It was fall 2019 when I felt that I should move ahead in my professional career and wanted to do something new in my life. That was the time when I started searching on YouTube and came across some videos related to the US CPA exam. After watching this, a feeling arose that I too could pass the US CPA exams. Here I will detail my US CPA exam journey as an international applicant, which was a true roller coaster ride.
International Eligibility Hurdles
After deciding that I was going to pursue the CPA designation, I started researching the entire course, registration process, fee structure, and eligibility criteria.
The biggest challenge which every international CPA candidate faces is educational credits, selecting the appropriate state jurisdiction, and paying the entire CPA registration fee from NASBA to the State Board. I was no exception to this and started realizing the hurdles to my eligibility to just sit for the CPA exams since I had no bachelor’s degree. I did have the Chartered Accountant degree which I passed in 2014.
The NASBA educational evaluation fee was a huge burden which I was unable to bear at the time and therefore I sought the help of my wife, who helped me to pay my educational evaluation fee.
I knew I would never be able to get the eligibility to appear for CPA exams as the only educational qualification which I had (Chartered Accountant) was not recognized in most of the State Boards in the United States. But I dared myself to take the risk and applied for the educational evaluation with NIES and got 70 credits on my evaluation report.
My extensive research helped me to select the right State jurisdiction which I wanted to apply with and by the grace of God, I got the approval from California State Board to sit for the CPA exams. I was making progress little by little.
Once I got the approval with just 70 credits on my evaluation report, my next hurdle was to start preparing for the exams. Again the cost of preparations was a huge burden which I couldn’t manage to bear. So I started googling and came across many CPA review course providers who happened to be charging between $2000 to $3000.
This was definitely not going the way it was meant to be. All this led me to start googling around on the internet. Luckily I came across Surgent CPA review course which had a free trial option for a week.
After registering for a free trial, I found course materials in PDF format which was downloadable for free. Finally, I was able to get what I wanted for beginning the preparations.
Practice, Practice, Practice
The next hurdle was to practice multiple choice questions (MCQs) and Simulations for getting myself exam ready. So again I start googling and found a ton of review course providers that cost between $100 to $150 per exam. After more research, I was able to get a Ninja CPA Review subscription which charged only $67 per month per exam and subscribed for one month. So my total cost for CPA exams preparations were $268 only.
The next challenge was the COVID-19 Pandemic which not only tested the resiliency of the all the CPA candidates but the entire world. At this moment AICPA & Prometric came forward with a big announcement in April 2020. They were going to launch Uniform CPA exams in India for just two months – June 2020 & September 2020 only.
This brought an opportunity for me to take the CPA exams in India without the need to travel abroad]. So I planned to take up REG & BEC in June 2020 and FAR & AUD in September 2020.
So how did I do?
The first exam which I sat for was REG and my strategy was to practice more MCQs. I also spent time understanding the solutions of the simulations instead of solving them. It’s important to connect the exhibits with the question to answer them instead of just memorizing the answers while preparing.
So I was focused on these points while preparing for the REG and once I passed REG with a score of 91, it gave me a boost to move forward with other beasts like BEC, FAR & AUD. All my hard work paid off – I had passed with self preparations. I spent 4-5 weeks’ time on preparing for each exam section except for AUD which I prepared in just 3 weeks’ time, which really requires a lot of strategy and planning.
The prometic testing experience was just on another level. It was so difficult to wear the mask for the entire duration of the test and maintain focus on the computer screen especially while wearing my glasses.
Passing Uniform CPA exams in 6 months was a huge accomplishment for me working full time even during the pandemic. Having a consistent strategic study schedule and exam day strategies can help in achieving the desired goal within the desired timeline.
I was successful in accomplishing US CPA exams in 5 months while working full time. My scores were REG 91, BEC 92, FAR 79, AUD 75.
My tips to pass the CPA exams.
Here are some useful tips that I pursued which gave me great results. These can also help you pass in a short amount of time.
- Use study materials
- Prepare for one part in 4-5 weeks and have a daily study time schedule
- Do not spend too much time on one topic
- Spend enough time with MCQs (1-2 weeks, 500 MCQ per day)
- Take down notes on incorrectly solved MCQ
- Look for weak areas
- Look for SIMS solutions
- Activate AICPA Authoritative literature access
- Practice Research SIMS (can help to save 20 minutes on exam day)
- Utilize AICPA sample tests
- Practice previous years exam questions
- Consistency is the key to pass
I also joined various CPA groups on Facebook and the best part was I realized most of the candidates were able to pass it within four to six months’ time. This gave me the idea that I can also pass the exams in a short span of time.
Passing was a huge accomplishment for me.
It is important to maintain the consistency for passing the exams in a short span of time. With these strategies I was able to pass my CPA exams during the COVID-19 pandemic within five months. This was a huge accomplishment for me – it was a big dream which I never thought that I would be able to do achieve.
Now, after passing the US CPA exams, I look forward to taking up my CPA license with the California Board of Accountancy and start a public practice in the United States.
Are you also studying for the CPA exams? Be sure to check out our CPA prep resources here. Another great way to help you pass is my hiring a private CPA tutor. Interested in learning more? Enter your information below.