The changes to the 2017 CPA Exam brought about challenges and adversity. The new structure aims to help new accountants apply their knowledge to the modern professional world, but the shakeup has left CPA students to navigate a new frontier. Being among the first wave was a difficult task for many.
The good news for 2018 is now we still have the blueprints, we've walked through the new structure for a year, and we better know testing flow and strategy. The effect the new exam structure is having and an accurate understanding of the pass rate is still unknown. The good news is some things are the same as always. You'll still sit for a section of the CPA Exam for the first time. You'll feel out the test, you may pass or not, but as long as you don't give up and do continue to grind away, your goal to become a CPA will come.
But what does it take not to give up, to thrive, and to attain the coveted title of CPA? We've taken note of a few qualities of mentally strong CPA's who've made it through success and failure.
When taking a test made up of four parts you will experience highs and lows, 'aha' moments and times you are questioning if it is all worth it. You can't get caught up in either extreme. The longevity of taking the CPA Exam is a mental gauntlet. Great CPA students find a way to take that mental roller coaster and flatten it out. They don't get cocky or take it easy after passing the first section with flying colors. That 92 doesn't mean a 68 on the second isn't possible. Taking a little time after passing to celebrate is fine, but then apply the successes while aiming to reflect on how you could improve. Conversely, successful students don't let a low or failing score on the first exam get to them too much. Sure, you might shoot an air ball, not even come close, but pick up where you left off. Just as a failure after success isn't unrealistic, with the proper adjustments, that 92 after a 68 is also possible. The best way to approach this is to get a CPA Review course that changes to your learning style as you study.
Make Healthy Sacrifices
Simply put, great CPA students sacrifice a little now so they don't have to sacrifice in greater ways later. You'll need the ability to demand long-term efficiency from yourself. Sure, it may be hard to say no to social plans, to sacrifice time from a hobby, and even limit your time doing the things you love with the people you love. However, people with the mental game to think big picture know one round of greater sacrifice is better than two rounds of limited sacrifice. Not to say more time given up is a sure deal to pass but hoping for the best when you know you could be better prepared is a recipe to fail.
Another way to put this is that they don't fret over things they can't control. Getting sick the month before the exam? A distracting student sits next to you during the test? Perhaps you have a friend you studied with who you feel you worked harder than, sacrificed more, only to find they passed while you didn't. It's hard to feel good when a scenario seems unfair. Instead of getting down on yourself just understand it's not personal. Sometimes things go on behind the scenes or people catch a break. Repeated adversity can be hard, and perseverance can be frustrating, but it does bring about a quality of strength immediate success doesn't. Understand you're becoming wiser and will be able to help people in the future because of your difficulty. Also, separate your happiness from depending on passing the CPA Exam. Remember you are more than a test score and your life isn't hinging on immediate results or success.
Celebrate Other's Victories
This is possibly the most significant life lesson the CPA Exam can offer. Celebrate yourself but celebrate others more. If you don't actively focus on being happy for others, you will end up comparing yourself to them. You'll become dissatisfied with your own life because you are obsessing over someone else's. You'll end up internally rooting against people which is the path miserable people are always on.
Move On Fast
All these qualities are related because they lead to this one - the ability to keep your feet moving down the path of success. Even if you are composed, it can be easy to become stuck. To be an excellent student means you can't spend time thinking about anything other than the next step. Learn from bumps in the road but don't dwell on them. Using the "oh well" or "okay" method is an easy way not to waste time getting stuck. If you fail and experience doubtful thoughts, complaints, or feelings of insufficiency just say "oh well" and mentally rally yourself towards the next step. If you succeed, just say "okay" and focus on putting yourself further down the path to completing the CPA Exam. Many students who are doing great slow themselves down by stalling. They pass one section and lose momentum by taking a few weeks or even a month off from studying. They lose rhythm because they didn't move on right away. While it can feel mentally exhausting to keep going, too much rest can derail your schedule, flow, and mental game. A better way to move on is to immediately take a practice exam, get into the curriculum for the next course right away, and create your calendar to have a timeline for the next exam.