say it often, like, you know, and I think you even flat out said like, it’s you’re using your software isn’t like a miracle. It doesn’t pass, pass the exam for somebody. So I’d say really figuring out what it is like you can change. Like, so for me, that would have been, I can change waking up but like, just because you know that you can change it, like acknowledging it may be hard. So for me, it was like setting a deadline and saying, yes, it’s hard but like you can do hard things for four weeks, six weeks. Like if you want it bad enough.

And then also like, I would say, maybe playing around with your soft, using your software and you know, like whatever your other study guide is like, you know, like for each, for me, for FAR and auditing the way I’ve used your, um, your software with errors is a little different for each and taking some time to figure it out what works best.

It’s like maybe it’s the audio, like for FAR, I use the audio more than your notes and I use the multiple choice more where like audit I definitely, I would say read more than I, and then it would be audio. So I think figuring out, um, your weaknesses using your software to like really hone in on those foundations.

And then figuring out which, which portion of your software applies the most of them? Like, do you drive a lot? Try audio. You know? It’s like it’s, um, if you’re at the office, can you stop and do like. 10 multiple choice questions? I mean, it does like log, if you, you know, if it’s about, you’re nervous about your employer log out for five minutes, it’s not, you know, all those things

Nate: Take a walk around the building. Like I get that question all the time. They’re like, I, I seriously don’t have time to like do these, these mini sessions. And it’s like, it’s basically what you said. You have to like figure this out. Like you have to figure out a way to make this work. So I don’t know, reserve the last 10 minutes of your lunch hour or most people take coffee breaks and that’s totally fine with the employer.

So when you’re in the break room, pull out your phone. You know, do 10 questions or read 10 pages in the review notes. It’s just, yeah. And so I would add on what you said earlier. That’s one of my biggest things I like preach to people is the ability to just figure it out whether that means your daily routine.

It’s like, okay, what are you going to cut out or be willing to rearrange if you need or want to pass these exams? Like, you got to do something different if, if your routine is not working right now and, or the study methods or how you use the study tools, just all of it. That’s just like the most foundational skill for really anything is just, okay.

How, how can you figure out how to make this work? And, yeah, you mentioned that earlier.

Samantha: Yeah. And I mean it’s not, again, like, it’s not, like I thought it was. Like it wasn’t fun. It’s not fun to wake up early but it just meant it meant more to me to pass the test and it did to be tired I guess.

Nate: And it’s not fun to listen to a audio notes on accounting when you’re running instead of music.

Samantha: Yeah. It is not fun, but it is like a good use of my time.

Nate: Right, right. Yeah. No, I fully get it that I think about that a lot. There are people out there apparently mountain biking, running, like listening to these, these audio, these audio notes. And, uh, but..

Samantha: For me, that’s like, you know, if I can run the way I want to, that’s three to four hours a week for sure.

And I’m not perfect. Like some days I’m like, okay, on the way out, you’re going to focus on this audio lesson on the way back in, you’re turning off, like you’re doing music. I get it just like it’s better than something is better than nothing is what I’ve always just told myself, especially lately, like, just do what you can.

Nate: Yeah. Yeah. That’s exactly it. Alright, well I, again, I appreciate you taking the time to do the interview. That was really good. You had just a lot of really good, uh, ideas or strategies, or just a lot, a lot of times, a lot of times there’s like a general theme with the interviews. Like one person, they just kind of talk about mindset more than anything.

We always cover all three realms, like study specific study strategies. But then a lot of times I, I like yours a lot with where it’s just more kind of the mindset and, uh, if you get that right, or you, you’re just thinking in those terms, it’s like, okay, this is going to be on me. I need to figure this out. What am I willing to do different?

And once you kind of nail down a daily routine where you just build in the time you start to figure things out. It’s really hard to have breakthroughs in your study process if you really only sit down and study maybe like two hours every week or something like that, so.

Samantha: It’s more like you don’t have any idea, uh, like how bummed, like just how bummed like I got trampled by a horse, you know, it was just such a bummer year.

And I just so badly, like, I’m sure you or your wife can somewhat relate to, um, giving up like personal sacrifices for, you know, for kids or even like one of you oftentimes like you just like you can’t always have it all. You know, like for me, for my husband, like his job is so high powered, um, It was just so, um, they just gave me so much like that extra, like push that I needed.

And it was just so helpful for me so if anything, I just, I appreciate this. I appreciate what you wrote because it really made it, I mean, it made my life, like it gave me back that confidence to like, even though I had so much going on that I could still do it, and it was a really helpful for me. And it, you know, now I’m, I’m still tired.

I am so over CPA crap, but I’m almost there.

Nate: Yeah. Yeah, no, that’s awesome. And I mean, I really liked doing this podcast for that, for that reason. I really like hearing getting on these calls and hearing someone’s whole story like that. And especially like I did the CPA when I was, uh, I was married, but we were newlyweds and it wasn’t like, again, I kind of mentioned this,

it was just more of a personal or what, what do you call it? I didn’t have to. I just had to take time away from my hobbies, basically, I guess. Uh, it wasn’t like the hugest sacrifice. It was more a discipline thing, but when someone has all the things going on, like, you know, like you have, and I was like elated to pass the exams and be done with them.

But yeah, when, when someone has just all these other things stacked up, every passing score is just a much bigger deal. And, uh, especially in your case and being done with FAR and REG, I always say that’s being like 90% done, you know, having those two out of the way. So..

Samantha: I mean, I’m a little nervous cause they say auditing is harder to pass, but like it doesn’t feel that way, you know?

Nate: I mean that’s, that’s probably a good sign.

Samantha: Yeah, I sure hope so. But thank you.

Nate: All right. So that was the interview with Samantha, like I said, in the beginning, I’m sure you found that very motivational and inspiring. And again, we touched on a lot of very specific study tips that you can adopt to improve your own study process.

If you found this episode helpful or any of the other episodes helpful, I would just ask two things: first that you just share this episode or your favorite episode with someone you know who is also working on their CPA exams. These interviews are the best free resource available anywhere for somebody that’s trying to figure out their own CPA study process.

And then second, if you are finding these episodes helpful, the best thing you can do to support the podcast would be to take two to three minutes, find the podcast in your favorite podcast app, ideally apple podcasts and leave a review and a rating.

So thank you for listening or watching, and we’ll see you on the next episode.

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