From Studying the WRONG Way to the RIGHT Way

 Several years ago, I had a student in one of my Intermediate Accounting II classes. I’ll call her Katherine. Katherine seemed like a bright young person. Unfortunately, she came to class each and every day totally unprepared. She never did the assignments or read the book. She could not answer a single question that I asked during class discussions. But, she did take copious notes. I think she wrote down every word that was spoken in class each day.

We arrived at the first test and Katherine made a low D. I wasn’t surprised. She had been merely an observer in class and not a participant. You cannot learn accounting by just taking notes.

I honestly expected Katherine’s work to improve. I figured the D would scare her into doing better. I was wrong. She continued to show up each day having done absolutely no preparation in advance but she sure could take great notes.

Consequently, Katherine made another D on the second test. By that time, I just assumed she was going to make a D in the course. She seemed determined to continue heading down a path that was not bringing her good results.

After receiving her grade on the second test, Katherine showed up in my office nearly hysterical. She told me that she had never made either a C or a D on any test in her life and didn’t understand why she had made D’s on both of my first two tests.

I told her the truth: She never prepared for class and, therefore, couldn’t really follow the subtle issues that we discussed in class. She was not able to learn what we were talking about because she was too busy trying to write down every word so she could memorize them.

She responded that she had always prepared in this way. In middle school, high school, and college, she didn’t waste her time reading the textbook and preparing. Instead, she paid close attention in class. She wrote it all down and then memorized it. And, of course, she had then made virtually all A’s on her examinations.

Okay, let’s say the story stops right there. What lessons can we learn from Katherine?

--You have to realize that old techniques might not continue to work when faced with new and more complex challenges.

--When something does not seem to be working, you need to stop and reassess your progress rather than pushing forward stubbornly for too long.

--Memorizing information is different than learning how to make use of that same information.

--Short cuts don’t usually work when a task becomes difficult. Nothing really beats putting in an adequate amount of time.

But, fortunately, the story doesn’t end there. Improvement is not going to take place without change. Katherine needed to make a change or she was never going to improve and she would make a D in my class. So, at the end of my conversation with Katherine, I challenged her to do one thing. “Just as an experiment, for one week, I want you to be the best-prepared person in class each day. For that one week, you work as hard as you can before class so that you are the person who walks in each day with the best knowledge. You be number one.” I thought that speech was probably a waste of my time because I didn’t think Katherine could change. I thought she would mean to change but I doubted that she would actually have the self-discipline to do the work that was needed. She had developed too many bad habits.

At the next class, I asked her the very first question. I made it a difficult one. And, for the first time all semester, she gave me a great answer. I asked her a second question and made it even more complicated. She got that one right also. From that day on, Katherine was the best-prepared person in class every day. She reduced her note taking and started participating in the conversation. She followed the questions and answers with a true understanding based on her class preparation.

Katherine went on to make a 95 on the third test of the semester and a 98 on the final exam. Instead of a D for the semester as I expected, she wound up with a B+. If she had only started earlier, she would have made an A.

I don’t know what is holding you back from passing the CPA Exam but I do know that some change is required if you are going to improve and pass. The CPA Exam is not like an accounting course in college. You have to develop the ability to work a very wide range of questions in a hurry. The only thing that is really important is being able to answer questions.

That is why we at CPA Review for Free have spent so much time over the years working to have the best accounting, auditing, tax, law, finance, economics, technology, etc. questions in the world.

We occasionally get the following question: “I have used questions from other courses and your questions seem a lot better but they also seem a lot harder. I like the questions from the other courses because they seem easier and make me feel good.” I want to write back and say “you sound just like Katherine. You will not become a CPA by doing the easy stuff. You need to up your game.” Tougher questions help you learn more so that you can take on any challenge the CPA Exam throws at you.

As a CPA review course, our job is to help you and the other candidates answer enough questions on the exam in order to pass. Working tough questions in advance helps to stretch your ability and make you smarter and more capable. Athletes don’t win important games by practicing lazily. They win games by pushing themselves to work harder problems during their preparation.

Katherine was going to make a D because she was using a system that was not teaching her the important materials she needed to know.

You might very well be struggling to pass the CPA Exam because you are using a system that is not teaching you the materials you need to know.

Plus, our questions are free. They are just waiting on you. Try them. Start working on upping your game.

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