Thursday, August 30, 2012

Regulation- Take 1

That’s right.  TAKE ONE.  As in I had to take this more than once.

Let’s start at the beginning. ..or the middle, or wherever we are at.

I found out I passed BEC November 1st, which also was the day I was starting my Regulation study.  (I took the month of October off to try to get settled into our house).  Being that I was half way done, and was now ‘getting’ to study Regulation, which was somewhat exciting, it was good.  REG is divided into 2 sections.  Section 1: Business Law- including things like contract law, torts, guarantors, UCC laws, bankruptcy, and 5 million other law things; and Section 2: Taxes- corporate, partnership, individual, estates, trusts, property taxation etc. 

The Yeager course consists of 40 hours of lectures, and I did about 1500 questions.

I like taxes, I thought this would be fun.  Let’s be clear, studying everyday is never fun.  I had a screw loose.

My exam was scheduled for January 19th (remember you can’t test in December).

Middle of November, I was studying at Starbucks (gold card holder…remember?), waiting for a friend to show up.  I was watching a lecture and had about 5 minutes left when she showed up.  She ended up being early so I was frantically trying to put everything away and clear off the table so she could sit down.  I closed my computer and pulled out my usb without ejecting it.  Big mistake.

Next day I try to watch another lecture and had a dead USB…bad news.  So I had to take another week off while I mailed my dead USB back to Yeager and they mailed me a replacement one.  They were really great and sent me a new one (with a friendly reminder to not do that again!).  I think part of the reason they were so accommodating is because this was the end of 2011 and I was using 2011 materials, so it’s not like I screwed up brand new 2012 materials or anything…or they were just nice and helped out a frantic “I’m in the middle of studying” CPA student.  Probably that.

Then between the holidays, and peak season at work (I work for a retailer remember…), December was a stress pot, but managed to finish my lectures over Christmas at my parents house, and maintain focus for studying.  I had about 3 weeks for final review, and I was reviewing as much as I could.  Between month end, and quarter end, work was crazy busy, and then on top of that I got sick.  I was holding it off as best I could but I could feel it coming on hard core.  Obviously, I was working 45 hours a week, studying 25, trying to be around for a husband and 2 very small kids.  Gosh, it was horrific.  I just wanted this test over with.

I went in and took REG on January 19th as planned.  It was a Tuesday, this was the only exam that I took with a noon time slot.  I arrived around 10 and got in right away.  I really didn’t know what to think about the test…the MCQ’s were not getting more difficult and the SIMS were impossible.  I left feeling defeated.  Deep down, I knew I didn’t give a performance that warranted a pass.  Sure enough, 2 weeks later, at home on a Friday night with a sinus infection, double ear infections, and pink eye (told you I was getting sick), I found out I failed.  I big fat FAIL flashed across the screen, with 72 right below.  Just 3 points off.  I was numb…it was 10 at night.  I texted mike from our bedroom, he was downstairs, told him I failed and went to bed.  A down night for sure.  I was way too sick to show any emotion.  Frankly, I was just tired.

I woke up at 6 am Saturday to go study.  That’s when I lost it.  I cried the whole way to Starbucks.  I just poured 10 weeks into studying and didn’t pass.  It royally sucks.  Digging deep enough to find the motivation to bring out the books for FAR (I had already moved on to my next section) was almost the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  I’m sitting at Starbucks, in the middle of winter, sick as a dog, depressed, and focusing on studying.  I vowed I wasn’t going to be in that position again…so what could help?  I decided I was giving up facebook and pinterest.  Because to me passing these exams was more important than someone’s status updates, and frankly I was never going to be able to decorate my house until I was done with these. 

That was it.  I decided right then and there I would POUR myself into FAR.  I would get through this.  I was beginning to realize that this test was a marathon.  It was not about who could finish first, or the fastest.  It was about who could keep going and about who could give it their all , and then give it their all again.  I refocused, more determined than ever, and plowed ahead.

Time for FAR.

Monday, August 27, 2012

BEC-- Exam #2

Business Environment & Concepts.

