Taking on the CPA Exam

As you may know, there are four parts to the CPA exam, which you take independently of one another. The four parts in order of length from longest to shortest are Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), Regulation (REG), Audit & Attestation (AUD), and Business Environment Concepts (BEC). First semester, I focused on adjusting to a new school, new city, and a new job as a graduate assistant. I knew that I plenty of time to prepare for the CPA before starting work full-time next fall, so I decided that it would be in my best interest to wait until the second semester to begin my CPA studying. 

Application Process

Due to the extensive application and Notice to Schedule (NTS) process, I applied about 6-8 weeks before I planned to begin preparation. Every state has a unique process for applying; the NASBA website is a great resource to learn about the guidelines and application process for the state you are sitting for. Since I will be working in Chicago, I am sitting for the Illinois CPA exam. The current rules require me to apply through the Illinois Board of Examiners.  Due to the high volume of applications in November, it took about 6 weeks for me to receive my NTS. Once I received my NTS, I chose the two exams that I wanted to take first.

I chose to take my exams in the following order: AUD, REG, FAR, BEC. I chose this order because AUD and REG are middle size exams which I knew would be easiest to study for while in school. Once summer begins, I plan to study for FAR (the largest exam) since I will have unlimited time. I chose to take BEC last because it is the smallest test, therefore if I do not pass all four before I start work, it will not be too large of a beast to tackle while working full-time. Everyone chooses the order of tests differently. I have seen classmates manage to study for FAR during school; the order in which you choose to take your exams really is a personal preference!

Study Plan & Tips

I am currently taking four classes and working 10 hours per week, so my study plan is a slower pace than it will be this summer. I am at a rate of approximately 15-20 hours per week of CPA studying, which equates to a little over 1 chapter per week.

Some days I choose to stay home and study in the comfort of my apartment, but I also love to study at libraries around campus. My favorite study spot is Thompson Library on the Oval. It is always full of other Ohio State students studying, so it is a prime environment to be productive. Almost every day, a group of students in the MAcc program reserves a room in Gerlach Hall to study after class together. I studied often with my friends in the MAcc program as we began our final review before taking our first exams. Regardless of your study plan, it is best to always make time for fun! Balance is the best way to get through something like studying for the CPA. For example, a group of us play trivia every Thursday night, and we are in an intramural volleyball league on Sundays. Like I mentioned in my GMAT advice post, never burn yourself out!!

GA Intramural Volleyball team!

Takeaways

The biggest piece of advice that I have taken from all of my mentors has been to FINISH THE CPA EXAM BEFORE YOU START WORK! Your year in the MAcc program is a great cushion to take the exams while in a learning environment. So many of your classmates will also be studying for the CPA which makes the processes much more enjoyable.

 

Expect the Unexpected

It is hard to believe I am already three quarters of the way through my time in the MAcc program here at Fisher. While reflecting on how rewarding this experience has been, I realized how much of this experience I underestimated. Don’t get me wrong, I was looking forward to this year, but little did I know what it had in store.  Here are some things I expected from this experience:

  • I knew I would be taking accounting courses to achieve the necessary 150 credit hours to sit for the CPA, and have time to study for the exams during school.
  • I knew I would be working 10 hours per week in the Graduate Programs Office as a Graduate Assistant (GA).
  • I knew I would be living with another girl in the program whom I found on the 2018/2019 MAcc class Facebook page.
  • I knew I would get to officially be a Buckeye and enjoy a fall full of Ohio State football!

More importantly, here are some of the unexpected experiences that the MAcc program provided me with:

  • Growing my network by meeting students who will be working all over the country and the world.
  • Gaining new friendships with students who have similar career paths and goals as I do.
  • Having a blast with the other GAs whom I work with, and looking forward to going to work every day.
  • Taking courses and developing friendships with students in the MBA, MHRM, and SMF programs.
  • Playing intramural volleyball on Sunday nights with my fellow GA co-workers (Go Notorious D.I.G.).
  • Having a great support network of classmates/study buddies who are also studying for the CPA.

Moral of the story: your time in the Ohio State MAcc program is short but sweet—the MAcc program has so much to offer!

GMAT Study Tips

Learn how to BEAT the test: Strategy

Once I mastered strategy, the online question bank that my materials provided helped me apply that strategy, and I saw huge improvements in my metrics.

