Anyone Here Taking/Has Taken the CPA?

Hi all,

I was wondering if anyone here has taken or is in the process of taking the CPA exam. Basically, I need help planning out my sections and how I should tackle them. I will have roughly 3 months in the summer to take some tests. My goal is to take 3 over the summer and then take 1 (hopefully easier section) while working.

The only thing I'm sure about is that FAR and REG will be taken during the summer. I've heard that these two are the most intense and I feel it'd be better to do them early while I have nothing better to do and get them out of the way. What I'm struggling with is whether to take Audit or BEC while working. I feel BEC would be pretty easy since I have a finance background, but others have said that Audit isn't too bad to take while working and that the work I'd be doing would help me learn it anyway. The overall goal is to structure it so that I can knock out the last section as painlessly as possible while working potentially crazy hours.

Has anyone taken anything while working or otherwise still have suggestions on what the best plan of attack should be?

Thanks in advance!

Comments (29)

Mar 14, 2014

I took the CPA exams the summer before I headed to public accounting (took an early fall start date)- I was able to take all 4 in the July/Aug window, but I definitely agree with you that. I don't work in public accounting anymore but spent a couple years there and would say AUD is probably the easiest exam, especially since the work will help with the exam. REG/FAR are the hardest so I would knock those out asap.

Just my $.02. Good luck.

Mar 14, 2014

I took BEC back in 2010 before they moved the free response to that section and it was by far the easiest, but could be different now. I thought AUD and REG were going to be the hardest for me, so I probably prepared the best for them. I was a little overconfident with FAR, I didn't prepare enough for the governmental and fund accounting parts. I would say that none of them are that hard compared to the CFA exams.

Mar 14, 2014

It's all relative to you. I had an undergrad and grad degree in accounting, which primarily focus on FAR-type materials. When I got the study materials I was worried because of the sheer volume of content. I made the decision to only do a quick overview on the governmental stuff and the study the rest.

After a few weeks of studying I realized that I was pretty good on that section. I took FAR with the least amount of preparation and got my highest score.

If you're saving one for when you're working save what you think will be most interesting to you (or your best strength). I found BEC to be most interesting and I actually learned a little more studying for that, so if I were in your shoes I'd leave BEC until I was working.

twitter: @CorpFin_Guy

Mar 14, 2014

I'm in a similar situation, except I'm going into tax instead of audit, so for me AUD is probably going to be the worst test. I'd say (IMO) ordered hardest to easiest, it's AUD/REG > FAR > BEC. I plan to take about one a month before I start, taking BEC when I'm working. Thankfully tax season doesn't ramp up until Dec, and Sept/Oct is the only little bump. I would say your plan is a good one, bang out the ones you think you can get done, and save the easy one(s) (BEC and in your case maybe AUD) till the end.

Mar 14, 2014

Uhm...are you in accounting?

Mar 14, 2014

quit the cpa and take cfa

Mar 14, 2014

I'm in the process of obtaining a cpa. I've got the masters from a good school - i understand all the financial bs on the cpa (and have passed that section) just need to memorize some of the bs on somne other sections.

Mar 14, 2014

I plan on taking it before MBA. I checked the wiley notes for it, 3,000 pages. Seems miserable...

So you're on the second exam?

Mar 14, 2014

CPA here. Having the accounting stuff nailed also helped on the CFA tremendously (I believe acct. is where many people really struggle on the CFA). That said, CPA/CFA combo has not helped me move from public accounting, so I am attending business school to make my transition into IB/other corporate finance.

Mar 14, 2014

It's all about how you sell your experience. Play down the ticking and tying of invoices and play up the modeling, powerpoint, and client-serving skillsets. However, you need to have been good enough to go straight to banking out of undergrad (which I was) and have a DAMN GOOD story about why you didn't go straight to banking. If you can get past those hurdles you will still have to spend about a LOT of time looking (think close to 1 year) but it will work out.

