Tips for Success - Part 3

The next tips in a series from Joe Hoyle, co-founder of CPA review for FREE.

(11) - Always be ready to study if the opportunity opens up. Here in Richmond, when they predicted 5-10 inches of snow, I might get stuck in my house for 24-48 hours. It is amazing how much I can accomplish in that period of time IF I AM PREPARED. So, that morning, I zipped up to campus and got every book and computer file that I could possibly need.

Okay, I won’t study 24 hours a day while it snows but I do plan to get a lot done. And, I have everything I need. I am set up for success. Opportunities for success are everywhere in life if you just look for them. What often seems like a waste of time is really a golden chance to make a bit of progress, if you are ready to take advantage. Keep your eyes open for such opportunities and grab them when they come. Let it snow—I’m ready to get stuff done.

(12) - I get a lot of interesting emails. I received an email from a teacher in North Carolina. In the note, the teacher included a quote that had been written by one of his better students on how he turned a C+ grade into an A: “According to Ralph Waldo Emerson, ‘That which we persist in doing becomes easier for us to do; not that the nature of the thing itself has changed, but that our power to do it has increased.’"

This quote really ought to be the motto for every CPA exam candidate. If we persist in our preparation, each topic, in turn, will become easier. Obviously, the topic really isn’t any easier but our knowledge has increased and it has increased so gradually that we probably haven’t noticed.

Therefore, the single most important trait that you can bring to your preparation is persistence. When you miss a question, the ultimate cure is persistence. If you happen to fail a part of the exam, the only real path to success comes from persistence. If you do things again and again, they just eventually get easier as your understanding grows. The first time that you record a capital lease it will probably seem impossible. The second time only terribly difficult. The third time merely hard. If you persist, it will eventually seem easy to you because you will actually know the topic. Persistence is the one human trait that can turn the impossible into the doable.

(13) - If we boil things down to the very basics, there are only three reasons why people fail to pass a part of the CPA exam. First, they have not yet attained quite enough understanding of the material. As we all know, there are many topics covered on each exam. Second, the candidate can make too many careless mistakes during the exam. We all make a few of those but you cannot afford to make many. Third, while taking the exam, the candidate does not manage the time well. The person either rushes through too quickly (and makes careless mistakes) or goes so slowly that the person is not able to finish on time.

I want to look at time management today. You really need to average a bit less than 2 minutes per multiple-choice question on the CPA Exam. So, at least once or twice each week, work 10 to 20 multiple choice questions and time yourself so that you start getting a feel for whether you are going too fast or too slow. You need to get used to working at an appropriate speed before you get to the exam. If you know enough of the material, then you definitely want to pass. And, one key ingredient to that success is training yourself to manage your time wisely.

(14) - When I took the CPA Exam (back in the Dark Ages), it was 19 hours long over 2 ½ days. Brutal experience. On the very last exam, when I was more than a little exhausted, I got a ten-point question on S corporations. My education must have been lacking because I had no idea what that was. None—I was totally lost. As far as I knew, the S stood for “Sunshine” or "Superman" or “Stupid” (which is how I felt). In those days, you had to write out answers for about half of the exam and they were carefully graded.

The first thing I did was skip that question. There was no reason to sit and just stare at it as the clock ticked along. Second, as I moved forward in the exam, I kept turning the question over in the back of my mind. “What could this be and how can I answer this question?” Third, when I had answered all of the other questions, I went back and read that question very carefully looking for clues within the question itself. Finally, I pieced together everything I could think about and wrote out my answer. I must have gotten just enough points because I passed that part of the CPA Exam with a 75. To me, that was as good as 100.

The most important lesson: I did not panic. I did not let that question get me rattled. I stayed with my game plan and it worked. You have to do your best while you are there. No matter what happens, when you get to the exam, you have to stay focused on the one and only goal: find enough points to pass. So, my advice for today: no matter what strange questions you get, don’t panic. You don’t need perfection; you only need to pass. Take it from me.

(Break time – We here at CPA Review for FREE will be eternally grateful if you pass along our CPA review for free to others. We want to help as many people as we can. You can help us by spreading the word.)

(15) - When I taught live CPA Review classes, I stressed my “4 C’s for Success” on the CPA Exam: calm, concentrate, care, and confidence. You have to stay calm regardless of what happens during the exam. You also have to concentrate for the entire time. You cannot let your mind wander or let yourself become distracted by anything. If the building catches on fire, make sure you are the last person to notice. In addition, you have to be extremely careful. Every question (even 2 plus 2) can be missed if you are not careful. AND, finally, you need confidence.

I want to talk a bit about confidence today. If you bowl or play golf or some other sport, you already know that you are more likely to roll a strike or sink the putt if you approach it with confidence. Confidence helps to make people winners. You still have to do the work but, if you have done your proper share of preparation, then don’t approach the CPA Exam with fear, trepidation, and trembling. March into that exam site like a champion going into battle: “I’m here and I’m ready to tear into this challenge.” The CPA Exam is not for the scared and timid; it requires the confidence necessary for boldness and strength.

See Tips for Success--Part 4

You CAN do it!

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