A CPA Exam Success Story: Laura Driskell

My name is Laura Driskell, and this is my CPA Exam success story. I am 29 years old, single, and I live in Athens, GA. I absolutely love coaching gymnastics and cheerleading, which I grew up doing. I have been coaching for over 10 years. I did not originally want to be an accountant. I don’t think I really understood what accounting was about and didn’t really consider it being an option. My mom is a teacher, and I always wanted to be a teacher. So I went to Berry College in Mount Berry, GA and got a B.S. degree in Mathematics and a minor in Secondary Education. 

I taught high school and middle school math for two years before I realized that I didn’t want to teach for the rest of my life. 

At that point, I went to the University of North Georgia in Dahlonega, GA and got a B.B.A. in Accounting. After I graduated from UNG in 2014, I got a job with my current employer. I work for the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts in the Athens, GA regional office. I work in the Education Audit Division and we audit the financial statements of school districts, colleges, and technical colleges throughout Georgia. I knew during my time at UNG that accounting was definitely what I wanted to do, and in order to go the farthest I can in my career, I needed to become a CPA. 

My CPA journey was difficult for me, to say the least. 

I have always been an exceptional student, and I just assumed that the CPA Exam would be the same way. Surprise! It wasn’t. I started out in August of 2014 studying for FAR with the cheapest study guide I could find. I don’t think I was fully prepared for the amount of material that FAR covered, and needless to say, I did not pass the first time. I tried a different study guide for AUD in January 2015 and again, did not pass. At that point, I decided to go a different route. 

I talked to one of my friends that had passed her first section and discovered Roger CPA Review.

Once I started studying with Roger, I knew there was no other option for me. Roger made a huge difference in the way I was studying and how much I was retaining. I passed all 4 sections within 9 months. I went to work auditing all day and came home and tried to get in at least a couple of hours of studying each night. I just went through the videos one by one and did what Roger suggested – follow along in the book and answer all of the questions at least 2-3 times at the end of the chapter. 

One study technique that really helped me was going back after I finished the course and make notes on mnemonics I needed to memorize and any really important topics I was still struggling with. I would then start to take as many full-length practice tests as I could fit in before the test. I think that having those practice exams to go through and simulate the real exam really made the difference between passing and failing. 

My ultimate advice to candidates in the middle of their journey would be to keep pushing on and keep the end goal in sight.

It’s extremely easy to get bogged down in the middle and feel like there’s no end in sight, but there is light at the end of the tunnel and all your effort is definitely worth it. You will get your life back one day!

Another piece of advice: make sure you have someone – whether it’s a significant other, best friend, parent, whoever – who you can call and just completely unload your CPA Exam frustrations onto. That definitely helped me get through some of the tougher times when I failed an exam or just couldn’t possibly study another minute. Taking breaks is really important too. Every so often, take a day off and go do something fun. It won’t kill you to miss one day and it definitely helps with the frustration.

Now that I am finally done with the CPA Exam, I realize that I definitely could not have finished this CPA journey without my family and my friends.

They never complained about not getting quality time with me because I was always studying and were extremely understanding when spending time with them meant them hanging out and watching TV while I sat on the corner of the couch with my laptop, review book, and headphones in.
I can’t wait to take the next steps in obtaining my CPA license to make it official. For everyone out there who has struggled with the CPA Exam, whether that means failing a few sections or running into other obstacles, just keep at it. Remember why you’re deciding to become a CPA in the first place. The CPA Exam is a small price to pay compared to all the major benefits to come! 

–Laura Driskell

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