Category Archives: CPA Exam

Applying for the CPA

Almost all of us in the MPA program would probably end up taking the CPA exams at one point or another — some of us sooner while others later.

My experience taking the CPA for the very first time was nothing short of exhausting. However, I figured that the following tips would be applicable to all of taking the CPAs soon or later:

  1. Apply early. The Board of Accountancy can take a few weeks to process your application. It is fine to start your application even before your Bachelor’s completion shows up on your transcript, because they will need to process your data before doing anything else.
  2. Apply for review courses. I used Becker, and they were nothing but helpful to preparing me for the CPA. The courses are long, and workload is tremendous, but I can assure you that it will all be worth it.
  3. Select your dates as soon as you can. When you finally receive your Notice to Schedule, remember to do so ASAP!! The good days and times will run out in a heartbeat. Who would want to be stuck in peak hour traffic right before the exam?
  4. Do not procrastinate. Preparing for the CPA requires a minimum of 15 hours per module (a minimum of 5 modules per exam). So it is in your best interest to get them all done in steps, rather than cramming 75 hours worth of work in a few days.

With all that said, to all of you taking the CPAs. Good luck!


Musings of a to-be-CPA

cpaAll I can say so far about being a 5th-year MPA in her final spring semester is that studying for the CPA is hard. All I think about is accounting, which can start to take a toll on your sanity. In an effort to make light of a somewhat overwhelming situation, I am attempting a number of techniques to make studying more fun. The first one of which is to try a technique one of my previously graduated friends has pioneered: CPA-related poetry. This isn’t so much a blog post as me sharing the various modifications of famous poems to reflect the joy of CPA studying. I plan on posting other posts that will document the other techniques to make CPA studying more fun and enjoyable.

CPA and Graduation (a modified version of Fire and Ice by Robert Frost)
Some say the world will end with CPA,
Some say with graduation.
From what I’ve tasted of MPA,
I hold with those who favor CPA.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I love UT enough
To say the pain commencement brings
Is also great,
And would suffice.

A CPA’s Siren Call to Accounting Students (an adaptation of a Shel Silverstein quote)
If you are an accountant, come study
If you have studied some financial, some cost, some tax
Are able to hold off PCAOB and IRS attacks
If you’re a bean-counter, come sit and relax
For we have some accrual tales to spin, my buddy
Come study!
Come study!

Top 5 Perks to Being on Campus Early

Two years in a row, I’ve found myself on a deserted campus a few weeks before the semester starts. Last year, it was for pre-internship classes that started on January 2. This year, once I got nice and smug about the idea that as a 5th-year, I was off the hook for starting classes early, I found out that to catch the first class for the on-campus CPA exam review, I had to be here on January 2…again.

After my initial grumblings about cutting my stay at home a little short, I made it back to campus and realized that being here before school starts is actually not that bad, as long as you know where to look for the silver linings. Funny thing is, since school started back up I have noticed these perks are applicable to early mornings too.

Top 5 Perks to Being on Campus Early
5. Fewer Distractions – It’s always a bummer to be back in Austin when nobody else is here, but the flip side is that there are significantly fewer distractions. Hopefully that serves me well this year and lets me get a head start on this CPA exam prep!

4. Solidarity – Since lots of MPAs are here and pretty much nobody else is, it’s a great chance to get to know other people in the program when you all have more free time. Whether it’s working on a group project or grabbing something to eat, you can revel in the solidarity that comes from getting an early start to the semester.

3. Peace and Quiet – Okay, so admittedly, I typically enjoy walking around and seeing a million things going around on campus, but a calm, quiet walk through campus is pretty nice once in a while, especially when I’m not quite ready for the chaos that this semester is sure to bring.

2. Open study spots – Whether you like to study at the business school, the library, or at a coffee shop, everywhere is less crowded before the flood of students hits the campus. It makes those golden study spots (like an empty table at my favorite coffee shop) a breeze to find.

And probably the single greatest thing about being on campus early…

1. Parking – No matter what time I need to drive to campus, I can always find a pay-to-park spot or permit parking pretty close to where I need to be (a welcome relief, since the buses aren’t running yet). Just be careful that it doesn’t make you even more frustrated when you can’t find parking spots in a few weeks.

So if you find yourself forced into coming to campus early, make the most of it! Scope out some good study spots, take a quiet walk through campus, and use the chance to be productive!

Preparing to Prepare for the CPA Exam

From my very first semester in the MPA program, the importance of preparing for the CPA Exam has been drilled into my mind. As a 5th-year student in the integrated program, I plan to take the exam in the spring. What I never realized, though, was how much preparation is involved before I can even begin studying.

The first step I took this semester was to submit my Application of Intent to the TSBPA. I knew about all of the eligibility requirements to take the exam, but the list of documents I had to submit was longer than I expected:

  • The application itself
  • A $50 application fee
  • Transcripts from every college I’ve ever attended
  • Notarized copies of my driver’s license and social security card
  • Various other notarized forms

Now that my application is submitted (albeit with several deficiencies to clear before I can sit for the exam), I’m starting to look at CPA Exam review courses. The firm I’m going to work for provides a few options for review courses they will pay for, so I started reviewing comparisons of the course materials, lecture styles, pass rates, etc., but nobody seems to agree on which course is best.

Last week, I attended an information session with the academic advisors, which helped to clarify exam requirements, testing periods, fees, and all the other things I need to juggle before sitting for the exam. There were also representatives there to tell us about the CPA review course that will be offered on campus next spring. After going through about 12 handouts full of information, I’m feeling a lot better about managing all the things I need to do.

The next step (after I get my bachelors degree in December and clear my application deficiencies) will be to schedule my exams and actually start studying! It’s exciting, but also pretty intimidating. My review course materials are on their way, so here’s to a spring semester jam-packed with caffeine and exam prep!

CPA Exam Update + More

As the semester is quickly coming to a close, I thought I would give another CPA exam update and describe the end of the semester.

So I took my first section of the CPA exam, and I won’t sugar coat it – it went pretty badly.  It was my first section and it definitely helped me learn what I did well and what I didn’t do well.  I definitely need to change my study method for the next one.  Doing more practice questions is key, as I concentrated more on learning the material than practicing questions.  I also need to realize that the tests are pretty hard and requires probably more studying than I put into it.  For the next section, I plan on doing more practice questions throughout my studying to make sure I am on track and that I don’t feel as unprepared on the day of the test as I did for this one. Continue reading CPA Exam Update + More