My CPA Journey, Part 1 – Getting Started

First of all, this post is a little off the beaten path, since it’s not a beauty post, but this is going to be a major part of my life for the next few months, so I wanted to blog about it. For those of you who aren’t business students / work in the industry, CPA stands for Certified Public Accountant, and it’s a designation we accounting students work towards to get certified and get a leg up in the real world. (Some other countries have Chartered Accountants, which some argue is an even more rigorous process.) The bulk of the work for getting a CPA is satisfying the educational requirements and passing the exams. Educational requirements are already covered by school, but I’ll be trying to take the four parts of the exam and finish them this school semester, which is actually really not a lot of time.

I plan to take the first section end of February, two in the beginning of April, and save the last one for May. The material covered is very extensive. The material itself is not hard to learn, but it’s a lot of memorization and time-intensive to learn and review. Sometimes I feel intimidated by it and just need to remind myself that I can do it, calm down, and take it bit by bit.

One of my undergraduate degrees is in actuarial math, so I’m familiar with the process for taking actuarial exams for the ASA/FSA designation, but there seems to be much more “real life” pressure for these CPA exams. If I failed an actuarial exam, I could always take it again on more own timeline. If I am able to pass the CPA exam by the time I start my full-time job, I will be able to receive a bonus. In addition, my school subsidized most of the cost for my actuarial exams, but this one my parents paid for, and I really don’t want to waste the money. There seems to be so much more riding on it.

I’ve already cut down to 13.5 credits (yes, you read that right, it’s .5, that’s just how we do it) and also cut down the time I spend on church activities. The rest is really up to me – I need to focus and get down to studying and memorizing and everything. It’s so easy for me to get pulled away by reading beauty blogs, playing Candy Crush, watching Friends and my other TV shows, etc. I know what I need to do, why is it so hard for me to go and do it sometimes?

What are some techniques or advice you have for finding motivation, focusing, or using your time effectively?

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9 thoughts on “My CPA Journey, Part 1 – Getting Started

  1. I know what you mean! I have felt like that so many times. One thing I have found, is that if I get into a pattern of being busy, I will continue that patten. When I take breaks, I feel less motivated to start back up. Why not try giving yourself a “you time” day? A day where you do whatever you want, no homework, nothing, just what you want. I know it’s easier said than done. I think you can do it!

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    1. Yeah, I think that’s true for me – once I get started, it’s easier for me to push on then to take a break and get start again. Maybe I’ll schedule in a “relax day,” something that I can look forward to, so I’m more motivated!

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  2. I’ve been considering a career in Finance or Accounting for around two years now and although I haven’t even graduated yet, my parents are already nagging me about taking the CPA exams TAT

    If you tend to get distracted by websites while studying, use an app such as Cold Turkey to block those websites for the time period that you want to be studying. It generally leaves you with no choice but to study.

    I find that listening to piano music (such as this one: http://youtu.be/WVP3fUzQHcg) can help me concentrate better.

    Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I always thought I had the self control to avoid doing something like that, but you’re probably right, I should try it. 😥 And yes, I can try listening to piano music, too!

      Are you eligible to take the CPA exam in your state? If yes, and finances aren’t a problem, it’s great to take it early and spend a long time studying for them, haha! It’s just expensive, because if you take them before you get a full-time offer, you’ll have to pay for the prep course yourself, which is super pricey. If you’re going into finance, I’ve heard that the CFA is very useful! I’ll probably go for that later if I finish my CPA and want to be an overachiever hahaha.

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  3. I pretty much just locked myself in my room when I was studying for my OT cert, only leaving to have meals! I think the thought of not passing and having to retake it was enough to keep me going. But I think I would designate a certain amount of material I had to cover that day and use that as a goal. Good luck with your studies, I’m sure you’ll do great 🙂

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  4. I recommend flash cards, but you probably already thought of that. I’m pretty awful in the exams-with-pressure category, but I wish you the best of luck!! And if you get stressed, take a bubble bath. That always helps me. 🙂

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    1. The prep curriculum actually makes pre-made flashcards, and I have both the electronic and paper versions. So I really don’t have any excuses!

      Sadly I can’t take bubble baths in the dorms (because it’s gross since they’re shared bathrooms) I have this pillow spray that’s pretty comforting some times to just spray it and lay down haha. Thanks for the encouragement!

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  5. I totally know that overwhelming feeling (hello thesis). I think the important thing is just to pick something small, start there, and then when you finish that part, enjoy the feeling of success and accomplishment, take a short break, and then start on the next part! Maybe switch themes every time, so you don’t get overwhelmed, and always make sure to test yourself. My routine would be (just taking random topics):

    1. Study/memorise Somedude’s Theory.
    2. Take Short break (10 min).
    3. Study/memorise Thisothergal’s Theory
    4. Take a short break (10 min)
    5. Test myself on Somedude’s Theory again.
    …and so on. Every so often, have a big break, maybe for a meal or a walk or something.

    I also find that I remembered things best when I wrote them down. So I would summarise my notes, Than summarise that summary, then summarise the summary of the summary… it goes through a lot of time and paper, relatively speaking, but it was always foolproof, and I ended up with a crack set of study notes for quick reference at the end!

    Good luck!! 😀

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