CPA Hot Topics – Get Back on the Horse

Garrett Gleim sends CPA candidates bimonthly emails concerning different aspects of the CPA exam. Candidates can see the most recent email and all the archives here on the CPA Candidate Forum.

I recently went horseback riding with a horse trainer and his 11-year-old son. While we rode, the horse trainer said that, in his experience, as long as you ride horses, you’re going to fall off at some point in time. The people who enjoy riding horses are the type of people who are willing to get right back on a horse after falling off. In contrast, people who don’t immediately get back on a horse after falling off either never ride again or never really enjoy horseback riding. The horse trainer provided an example where, a few years ago, his son fell off of his horse twice but got back on the horse each time and still enjoys riding. In contrast, the horse trainer’s 12-year-old nephew also fell off a horse once when he was younger and refuses to ride horses to this day.

The process of studying and taking the CPA exam can be similar to riding horses. At some point, you are going to come across material that is difficult to master, such as accounting for pensions or derivatives. You may take some 20-question quizzes and score below 50 percent or even as low as 20 percent. You can’t let it bother you. Rather, you need to “get back on the horse” and keep studying.

I have come across many CPA candidates who have quit studying and aspiring to be a CPA because a topic was too frustrating for them. The logic is that they can’t understand topic “X,” so they won’t be able to pass the CPA exam. This thinking is nonsense; you will probably only see a couple of questions from certain difficult topics, such as leases or combinations, because the AICPA needs to test you on many topics. Thus, you can’t let a topic or two dissuade you from continuing to study. You want to become a CPA and therefore, as frustrating as studying some topics may be, you need to fight through and understand the material enough to pass the CPA exam.

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-Garrett Gleim