Tips for Success - Part 7

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

(30) - Time does fly. How are you doing so far in studying to pass the CPA Exam? The enemy is often procrastination. Putting off studying is always easier than actually studying. “I’ll do it later today.” “I’ll study after I finish washing the dishes.” “I’ll start, for sure, tomorrow.” People look (desperately) for reasons to procrastinate. It is just human nature. The barrier that often keeps us from achieving our true potential is not our weaknesses but our procrastination – we promise to do the work but we will do it later.

How do you get over procrastination? Have very set times when you plan to study and then don’t let anything stop you. “I will study Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. regardless of what else is happening in my life.” If you leave study times open (“I’ll study after I finish cleaning the house”), it just seems that you never make it. Something always pops up.

A productive life is often a battle between procrastination and self-discipline. Don’t let procrastination win.

(31) – I once watched a famous athlete being interviewed. The announcer asked about a competition where he had already been defeated five times but was trying again. The announcer wanted to know if it wasn’t time to give up. The response was something like: “Of course not. My attitude probably comes from my competitive background but you cannot let yourself be defeated by a defeat. When I fail, I cannot wait to have an opportunity to try again. In my earlier life, if I got beat, I couldn’t wait to have the chance to try again. I always wanted to do better the next time. I have the same feeling about this.”

That’s a good attitude to have. People miss questions when they are preparing and they get discouraged. People get a grade of less than 75 and they are deeply hurt. That is very understandable. But, too often, they are ready to give up and quit. Okay, that is not understandable. Take some time off if you need it but the attitude you want in your heart is: “I couldn’t wait to have the chance to try again.”

There are only two places to be in your journey to pass the CPA Exam: Either “I have passed” or “I’m on my way to passing.” A failing grade is only a temporarily bump in that road. Instead of giving up, tell yourself: “Hey, I can’t wait to have the chance to try that exam again.”

(Words worth repeating: "you cannot let yourself be defeated by a defeat.")

(32) – What is a good goal as you study? I always like to believe that everyone should be able to add one point to their score during every hour that they study. That seems like a reasonable goal. If you concentrate and read questions for an hour and then study the answers carefully, I firmly believe that you will add a point during each hour that you work. So, even if you start with flat zero (basically an impossible grade given that the exam is largely multiple-choice), you should be able to pass after 75 hours (which falls nicely within my 60-100 hour recommended range).

I like that “one point per hour” goal for a couple of reasons. It puts a value on study time. Even when you are not in the mood to study, realizing that you can add a point by having the self-discipline to put in an hour of work can be a great motivator. It just gives you a reason to find time to study. Second, it encourages you to stop after every hour and ask yourself “okay, what have I done in the last hour that would give me another point?” I always stress: “do, assess, and make needed changes.” I like that “improvement” regiment and think a quick one-minute assessment every hour is time well spent.

(Hint – If you know anyone else who is preparing for the exam, it is never a bad idea to study together occasionally. You can swap ideas and encouragement and it is just helpful to be around someone who understands what you are going through. Check out our forum for others wishing to find a study partner.)

(33) - Okay, I have a question for you: What is your personal motto? I don’t mean a moral code that you live by. I mean a personal motto that describes your outlook on life. A motto that tells you who you are. I was thinking this morning that I’d love to believe that my personal motto was “Go for it!” When a challenge pops up, that’s the personal goal that I would like to have guided me. When there is an opportunity that is offered, I’d like to think that I was brave enough to really “Go for it!” When I get down, I would hope that my motto would push me back up.

I know folks whose personal motto is probably “run and hide” and others who might be described as “no risk, please” or perhaps “as little work as possible.” And, that is fine for them. People need to know themselves. One of the reasons you get to be an adult is so that you can have control over your own life.

A lot of you are thinking these days about the CPA Exam: do I take it, should I really study, how much am I willing to sacrifice to pass, do I really have a chance? All of those are very good questions that you need to address honestly based on your own personal motto but my heartfelt advice is always going to be: “Go for it!”

Back to Articles