That's what BEC stands for and in my mind it includes a little bit of everything else.  Lots of Cost Accounting, IT, Finance, Formulas, you name it.  Book size wise it's by far the smallest of the books, which makes it fabulously less intimidating, but rest assured this one can get you like no other.  

The ugly thing about this exam is that I started studying for it right after I started my new job, and I took the exam right after we moved into our new house, so while there was a lot of studying going on, there was also a lot of learning, paperwork, packing, moving, and the like.  My mind was not excited about BEC.

In fact, the original test date was the middle of August, and 3 weeks before that date, I had to push it out to October 1st, because I just wasn't ready (No testing in September).  Of course then September was filled with moving and all the little nuances that go along with oh man, it was stressful.  I didn't get nearly the studying in that I wanted to the final 2 weeks before my test, but I probably put in about 120 hours and 1500 multiple choice questions.

Yeager does a really good job with BEC.  She explains cost accounting really well, which is nice since it seems that most people don't have a solid understanding of Cost Accounting.  Are there no good cost accounting teachers out there??  I think the lectures are only 17 hours total (a far cry from FAR...we'll get to that). 

I took this exam on a Saturday morning, my kids were with my parents again (surprise, surprise), but thats mostly because we closed on our house the prior monday, so it was easier to move without a 2 and 3 year old.  I don't remember much about the exam, i didn't think it went great, but i didn't feel horrible either, I can absolutely never tell if the exam is getting harder, which probably means it's staying the same?  One of the written communications I knew nothing about, so that kind of scared me, but I think they grade a lot on memo structure, so I focused on that.  The thing is that my parents were meeting me at the new house and the next day mike was running his marathon, so really I didn't have time to dwell on the test.  I was just happy it was over and I could take my 2 week scheduled break!

Thinking back, it was at this point in my 'exam journey' that i really did start to get a little worn out.  Laughable now, considering how intense i got during the next 9 months, but i really thought i was tough, and i thought i was intense.  I wasn't terrible though because amidst all the craziness that was my life at that moment I managed to pass.  Someone was on my side.

Halfway done!  Little did I know, it was about to get tough.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Exam #1

My first exam was AUD.  I choose to take this first because 1) Auditing bored me and 2) I had never done it, so I felt as though it was going to be one of my weaker areas.  My thought was that I would probably be much more motivated to study in the beginning of the process so I should get the one I thought would be difficult out of the way.  I chose to study with Yeager CPA Review.  Not that anyone reading probably gives two hoots about CPA review courses, but let me tell you, if you want to pass you shell out money to have someone guide you in the process.  The AICPA is as tricky as they come and you need all the help you can get to understand them.  I chose Yeager because I was paying for this OOP and they came in around $1200 for all 4 sections (at the time, now I think they are closer to $2000).  This is about mid range for review course pricing.  Yeager also got great reviews.

For AUD the Yeager course had about 20 hours of video lecture, a handout, and the Wiley textbook.  I was at a loss on how to study, I had no method whatsoever, I hadn’t figured out what worked for me.  Since I wasn’t working at the time (I was job-hunting, hoping not to do another busy season, which was actually a huge distraction), I kind of had all day to study, which was nice.  I would watch an hour or 2 of lectures during the day and then go back through the book and do a ton of MCQ’s over that section.  I don’t remember much about studying for this test, other than the fact that I probably did about 2000 MCQ’s.  I’m being 100% serious here, I did at the very least that many.  And I remember the lectures being boring with a capital “B.”  And I achieved Gold Card status at Starbucks.  It’s the little things.

2 weeks before the exam I was an interviewing machine.  I actually got my current job offer on June 30th (1 week before my test!), and I now had a job in Financial Reporting at Target Corp.  It was a happy day knowing that I was going to be finally making money again, and even happier knowing that I was going to get some work life balance. It helped me relax before my test.  The other big stressor was that my husbands brother and his family were moving to Australia and were coming say goodbye June 30-July 3rd.  It was extremelly stressful, trying to wrap up studying while also trying to be present during their last visit for probably a long time.  On July 4th, I shipped my kids off to Grandpa and Grandma’s house for the week and then spent the final 2 days prepping for my 8:00 am test.  I was SOOOO nervous.

