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"

Friday, August 5, 2011

How to react to your fail section

3 ways people react to failure

1. Give up - Often times when failure meets someone face to face, rather than trudging through the difficult times ahead some people choose to just give up. It isn't that they want to fail or that they really want to give up, often times its the fact that the failure has shown them new light. Each time we fail at something it is a learning experience, and some learn that this isn't the right road for them.

2. Persistence - Lets be honest, some of us are just stubborn and never give up. We put our head to the grind and try, try, try again. Self believers, they often times are hard workers. But is it positive to just do the same thing you did last time? I know it didn't work for me with audit, I got a 70 last February, decided to take it again right away in the next testing window. Persistence in me made me think that it would work if I just in another 40-60 hours of studying. Wrong! If you didn't pass the first time, something was amiss, and doing saly (accounting term for same as last year) won't work.

3. Re-strategize - Sit down and look at your study plan, what was working for you. Your feelings about your studying are typically spot on, if you feel that you are jamming through a section and everything is clicking then you are absorbing the information. If you get to a section, and we all know which sections are our troublesome ones, and you feel like you are trudging through 4 feet of mud up-hill, well then something in your studying techniques isn't working for you. Change it! Step back and ask yourself what will make this more enjoyable. Purchase some other studying books, there are several out there that offer different perspectives on a subject. The books are always inexpensive, just order the book and read the section and if it catches your attention and things start clicking then you have found something that works.

"If you greatly desire something, have the guts to stake everything on obtaining it"

Monday, July 11, 2011


I think the most difficult part of taking this exam is staying motivated to finish it. The information is never-ending and difficult for most which makes it increasingly difficult to maintain a steady study schedule. We start out focused and driven to complete this goal we have set for ourselves and somewhere along the line we get distracted or burned out. Other things in life seem more appealing and we forget the things which kept us driven to achieve this goal in the first place.

The difficulty of these exams can make us feel less self-confident in ourselves which can also hinder our motivation. When we are feeling low it can seem almost impossible to focus or concentrate. I need a daily dose of motivation to keep myself focused on this goal. I can't look far into the distance and see how far I have to go, that for me is discouraging. It feels like I will never be able to finish, the road is to long, to hard, or has to many bumps in it. Instead I need to focus on one day at a time. Accomplishing my small goals that are right in front of me today. That makes me feel successful and keeps me motivated to do it again tomorrow.

What motivates you? I am motivated by competition, I strive to be the best at whatever I do. I try to be so good that they can't ignore me. Instead of striving for a 75 I plan to get as close a 99 as possible. I will learn each section and not move onto another section until I feel that I am so good that I can get a 99 on that section. At the end of each section I plan to assess how good I am. If I feel 100% confident about the material then I shouldn't have any problems when I review the material. For me, being the best at something is motivating for me. If I feel confident about what I am doing and can get 95% on the tests this gives me motivation to move on and master the next section. Motivation is contagious. Surround yourself with positive motivation in every aspect of your life.

"Success or failure is caused more by mental attitude than my mental capacity"

Friday, July 8, 2011

Priorities and the CPA exam

In life, we choose whether or not we want to be a winner or a loser by the simple choices we make day in and day out. We choose to study or not, we choose to focus on whats important or slack off for a day.

I would rather watch the special television shows that my daughter and me love so much instead of outlining a chapter and making notes on it.
I would rather teach my son how to make a broccoli and chicken casserole instead of listening to the lectures on the chapter I just outlined.
I would rather go to the Harry Potter premier with my bestest friend and then go for massages after than study for the entire day to finish a review of an entire section.
I would rather spend the evenings in my husbands arms laughing at our comedy shows and playing games together than making flashcards on the questions that are difficult for me.

Priorities are difficult for me to see the difference between. My children are 14 & 17 and they still like me, they think I am smart and come to be for guidance (for the moment) and I hope to keep those relationships intact.

My priority are always my family first, so how can I put my family first and still study enough to pass the CPA exam? I thought about this for quite some time and realized that passing the exam will greatly benefit my entire family more in the long run of things. I need to think of the benefits this will provide my family in the years to come and not what its taking away from them here today. 

Benefits in future - potential employment opportunities: my own business, my daughter to work with me, larger income, more vacations, retire sooner.

Now that I have my head screwed on straight it will become easier for me to spend the time studying because I know its an investment into our future.

"Purposeful work means you care deeply about something. You're passionate about doing it."

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Still learning/regrouping from my failure

Success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.

I am still regrouping from my score that came in. I still can't believe it, I really thought I had nailed audit this time. Somehow I got a lower score. I did change some things this time, so going back to what I was doing before. 

Now its time to keep my focus on the present and future and not so much on my past. Failures are learning experiences. They are here for us to learn something from. I learned that I need to become more focused and study with more focus. Most of the time when I would study I was tired and drained from work. I need to go workout for a bit before my exams so that I have a clearer mind and have more energy.

