The new CPA Exam rolling out over the past year didn't come as a surprise, but that doesn't mean it hasn't come without adversity. The new structure better prepares new accountants for the modern professional world, but the shakeup has left CPA students to pioneer a new frontier. Being among the first wave is a difficult task. No one has been through it before to tell you what it's like or give advice. Even with the blueprints, there is a gray area of what exactly to expect with delayed results, new format, and how the breaks during the test will affect your testing flow and strategy.
While this is a game changer, the good news is some things are the same as always. You'll still take 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 can 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.
They Focus on Composure
Highs or the lows don't get consume them and can't when taking a test made up of four parts. The longevity of taking the CPA Exam is a mental gauntlet. Great CPA students 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 on the first section doesn't mean a 68 on the second isn't possible. Take a little time after passing to celebrate is fine, but then apply the successes and still aim to reflect on what you could do better to improve. Conversely, successful students don't let a low or failing score on the first exam get to them too much. Sure, you might totally shoot an airball, not even come close, but pick up where you left off and know just as 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.
They Make Calculated Sacrifices
Simply put, they sacrifice a little now, so they don't have to sacrifice a lot later. This comes down to 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 more 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.
They Stay Happy
Another way to put this is that they don't fret over things they can't control. A headache during testing? A distracting student during the test? An unforeseen stressor coming up right before or during testing followed by a low score can be frustrating. Or perhaps you have a friend you studied with who you feel you worked harder than, sacrificed more, and then they passed while you didn't It's hard to feel good when a scenario seems unfair. But 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 that immediate success doesn't. Understand that 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.
They Celebrate Other's Victories
This is possibly the biggest 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 a path people who end up being miserable go down.
They Move On
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 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. And if you succeed, just say "okay" and focus on putting yourself further down the path to being done with the CPA Exam. So 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 get out of 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 good 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.
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