How to figure out what you are willing to go thru to become a CPA
The biggest mistake I made when I first started studying for the CPA exam was treating it like a college exam. I got through college by procrastinating, then cramming the week before the exam, and then somehow passing. When I applied this method to the CPA exam it meant failing all 4 parts in a row within 2-7 points! I DO NOT want this to be you!
I need you to understand that the CPA exam is the most difficult test you will ever take and will require you to get outside of your comfort zone. It will not only test your accounting/business knowledge, but test your mental and physical limits. The ability to work long hours and stay completely focused is something that is required to be a successful public accountant, which is why the CPA exam is designed to test your limits.
A bit of background on my story, I started studying for the CPA exam the summer of 2008 after obtaining a full time offer from a regional firm in St. Louis. All of my friends were passing the exam the first time through, so I figured I would breeze through the exam. This overconfidence was my downfall! I failed both parts I took before I started working full time by just a couple points each. I started working full time and immediately started travelling for various audits and believe me the last thing you want to do is study in a hotel. I failed the next 2 parts no better than the 1st two...
Busy season came and went, as did the American economy and in April 2009 my firm laid off 20% of all staff. Of the 8 in my start class only 2 of us had not passed the CPA exam. We were both casualties that month, and I felt like everything I had worked so hard to obtain in college was lost...
The 180 Degree Turn
I went home that night and completely reassessed my life. Either I was going to spend the rest of my life ending up at a dead-end entry level accounting job or I was going to pass the CPA exam and make something of my life. I wrote down these goals and kept them in my study area as a constant reminder. I cannot stress this point enough. Please take a few moments right now and write down 3 reasons why you want to become a CPA. Make sure these reasons are kept in an area where you will see them every time you sit down to study. Every time you are struggling to focus or fail a section just look at those reasons. If they are truly important enough to you then it will give you the strength to continue!
So what was the secret to the turning point in my life? It occurred when I wrote down these 3 reasons for why I wanted to become a CPA:
1) I want to be a CPA to be able to provide for my future family.
2) I want to be a CPA so that I can show employers that I do not give up and that I am willing to dedicate my life to completing a task, no matter how impossible it feels.
3) I want to be a CPA so that I don't get stuck in a dead end job and be bored out of my mind!
I hope that you can think of 3 or 4 inspiring reasons for why YOU want to become a CPA. I can tell you that the temporary pain you will experience while taking the CPA exam is well worth the boost to your career!
The End Result!
So what happened to me after I was laid off? I passed 2 parts back to back, found a new job in the private sector in commercial real estate and even met my wife to be! After adjusting to my new job I knocked out the last 2 parts with flying colors and within months of passing I got hired by the Big 4 as an experienced hire!
If you want to find out more information about the basics of the CPA exam (information on the different review courses, CPA state requirements, and other common questions) than I recommend you check out my blog:
Good luck everyone as you begin your studies!