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  • Nikki Winston, CPA

Overcoming CPA Exam Struggles: 5 Things to Keep In Mind


I was just playing around with the CPA exam back then. 12 years ago my son was a baby and I was starting a new job - there was no time to study. I was already overwhelmed and I knew how tough it would be trying to study all the time. I wanted it but not bad enough to put anything else on my plate at the moment. How bad do you want that CPA credential? It's a struggle like no other that took me 13 times to figure out what it takes to pass FAR, audit, REG and BEC.


As a "CPA Candidate" I was in awe of other CPAs, especially those that looked like me and often wondered what #CPALife was like. Maybe it wasn’t much different from mine - I had a great job and I knew accounting, one day I’ll pass the CPA exam and get my license and it’ll make sense. Again, I wanted it but not bad enough to put in the work at that moment.


I kept wondering until one day, thanks to my NABA fam, my fellow board members talked me out of my excuses. So what are you waiting on? It's too much going on at work. What are you waiting on? My kids are small, they need my undivided attention. A third time: So what are you waiting on? I'm already overwhelmed. What WAS I waiting on? I didn't have an answer, at least not 1 that satisfied the excuses I was making. They held me accountable and most importantly supported me as I discovered my WHY. I enrolled in a CPA exam review course and waited for my NTS. This is really about to happen! I’m not sure if I was more excited or uneasy about what was next. Here's how it went down . . .


I was too busy at work + now had 2 babies at home. Doing this means there will be days when I’m going straight from work to class and I won’t get to pick my kids up or hang out with friends or have weekly lunch dates with my husband because my lunch hours became CPA exam study sessions because there’s not enough time in the day. *insert exhausted overwhelmed busy mom sigh here*


I started with FAR - the highs of passing on the first try quickly turned to defeat when I failed audit. It was cool though, I was still going to pass all 4 sections in 6 months to say I’m a CPA. Passed a few more, failed a lot more and lost credit in some clutch moments. I purchased full and partial courses from multiple prov