While moving from Nebraska to Florida, working full-time, getting married and having two children, Jacob Smith was able to pass the CPA Exam with the help of CPAexcel, perseverance and commitment. Read how he did it below.


My CPA journey started over 10 years ago on the day I began my first required Introduction to Accounting course at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. After beginning my college career in the General Studies program and then struggling through a semester in Pre-Chiropractic (Biology, Chemistry and Physics all in one semester just weren’t my cup of tea), I knew it was time to make a decision on a major. Since I had already taken a few business prerequisites, I thought I would become a Business Management major. As such, I loaded up on all business classes for the next semester, including Intro to Accounting. During the first class, I still remember one of the first things that the professor said: “Accounting is the language of business”. For some reason, that simple statement stuck with me and helped me decide to make accounting my major. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made!

During my undergraduate, I did well enough in college to carry a 3.54 GPA and I considered going into the Masters in Public Accountancy program, along with many of my friends, after graduating in December 2005 with my Accounting degree. But, for some reason I was just in a hurry to be done with school.

I was fortunate enough to find a position in the insurance industry less than a month after graduating. I really enjoyed this position and was able to advance from an Assistant to Accountant and then finally to Senior Accountant during my time there. My first direct supervisor was a CPA who had spent four years in public accounting and then decided to go into industry, becoming the financial reporting manager of our small insurance company relatively soon after her transition. I’m not sure if I was initially aware of just how important a role that her CPA license played in her success at first, but as the years went by, I became more and more aware of the fact that in order to progress in my Accounting career, I would likely need to get my CPA license.

I did the necessary research and even completed a pre-evaluation form through CPA examination services to determine where I was deficient. Thanks to some community college credit and all of my major switching early in my college tenure, it turned out that I only needed 12 credit hours, including 9 credit hours in Accounting, to qualify for the education requirement! Since Nebraska was one of the few states that required me to actually get the necessary 150 credit hours completed or in progress before sitting for the exam, I didn’t have much choice but to go back to school immediately.

So, after a few years of freedom (if you can call getting married and having two children freedom), I went back to school for the necessary credit hours. It only took a year and a half to get them completed. In the meantime, my wife and I had decided that in order for her to be able to continue to stay home with our two boys, it would be necessary to make a move. I suppose it was a bit easier since we moved away from the long Nebraska winters to somewhere a bit warmer…Florida! I was fortunate to find a great job as a Senior Accountant with another insurance company and as part of my interview process, I was so proud to be able to say that I was CPA exam qualified and that I intended to complete the exam as soon as possible. It took a year or so to get acquainted with my new position, but finally in May 2012, I officially (and finally) applied for the exam!

At first, I was a bit unsure of what study program to use, but I had two colleagues at work who were both in the process of studying. One of them was using CPAexcel and gave me a quick synopsis of the program. I really liked what I saw with CPAexcel! I was very impressed with the bite-sized lessons, online lectures (since I am a visual learner), and overall ease of navigating through the program. I ultimately decided to go with CPAexcel, made the purchase online (the free Kindle was nice!), and off I went. It was quite a time commitment, but I took my first exam, AUD, in August 2012 and with the help of CPAexcel, I was able to pass with an 88!

In the process of studying for that first exam, I was able to find a study pattern that worked very well for me and which I continued throughout all of the sections. I started each lesson by watching the lecture, then I re-reviewed and took notes on the lecture slides, and finally, depending on how comfortable I felt with the material, I usually at least scanned the study text and took the PQ’s, or if I was comfortable enough, I went straight to the EQ’s. Either way, I would always flag and make note of the questions that I had missed and tried to make sure I understood why I missed the questions before moving on to the next lesson. Just prior to each exam, I reviewed my notes for the section (at least one notebook), went over problem areas, took the simulated exam, and then finally moved onto a final review using the simulated exam results as a guide in determining where I needed more practice. Using this same process, I then moved onto REG (80), FAR (75 – whew!!) and finally BEC (81)!

I was able to pass all 4 CPA exams in 1 year + 1 day using only CPAexcel! I was so unbelievably thrilled that I just had to share my excitement. I can’t even begin to thank everyone at CPAexcel enough for providing a thorough, comprehensive, and seriously fun way to prepare for the exams. I also wanted to share my good news in order to hopefully give other users a boost of confidence that it can be done using only CPAexcel. It certainly takes a massive commitment to get through all the material; and you definitely need to know how you study best, but CPAexcel covers everything necessary to pass the exams!!!

Thanks again and I wish everyone the best of luck with CPAexcel!

Jacob Smith (FAR 75, BEC 81, AUD 88, REG 80)