I have a poor long-term memory, so I plan to review/cram for the last 2-3 days before the exam instead of relaxing. My test scores show I did good in area's that I studied more recently so I think this will benefit me tremendously.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

CPA Exam Security Changes at Prometric Test Centers

Email I received regarding the increase in security enhancement for the CPA exam.

Prometric is committed to a strong, secure, testing environment for the CPA Examination and for all candidates visiting one of its test centers.  Over the past few years, Prometric has made several significant investments to further strengthen security in its test centers, including a global roll-out of digital video recorders and enhancements to biometrics at the centers. This communication is to advise you that there is a new security enhancement being introduced into Prometric centers this week.  

Starting July 1, Prometric Test Center Administrators (TCAs) will be using hand-held metal detector wands to scan all candidates in the Test Centers in the United States and Territories. All candidates will be scanned prior to each entry into the test room, including returns from breaks.  Candidates will still be required to turn their pockets out, and the scan will be done immediately afterward. The purpose of the wand scan is to take an additional step in identifying any prohibited items that a candidate is attempting to take into the testing room. 

Prometric’s Security Department conducted a pilot of this program in 2010 using the wands for a period of five months. Approximately 60,000 candidates were scanned during that time.  Ultimately, the wand was found to be a strong deterrent and operationally effective.  Based on the results of the pilot, Prometric has decided to move forward with this program and has deployed hand-held metal detectors to all U.S. Test Centers. 

In addition to this message, information about wanding has been added to Prometric’s standard Test Center Regulations Form.  This form is posted on Prometric’s website and is given to all candidates to read prior to check-in. 
The scan will be done in full view of the TCA DVR camera so it will be recorded, and any candidate complaints or escalations can be properly investigated.  All candidates will be required to submit to the scans.  Any candidates refusing to be scanned will not be permitted to test. Please rest assured that the metal detectors do not affect pregnancies, pacemakers, or other medical equipment that’s connected to the body. 
This small change will help to make our test even more secure, and further protect the integrity of our exams.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Change in some things

Recently my back has been having some serious pains which are constant. (Probably from lifting the heavy audit boxes) This weekend I plan to change some things in my life to hopefully help my situation. Recently I have quit taking my vitamins, I just fell out of routine in doing this each morning and afternoon. So I plan to get back into this with an increase in the fish oil especially. It reduces inflammation which will hopefully help with the inflammation I am experiencing in my back as well has reduce my allergy symptoms.

I also plan to start working out again, at least 30 minutes each day. This use to be a big part of my success in studying for the exam as it gave me energy to stay up and be more focused in the evening. As it got closer to a scheduled exam I would eliminate this part of my routine to have that extra time to study. This is fine for the short-term week before, but not a good idea for the long-term 1-2 months of study.

"People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Score Release Week

Each time that score release I tell myself I won't pay attention to it. See I live in a snail mail state, so I have to wait an additional 7 days after the release to get my result. Those 7 days are horrible, I can't sleep, I can't study and all I can think about is the results. How I will react if I passed, how I will react if I failed. Ugh! I even dream about it. Completely consumed all week, which just ruins my study schedule for the next section!

So, I plan to take a day off this week and study. No work, no kids, no cleaning, nothing. (I know I may regret it later but I have to try it) I am attempting 6 straight hours of studying. Immerse myself in my studying and stay off the cpa exam websites until I get my results. (which should be next Monday & Tuesday)

I don't want to regret this week, I want to be able to look back and say that I was productive. Goal tonight is 2 more hours of studying, and then 6 hours tomorrow. That should catch me up to where I want to be.

"When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don't adjust the goals, adjust the action steps"

Friday, June 17, 2011

REG - Ethics Notes / Flashcards

Teo has a private company audit client. He also provides it with tax services. For which of the following services may he charge a contingent fee and still be in compliance with Circular 230 1) A claim for refund filed in connection with a determination of statutory interest or penalities     2) Representing the client in judicial proceedings

Components of IRS practitioner duties: 1) furnish requested information promptly 2) exercising due dilgence 3) not unreasonably delaying IRS matters

Not a TRP: (Tax Return Preparer) Furnishes typing of other mechanical assistance, Prepares form for regular employer, prepares form as a fiduciary

a TRP is someone who: 1) is paid to prepare or retain employees to prepare a substantial portion of any federal tax return or refund claim

Can't take "unreasonable positions" : 1)No "substantial authority (40% chance) for position 2) No "reasonable basis" (20% chance) for disclosed position 3) Not "more likely than not" (50% chance) for tax shelter position

CPA induced several rich tax clients to invest in a domesticated beaver tax shelter device. When the IRS sought to audit one of Monrew's clients, he realized that among other difficulties, he had not had the client sign a backdated document. When the gov discovered all this, Monrew was indicted for tax fraud in violation of section 7206. Which of the following is true.   Monrew is probably guilty. Monrew clearly willfully aided in the preparation of a tax related document which was fraudulently backdated.

When an auditor's recklessness is manifested in repeated defective audits, what might happen? Misconduct or incompetence by a CPA may invite punishment by all relevant regulatory agencies & professional societies.

