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Friday, August 29, 2014

Are You on the Right Career Path?

Are you exhausted from all the stress, time and energy it takes to study and pass the CPA Exam? Do you ever ask yourself during one of those 2 AM study sessions whether or not the hard work is worth it?

The answer is yes! Yes, it is!

The blood, sweat and tears you're shedding now to pass the CPA Exam will place you on a lucrative path as a certified public accountant with a world of opportunities available to you. That sounds great, right? But what does that actually mean in terms of what you can expect working as a CPA?

CareerBuilder.com describes the public accounting path as one with multiple options:

Having a lot of variety in your job and by joining a larger firm, you may gain experience with a number of different accounting specialties and work with a wide range of clients.

There is also more travel involved, as accounting firms can serve clients throughout the state, region and country. There may even be opportunities for international travel depending on the firm's scope of services and client mix.
Career variety and travel sound exciting but what does the actual career path of a CPA look like?

Vanguard University has a handy breakdown of what a public accountant’s career path can resemble. As you can see in the graphic below, the career path is varied and wide. Your choices are unlimited.
   

If variety and travel don’t convince you that the long hours you’re spending studying for the CPA Exam are worth it, consider these two points made by the American Institute of CPAs:

  • The average salary for public accountants (with a 10-15% increase after passing the CPA Exam) is high (between 50K -70K) and goes up the longer you stay in your field.
  • The demand for public accountants is on the rise and is forecasted to grow until 2016.  When you’re in high demand, you can count on career stability, a competitive salary and great opportunity to advance.  Just how popular will CPAs be in the future? The Department of Labor and Statistics predicts employment of accountants and auditors will grow faster than average for all occupations through the year 2016, mainly because accounting and auditing regulations are getting stricter and the economy will continue to expand around the globe.
So, don’t give up. The path you have chosen is a valuable one filled with great diversity and opportunity.  You can do this!

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Studying for the CPA Exam Is like Running a Marathon

Roger CPA Review’s guest blogger, Steven P., describes how studying for the CPA Exam is similar to training for a marathon.
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Studying for the CPA Exam is really like training for a marathon or a long distance run. On some days you do sprints to work on your speed and time and on other days you run long distances to work on your endurance and form.
 
When you start to tackle the CPA Exam review, don’t be dismayed if you can’t do 100 questions every day. Sometimes, you might only do 5 or 10 questions and spend the rest of the day reading or watching videos.  On other days you might breeze through large amounts of material with no problems. Every day will be different and with new challenges.

John Hanc, a marathon journalist, sums it up best with his quote, “I've learned that finishing a marathon isn't just an athletic achievement. It's a state of mind; a state of mind that says anything is possible." The most important things to remember when studying for the CPA Exam are to find what study style works for you, to always keep a positive state of mind and to pace yourself.

-    Steven P.

Do you agree with the CPA Exam and marathon analogy? Tell us why or why not in the comments below.
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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

NASBA Launches For-Profit Evaluation Service

On August 1st, NASBA launched a for-profit entity "to provide all foreign education evaluation services and other education measurement services not within the scope of the current NASBA Articles of Incorporation as a not-for-profit corporation." 

Aequo International will evaluate international transcripts for educational admissions, employment, professional examination and licensure. The current NASBA Director of International Evaluation Services, James Suh, will serve as President of Aequo International.

According to the company's Website, Aequo International is promising a 5-10 business day turnaround for evaluation requests and extended call center hours.

Aequo International's services are expected to appeal to "students, professionals and employers seeking evaluations of international education and job experience."

More information about Aequo International can be found on their Website or on NASBA's blog.
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Monday, August 25, 2014

Sleep Deprivation, Working Full-Time and the CPA Exam

Today, our guest blogger Kerry continues her discussion from last week about sleep deprivation and the mental challenges that come with studying for the CPA Exam while working full-time.

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Studying for the CPA Exam last week was a bit more challenging for me compared to other weeks - (see my previous blog for explanation). All the mornings that I had to get up early the previous week finally caught up with me in the form of completely sleeping through my alarm on Monday morning.  So, I had to play sleep catch-up a little bit all week.  Waking up late is frustrating because during the work week, I try to spend the early morning hours before work going through all the Roger CPA Review lectures and watching Roger work through some of the problems.  Granted, sometimes I'm not firing on all cylinders early in the morning, so studying for the CPA Exam becomes more of learning through exposure than really applying my brain power.

On Tuesday morning, I woke up an hour before I had to jump in the shower and go to work, so I could only complete the first two lecture videos in a topic module. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to finish the rest of the lectures later that evening when I returned home from work.  Even though I was behind in my studies, I couldn't bring myself to get up at 4:30 AM the next morning, so instead I compromised with myself and set my alarm to go off about an hour and a half earlier than my usual wake-up time.  Thankfully, the remaining lectures I needed to review weren't very long so I was able to complete the lectures with about 30 minutes left before I needed to start getting ready for work. I started to wonder what I could do with the extra time I had to myself.  There are just so many free-time options like going to the gym, making a nice breakfast or taking a bubble bath.  Oh wait! I know! I could go back to sleep!

Choosing sleep for 30 minutes was my best option and during my short nap something interesting happened. In college I remember reading an article that stated cramming for exams is more effective when you nap briefly between subject matters.  The article stated something about dozing off for 15 minutes or so helps the brain assimilate information into memory. I never tried this while studying for the CPA Exam, but I do remember when I was studying for REG that I used to dream about it later.

