My CPA Exam Story: Exercise Was Key to Focus

Derek Almich graduated from Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minn., in December 2016 with a degree in accounting and corporate finance. He used Becker’s Self Study CPA Exam Review Format to prepare for the CPA Exam, typically studying for two months before each exam with a little more time spent for FAR. He took exams in Dec. 2016 through Feb 2018 and successfully passed each part on the first try*. His story below:

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I enjoy hunting and exercising and am looking forward to spending more time with family, friends and hobbies (you tend to forget you had those while studying). I really enjoy working with the G/L and hope to work more with financial reports, budgets, journal entries, etc. I hope to someday work for a non-profit organization as helping people has always been a passion of mine.

How did you manage your time with studying, work and life? What did your study schedule look like?
It was a challenge at times balancing enjoyable things with studying, but I found that exercising helped me freshen my mind to study those long hours that are required to pass. I would usually go to work, head to the gym afterward, and then study 2-3 hours each night during the week, while studying for the majority of the weekend. I usually took a full night off during the week to relax and spend time with friends. CPA seekers and their families need to understand that these tests take a lot of time and preparation in order to successfully pass, but it is worth it in the end.

Any tips for getting motivated and focusing?
Exercise is key, and taking a day or two a week to relax and spend time with family and friends is very important. You just have to remember that you are sacrificing your time and money in the short term for something that will benefit you for many years to come.

What was your biggest challenge in preparing for the CPA Exam, and how did you overcome it?
I found in the very beginning the mass amount of material one needs to understand for the exam at hand. I soon found that overwhelmed feeling will go away as you move through the material and focus on mastering one chapter at a time. You just have to remember that numerous CPA’s have mastered this material and you will too if you put the time in to study and understand rather than memorize the material.

What advice would you share with someone preparing for the exam? Any tips that helped you?
Budget your time. Do all the questions/TB’s. I would also recommend taking a week off (maybe two for FAR) to fully immerse yourself in the material before your exam to study and redo all questions/TB’s. That will be the first step to gauge your understanding of the material. I would take the first practice exam to see where you’re sitting, review any hard spots you encountered, and then hit the 2nd exam. If you utilize the material and put the time in, you will see results and you will know the material. Lastly, I would take your own notes and go through them periodically over the weeks you study. That will help with not feeling overwhelmed again towards the end of studying.

Why did you choose Becker for your CPA studies?
Luckily, while in school and before I bought the material, I heard many good things about Becker from those already studying. I would highly recommend Becker as I believe it was the key to my success. You just have to remember to utilize everything Becker gives you and put the countless hours required into studying.

Anything else you’d like to share?
If one puts the time and commitment into studying and understands rather than memorize the material, a 75 is in your reach. Also, remember that if you do fail, you are among many others that do but still come back and nail it the 2nd time. I am extremely lucky as I went 4/4 with my exams*. It’s not something to brag about, but is something to be grateful for. I expected to fail. I prepared myself to fail. Don’t let a fail stop you towards your successful pass of all four parts. Put the time in, understand the material, and pass the CPA. Go get it!! BAE-BAE!!

*Becker does not track pass rates so typical results are not known.

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