A client suing a CPA for negligence must prove each of the following factors except: Reliance         The elements of a negligence cause of action are, Duty, breach of duty, suffered compensatable injuries, and break of proximity.

The intent, or sci-enter, element necessary to establish a cause of action for fraud will be met if the plaintiff can show that the: Defendant made a misrepresentation with a reckless disregard for the truth. Under the position taken by a majority of the courts, who which third parties will an accountant who negligently prepares a clients financial report be liable? Any foreseen or known third party who relied on the report

 Under the "Ultramares" rule, to which of the following parties will an accountant be liable for negligence? The "Ultramares" rule, established in a 1931 case, requires privity before an accountant is liable for negligence.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

REG Study Plan

5 Weeks to study, with a goal of 16 hours a week, and 2-4 hours a week for review. 20 hours a week for 5 weeks for a total of 100 hours of study time to pass regulation. I don't plan to spend a large amount of time on the simulations since I am experienced in taxation. Most of this study time will be focused on the multiple choice questions.

My study plan for regulation:

June 13 – 20           Ethics, Property Transactions, Individual Tax (Strong area’s to begin with)
June 21 – 27           Corp, Partnership, S-Corp, Estate & Gift, Fiduciary tax  (Stong area)
June 28 – July 4   Business Law – Agency & Contracts (Weak area)
July 5 – 11               Articles & Bankruptcy (Weak)
July 12 – 17            Bankruptcy, federal security regulations, business structure (Weak area)

I plan to post each week's notes to each of these sections that I study. I only make notes on area's that are new to me or areas that I am weak in. I also create flashcards in Excel, if I have time I will try to share those as well.

"Don't wish it were easier, work yourself to become better!"

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Loss of a Mentor

Mr. B was invincible to most who knew him, that is until he had a heart attack and died less than three months after his triumph over his two year battle with cancer.  
Many of us have several mentors throughout our life and each mentor brings about a different skillset which they strongly portrait, which is what makes them so endearing to us. We envy their traits and abilities and mimic them in order to become more like them. Mr. B. had that dynamic personality that everyone just wanted to be around, he really lit up a room with his demeanor, and he also had a strong outward confidence which he displayed with little to no verbal communication. 
I will admit I do seem a little lost without him at the moment, even though he never really verbally guided me his guidance was implied and I understood that implication.  
It saddens me that I did not get to achieve my goal of passing the CPA exam while he was alive to show him and see him be proud of that accomplishment. He has always believed in my ability to pass and become a CPA.
I refuse to let this hurdle in life become a road block to my success in the studying and passing of the CPA exam, in fact I am going to use it as fuel.  Mr. B. in death, just as he was in life, will guide me and create the motivation I need to accomplish this task. He was a strong, smart, and confident person who believed in me and my abilities and I can't let him down.
If Mr. B could conquer cancer, look it in the face and not let it get him down, come into the office day in and day out all throughout tax season while going through his chemotherapy treatments with a smile on his face, then I can pass these exams. We all can pass these exams.
He was an inspiration to me every day and he will continue to be so for the rest of my life. Thanks for everything Mr. B.
I typically end every posting of mine with a motivational quote that I find inspirational but this time as a tribute I will post one of his favorite quotes in honor of Mr. B.
"Ethics and eating are two different things"

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Why is the CPA exam so hard?

Are you ready for the magical answer?

The CPA exam is so difficult for some because of the environment in which we, as children, are taught in is not being adhered to in the structure for these exams.

As children we are taught in a structured classroom setting. We are encouraged by our peers as well as our classmates. We are guided, shown examples, and when we still don't understand something we are shown it again.  Think back to your math classes in junior high and high school, the first quarter of the year is spent going back over everything that you learned in the prior year. Some teachers even go as far as to learn and understand each students learning style to show them tricks they can use to learn.

The CPA exam is different in this aspect. For the first time ever, for the majority of us, we are given the study materials and left on our own. Here is a computer, here is your study guides, text books, multiple choice questions, and video lectures, now go teach yourself.

I enrolled in online college classes and can say that this structure isn't what its like even for online colleges.

It's no wonder that the pass/fail rate is hovering below 50% for each part. This was not the way that our society has structured us to learn. The first study program to become developed and be used more like an online college will achieve the best results. Give us grades! Those of us that are doing good need to be told so, we need the reassurance that we are studying correctly, that we have mastered the content. Give us F's! Yes, I just said I want an F. If I have not mastered some content, I want to know. If what I am thinking is totally wrong in a particular area then I want to be told that I am headed down the wrong path.

Correct me BEFORE I take the exam.

For a society drive on checks and balances, there sure aren't any prior to us taking these tests.

"Try to develop steady work habits"

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

CPA exam Superman/woman

5 Motivational factors for becoming a CPA
Prestige and Respect
Money and benefits
Job Satisfaction and variety
Career Security
Personal Growth
Each of us has our own reasonings behind why we decided to become CPA's. For some of us it will be for the prestige and respect that this certification has associated with it. A sense that we will be taken seriously. It could also be a goal or achievement needing to be accomplished. 

