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How hard is the CPA exam?

how hard is the CPA exam?Have you taken any part of the CPA exam? How hard did you find the exams to be? How many times did you have to retake it? I had just graduated from college with an undergrad in Accounting. I decided against finishing school to get the 150 hours needed to sit for the CPA exam in Tennessee. I decided it was useless because I had no intention of going into public accounting. I didn’t have anyone telling I would later regret that decision. Starting in 2011 I decided it was time to revisit the CPA exam. I enrolled in school to get the additional hours. Completed the hours, applied for a couple of parts of the exam, studied like crazy using CPAExcel’s format. Then came test time. I failed. Three times. Two of my failed tests came from the Regulation portion. The third was financial accounting and report. I didn’t score a 74, barely failing the exams. I completely bombed them. Questions about UCC, bond reporting, and several other components seemed to fill the tests. I have worked for private companies which didn’t help prepare me for the FAR or REG sections. I honestly thought that working on the financial accounting side of a company would have prepared me for FAR. I also thought that knowing the tax law would help with REG. Needless to say there is much more to these two sections than most of us encounter in our day-to-day lives. But what has your experience been?

Answers

Jason Goodman
Title: Sr. Financial Analyst
Company: Ammex
(Sr. Financial Analyst, Ammex) |

Chris, I took FAR a total of 3 times and AUD, BEC, & REG, once each. I passed the exam over about 7months.

Imo, the exam is more of an endurance test in time commitment than anything else. My first two shots at FAR resulted in a 73 & 68, respectively. I probably put 60-80 hours into studying each of those two attempts. I way underestimated FAR the first couple go arounds.

For my successful attempts I probably averaged 150 to 200 hours of study time (over 4-5 weeks) for each section. FAR & REG are definitely beasts, so keep your head up. There is just so much information that you have to keep going back to prior sections to review the material and revisit the MCs & Simulations.

How many hours are you currently devoting to each section? How many weeks are you studying for each exam? Personally, I found the sweet spot for knowledge retention was about 4-5 weeks per exam.

Most of the folks I know who have studied for the exam and have yet to pass simply have not devoted the time. Nothing to do with their intelligence or business accumen, just a commitment issue. Also, I don't know too many people who have one-shot the test either. Most have had a bit of a struggle, especially early on.

FYI - I used Becker for my study course and attended the live lectures (which I really think helped...mainly because it made me commit to a schedule!). Additionally, I visited another71.com quite often for study guides and help/advice from other taking the exam.

Good luck, man! Keep studying. It's well worth the time.

Chris Shumate
Title: Accounting Manager
Company: Dominion Development Group, LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Accounting Manager, Dominion Development Group, LLC) |

Questions regarding CFOs being a CPA are frequently asked here on Proformative.

Today, while doing some personal and professional development, I listened to an interview with Bill Budicin, thanks to CFO Thought Leader Podcast.

In the interview he said that in order for CFOs to truly generate value for their company the first thing they need to do is remove their CPA certificate from their office wall.

The reason, he insists, is because most people still view CPAs (not necessarily CFOs) as bean-counters. He experienced for himself. He says CFOs need to be viewed as value adders, and not bean counters.

Check out the interview here: http://goo.gl/swtvUZ

So, if you have a CPA and are not working in public accounting, where's your certificate hung?

Has your CPA certificate made people think of you as a bean counter, or a value adder?

Anonymous
(CFO) |

I am a CPA in industry and if you want a job in accounting a CPA is a leg up. However, today, the request is often for licensed CPA's. I know a number of people who passed the exam but never gained the proper experience to be licensed. Maintaining licensed status is a commitment in both time and money.
An a license has advantages, especially if you want to start your tax or accounting service business.
When I am looking for staff, I look for the CPA experience, that is a number of years working in a CPA firm. To me that is more important than a CPA certificate or license. However, the CPA license is often a screening too in recruiting indicating that someone has maintained the continuing education requirements and by supposition is up to date on GAAP and other regulations.
Consider becoming a financial analyst and passing their test.

Arthur Yip
Title: Audit Supervisor
Company: On Assignment Inc
(Audit Supervisor, On Assignment Inc) |

I agree with Jason, it's a time and effort commitment issue. I remember I had to block out other things in my life to focus on studying for the exam. A huge part is how bad you want it. A good review course helps too. I've also heard Becker is the best. Learn the exam taking techniques. Don't give up, it's well worth the sacrifice. Having a CPA will not only distinguish you from others but will add greatly to your career growth!

Olszewsk n/a
Title: n/a
Company: n/a
(n/a, n/a) |

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