The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Final test for accountants

Photo by Photo by Abby Collida
CPA Exam

Aspiring accountants are flipping through flashcards, cutting down on social interactions and enduring periodic meltdowns for an exam that allows them to practice in their discipline.
The Certified Public Accountant Exam (CPA) exam is a four part, 16-hour examination. The sections include Auditing and Attestation, Business Environment and Concepts, Financial Accounting and Reporting and Regulation. Each section can be taken in any order but must be passed within a window of 18 months for students to receive credit. Study materials can be costly, and students must be willing to put in several hours a day for several months to do well on the exam.
Financial management graduate student Patrick Barden has a position lined up with one of the top four accounting firms in the nation, KPMG LLP, in its deal advisory group. In preparation for the exam, Barden said he is balancing his studying habits with his social life.
“I’ll have a certain cut off time in the evening when I realize, ‘Hey, I’m not really retaining as much information’ and go take a break and whether that’s going home and eat dinner or hanging out with my roommates or something like that just to recuperate,” Barden said. “Then, just determining on how much studying I got done that day, I’ll either go back at it that evening or I’ll just conserve my energy for the next morning.”
There have been significant recent changes of the CPA exam, according to Tara Blasor, A&M assistant department head and lecturer. Blasor said many test questions are now less reliant on memorization and more on critical thinking. She said coursework in financial reporting is the first step in preparing students for the exam.
“So, what we’re trying to teach them is how to deal with stress, because the CPA exam is stressful,” Blasor said. “It’s also difficult to complete on time. So, we have tests that are kind of geared towards that to get them acclimated to it.”
According to the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy, Texas A&M has a record of one of the highest passing rates in the state of Texas. Mays’ Professional Program of Accounting (PPA) is unique compared to other universities in preparing students to take the exam while they are still in college. Blasor said the high pass rate could be a result from this advantage.
“You’re still a student,” Blasor said. “You’re still in test taking mode. You’re used to taking multiple choice tests. We also do a good job in our coursework with being very intentional, staying on top of the exam and making sure we’re covering it in our classes too.”
The PPA program tries to inform students during their junior and senior years that the exam is coming, according to Blasor. She said there is an extent to what the program can do in terms of mental preparation for students, but students motivate each other to get through the exam.
“It’s like an accountability system,” Blasor said. “If you want to start working out, you just go around people that also have that same goal, and they kind of lift you up.”
Claire Reininger is a management informations graduate student, who will also be working for KPMG LLP in its audit practice. Reininger is living with two other fellow PPA students who are all currently studying for the exam.
Not unlike most entry-level workers, Reininger said she intends to eventually get promoted, which she said can only happen if she passes the exam. An issue for Reininger, however, is finding that last bit of energy after an extensive amount of studying.
“It’s hard to find the motivation so late in the school year,” Reininger said. “You’re ready to graduate, but it’s like the most involved semester that you’ve had in a while. So, it’s hard to get that motivation going for like, four months straight.”
Reininger said her greatest fear for the exam is wasting five weeks of studying because of the possibility of failing one section, but she said she is willing to put in the work for four to five months in order to finally receive her certification.
“I mean, it’s a very daunting task,” Reininger said. “It would be nice if we didn’t have to do it, but I’ve come so far, and I chose this route in the first place and PPA. I knew it was coming, so it wouldn’t make sense not to keep going and go on with this. It’s a hard ending, but it’ll be worth it in the end.”

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