Friday, November 9, 2012

Half Way There; Living on a Prayer

So back on Saturday October 13, around 3 in the afternoon, I stepped into a testing center once again to take a section of the CPA exam. This was the 2nd of 4 sections that I need to pass to get those 3 letters behind my name. This time, I was slated to take Regulation. For those of you who don't speak accountant, this test basically boiled down to two main areas, business law and taxes, with the majority of the points based on taxes.

Now anyone who has ever asked me about my profession probably has heard this, "I really don't like taxes." Because I really don't like taxes. Honestly I find the entire tax system arbitrary. At least with Auditing and Financial Reporting, you can reason out an answer. In the world of taxes, the logical answer is most likely the wrong answer. At least that's the way I see it. Anyways, I had a "fun" three months cramming tax rules, business structures, etc into my head.

So back to the test. I got to the testing center about a half hour early. This time though, there was no wait. I was immediately ushered into the "staging" area. Here they fingerprint you, photograph you, verify your two forms of identification, wand you with a metal detector, and make you turn your pockets inside out. Yep, these testing centers make you go through about as much security as an international flight. They obviously take the potential of cheating very very seriously.

After "clearing security", I was led to my chair. Now for some reason, I thought I was going to have four hours for the test. So I was thrown slightly for a loop when I found out I was going to only have three hours. But what can you do, so I just started plunking away one question at a time.

Despite the shorter time limit, I had plenty of time. I finished the multiple choice section in under two hours, leaving over an hour for the simulations. Which was good, because I needed about 45 minutes to come up with a respectible solution to an AMT (Alternative Minimum Tax) Question. That's right, our tax system is that lame where basically if you aren't paying enough tax under the regular tax code you could have to pay more under AMT. If they don't get you one way, they'll get you another.

Now people always asked me how I felt I did after I was finished with the test. Now most tests you take in your life, you can usually tell how you did. But the CPA is a different animal. They word the questions in such a backwards way that sometimes it is hard to read it as discernible English. After you muddle your way through to determine what you think they are asking, you try to narrow your answers down. Now some answers are obviously wrong. But others are technically right. But one is "more right" than the other. So you have to try to pick between to perfectly valid answers. The whole thing just messes with your mind. After walking out of the building, you feel like you were just mentally abused.

Once done with the test, I had an enjoyable 1 day break from studying. My open window for testing ends at the end of November. So I have to study like mad before my 3rd test, which I have about half as much time to prepare for as my first two.

A week or two after the test, I received an email telling me that I should get my results on the 5th of November (Remember Remember the 5th of November). Then the weekend before, I got an email saying the the score release date was pushed back due to Hurricane Sandy (stinking hurricane). Later, I was told that I would get my score on Monday the 13th. So I was more than surprised when I came back from a meeting today with an email saying "Score Release." I got immediately nervous, almost to the point of shaking. I held my breath as the file downloaded.

Result: PASS

I kind of freaked out for a second there when I saw that it said PASS. I could hardly believe it. I am so stinking relieved. I can now move forward and completely focus on the next section without worrying that I might have to go back and restudy a section that I already studied for.

So that is what I get to do. Move forward and study for the next section. Study till it all oozes out of my head. Or at least that's how it feels sometimes.


  1. Congratulations! Too bad your victory prize is studying for a DIFFERENT test, rather than that one. You should get something for passing it, like an Amazon gift card, or at least some of the money you paid to take it back...

    1. Some BIG CPA firms will give you like a $5000 bonus if you pass them all the first time. Unfortunately, neither my prior nor current employer has such an incentive.