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Candidate Spotlight: Florence Nkeiru Obijiofor

EA Candidate Spotlight: Florence Nkeiru Obijiofor - Passing during a global pandemic

Florence Obijiofor recently earned her Enrolled Agent designation after five months of intense study. As a working mom, she had to sacrifice much of her free time in order to achieve her goals, but the end result was worth the effort!

I decided to pursue the EA to acquire good knowledge and understanding of the U.S. tax system and to fulfill my dreams of becoming a tax practitioner in the United States.

As a working mother, studying for the EA exam was multi-tasking. At some points, there was no social life or luxury time. However, it was all worth it to work hard and achieve that goal, as it gave me a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment.

Florence learned to balance her family, her work, and studying during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to the ordinary hurdles, Prometric Test Centers around the world began to close for safety reasons, and the IRS delayed opening the current window from May to June. In spite of this, Florence was able to persevere and achieve her goals! We asked Florence to share her story to help other EA candidates pass their exams.

Studying had its unique challenges

While many EA candidates take closer to 9-12 months to pass the EA exam, it’s not unheard of to pass the EA exam in 6 months or less, like Florence did. She passed her first exam, in February, right before the test centers closed for tax season, squeezing it in before most of the country went into lockdown.

While social distancing does help candidates find more time to study, it also presents new obstacles, which Florence quickly discovered.

Florence Obijiofor studying for the EA exam

The COVID-19 pandemic affected most of my plans. During my studies, the library and most places I used to study were closed due to COVID. Then I used my apartment facility that was more like a studying room. However, when they closed for the day, I was left with no option other than to move to the pool/game room to continue with my study. It was usually very noisy and crowded there so I put on my headphones to reduce noise and help me concentrate. I was determined to study and pass within the shortest possible timeframe despite the COVID challenge.

Also, I studied without any idea of when to schedule and sit for the exam because all the exam centers in my state were closed for months for safety reasons. After my prep for Part 2, I waited for more than a month, hoping to find an exam center as I searched the Prometric website almost on a daily basis to see if centers were opening. That did not happen soon enough in my state, so I traveled to another state to sit for the exam. It was hectic, and it was unexpected, but it did not matter afterwards because I passed!

Fortunately for Florence, she didn’t have to try to handle all of this alone. Every step of the way, she had help and support from those around her.

Getting help with studying

While her responsibilities to her family were demanding, they motivated her to study and work hard so she could provide more for them. Florence’s husband also works full time but understood why she was taking the time to get her certification and further her career.

My husband especially was of great support. Most weekends he relieved me of the household chores and babysitting so I could have more time to study. I usually look for a conducive place to study outside the house to avoid distraction from my kids.

Florence also used the tips provided in the book, videos, and audios. When she was getting stuck on a concept, she sought the help of her Personal Counselor.

Most times I saw myself going through the Gleim review book over and over to practice, retain more, and understand the topics better. Then I knew I needed a better plan, and using the Gleim study planner really helped. Also, my personal counselor was of great assistance because she referred me to other Gleim resources that I needed to overcome and excel.

With her great care in preparation, Florence passed EA Part 1 on the first try. Because of the study strategies she developed, she found Part 1 to be the toughest while Part 2 was the easiest. To ease her nerves and keep herself on track as she studied the remaining two parts, she wrote a guide to remind herself what to expect going into the exams.

Gleim recommends EA candidates take the exam in order (Part 1, then 2, then 3) to make it easier for them, just as Florence did. Starting with an easier part helps candidates learn study strategies and focus on the nuances of the exam rather than learning new material.

Advice for others sitting for the exam

Most EA candidates find Part 2 to be the toughest, so we asked Florence if she had any tips she wanted to share with other EA candidates.

[From Part 1] I learned from the structure of the exam questions and gained more confidence. […] Part 2 was the easiest because by then I knew it was not all about memorizing questions/answers and getting high scores in the Gleim question bank but to put more work and time in understanding each topic in the Gleim review course, including terms, forms, and formulas and their applications.

Of course, candidates need to pass all three parts of the exam. Usually the hardest part of studying is keeping up with a study routine. Florence shared her insights with us on how she overcame this hurdle.

My advice to EA exam candidates is to prioritize your needs; focus and maximize your time during the EA exam prep and the actual exam. Social media and other little distractions that can wait should wait! An extra minute channeled into studying can save a lot.

Also, follow and maintain the Gleim studying pattern and guide. Maximize the use of the videos and audio provided. You can be listening to the audio books even when you are doing something else. Make a summarized note while studying and focus on those points, term, and formulas that seem hard to comprehend. Finally, rest well before the exam and be confident on the exam day.

Florence’s accomplishment shows that passing the EA exam is doable even with unexpected obstacles. Having a great study plan and support network will help you achieve your goals, and with an all-in-one review system, there’s nothing to stop you!

Emboldened by passing the EA exam, Florence plans on tackling her CPA next, and we’ll be happy to help her once again achieve her goals! We’re rooting for you, Florence!

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