I didn't have a long time to go back to sleep and sometimes after my brain has started working, it's difficult to shut it off. I can't say that I fell back into a deep sleep but maybe that wasn't such a bad thing. As it turns out, I was in a partially dreaming/partially aware state of sleep. This state of mind allowed me to direct my thoughts on the CPA Exam, so I was able to review the lectures I had just listened to earlier. I was half asleep but aware enough that I was making connections, committing concepts to memory and gaining more clarity from the previously reviewed lectures.

Unbelievably, when my alarm went off, I was able to recall all the thoughts that had been floating around in my head while I was "resting."  It was kind of like the difference between knowing I had a dream and being able to recall it when I awoke.   Maybe there is something to this cram then nap method of learning!  This learning through "osmosis"  is probably the closest thing to a CPA Exam study miracle that I can get!

I still like getting up before work to study, but I may need to put a new spin on it and do a little Monday through Friday studying instead of the 3 day-a-week study plan that's in the 12-month study planner. But that's the beauty of this course, you have the flexibility to find out what works for you and do it your way. Even through a sleep/dream state!


- Kerry M.
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Friday, August 22, 2014

How to Cope with CPA Exam Anxiety the Day of the Exam

Yesterday, we discussed how to prepare and alleviate stress levels days prior to taking the CPA Exam.  Today, we want to fully concentrate on “T” day – test day!  Below are additional suggestions on how to prevent an anxiety melt down on the big day:
  1. Remember that you’ve prepared yourself well in advance. Don’t continuing studying or quizzing yourself right up until you walk in to take the CPA Exam. Breathe. Trust your knowledge. You’ve got this!
  2. Arrive at the test center early so that you’re not rushing around in traffic or becoming unnecessarily stressed by being late. Know ahead of time where you’re going to take the exam. Consider a dry run the week before to make sure you know the exact location.  Be there in plenty of time to sit and relax your mind before actually starting the exam.
  3. Breathe and be in the present moment.  Think about the task at hand and focus your mind.  Before and during the exam, practice deep breathing techniques.  Breathing correctly and getting plenty of oxygen to your brain during the exam will help to curb feelings of anxiety, allowing you to perform at your best!
  4.  Think positive thoughts! Yes, this might sound a bit “new-agey” but it does work! Think about the bigger picture and know that you’ve prepared months for this moment. Realize that you can’t change anything right now.  Manage your fear with positive self-talk and focus on the task at hand. 
  5. Read the test directions and questions carefully. Make sure you read and understand exactly what is being asked of you and don’t presume anything. Read and reread to be clear on each question before choosing an answer.  Try to think of every possible scenario before answering each question.
  6. Budget your time. Know how much time you have remaining.  Don’t obsess about the time but be cognizant of what is remaining so you’re not left rushing at the end. Running out of time causes panic and anxiety; the last worry you need.
Once you’re done with the CPA Exam, do something nice for yourself. You deserve it! Grab something to eat or drink, spend time with friends, listen to music or just go to sleep! Remember, you’ve diligently prepared for the exam ahead of time. Now it’s time to wait for the results.

Need more suggestions? Check out this great video by Roger - Top 5 Tips For a Successful CPA Exam Day - to be even more prepared!




How do you plan to relieve your anxiety on test day?  Leave your answers in the comments below.



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Thursday, August 21, 2014

How to Cope with CPA Exam Anxiety before the Exam

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In the weeks leading up to the CPA Exam, you might notice your anxiety levels rising. As prepared as you may feel after studying, you most likely will feel both physical and emotional stress a few days before you sit for the exam.

While normal levels of stress can help you work more efficiently, think faster and improve your test-taking performance, extreme anxiety might create a feeling of being overwhelmed, ultimately affecting your ability to successfully perform well during the actual exam.

A few days before you sit for the exam, it’s important to remember self-care so that you are confident and have the ability to remain calm during the test.   

Some good points to remember:
  1. Disconnect from your electronics. Take some time to go outside and enjoy your surroundings. Get some sun. Walk through a park. Grab dinner with a friend. Take time for yourself in ways that you find enjoyable; away from all your electronic devices.
  2. Limit your caffeine intake for the test week. Studies have shown that caffeine can trigger a number of anxiety inducing sensations like sweaty palms, elevated heart rate and dizziness. Coffee might be your best friend while studying for the exam but try to cut back a few days before so that your body can ease itself into a more relaxed state.
  3. Spend some time exercising your body. You’ve been exercising your mind.  Now focus on getting some good physical exercise to work off all of your stress. Physical movement can help you blow off steam, reduce anxiety and loosen muscles while helping to expend any extra nervous energy. Go to the gym, ride a bike, jump in the lake or take a nice walk around a park.
  4. Nourish your body with healthy foods. You’ve concentrated on disconnecting from your electronics, limiting caffeine and exercising.  Now is the time to reward your body with healthy food. Sitting around snacking on junk food while studying will leave you feeling sluggish and off your game. Eating fresh, whole fruits and veggies will sharpen your mind and reduce stress.
  5. Sleep! Sleep! Sleep! Get plenty of sleep the week leading up to the exam. A good night's sleep allows your mind to relax and gives you the boost you need the next day to deal with stress more easily. If you’re exhausted, you become less patient, more agitated and your anxiety levels rise. Shoot for 8-9 hours of quality sleep a night if possible.
  6. Hydrate! Water is a beautiful thing. Not only do our bodies need water to survive but so do our brains.  Research shows that the brain performs at optimal levels when a person is well-hydrated. Drink plenty of water throughout the day.  Dehydration is another trigger for anxiety.
Now that you’ve taken steps to alleviate anxiety before the exam, how should you deal with stress the day of the exam?  Tomorrow’s topic – How to Cope with CPA Exam Anxiety the Day of the Exam.

How do YOU alleviate stress before exams?  We want to hear your suggestions and comments below! 
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