Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Update 2012, and a new start for 2013

I took FAR in August and failed with a 68. I had already paid my fees to take AUD so I took audit on December 4th (Delayed window due to weather). I failed again with a 70. (70,68,70 all in 2012)

Something in me snapped, I was really upset over that audit fail. I studied A LOT and still did not improve my score 1 point from the last 2 times I took it?!? My anger overwhelmed me, and I let it. I have lost count how many of these exams I have taken now, I can guess I have taken each one 3-4 times now. ZERO passes. In my fury, I was going over everything. I have always blamed my poor study habits for my fails. This time I studied my butt off and got the same score?! Ok, maybe it is not me! As it was the end of December and a new year was around the corner I felt like some new plans were in order here.

1. I purchased Wiley CPA test bank
2. I purchased NINJA notes
3. I purchased the Wiley CPA exam book

I sent my application to test for audit in again, and studied from December 21st through January 17th. I used my new study materials only, did not use the program I had used in the past. Obviously it hasn't been working for me, so I felt that it was a waste of my time to use it. I took audit again on January 18th and I passed! Not only did I pass I smashed it! I got an 86!

I am not an idiot, I can pass these exams. I feel redemption!

I was so thrilled when I found out I was hyperventilating at the office, and that is a new experience for me! So the excitement has worn off, and I am ready to take down BEC. Again, only study material is the 3 I mentioned above. I plan to take it May 16th or 17th.

"If you don't give a damn about anything, no one will give a damn about you"

Monday, December 17, 2012

How to Speed Study

1 - Watch lectures, pause video's and take notes as you go along so that you can fully comprehend what they are saying. Videos typically discuss KEY points of what you need to learn. They won’t cover every single topic, which is what your study text is for.
2- Skim or read study text, update your notes with anything pertinent. Write a 1 paragraph summary, in your own words after each section. This summary will be your quick review notes; I do mine on a separate piece of paper.
3- Practice your questions with feedback enabled. Information sticks better if you get immediate feedback on what you are currently focused on.

Tough/Struggling area's

1- Get a piece of paper and write at the top of it an idea or process that you want to understand
2- Read and review your study notes and quick review notes on this area
3- Explain this idea, out loud, as if you were teaching it to someone else
* Somewhere in your explanation you will come to a stopping point, where you don't know what to say or are unsure, this is the "stopping point"
4- Stopping point is the area or gap of what you are having trouble with understanding, focus your study on that area. Google it specifically, make notes on what you are researching about it.

 i.e. Trouble area, Inventory testing. Rather than Googling "inventory testing" be more specific. What are the procedures for inventory testing as applicable to its assertions (or a specific assertion)

This is especially true with FAR:

Also on tough areas, don't attempt the difficult questions until you have the easier question's mastered. It will only confuse and frustrate you which will lead to a lack of focusing, or reduce the chances of you wanting to study. 

Don't laugh at that, if you do not "want to study" then you won't. Try to make studying as easy as possible.

Taking Notes

How to take notes during a lecture:

My Focus Notes

Instead of transcribing exactly what the professor says, capture the big ideas or main points. Pause your lecture at each main point.  Going through the process in your mind of thinking about what the lecture has said and then re-wording it to what you have gathered out of it solidifies the concept. This allows you to better understand the actual concepts being taught.
  • Take notes in the form of short questions followed by short answers, this will help with your MCQ's.
  • Group together the questions and idea's which cover the same topic into a cluster.
  • Don't hesitate to make reference to your own notes within other notes. When you review your notes later and don't understand a topic, it helps to see where you reference to more notes that might help you understand.
  • Add a few general background questions regarding the topic at the end of the cluster, I review the MCQ's in the section and then write the ones down that I miss at the bottom of the notes that the section applies too. Write the question, answer, AND the explanation as to why this is the answer.

To study using these notes: print each cluster onto its own page. Format the answers so that they’re not on the same line as their question. Proceed through the cluster, trying to answer each question out loud without peeking at the answer. (I use a sheet of blank paper to block the answer.) If you get more than one answer wrong, then treat the entire cluster as unlearned and return to it later.

I hand write all my notes, so when I start a new section/area I use a fresh piece of paper. I write my learning objectives at the top (typically found in your study book at the beginning). Then at the end of my notes I write a 1-3 paragraph summary of what I learned. This summary is what I read 2-3 times a week to keep the information fresh in my mind.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

FAR Experience

My FAR experience was a disaster, or so I thought. When I left the testing center, leaving 1 sim with all 0's because I ran out of time, I wanted to crawl in a hole and cry. We study for 2-3 months, 15 - 20 hours a week, and get 1 shot to pass. I tried to remain calm and keep my confidence but at the end of my first testlet I was @ 52 minutes in. What?! Where did the time go, ok so I went quicker on the 2nd and 3rd testlet, getting them done in 38 and 45 minutes, which left me with 1 hour and 45 minutes for my sims. I always do the research question first since I know the codifications good and generally find them pretty fast, but this time I spent 30 minutes looking and still didn't find the answer. So 1 hour and 15 minutes left to do 7 sims! Ugh! I got through 5 simulations with 15 minutes left, put 0's on the last one, and went back to the research which I found 13 minutes later. How could I get an industry specific research question when it was not a FAR topic?