Typically most firms and companies pay more of a salary and offer a nicer benefit package to those with the certification, often times those benefit packages are the deciding factor for where a CPA ends up deciding which company to work for.

Job satisfaction and variety. There are those people, myself included, who enjoy variety in their life. Having a CPA license will allow those to switch it up and experience other job opportunities that wouldn't otherwise have been an option for them. 

Career security. What can I say, most companies can't just fire their CPA due to budget cuts unless they have another one lined up to take their place. With all the regulations and rules associated with having a financial knowledgeable staff employed it is becoming increasingly a more stable place to work.

Personal Growth. For some, like me, this is the next step in their career. Each career path has steps in the process and each step adds to their personal growth in the chosen field.  

"The most critical component of personal development is vision"

Friday, May 27, 2011

CPA Exam Resources

I have realized that there are so many CPA exam resources out there but they are just splattered here and there and not all in one location. I decided to make a listing of them here and a short description of each of them. I don't follow or use all of these but use them as I feel they are needed for particular area's of the exam.

CPA exam forums

CPA exam free questions database

CPA Study Material Links

Other CPA exam resources
CPA Webinar: The Need to Knows @

This list is a work in progress, I plan to have a link to it on the right hand side of my blog and update it regularly. If anyone knows of any helpful sites or link please post them in the comment section.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

My AUD exam experience

These exams are so hit and miss, some questions you feel confident about and others make you wonder if they were out of the same content that you studied. Thats what makes these tests so difficult.

I really concentrated my studies on Planning, Internal Control, and Audit Reporting since these areas were heavily tested when I took the test last February and I can say without a doubt it paid off. I feel good about what I studied and new almost all the answers to these area's. The rest of the multiple choice area's were a toss up, some I knew some I had no idea. I only guessed on 3 questions so that was really good.

IT was 2 questions (which were two of my guess questions), International was 3 questions. There also were several compilation and review questions on this exam, more than I had on my last exam. The first testlet was easy, the second testlet I couldn't tell if it got harder but the questions got more wordier. The third testlet was definitely a hard one as it took me longer and threw in trick questions all over the place. I had planned to spend 45 minutes on each MCQ testlet but ended up spending between 35-40, even after I reviewed my flagged questions.

Simulations, 1 was difficult and I am hoping its the one that is thrown out as I couldn't figure out the answer to 1/6th of it.  Research question was easy, and the rest of the simulation was pretty tolerable, although I did feel it was more difficult than the one I took in February. I would recommend that anyone that would like to prepare for their simulations only work on how to look things up in the research tab as this will help you in the other area's of your simulation since you will have access to it for them as well. Both of my exams had a work paper reference and journal entry tab so know these areas.

I hope that it was enough for a 75 this time! Good luck everyone, and let me know of your experiences.

Now onto Regulation.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Four Days until AUD exam

Four more days until my audit exam. Last minute cram session is on!

For those that don't know or follow me, I took audit back in February and scored a 70 and I decided to take it again this window since all the information was still fresh in my mind.

I went through only the MCQ's (multiple choice questions) in my study material, then I made flash cards on the questions I got wrong or my trouble spots. These really helped me to commit the information to memory. So I am now going through my own final review of all the materials which looks like this:

Final Re-review schedule
Planning  -  MCQ (2nd time) Scored 85-90% on them, Yay, moved on
Internal Control - MCQ (2nd time) Scored 70%, went through area's that I scored low in
Audit Evidence - MCQ's (1st time) Scored 75%,  moved on
Audit Reporting - MCQ's (2nd time) Going to do this weekend
SSARS - MCQ's (2nd time) This weekend
International - MCQ's (2nd time) This weekend
Professional Responsibilities (2nd time) - Light review as I scored really high here

Last February I scored above average on my simulation, which was expected since I have 10 years of auditing experience, and was weak in each area except professional responsibilities. My goal is to be familiar with everything to ensure at least the same score as last time but to boost my Planning, Internal Control, and Audit reporting scores. I will focus on those area's until I score in the 90% on my practice tests.

I think that this schedule will ensure that I get a passing score! One can only hope and then prepare properly to maintain that hope.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Study group & REG

I am excited today! I am trying to talk my co-workers into studying with me and have a REG study group going in June/July. Our tentative schedule would be M,W,F 4-7PM that would be a total of 72 hours of study!

When I brought it up to my employer he was excited as well but I told him I was having a hard time getting everyone on board, needless to say I asked him for his help in motivating them and boy oh boy did I get motivation from him! He has offered to pay us all (there are 4 of us total) from 4-5PM at the office to study! For me, that is HUGE, and for everyone else here I think that will entice them enough to study with me. 

Audit season begins full steam in August, so we won't get the additional 1 hour of paid time to study during audit season (Aug - Nov) but at least it will get us started and hopefully get us all on board.

Now to figure out how to do a study group for the CPA exam, wonder if there are any tips out there from others who have done it?

