CPA Exam Success Story: Kendra Johnson

Hi, I’m Kendra. I’ve lived in the Bay Area nearly all my life. I graduated from San Jose State University in 2014 with a Bachelor’s degree in Business. I had been an accounting major for about a semester until I found out the education requirements for the CPA Exam were changing from 120 units to 150 and I thought “Yeah, that’s just not going to work for me. Why would I want to be in college for 5 years?” Not long after graduating I realized I hadn’t made the smartest decision for myself. I wanted a career, one that I enjoyed; one that would challenge me. In May of 2015, I decided to quit my job (which I hated) and go back to school to get the rest of my accounting units so I could sit for the CPA Exam. 

I started the Certificate of Advanced Accounting Proficiency Program at Santa Clara University in June of 2015.

The CAAP summer program is 14 weeks long and comprised of 8 accounting courses. The website reads “This is an intensive course and it is suggested that students do not have work and minimize other extracurricular activities while enrolled.” Subtext – you will not have a life for the next 14 weeks. I knew this would be a big commitment but I wanted it. 

There were numerous events held for the CAAP students in which we were able to interact with people from various accounting firms prior to “Meet the Firms” at the close of the program.

Some of the questions I asked people were about the CPA Exam: had they taken it? What was their experience with it? I quickly realized passing the CPA exam while working full time was extremely difficult and I commend anyone who has done it. About halfway through CAAP, I realized I needed to make a decision: When the program ends in September did I want to immediately start working or get a job starting Fall of 2016 and spend the time in between tackling the thing I had come to fear, the CPA Exam? I went with the latter. I secured a job starting in November of 2016. Now there was only one thing left to do: pass the CPA Exam before work begins. 

It was now November 2015 and I said to myself “I am now in a committed relationship with Roger Phillipp.”

I had already given up my social life for 3 and a half months, how could another 6 months hurt, right? Rog didn’t know it, but he was my new best friend and I was now going to dedicate all of my time to him. I wanted to pass the CPA Exam and I knew that Roger could help me do it. My “relationship” with Roger also made things pretty funny at home. Instead of my family always asking “How’s studying going?” which can get really old, they’d ask “How’s Roger? When do we get to meet him?” and I would complain, “He’s so needy. He just wants to sit and talk about derivatives all day!”

I took BEC on November 29th, REG on January 28th, AUD on February 29th and FAR on May 13th. I broke up with Roger on May 24th because I PASSED THE CPA EXAM!!!

My advice for you: Don’t be as afraid of the CPA Exam as I was.

The hardest part is putting in the time to study. The second hardest is waiting for your scores to be released; it’s torture. I understand that not everyone has the luxury of not working while studying for the CPA Exam but if you do, even for only 2-3 months, STUDY!!!! 

Roger always says “If you study, you will pass!” This is completely true. 

Before I began studying I mapped out my entire plan for the next 6 months.

I used the 6 month study planner and tweaked it to my needs/wants. This was extremely important to my success. Having my game plan held me accountable, I knew what lectures I needed to complete each day and I also planned a few flex mental health days so if there was ever a day I really needed a break I could take it and not have to postpone my exams. I took small breaks in between exams when I could fit them in but in total I studied Monday-Friday for 5 months. If I hadn’t had as detailed of a plan I easily could have fallen behind.

I don’t know if anyone ever feels completely ready for any part of the exam (I know I didn’t).

It would have been easy to say ,”I think I need some more time to go over this one section a few more times,” but spending too much time isn’t necessarily good either. The longer you spend studying the more likely you are to forget the things you covered at the beginning of the course. REG and FAR take more time to study for so don’t forget to go back and review some of the earlier sections as you go.

I was the one that wanted to pass the CPA exam before I started work in the Fall of 2016.

I was determined and motivated and you really need to be in order to spend all of your time studying but Roger makes it more fun than anyone else! Remember why you are doing this and don’t doubt yourself!

–Kendra Johnson, Guest Blogger for Roger CPA Review

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