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Interview with CPA Exam Success Arthur Kim

Posted on 14th May 2012 @ 4:51 AM

Arthur, how did you fare on the exam?Arthur_Kim.jpg

REG – 99, AUD – 94, FAR – 94, BEC – 89

Which review program did you use? Was it a good choice? What were its strengths and what were its weaknesses?

I used a combination of Becker and Kaplan review materials.  Becker had the more interesting, relevant lectures along with a polished, well-presented textbook.  Kaplan’s lectures were a hit-or-miss depending on who the presenter was and the textbook threw the entire kitchen sink at you with less guidance.  It was akin to throwing the entire tax code onto a test taker’s lap rather than a summary of some of the more relevant points.  Kaplan’s textbook and lectures weren’t as effective for me but will certainly work well for those who prefer details / completeness.

Alternatively, Kaplan’s flash cards and mp3 review introduced some much-needed diversity into the study plan and worked very well with each other.  The “fresh” perspective / different approach for certain topics (compared to my other review materials) helped reinforce what I had learned earlier. 

I also found Kaplan’s question bank to be a great resource – especially when approaching test day and I had already went through another program’s MCQ’s multiple times.  Kaplan’s True/False questions didn’t take much time to run through and did an effective job of making sure I understood the concepts.

Why do you think you were able to pass with such high scores? What were the keys for you?

I made a habit of saying “NO” to the vast majority of things I enjoyed doing. Unless one has a time machine or a wide-open calendar, sacrifices MUST become routine – that means missing special occasions, staying in on the weekends and cutting back on the leisure.  Studying was miserable at times, but focusing on putting in the extra hours to pass the test on the first attempt kept me motivated – better tothoroughly prepare for each section once than put in a half-hearted effort twice.

While the usual suspects – dedication, hard work and sacrifice – played a significant role in helping me pass the CPA exam, I credit much of my success to the support received from friends and family. Having been blessed with a stable support system during this period of uncertainty and pressure made all the difference in the world.  Cultivate your relationships with those closest to you and set expectations prior to undertaking the exam.

Which form of studying (textbook, multiple choice questions, lectures, etc.) was most effective for you and why?

All of the above – I wanted to immerse myself in my studies via a variety of different ways, at least 5-6 days out of the week.  Textbooks and lectures at home, flash cards at work and mp3 audio while exercising or driving – knowledge of test matter was constantly being reinforced no matter where I was or what I was doing.

Which section did you find to be the most difficult? The least difficult?

I found FAR to be the most difficult section.  The sheer amount of material meant I had to put in much more time reviewing previously covered material.  This was the one section that I found impossible to “cram” for – given that every topic required complete understanding before I could proceed.  Going through the material quickly resulted in forgetting earlier chapters, etc. 

I personally found REG to be the easiest, largely due to the fact that I had some exposure to individual and corporate tax work prior to sitting for the exam.

What are you currently doing professionally? Has the CPA license been beneficial for you?

I recently received multiple job offers and am now employed as an analyst for the world’s largest online retailer.  Certification instantly gave my qualifications credibility and made me a stronger candidate.  Having been fortunate enough to be presented with such amazing career opportunities is validation that the hard work was worth it.

Where did you purchase your review course and were you happy with your experience?

I purchased all of my Kaplan materials from Andrew at www.CPAreviewmaterials.com- I always went back to Andrew because of his genuine interest in the success of his clients (never hesitant to provide advice) and discounted prices.

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