Becoming a CPA: Seven Tips for Passing the CPA Exam
DeVry University alum Frank Mbunu shares his best advice on staying focused, managing stress and maximizing study time en route to the career of your dreams.
Frank Mbunu moved to the U.S. from the central African nation of Cameroon in 2005, and this country has been very good to him. A finance major in Cameroon, Mbunu began his first MBA, in accounting, at DeVry University’s Keller Graduate School of Management, Crystal City, Va. campus in 2007. While pursuing a second master’s degree at DeVry, he began taking CPA exam review classes through Becker Professional Education. He did all this while working full time doing financial analysis for the federal government. Mbunu passed the exam in late 2010 and received his CPA license in 2011. Today, he works as a consultant at a government contractor based in Arlington, Va. There, he provides internal auditing and controls consulting services to a huge federal agency. Here, in his own words, Mbunu shares his tips for becoming a CPA.
1. Stay Focused on Your End Goal
I’ve always just looked at the end result, what I really wanted to achieve. That kept me going – I need to be a CPA; I need to be a CPA. It required a lot of focus and self-discipline. If I got off work and didn’t have class, I went straight to the library to study. I would do that every day, weekends as well.
2. Refresh Yourself to Get Into Study Mode
I listened to music a lot. I’m from Africa, so most of the music I like is African music, but I also listen to hip-hop, R&B, Spanish music, jazz and reggae. When I would get off work, I’d listen to music on the 30-minute drive to the library. By then, I felt more refreshed, relaxed and ready to concentrate.
3. Don’t Skimp on Study Materials
Some students who are studying for the CPA exam don’t use the most up-to-date materials because they’re trying to save money. If you’re taking the 2013 CPA exam, get the 2013 material. That’s one of the advantages of taking the review class – they provide you with the book, the software and the most recent materials.
4. Prepare, Prepare and Prepare Again
There are four exam sections, and about 1,000 possible questions for each section. When you’re studying, make sure to review the answer to each question at least three times. Even when eating lunch at work, I’d be going through my flash cards of questions and answers.
5. Pick Good Study Partners
I had a small study group, just three people. It’s important to pick study partners who are similar to you: They have to be serious, they have to be determined, they have to be hardworking, they have to want it the same way you do. Also, they have to be reliable; if we’re going to meet at the library at five, you have to be there at five – or you need to let us know that you’re running late or you can’t make it.
6. Learn From Your Classmates
Most folks who take the CPA exam are very experienced people, so make sure to interact with them. When I was studying for the auditing section, there was a woman in my class who was originally from China. She’d been working for about 10 years, and she shared what she’d done professionally in auditing, which really helped me to understand the material. You’re going to learn a lot from your classmates. Also, don’t hesitate to ask your professors questions.
7. Have a Good Support System
On weekends, maybe Friday or Saturday night, after leaving the library I’d go out with my friends and talk and laugh. That helped relieve stress. But don’t overdo it, or you won’t have enough energy to study the next day. You should get ready to significantly reduce your personal life. My son was born in July 2010, when I was preparing for the second or third section. That was so stressful, with the sleepless nights and a full-time job. Fortunately, my significant other supported me a lot. And my mother was around; she really helped me. It was difficult, but they were there to support me. That’s so important.
When preparing to become a CPA, remember these seven CPA exam tips from Frank Mbunu.Tags: CPA Exam Tips