Part 2: Persevering for the Payoff

Renner Careers Blog; October 24, 2022

Part 1 of this series focused on the benefits of passing the CPA exam and the basic requirements to qualify to sit for it.

Once you are qualified to take the exam, it’s time to begin preparing. That’s where the CPA exam gets passed or failed — at home, predawn sessions, late nights and lots and lots of coffee.

Here’s some preparation tips from two recently minted CPAs.

1. Schedule the exam

“I know it sounds crazy, but that will motivate you to study harder as there is a deadline looming over you,” said Adriel Henriquez Baires, an audit manager at Renner and Company, who passed the exam in November 2021.

2. Plan your attack

“My biggest tip would be to set a plan and timeline for yourself, and stick to it,” said Trevor Seiden, also an audit manager at Renner, who passed the exam in October 2021. “Schedule your exams and plan out how much studying you would need to do every week to meet your goal of preparedness for each exam. Once you get rolling and get into the groove of studying, it gets much easier to motivate yourself to keep going.”

3. Micromanage

“Plan for each exam accordingly,” Trevor said. “I studied for several months for the Financial Reporting exam, but only about three weeks for the auditing exam because I was more familiar with the material.”

4. Don’t do it alone

“Get a study buddy,” Adriel said. “They will help you study for the exam as well as provide some healthy competition and rivalry.”

5. Just take the exam

“It does not matter whether you feel you are ready or not,” Adriel said. “You may never feel ready, but who knows? Maybe you will pass that FAR exam on your first try, just like I did.”

6. Take it soon

“The exam model is changing in 2024, so if you have already passed some exam sections, take them all before it’s too late,” Adriel said.

Stay the course

Setting a schedule is just the start. Sticking to it can — and most likely will — prove challenging.

“The process was definitely the most difficult,” Adriel said. “During my study phases, I would wake up at 5 a.m. to study three hours Monday through Saturday.”

On weekdays, after studying, Adriel went to work and fulfilled his duties there before coming home to be a dad to his newborn baby.

“This turned out to be a very exhausting schedule, so I faltered after two months,” Adriel said. “Deadlines were creeping in at work and I had to focus on those.”

To cross the finish line, it’s important to develop the right mindset. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

“What surprised me was that I had expected to still be able to do everything else I was already doing while studying,” Trevor said. “But that wasn’t the case. I basically had to become a shut-in to meet the timeline I set out for myself. I had to make sacrifices to find the hours to study wherever I could.

“For a little over a year, all I really did was work and study. I missed nights out with friends, weekend trips, and some nights of sleep because I had to spend that time studying.

“It’s a big undertaking. It’s going to stink. You’re going to be miserable. But it is more than worth it in the end.”

Power of proper practice

Persistent preparation doesn’t guarantee a passing grade, but it certainly is your best shot.

And, it turns out, when it comes to the CPA exam, persistent preparation paves a much smoother road to the 75 you need to pass.

“The test itself was actually a bit easier than I initially thought,” Trevor said.

Adriel concurred.

“I was also surprised by how easy the exam feels compared to CPA exam review materials,” he said.

These tips worked for Adriel and Trevor. They both passed the exam and are now CPAs.

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