The morning of the test went fine.  I arrived around 7:15 for my 8:00 am test and was first in line.  I'm such an overacheiver it's not even funny.  anyhow, I started the exam early.  Audit exam is 4 hours.  Of course I had to go to the bathroom like 45 minutes in (darn coffee), and while you can take breaks between sections the clock keeps running.  So you sprint to the bathroom and back.  I didn't feel the test was too bad, but you just walk out feeling, what just happened in there?  There are 90 mcq's of which 18 aren't even graded, just there to throw you off, and 7 (i think) simulations (i.e. real world problems to work through).  In other words you have no idea what your being graded on and each question is worth a certain amount of points.  you start with 0 points and work up as you go.  Harder questions are worth more, easier less.  You need 75 points to pass.  

Fast forward the 10 weeks (!!) it took to get my results.  I passed.  BEC was up next and I had about 2 weeks after I found out my audit score, so it was nice going in with one passed.  

Oh and we bought a house and were moving that week...

The beginning (of the most obnoxious year of studying ever).

Before the exam-

The CPA exams were always part of my plans, but actually being eligible to sit for the CPA exam is a process in and of itself.  There are a lot of very specific educational requirements, and additionally you are required to have an additional 30 credits of upper level course work beyond your Bachelors degree in order to receive a license.  People usually get this 1 of 2 ways, either they get a Masters in Accounting, or they went to school for something else and then decided to study accounting (me), so they had other upper level credits to count.  Being 4 credits short of the requirements to take the exams I landed an internship at a public firm during Busy Season 2011. I had a great experience at the firm. Loved the piles of work and the overall business. Didn’t like Partner’s breathing down my neck, and hated the fact that I only saw my 2 kids a handful of hours each WEEK, but I digress.  

Applying is a 6-8 week process.  I actually submitted my application in March of 2011, I finally got the “you’ve been approved by your State Board” validation the last week of April 2011.  About a week later, the first week of May, I received my Notice To Schedule (NTS).  You take the NTS and you go online to the Prometric website, and actually schedule the date and time you want to take your exam.  Prometric is a testing center and it’s where you go to take a majority of professional exams.  If you’ve taken any professional exams you’re probably familiar with Prometric.

You can only take exams during ‘testing windows.’  Two months on, 1 month off is the rotation.  My original plan was to take AUD at the very end of May, since June is a non-testing month, but by the time I received my NTS, and went online to schedule, the only seats available were early in May, and there was no way I would be ready for that, so the next available time was July.  My birthday is July 4th, so ideally I wanted to take the exam before that, because I wanted to actually ENJOY my birthday.  Turns out however, that everyone had the same idea.  The 4th was a Monday, and when I was looking at open seats for July, the 1st and 2nd were already full and they were closed Sunday the 3rd.  I scheduled AUD (Auditing and Attestation) for Wednesday July 6th.

I had no idea what I was about to get myself into.  If I know now, what I knew then would I have done this again?  Maybe.  This was step one of a seriously LONG journey.  Word to the wise:  The CPA Exam is a Marathon (Ultra-Marathon??), not a sprint.

I just teared up writing this.  Yet again, waves of relief are passing over me.  It's unreal (this is in fact my first weekend I don't have to think about studying or wonder if I passed)

Next up...Exam #1...AUD

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Oh, Hi!

Yep, it's me.  I am alive.  It's been a while...

Just wanted to say that there's the chance I'll post again in this century because


I'll probably be posting about that throughout the next few weeks, not because anyone really cares, but i do not want to forget the pain, agony, stress, dedication, and determination I went through to pass this darn thing.  It was by far the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, and you'll get to relive each exam with me, as I document it out.

Once I write it out, I'll block it out of my mind forever.

(and no, I'm not licensed yet.  Take home ethics exam, probably within the next couple of weeks, and then submit application to the State Board.  Good times).