Embrace The CPA Exam Process


Hi. My name is Michael Griffith and this is my CPA Exam success story. 

I’m originally from Columbus, Ohio, but lived in New York City for 5 years and moved to Oakland, CA thereafter. I’ve now been living in Oakland and working in San Francisco for the past five years where my hobbies include working out, investing, learning Japanese, and being an emcee. I currently work for MUFG Union Bank, N.A. as the Assistant Vice President/Technical Accountant. 

I went to The Ohio State University where I graduated with a degree in finance.

Oddly enough, I knew I wanted to become a CPA when I saw Chris Tucker get into trouble with the IRS. I thought to myself, “I need to get my CPA license and get into a position where I can help people like that with their taxes.” 

However, it was always just something I thought about and never actually put into action.

I had put off the CPA Exam my whole career just due to life factors that prevented me from really buckling down and getting into it. 

When my friends would try to send me Accounting-related business, I would embarrassingly reply, “Unfortunately, I’m not a CPA.” Honestly, that really put me over the edge. So I started studying for my first exam in September 2015. 

The largest obstacle I faced while studying for the exam was managing my dating life.

I actually failed the first time because of it. The problem with meeting new people is that they’re going to want to spend lots of time getting to know you, and “Sorry, I have to study this weekend” isn’t going to cut it with most people. Of course, if you’re already involved with someone before you start studying, you’ll be fine. But it’s difficult to not be selfish with each other’s time when you meet someone new and are interested in pursuing a relationship. Obviously, this was not the right time for me to be doing that. So I quit dating in order to focus.

And, of course, it worked like a charm.

By putting in all of my time, energy, and effort, I finally passed the CPA Exam in November of 2016. But it was indeed a process. Like Roger says, “If you study, you will pass.” It’s honestly not an impossible exam; it’s just one that requires a lot of focus and dedication. 

For every section, I watched all of the lectures, read through the book, and then re-read the parts that weren’t quite sticking. I also did every practice question, making sure to get the questions I haven’t seen before. I did this a lot instead of doing the practice exams. I then jotted down the sections that I couldn’t seem to get right and went over those parts in the book. I made my brain embrace the information until I understood the concepts completely. 

But the best study tip that I’ve learned from my experience is to really just enjoy the process.

This is key. If you come home from work dreading your studies, that sets the tone for the rest of the evening. If you wake up on a Saturday morning dreading your studies, that sets the tone for the rest of the day and the entire weekend. If you really want to become a CPA, you just have to realize that studying for this exam is something you have to get through. And it will make you become a better CPA because of all the knowledge you gain. If you don’t embrace the process, it will all be for nothing.

But having a great review course is also key. Roger is hilarious and extremely enjoyable to watch and listen to. Whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed or bogged down, you will come across parts of lectures that make you laugh out loud. His course really reminds you that you can do it and why you went in this direction in the first place. Accounting can be fun, and if you embrace the journey, the CPA Exam isn’t all that bad. 

My last piece of advice is to keep a good study/life balance.

Don’t stop working out, interacting with your friends and family, reading books, watching football, or whatever it is that you like to do. As long as you don’t get sidetracked, incorporating activities that you enjoy doing will help keep you sane and make obtaining your license that much more satisfying. 

–Michael Griffith 

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