FYI: CPA's with industry specializations (e.g. Oil & Gas, etc.) can get Equity Research jobs easier than corporate finance jobs. Either way the key is to get out of Big 4,and your CPA experience better be Big 4 btw, within 3.5 years. Otherwise you're seen as too expensive to hire.

Mar 14, 2014

capitan del banco, what was your strategy to get in as an auditor?

Mar 14, 2014

How much is seen as too much? If you had 5 years of audit experience at a Big 4 with a CPA and then decided to do an MBA would that just be too much non-related exp?

I guess they prefer Associates to be younger.

Mar 14, 2014

hmm.

Mar 14, 2014

VP-aged ex-auditors trying to move into banking are a tricky situation for hiring of associate positions.

The main problem is with 5 years or more of audit experience you can actually effectively negotiate salaries at this level and it would be frankly cheaper to get some lackedy douche from an top MBA factory.

Not only that, but veteran auditors are potentially signing up for a position where they would probably get much less hourly wages (with bonuses) relative to the inhumane banking hours than if they stayed with their firm, undoing five years of hard work and experience. Not a potentially loyal employee.

And the last question makes no sense. An auditor with 5 years work experience (and probably a promotion) with a CPA would most likely not study accounting again as an MBA.....

Mar 14, 2014

Basically you can say that as an auditor you gain a greater understanding of accounting/financial information than you would in any other position.

You need to find your own angle on that story, but I'm sure you can pull something together. Selling it is the hard part.

Mar 14, 2014

Yea, I think if you had a CPA/CFA and do an MBA from a TOP 20-25 school, you should be able to get interviews at most ibanks ...then its upto you and how well you interview, personality e.t.c

Mar 14, 2014

try top 10 MBA. That's a little more realistic.

so you got into banking through auditing w/o MBA? Did you apply via personal contacts?

What department did you end up in?

And, just curious, how many hours of studying did it take you to clear the CPA?

Mar 14, 2014
Mar 14, 2014

it will definitely make you more marketable, but studying for it is a bitch

Mar 14, 2014

My advice would be to look for a job the Fall before you graduate since I think that's when the Big 4 recruit (or at least that's what they did years ago when I recruited). Plus it's much, much easier if they recruit at your school (I have no idea if they do at Rutgers). Once you (hopefully) land a job, you probably won't need to start until the following summer or fall. That gives you half a year to get the CPA out of the way, if that's what you're worried about.

Mar 14, 2014
kjl:

My advice would be to look for a job the Fall before you graduate since I think that's when the Big 4 recruit (or at least that's what they did years ago when I recruited). Plus it's much, much easier if they recruit at your school (I have no idea if they do at Rutgers). Once you (hopefully) land a job, you probably won't need to start until the following summer or fall. That gives you half a year to get the CPA out of the way, if that's what you're worried about.

^^ Great advice, however if you wait until your start date to buy your cpa materials you can get reimbursed like 5K. Talk to your recruiter and ask if they'll reimburse you before your start date and you can start then. You now need a masters to get a cpa license (or 150 credit hours of school or something). Check with your states board of accountancy and figure that out because even if you pass you won't be licensed until you meet the work experience and education requirements. Also, you cant sit for the exam until you graduate school. You need to send them documents from your university proving that you graduated and some other nonsense before you are allowed to sit for the exam. You can study as much as you want but you won't be able to sit. Its been a while for me but speak to your professors or deans of accounting and they should be able to point you in the right direction. Good luck.

To reiterate what the guy above me said, they hire the fall of your senior year. Any questions pm me and hopefully I can help you out.

Mar 14, 2014

If you actually learn by reading and not by listening, use the virtual textbook within Becker. The pages have the parts highlighted that the lecturer would have told you to highlight, so focus on those parts (but read everything). Try that approach and see how you do on the homework questions. If you're scoring below 70%, you definitely need to start listening to the lectures. While they are annoying, they are a useful way to get a general idea of the important parts of each chapter - Becker does a pretty good job of focusing on what the exams focus on.

Mar 14, 2014
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Mar 14, 2014