"Seize the moment!"

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Diet, exercise and how it can help you pass

First and foremost this post will help anyone in their general life, but more specifically it is tailored to those of us studying for the CPA exam. I am a creature of habit and I enjoy structured routine... well let me rephrase that, I "work"at best when I am in a structured routine environment. Since we have to be at peak performance each day to ensure we are not only learning this information but RETAINING it, it is important that what we put into our body be positive stimulus.

A side note, as I implemented these changes I noticed a significant improvement in my immune system.

These are purely recommendations and you may not need to, or want to, do each and everyone of them, you may just notice a significant difference in your performance by adding just 1 or 2 of these recommendations.

Sleep - 8 hours a night, every night. YES, everyday. If you have to stop studying late at night to go to bed to ensure 8 hours of rest then do it. You will notice your energy level, alertness, memory retention all become more focused. Also your susceptibility to illness will decline. Staying up 1 extra hour will cause you to have 10-15 hours of sluggish behavior the next day. 1 hour is not worth it, besides we need to keep at top performance level each day and sleep is a crucial key to that equation.

Meal plans - Fruits, vegetables, fish, and chicken. Smart foods! On our shopping day I plan out my meal and snack plans for the week. With a family of 4, including two very active sport oriented teenagers, I cannot afford to eat out everyday. I must bring my lunch to work. Salads have been a life saver for me, I throw them in a plastic container, bring some cooked chicken or fish to sprinkle on the top. Voila, brain food. My wonderful husband cooks dinners, which I typically have another salad with. For breakfast I have oatmeal, the protein gives me energy. Smart snacks near my desk and in my drawers, nuts, fruits I enjoy, granola, yogurt. It's also important that you find healthy food that you enjoy eating. You wont be doing yourself any good eating healthy if you feel deprived. I drink green tea, with lots of organic honey (helps with allergy's) for caffeine boosts when I need them.

Vitamins - Fish oil! Its been proven to help with memory retention and slow the onset of dementia (I don't have the time to actually research that claim, but it was from a trusted enough source that I acted on it) I take 3 capsules a day, 1 in the morning and two in the evening. I have a terrible long-term memory (and a really good short-term memory), but I have noticed that I have had less issues with my memory lately. I also have switched to taking a liquid multi-vitamin.

Exercise - I have saved the best for last! Trust me on this one, exercising will increase your memory retention! Getting the blood flowing increases the oxygen to the brain which increases your alertness. At the end of my audit section I decided that I did not have enough "time" to exercise. Boy was that ever a big mistake! I was tired all the time, I had a hard time retaining anything and worse then that it ruined my whole routine. When I get home from work I go workout at the gym, then go straight home feeling rejuvenated and ready to study! Once that was no longer a part of my routine studying became more of a chore for me and far less enjoyable. In the end I actually studied less when I quit exercising, even though I had more time. Routine! Once you have a good one, don't change it!

"Anyone can give up, thats the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, thats true strength."

Monday, May 2, 2011

CPE and studying for the CPA exam

Since I am an in-charge auditor of A-133 audits here in Oregon I have to get 80 hours of CPE in yellow book standards everyone two years. June 30, 2009 to June 30, 2011. I went through yesterday to see where I was with my requirement and was shocked to see that I need 44 hours more! I have no idea how I am going to fit that in between now and June 30th.

I am taking a governmental auditing update on the May 16th and 17th and plan to bring my CPA books to cram. My boss will be there but I already told him plan and he is cool with it. (He is only cool with it because I am a nonprofit auditor, but he has asked me to pay special attention to all yellow book and A-133 requirement changes)

So thats 28 hours left... Ugh  I think I will watch some webinars with a co-worker and have them take notes of the hot topics so I can study. I have no idea how I got so behind on my CPE, this has never happened before. I can tell you though, the CPA exam should have CPE attached to it!

Friday, April 29, 2011

AUD study plan - May

From what I have read/experienced memorization in audit is the key to passing. First we need to understand how it all fits together. Then we have to memorize, memorize, memorize all the details. When I finished the exam in February I had over an hour left! I used 30 minutes to go back over the simulations and I tested strong in that area. I was weak in almost all area's of the MCQ's, so I need to allocate an extra 10 minutes to each of the MCQ test lets and go over them. I was finishing the MCQ's in 30 minutes, so having 40 minutes will ensure that I have time to review anything I might have flagged for review.

"You either know the subject of the question or you don’t." This is the underlying thinking behind what people say when they leave, they either knew the answer or they didn't. I plan to go over all my material and notes twice. Since this will be a refresher it will go quicker this time allowing more time to concentrate on the MCQ's. 

Once I make my first pass through my material, notes, and MCQ's I will then memorize the standard audit, review and compilation reports. I plan to read these reports out-loud and practice presenting the audit reports to board of directors. Since I have had the pleasure to be included in my firms presentations I, at least, will know what to do and where to begin. In going through this I will focus on how each area relates to GAAS.

