I often get this question, and my answer is always the same. I’ve been thinking about updating my knowledge. Being a working professional with a family, it was a big decision, but Sripal sir suggested I get into the CPA course, the US equivalent of CA in India. I went through the CPA course and took advice from some of my friends who had done it, and all suggested that it’s an excellent CPA course to update my knowledge. Moreover, it is an international degree that is globally recognized. It is an added advantage for a CA to pursue CPA to have more opportunities globally as well as in India.
How did you score above the 90s?
Well, to be frank, while I was studying, I never had a goal of getting such high scores of 96 in BEC and 94 in REG. I was just focused on understanding the topics and continuing my studies. Being a rank holder in CA, it was always in the back of my mind that passing would not be a challenge for me, so I focussed on my studies instead of fretting about the result. I think this helped me a lot since if you were scared or tensed about getting the end goal, then you have had half the focus therein. So, I suggest everyone think positively. This will take off a huge burden, and you will be studying much more effectively.
Managing work and studies – How many hours did I study on a daily basis?
As we say in Hindi, there is a “zameen aasman ka farq” between a working professional trying to squeeze in studies in his/her schedule and a student studying full time. Hence, it is much more important for working professionals to have an ultra-flexible schedule for studies since we cannot have the luxury of sticking to a study plan or schedule strictly.
I used to get frustrated initially when I had a specific target in my mind for studying, and then something urgent cropped up at work. Gradually, I made peace with the fact that this was not of much use since then it was becoming counter-productive as I was unable to focus even when I was getting time.
So, my major rule was to keep on studying on a daily basis – whatever time I could squeeze in, I had utilized it effectively. Thus, more than the input method, I focussed on the output method, i.e. instead of the no. of hours I put in, I looked at how many modules I had to complete.
Specific strategies for REG and BEC
REG was a totally new subject since it deals with US taxation, whereas for BEC most of the time, I was just revising what I had already read in CA and B.Com.
Hence, I took the help of the Simandhar for REG. I’ve attended the live classes that they conduct over and above the recorded lectures of Becker that we had access to in the software. Simandhar classes helped me a lot in building my confidence since Surinder Ma’am gave a lot of examples in the Indian context, which helped in grasping the concepts.
Also, she answered all the queries raised by me, which further strengthened my knowledge base.
One of the most useful tools that Simandhar offers are specific Telegram groups. These are basically like study communities, where not only you can ask your own doubts but also learn from others’ doubts as well.
I was very much comfortable with the topics in BEC except for IT. However, there is not much choice but to do it thoroughly since it has more than 15% weightage in the exam. However, do not overstudy it due to the fear of the chapter – I did it, and it was not an effective usage of my time since after giving the exam I realized that BEC was a general subject related to business. Study all chapters, don’t leave any topics nor give extra emphasis on something as being more important since, in the exams, they can ask any topic (even outside of what you have studied) in BEC.
|Related Article: CPA Study Strategy of FAR, REG, BEC, AUD by Laxmikant|
In the case of written communication, just stick to the model that Mike Potenza tells in the skill master video. Since it was basically essay writing, but they mark you on the structure, don’t fret over whether you would be able to recall the technical content in the exams (I know I didn’t!). Focus on structure and grammar. Use websites like Grammarly to check and correct your mistakes. Practice is the key here.
One more tip is to check the Becker FB group since there are many people who share their summary notes (in the files section) – check them so that you don’t need to make it on your own again – you need just to modify some points, as you may deem fit.
Along with being a working professional, I stay with my parents, am married and have a 2-year-old daughter. Their support is of paramount importance in my life and by virtue of that in my CPA studies too. I know the level of sacrifices that they are making. I sometimes feel that I am robbing my child of the father-daughter bonding time that she deserves and needs, and it becomes greatly difficult to focus on studies on those days. I also have to sacrifice my extroverted lifestyle of meeting with friends and hangouts – my friends don’t call me that much now since they also know the goal that I have set for myself.
Life becomes a lot less fun, but you need to have your end goal in the back of your mind always.
Ideally, it would help if you were studying one time and then do two revisions before the exams. Also, attempting all three mock exams is a must. I was hoping you wouldn’t focus on the scores you get there (I got 68 on the first mock of REG!) but do give it strictly in the exam setting, i.e. allocate 4 hours on weekends and complete it in one go. Besides, you have to check whether your speed is up to the mark or not since the CPA exam tests you on your time management skills as well.
Every individual is different, and so is every subject – the bottom line is you can’t have a one size fits all strategy. So, my parting remark is to just keep going on and pushing through – it will definitely have a snowball effect.
Simandhar Education is India’s No.1 training provider for US CPA, US CMA, Enrolled Agent IFRS, and HRCI professional courses.