MCQ's. I kept track of all the questions that I KNEW I got right and that added up to 27. I didn't want to count the calculation questions into this just because when I am rushed I make calculation errors, so I didn't include them. Only a few questions that I had no idea where they came from, assuming pretest questions or else I missed something in my study's. I skipped calculation questions until the end on the 2nd and 3rd testlet and I think that sped up my time.

Testlets - Questions I knew I got right per testlet
1 - 10 correct
2 - 7 correct <-- Pretty sure it was hard level, saw a AICPA released hard question on it :))
3 - 10 correct <--- Some weird questions

Knowing how many I had correct gave me confidence throughout the exam. That is until I got to the simulations.

Simulations - BRUTAL - ALL of them were extremely tough, except one. Even though that one wasn't tough I knew it would be time consuming with a ton of calculations and then journal entries to record it. Every single simulation required journal entries (which are the easy part, calculation is the hard part). Since I was running out of time, I didn't have time to re-calculate my answers so my confidence level was pretty low.

Looking back, I know within 90% accuracy that I got 3 of the simulations correct. The other 3 are up in the air, I am hoping for partial credit. If I had another 30 minutes I could have recalculated the other 3 and made sure I got them right and finished the one I didn't have time to complete. Praying that the one I left with 0's is the pretest simulation.

It's done and behind me now, so I am forgetting it and moving onto my audit studies.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Never done this before...

I have taken many parts of the CPA exam multiple times and have not passed any part, and yet I have never postponed an exam. Until now!

I knew I wasn't ready. That is one thing I do know, its what it feels like to not be ready and get score close to passing. So I decided to pay the $35 fee and change the date of my exam to July 3rd. I don't have another NTS for any other part, and no 18 month window clock staring me in the face, so why not give myself another month?

I can truly say, that I think it was one of the best decisions I have made through this journey. I am scoring in the 90's on my test and am gaining confidence everyday. I am also learning to tell people that I don't have time. It's surprising how many times I have caved in the past to whatever anyone wanted of me, but now, well its a different story. Some of them are getting upset, but they soon realize that this is MY priority, and come to respect my decision to put my exam first. I still struggle with putting the exam before my projects at work, but I am getting better.

So 21 days until FAR, going to pass this time, or die trying!

Friday, April 6, 2012

FAR - May 30th

Took a break from studying give me time to get some things more straightened out in life and help me to get re-focused on why I want to pass the CPA exam.

As tax season is winding down I find myself a little behind in my FAR study schedule. I am going on vacation right after tax season, and before you say WHAT, vacation during exam prep?!?! I haven't taken a vacation in over 6 years, if I don't take one soon I am going to go insane. Every vacation week I take is to study (cram) for an exam, which hasn't really been working for me. So... new tactic, plain old hard work day in and day out.

I purchased a new laptop which will allow me to study where ever and whenever I want. I think this is going to be HUGE! My local library closes at 6pm, I live in a small town, we have no coffee shops so all of my studying has to be done at the office or at home. Often times at the office if someone see's me there late, they come in and talk to me. It gets to frustrating to keep telling them I am studying and asking them to leave... they always say, "oh just one more thing" then 20 minutes later they are still rambling. My studying at home has not been going well because of the interruptions (computer is in living room).

I put a sign on my bedroom door that says "STUDY ZONE - Unless the house is on fire or you are dying, go AWAY". This has worked wonderfully to remind my family of how important my study time is to me, interruptions are almost none.

I plan to setup my laptop tonight and get my study materials all loaded. Then its back into Inventory.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My REG Exam, Next section to study

Well I took my REG exam yesterday at it was BRUTAL. I had prepared for it, and used the Rogers cram for the last two weeks. I can say that there were several questions and a simulation based off of the material that Roger went over. I had one simulation that was giving me a hard time and ran out of time trying to figure it out, I sure hope its the one they throw out! I left the testing center feeling defeated. I don't feel like I passed so I am not going to count on it. 

Onto FAR, which I will schedule at the end of November. We are in the full swing of audit season at my firm so time will be limited for studying as I will be exhausted when I get home.  Planning 3-5 hours a week for the next 3 months, with a 2 week cram/refresher.

I will be blogging much less since my spare time is spent studying. 

"The only real failure in life is the failure to try"