I have scheduled 42 hours for my initial review, and then 33 hours for re-review of MCQ's and memorizing the audit reports. In my schedule I made sure to give me Sunday's off. Now for those of you who think I am crazy right now, its just a spacer in my time schedule. I will most likely still study on Sunday's, its just not on my scheduled alloted time so that if something comes up I have 4 Sundays to use time to get ahead or catch up, whatever the case may be. I do have a family so my schedule has to have some flexibility planned within it, to ensure my sanity.

AICPA score release estimate Apr/May window

Released by a NASBA/AICPA email.

Well an email came today detailing the exam release schedule for the Apr/May window. I assume they did this to cut down on the amount of people contacting them in the middle of the blackout month wondering when the scores will be released. Good idea NASBA & AICPA to communicate that information to us!

"For candidates who have tested in the April/May 2011 testing window, barring unforseen circumstances, the AICPA will release the scores to NASBA within a 7-10 day period beginning the third week of June 2011."

Thursday, April 28, 2011

My BEC exam experience

I just took the exam on Thursday April 21st, and can say there is no way to prepare for the written part. 2 of my 3 questions were FAR related. I am strong (in the past) in written simulations so I didn't study much there.

As for the rest of the exam, know the COSO framework inside and out. CCRIM - old, CRRIIMOE - new I made a mnemonic to memorize them. There were a large amount of questions on COSO and Internal control related topics. (1 of my written was on this topic) 

Economics - Understand inelastic and elastic as it relates to demand curve.

Financial management - Know current and quick rations, as well as how to calculate present value etc. 

IT - know EDI, some of my questions here were exactly like the past AICPA questions.

Planning & Measurement - Go over as many cost questions you can, these are time consuming in the exam and you need to know how to do them and do them quickly. I had to guess on 2 of my cost questions due to time constraints.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Not ready for your exam?

Lets face it, life happens. Often times we make this wonderful, beautiful study schedule. We print it out and make it all pretty. We are organized, yes we are! Everything is going great, day 1 done, day 2 done, day 3 done, and BAM on day 4 something happens. Whether it be a broken water heater, which happened to me in the Jan - Feb testing window, or a family illness, or something with your job, your entire study schedule is now disrupted.  Once things get back to normal and the emergency has passed you can then get back to studying, but where do you start and where are you in finishing on time?!

First thing first, assess how much time you need to study to feel comfortable taking a part. Then figure out if you have enough time to finish it before your current scheduled exam date.  If by your calculations you don't feel comfortable with the workload you have several options. You can use your vacation time at work (assuming you work) to allow you the extra time necessary. This works really well since you are already use to being at work for 40+ hours a day typically.

If you are 30+ days out from your exam you can reschedule your sitting for free. Just head to the prometric site and take a look at the available spots in that month, sometimes all you need is a couple of more days or maybe a week.

If you are less than 30 days from your exam date you can pay $35.00 to make the change, however if you are 7 days prior to your exam you cannot change it. This is why it's so important to have a study schedule to know exactly where you are with regard to the time before the exam

In my study plan I put in several -off- days just to ensure that I am ahead of schedule so if something does happen I am not to far behind. And trust me, something happens every single testing window.

"Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true"

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Have you lost your Mojo?

I lost mine in March. To much studying in February burned me out and I missed out on so much! March is a busy time a year for me at work, so I worked probably more overtime than I should have, but I loved the paycheck (especially since here in Oregon once I get my CPA I no longer can get overtime).

Also had a hard time focusing on BEC because I was waiting for my results on AUD. That wait is harsh, so many things running through your head. The excitement of what will happen when you pass, the let-down if you don't... what you could have done better, what area's you did really good on.

Once the results came in though it was serious business and back to the books. I resisted the temptation today to work late, even though there are piles of difficult, long hours of work on my desk and I am out on an audit.

How to stay focused, when I perfect this area of my study plan I will post more about it. Anyone have any idea's, I would love to read about them!

"Never give up on something that you can't go a day without thinking about"

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

BEC Study Schedule

I have an intense next 16 days. I take my BEC exam on April 21st. I plan to put in at least 85 hours, hopefully more. I will be using 3 PTO days to study for 5 days straight before my exam, an intense cram session. This is something I have not done before. Typically I would relax the day or two before my exam, but since I didn't pass I am going with the cram and see how that works out for me.

Also going to make flash cards this time, Ugh! Yes I said it, flash cards. My husband is commuting with me 2 days a week so I can study with his help in the car using the flashcards.

I plan to do every multiple choice question twice (If not more). I finish each area and then the next day I will review the questions only portion of what I did the day before prior to starting my next section.

Also, on a side note I sent in my application to take AUD asap. I have everything still fresh in my mind so I will take it again in May prior to doing REG or FAR, otherwise I won't get to it until the July/August window and thats just to long. I plan to concentrate and BEC and AUD this testing window and re-evaluate where I am for the rest of my tests when I finish these.

