Cris Ortiz’ CPAexcel success story continues from last week. Find out if CPAexcel’s Bite-Sized Lessons helped him pass all four parts of the CPA exam.

The Results

I received my test results approximately 8 days after taking the exam. To my surprise it was a 94 in FAR. I was so ecstatic that I hugged and kissed my wife and son immediately. My original goal was to pass, but getting such a great score was icing on the cake.

The Rest of the Journey

I would say the most important part of every journey is the beginning, because if I had not taken the first small step or if I had been intimidated by the “big tree” then I would not have found the momentum to keep going or have been able to start in the first place. Getting the score that I did for my first exam was such a big boost of confidence for my next 3 sections of the exam. It proved to me that my review preparation strategies, study techniques and CPAexcel worked for me.

After my first exam section, I scheduled BEC in February 2013 and applied the same study technique and routine that I had for FAR. I received a 90 for my second exam section. For my third exam section, I was supposed to be taking REG, but I’ve found out the exam content was going to change for AUD beginning July 2013. So, I was forced to take AUD next and then REG as my last part. I scheduled my AUD exam date for the last week of May. I would describe this section as “tricky,” because I didn’t have any audit experience other than a 6-month internal audit engagement several years ago, so this was a challenge for me. The challenge was dealing with all the new material and I had to make sure to really prepare to pass this exam before the end of May 2013. I spent a little over a month reviewing the materials and then applied the same approach I used for the first two sections of the exam to study for AUD. The only changes made to my study approach were making sure to complete all MCQs and TBSs in the review materials. I felt confident going into the test center but got very disappointed on the TBS testlet because, once in the exam, I realized I had not covered the areas on 2 TBS questions. I had to make significant use of the Authoritative Literature to answer some of the TBSs, but I was unsure if I answered them correctly.

In June I received my AUD score – a 99! Getting this score was indescribable. I refreshed the online score page at least 20 times to make sure that I was reading my score correctly! I immediately called my wife to tell her the great news and I became teary-eyed while talking to her. It was such a wonderful feeling knowing that all of my hard work had paid off!

After all of the excitement of passing AUD wore off, I scheduled the last exam section, REG, in late August 2013. The challenge of preparing for REG was that I underestimated the vast scope of this section. I had to spend more weekday nights and almost entire weekends studying for AUD. It came to a point where I fell ill for a few days because due to the pressure of the review coupled with stress from my job. I began to realize that the journey was taking its toll on my health, but I told myself that I only had one final leg left of the journey.

I continued with my review cautiously and supplemented my review with more caffeine and energy drinks to keep myself awake. When I finally went into the testing center, I was feeling unsure and mentally exhausted. As usual, I followed my routine before taking the test. I closed my eyes and prayed. I then used the entire 3-hour limit allowed for REG and at the end of the test, I was the only examinee left inside the testing room. I felt tired and frustrated by some of my unsure answers. After impatiently waiting for my score result, I finally received in on September 10, 2013. My score for REG was a 93. It was 5am in Guam when I received my score, so I woke up my wife and son to share my great news. We were hugging and literally jumping up and down on our bed. The feeling of passing the final CPA exam section was amazing; almost inexplicable and indescribable. The feeling to finally say I have completed the CPA exams is wonderful!

My CPA journey has ended and despite the challenges I had to overcome, I always had the support of my family. They are the very reason and inspiration that I was able to take this journey and to see it through to the end. Missing out on things while preparing for the CPA exam was not as bad as I thought it would be compared to the feeling of accomplishing such a great feat. Now I have my life back and I believe it will be even better with my CPA. Beyond the sacrifices my family and I made are the rewards of a better future for us.

Study Tips & Exam Techniques

1. Practice, practice and practice – answer as many practice questions and TBSs as possible.
2. Time management and compromise – make a schedule of your review time (including weekends) and compromise with your family with regards to household chores and other duties.
3. Maximize use of idle time – whether during a lunch break, waiting at the bank or in traffic, find good use of those valuable minutes by browsing review notes or light materials.
4. Don’t get overwhelmed by the materials – the examiners cannot test you on all topics, therefore, identify which important items to memorize and for everything else, a good grasp of the concepts will be sufficient. This is where lots of practice comes in, because it reinforces your understanding of what you’ve learned.
5. Bring study notes to the exam center and arrive early – quick browsing before going inside the testing room helps to refresh your memory.
6. Save enough time for the TBS testlet (FAR, AUD, REG) or Written Communication testlet (BEC) – remember that they account for a substantial part of the overall score.
7. TBS and Authoritative Literature – for research questions (and sometimes even for non-research questions), I’ve used the “search within” functionality to narrow down the paragraph within a topic. This is a great tool especially when you already know the particular topic or section that covers the TBS.
8. Get motivated and get inspired – whether it’s your family, a special someone, a bonus or the reward of better job opportunities, focus on what motivates or inspires you to keep going.
9. Pray everyday!

– Cris S. Ortiz from Guam (FAR 94, BEC 90, AUD 99, REG 93)

Thanks to Cris for providing this great story to us. We hope you enjoyed reading about his journey as much as we did. If you missed the first part of the story, be sure to check it out to get more study advice from Cris.