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Starting the CPA Exam with Guest Blogger Stephanie Chin

Starting the CPA Exam with guest blogger Stephanie Chin

Meet our guest blogger, Stephanie Chin! Stephanie is a public accountant and current CPA candidate. When she’s not studying, she likes to procrastinate by hiking and finding new desserts to bake.

Ever since I started working in public accounting, the CPA has been a huge hurdle hanging over my head. As a first year associate, my seniors would come to me and check in with me to make sure I was on track to take the test. At the firm I worked at, it was a requirement to have your CPA before getting promoted to manager, and it was much easier to take it earlier on than it was to wait. However, busy season after busy season passed, and I couldn’t seem to find the time to take it. I scheduled myself for an exam, only to have a client deadline pushed onto my plate, and I prioritized my work schedule over studying.

Naturally, I failed.

When I left public accounting for a job at a startup, I asked, when I was interviewing, if I would need my CPA, and they said no. I rejoiced and threw out all my test prep material.

Unfortunately in May, I was furloughed from my job due to COVID, much like many others around the nation. As I started to look at my options for my future, as well as other jobs, I realized what a huge asset the CPA was.

This, along with a new wealth of free time, convinced me that it was finally time for me to earn my CPA.

The fact is, not having a CPA doesn’t necessarily mean that you aren’t accomplished or smart— some of the greatest seniors I worked with didn’t have their CPA simply because they never made the time. But having that exam under your belt not only shows prospective employers that you are smart enough to pass the test, it also shows internal motivation and a dedication to accounting.

I decided to go with Gleim because I found the other review courses overwhelming and overly verbose. I wanted the material in layman’s terms—something that was easily digestible and broken down in a way I could understand.

I’m starting with the REG test because I come from a tax background, so I have the highest chance of passing it. And once I pass a test (any test), the clock starts, so I’ll be forced to put my head down and study for the rest. In addition, the REG exam is changing in October to accommodate for the CARES act, so I’ve scheduled my test before then.

Starting to study has definitely been rough, as it’s been a few years since I’ve been in school. I’ve forgotten how to study, but the study planner deadlines have definitely been helpful. I love the study planner, because not only does it break the studying into smaller deadlines, it also asks for how many hours you think you can study on each day of the week. In addition, the planner factors in blackout study dates, which is fantastic as it allows you to fit your studying into your lifestyle. I even have text reminders sent to my phone to remind me whenever I have a unit due!

Luckily, starting with REG means that some of the material is familiar to me, which is always a relief. The year and a half I spent working in tax at a Big 4 prepared me well for the material. And after having so much free time since I’ve been furloughed, it’s a nice change of pace to be doing something productive, as opposed to binging Netflix and baking sourdough bread.

I’m not sure what’s next in store, but I’m just taking it one study unit at a time.

We’ll be following Stephanie’s journey on her way to become a CPA. If you’re ready to get started with your own CPA journey, check out our free CPA Exam Guide.