Also, if anyone has any pointers on how I can stop being an over-achiever and work-a-holic at the office, its killing my study time schedules and I can't seem to find a balance. I won't say no to more work being  put on my desk, then I have to work weekends and evenings to finish it. This is a serious problem area for me.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Failed AUD, so let down

Got my score in snail mail on Saturday, so let down.  Score of 70.

Failure, at the end of my rope, let down, want to crawl in a hole. I have never experienced these feeling before. Why did I fail?

I felt crummy about the multiple choice and so I should have, weak in every area except for one. Had a strong showing in the simulations. Well thank goodness I was good at something audit related. I finished the exam with an hour to spare, I think I raced to quickly through the multiple choice questions for fear of running out of time. I was finishing the test-lets within 28-34 minutes, next time I will relax and give them more time.

I am an auditor with 10 years of experience, and not just small audits I do A-133 audits with millions in federal money.  I am the lead auditor and train all of our interns and new staff members, how can I fail audit after putting in so much time?!  Why am I so horrible at multiple choice?!?

Tough to tell people that I failed. Ugh, back to the drawing board to revise my "perfect" study schedule and techniques to something that will work.

One think that I have heard of the recent passers is that they did the multiple choice questions 2-3 times each, I only got through my material once.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Gah, no time!

It's tax season and well... I have no time. I have several blog posts to edit before I post them, but hope to catch up tomorrow and post something then. Until then, study hard or work hard.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Study Tools

Everyone study's differently, these are just some of the things I have done to make my studying successful.

Use the checklists at the beginning of the chapters, it will help you to focus on what you should be learning. I review these checklists at the end of the chapter to make sure I went over everything, and understood the topics before I went onto the MCQ's.

Make flashcards / stick notes - The area's that are new to me, or that I need to "refresh" my memory on I make flashcards / sticky notes on.

Sticky notes are great because you can see and read them everyday, even when you are no longer on that topic, you keep the topic in the forefront of your mind by seeing it stuck to your wall or monitor day in and day out. The drawback to stick notes are you can't take them with you wherever you go.

Flashcards have become useful to be with regards to some topics. I write them up myself because I feel that taking someone else's flashcards is just the same as reading the books. Making your own flashcards allows you to categorize things the way you need to see them. Flashcards can go with you where ever you go, I throw them in my purse and anytime I am waiting for something I pull them out. The drawbacks to flashcards are you have to actually USE THEM for them to be beneficial. So many times I made them and then never looked at them again and felt "Boy that sure was a waste of time". They can be useful, you just have to use them.

MCQ's are the most important study tool you have, once you have the basic concepts down, drill those questions over and over again. Just be sure you are focused and getting them correct, otherwise you are wasting valuable time. Work every question you can find, work it, understand it, and explain it to your imaginary intern. Do what you have to do to pass!

"All the so-called "secrets of success" will not work unless you do"

Friday, March 25, 2011

Planning & Goals

It's important to understand the structure of the exam. This will help you to prioritize your time and will also help you to focus on your weak area's by knowing which area's to concentrate on as well as which to touch lightly on.

2011 AICPA's CPA examination CSO's/SSO's that will go into effect on January 1,2011

Set daily goals - This is the most important task in this entire post, if you do nothing else do this! Get a tablet of paper to keep a time table type journal of your daily goals. I started out writing the date and the 4-5 sections I wanted to get done that day. Labeling the approximate time it should take me to get each part done to ensure that I stayed close to my time table. There is flexibility in this schedule, after all you created it you can change it. But it helped to keep me focused, when I wanted to drift off and take a break I looked at where I was and what I had left to do and would struggle through a bit more until I was at a good point to take a break.

Keeping your daily goals on paper allows you to track and evaluate your progress. It allowed me to visually see what I had accomplished in what seemed like a short amount of time. If you fell behind you could see it and knew it.

ST & LT goals - That's accountant speak for short-term and long-term goals. I wrote them on a separate sheet of paper and posted them on the wall behind my desk. It was really rewarding to reach my short term goals quickly! Also you can build in a reward system to keep you motivated. Short term goals for me were to log 25 hours in 1 week, reach 50 hours of study time, get through a particular section that is not my strong point feeling confident. LT goals were attaining more than 100+ hours in study time for AUD, completing 90% or more of the modules in my AUD material.

Make sure you only set goals for yourself that you feel you can reach, start off small and work your way up to larger and more detailed goals to ensure success. It needs to be a positive process, so make it possible for you to succeed.

"We live in a knowledge economy - in a knowledge economy the smart people win!"

Thursday, March 24, 2011

How to Study

Inevitably everyone will study differently based on how well they absorb the material and what they are comfortable with, this is just what works for me. There are, generally speaking, three types of learners; Audio, Visual, and Kinesthetic. It is important to find out which type of learner you are so that you tune your study habits into your best learning style to ensure the most retention possible.

