carpe diem - cpa guide

The biggest mistake I made when I first started studying for the CPA exam was treating it like a college exam. It was just another box on my to-do list. So when it came time to actually sit for the CPA exam I found myself procrastinating and cramming in the week or two before my exam just like College! When I applied this method to the CPA exam it meant failing all 4 parts in a row within 2-7 points! I DO NOT want this to be you! So let’s take a look at what I was doing wrong.

My Story

I started studying for the CPA exam the summer of 2008 after obtaining a full time offer from a regional firm. All of my friends were passing the exam the first time through, so I figured I would breeze through the exam. This overconfidence was my downfall! I failed both parts that I took before I started working full time by just a couple points each. Once I started working full time I started to travel to various clients, and believe me the last thing you want to do is study in a hotel!  I ended up failing the next 2 parts no better than the first two…

Busy season came and went, as did the American economy and in mid-2009 my firm laid off 20% of its staff. Of the 8 in my start class, only 2 of us had not passed the CPA exam. Our firm used this reason to lay us off, and I felt like everything I had worked so hard to obtain in college was lost…

The 180 Degree Turn

I went home that night and completely reassessed my life. Either I was going to spend the rest of my life ending up at a dead-end entry level accounting job or I was going to pass the CPA exam and make something of my life. I wrote down these goals and kept them in my study area as a constant reminder. I cannot stress this point enough. Please take a few moments right now and write down at least three reasons why you want to become a CPA. Make sure these reasons are kept in an area where you will see them every time you sit down to study. Every time you are struggling to focus or fail a section just look at those reasons. If they are truly important enough to you, then it will give you the strength to continue!

My attitude for the CPA exam changed when I wrote down the following three reasons for why I wanted to become a CPA:

1) I want to be a CPA to be able to provide for my future family.
2) I want to be a CPA so that I can show employers that I do not give up and that I am willing to dedicate my life to completing a task, no matter how impossible it feels.
3) I want to be a CPA so that I don’t get stuck in a dead end job and be bored out of my mind!

I hope that you can think of 3 or 4 inspiring reasons for why YOU want to become a CPA. I can tell you that the temporary pain you will experience while taking the CPA exam is well worth the boost to your career!

The End Result!

So what happened to me after I was laid off? I passed 2 parts back to back, found a new job in the private sector and even met my wife to be! After adjusting to my new job, I knocked out the last 2 parts with flying colors and within months of passing I got hired by the Big 4 as an experienced hire! After being side-tracked for a year I was back where I was supposed to be!

If you are interested in learning more about how I passed the CPA exam while working full time, then please visit my blog and sign up for my free CPA Exam Coaching Guide here –


Thank you to our guest blogger, Bryan Kesler, CPA (MO) from CPA Exam Guide (  You can also find him on Facebook (, Twitter ( ) and Google+ (