Can I Pass with CPA Exam for Dummies?

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From the mailbag, “Can I Pass with the CPA Exam for Dummies?”:

Hi Andrew,

I recently ran across your article “10 Facts About Passing the CPA Exam” and found it very interesting.

Here is my situation:

I have been contemplating taking the CPA exam but I have reservations.  I completed school a while ago, have a family to take care of, have a full time and part time job.  I have doubts about going this route due to cost, time involved and hearing the horror stories however I have over 20 years of accounting experience and feel I need to do something to move my career forward and make more money.

My dilemma is I don’t know where to start this process.  I feel though I have hands on experience I have been out of school for so long that I will have to take refresher courses before I can even get to where I need to be to start the gruesome studying needed to pass these exams.  I went looking for the book CPA exam for dummies yesterday in my local bookstores, but no luck as of yet.  Any feedback you can provide would be grateful as it would help me to make this final decision.

Thanks and looking forward to your response.

The important thing you remember is that the CPA Exam is the beast.

If you try to complete the exam, it’s no small task.

So how do you do it?

You take it seriously. If you aren’t able or willing to take it seriously, don’t do it.

What does taking it seriously entail?

Two things:

Investing in the tools to succeed. Searching the books store for a CPA exam for dummies is ironic. If you plan on passing the CPA exam without a full CPA review course, you might as well not even try. Even if you just graduated 2 months ago, I would recommend you buy Roger CPA Review. After not being in school for many years, it’s almost impossible to pass the CPA exam without a full CPA Review course.

Organizing your life to appropriately prepare. Once you have the right tools, now you need to use them. There are really two schools of thought about the amount of time it takes to pass:

  1. Study a little for long periods of time
  2. Study a ton for short periods of time

I am 100% behind option #2.

Fact: You going to fail at least 1 section if not multiple.

The good news about failing is that once you accept it, you can plan on it. Try to pass as quickly as possible, once you fail, it’s not a problem. You planned on this and built extra time into your “pass plan” to re-take one or more exams.

If you told you I was going to build an IT system for a company and we had zero time built into the budget for disasters or setbacks, I would certainly be setting myself up for failure. The CPA exam is no different.

Plan to fail, it won’t stress you out as much.

But the point of this article is that this is serious.

Take it seriously or don’t get started.

It will waste your time and destroy your life unless you take this bull by the horns!