Visual learners are characterized by the following:
 They tend to be fast talkers.
 They exhibit impatience and have a tendency to interrupt.
 They use words and phrases that evoke visual images.
 They learn by seeing and visualizing

Yup, that is definitely me, I am a visual learner. Through trials and tribulations I realized that my initial study plan was not remotely close to a visual learner's style. I was listening to audio CD's in the car (Which were not apart of my study materials, I purchased them from another merchant which was NOT a good idea). They only confused me more since the material was not in the same form as I had been use too. Plus they were boring and with my commute I need something to keep my attention, the other drivers on the road would appreciate it if I were awake during my drive to and from work.

These are the changes I made to my study material:
1. Watch video's, take notes
2. Ready study material/chapter, NO highlighter (This does nothing for my memory retention other than coloring pretty colors in my books.
3. MCQ's
4. Write Mnemonics on sticky notes
5. Study simulations
6. Rewrite Notes

If you have trouble with the MCQ's stop working them, don't keep doing something that you are not understanding. Move onto another section and come back to the troubled area the next day when you are refreshed and have had time to think about it. Repeat steps 1-6 on the troubled area and by the 2nd or 3rd time through you will get it.

Sticky Notes
These were the holy grail for me in studying. During my practice tests, simulations and MCQ's I would cheat. Yes I did cheat. I looked at my sticky notes as many times as I could to ensure I got the right answer. I would rather work the questions and pound the correct answer into my head over and over again rather than trying to figure it out, get it wrong and read through the correct answer afterwards. Instead I wanted to just solidify the correct answer in every question as many times as I could, and in doing this it helped me during my exam. How? you might ask, here is how.

Each time I came across a question during the exam in which I would normally "cheat" and look at my sticky note, I would look down from my computer screen and visualize my sticky note and even wrote it down at times. It was amazing! I had looked at my sticky notes so much that I had memorized them. It worked for me, so here is hoping it works for you! FYI I hate flashcards, if you hate them too try making sticky notes.

"Knowledge is only potential. Knowing is not doing! Consistent action is the only thing that defines the results of our lives, Act Now!"

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Dedicated Study Zone

So, working at the kitchen table or in front of the television may have worked while you were in college but trust me, it isn't going to work for studying for the CPA exam. This baby is a beast to study for! You are going to need a specific dedicated study zone, someplace that you will go to and ONLY think of the CPA exam. No distractions.

Some people chose the library, which would be perfect for me as well except I have a family and that is just not going to work for me and my family. I am away from the family enough as it is so we chose a study zone at our home. I purchased a small desk at the local Walmart, had just enough room for my computer, keyboard, and writing tablets for notes. Looking around my home to find the quiet spot was the hard part. Garage is to cold, and we do not have a den or spare room so we ended up putting it in my bedroom closet! Ha! My desk and chair fold up nicely so that I can shut the closet door each night and my bedroom still remains my bedroom.

Study tool items: Earplugs (or headset), water bottle, flat screen monitor ( allowed me the most space on my small desk), calculator (as close to AICPA calculator as possible) extra light on desk, calender, pens, pencils, highlighters, and a time clock. I saved the best for last, my Sticky Notes! They are the best, but more on that in a later post.

It is key to keep distractions at bay, put a sign on your door, if you are at home like I am, to remind your family that you are not available. Do not put any games or links to social website on your study computer. Keep it as bare bones as possible, don't take "breaks" on your study computer and look at the news, it will only lead you to have the mindset to wander during your study time. Go in another room to play on the computer.

Keep your study zone stocked with water bottles and snacks, and vitamins (Fish oil is great for memory retention but thats for another post). Thats all I can think of for now, good luck on your study zone!

"It always seems impossible until it's done."

Researching the CPA exam

I think its fair to say that I have invested just as much time into the CPA exam materials, motivational quotes and ideas, study techniques, study tools, and others past/current experiences as I have studying so far! So, I plan to share them here on my blog and keep it updated with my journey in hopes that it will help someone in their own journey someday.

First and foremost, I had to create a strict time table. (otherwise I would find myself postponing portions and getting incredibly behind) I needed to treat this like a job, act like I would if this was put in front of me at work. I set up a daily routine schedule which looked like this:

Mon - Friday (3 hours a day)
6:30 - 7AM - Study notes / flashcards
7 - 8AM  - Get ready/drive to work (45min commute here)
8 - 5PM - Work; get in 30 minutes of study time during lunch
5 - 6PM - Drive home
6 - 6:30PM - Workout on bike/treadmill
6:30 - 7:30 - Study
7:30 - 8PM - Eat Dinner
8 - 9PM - Study
9 - 10PM - Free time
Bedtime 10 - 10:30PM
It is really important to go to bed at the same time each night, this ensures that you stay on schedule and don't have to change things or feel tired if you stayed up the night before. I took Melatonin on nights that I had a hard time falling asleep.

Sat-Sun (6 hours a day)
Not sticking to my schedule for weekend but 6 hours each day is my goal.
When I figure out a good weekend study strategy I will post more on that later.

Total study time 37 hours a week! And I work full-time with an hour and a half commute, have two children, and as of up to my CPA exam journey am a happily married women. If I can do this, so can you!

"Don't procrastinate, don't put it off! Put in those hours and learn those questions. That's how you become a CPA"