My CPA Exam Journey: Allison Sanford


As the last CPA Exam testing window of 2015 came to a close yesterday, we thought it would be fitting to share with all of you another student success story. Meet Allison Sanford. After committing herself to a 6 month timeline and a couple of failed CPA Exam sections, she finally passed all sections of her CPA Exam last month. Read on to learn more about her CPA Exam journey and what helped her along the way. 

My name is Allison Sanford, and I’m from Birmingham, Alabama.

I’m a proud alumnus of the University o Alabama where I obtained my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Accounting. Upon graduation, I did what every Accounting graduate is told to do: I went into public accounting. I put in my two years, before deciding to make a change… or three. I dabbled in Internal Audit, I explored the logistics industry, and I finally landed in my current position working for a Real Estate Development company.

There was one question that kept rearing its ugly head: “Why don’t you have your license?” 

My employers wanted to know why I hadn’t passed the exam, and if I’m being honest, it’s a question that I asked myself. I sat for the exam during graduate school and into my first year of work, but that’s about all I did; I sat for the exam. I didn’t devote time to actually study. I’m not sure why I thought it was a good idea to throw money at a test that I didn’t properly prepare for, but I couldn’t discipline myself enough to put in the time and effort required to pass.

A little over a year into my current job, I got pregnant.

Unfortunately, I ended up with an ectopic pregnancy that lead to an emergency surgery in February of this year where I lost the pregnancy. Shortly after my recovery, I realized that for me, it was now or never. If I ever wanted to become a CPA, I would need to do it before starting a family. So, in March I purchased my Roger CPA study materials, and I made a plan to pass the test in six months.

I knew I had to commit to a routine.

If I gave myself any option when it came to studying or doing something else, I would always pick the “something else”. So, I decided that I’d get to work an hour early every day, then I would study for an additional two hours before bed each night. No excuses. I sat for FAR in April, and a few weeks later, I got my score… a big fat 74. Talk about a slap in the face. I was so disappointed, but I had already started studying for BEC, so I kept to my study schedule, and I sat for BEC in May. Feeling the mounting pressure of possibly failing my second test, I went online to check that score; I made a 71. To be honest, I started to wonder if I could really do this.

I knew I had to change my study habits.

I decided that I wasn’t giving myself enough time to review all of the material before taking the exam, so I adjusted my study timeline. I watched all of the videos, read the book, and did all of the questions for the various chapters, then I gave myself a week to review before the test. In July, I sat for REG, and when I got my score, I was beyond excited to see that 81 (actually, it was 1am, so I had to look at my iPad several times to ensure that it wasn’t actually a 61). After that, I managed to retake and pass BEC with an 81, pass AUD with an 82, and in October, I finally passed FAR with a 78 (best “C” I ever got!).

Ultimately, the CPA exam is truly a test of discipline.

If you put in the time, you will pass (which is exactly what Roger preaches). I encourage anyone considering the exam to do it; make it a priority in your life. I’m so very thankful to have the exam behind me, and I could not have done it without the encouragement of coworkers and friends, the patience and reassurance that my husband never ran short of, and the grace, provision, and love of my heavenly Father.

–Allison Sanford

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