  • Explore various preparation resources and weigh your options.
  • A source with an online question bank is a helpful study tool because you can measure your improvement and take advantage of question repetition.
  • Find a resource that will teach you strategy!

Study Plan

Everyone is different! Creating a study plan that works for you is going to take some feeling out. Utilize your network and find out what worked for your peers. For me, I felt that repetition of multiple choice questions was the best way to study. The advice that I received prior to taking the test was to study 8–10 hours per week for at least eight weeks leading up to the test.

The first GMAT exam I sat for was in November of my senior year. Personally, I studied seven hours per week for eight weeks prior to that first test. I was enrolled in 21 credit hours that semester, so I was not in the best situation to prepare for a standardized test and did not receive my desired score.

It is OKAY to take the GMAT more than once. Most people do not get their desired score the first time.

The second time I took the GMAT was after a restful winter break. With a clear head, I focused on studying my weakest area of the test: Verbal Reasoning. I was able to improve my verbal score significantly, which subsequently improved my overall score.

Also, be sure to incorporate balance into your study plan! Even though my schedule was hectic, I made sure to set aside time workout and have fun with my friends. I didn’t let the GMAT keep me from playing intramurals.

My business fraternity’s IM volleyball team!

What to expect on test day

  • There is no calculator for the Quantitative portion on the exam (so don’t study with one!)
  • A laminated sheet and a permanent marker is available to work through problems, so I recommend studying with blank paper and a permanent writing utensil to simulate test conditions
  • Be aware that once you click “submit test,” your score instantly pops up on the screen!

Good Luck!

My Spring Semester Classes

And just like that, we are already half way through our tenure as MAcc students here at the Max M. Fisher College of Business! After a long and relaxing winter break, I was excited to return to Columbus and reunite with my new friends and fellow classmates in the MAcc program. This semester, our schedules are completely made up of electives, and I am especially excited for three that I am enrolled in.

Visiting family in Chicago over break!

1. Fraud Examination and Misappropriation of Assets

I chose to take this elective because I knew it would relate to Audit, which is the service line I will be starting my career in. Little did I know it would already, just one week in, be my (and many of my classmates) favorite course. The course is taught by the chief risk officer for The Ohio State University who brings a unique perspective to the classroom. As part of the course, the professor brings in felons to openly discuss their past fraudulent activities.

2. Crucial Conversations

This course is one of the few electives that is a full semester (instead of a seven-week session). During this course, we have the opportunity of learning from an experienced businessman how to properly navigate crucial conversations in work and in life. This class will give us the tools necessary to successfully engage in conversations that we will encounter in our future careers.

3. Negotiations

Similar to Crucial Conversations, Negotiations is also a full semester course that teaches us tools that we will be able to utilize in all aspects of our lives. In this course, we actively engage in a negotiation once a week and learn skills that build upon themselves to strengthen our ability to successfully negotiate. I am looking forward to understanding the different components of negotiation and learning best practices through repetition.

The Best Holiday of the Season

2560
By Audrey Farber
‘Twas the night before game day, and all throughout campus,
Not a creature was stirring, not even Demetrius;
“Beat TTUN” banners were hung by the houses with care,
In hopes that a “W” soon would be there;
The buckeyes were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of pick-6’s danced in their heads;
And Urban in his white pullover, and I in my hat,
Had just settled down for a long November nap;
When out on the Oval there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But the crew from College GameDay, and students in gear.
Now Herbstreit! now, Fowler! now Howard and Corso!
On Haskins! on Campbell! on Dobbins and Dixon!
We sprang to the Shoe, to the teams gave a whistle,
And away we outplayed them with our might and our hustle.
I heard Urban exclaim, ere he drove out of sight –
“Happy Game Day to all, and to all a good night!”

Storming the field after beating Michigan 2018!

Every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Ohio State Buckeye fans celebrate the best holiday of the year from near and far: The Ohio State vs. Michigan game day! This was the third rivalry game I have attended since my freshman year of college, and every game beats the last. Traditionally, everyone brings Thanksgiving leftovers to early morning tailgates before the noon game. It is one of my favorite days of the year, and I felt lucky to spend this one with my fellow MAcc friends! Happy Holidays and Go Bucks!

MAcc Takes Tax Knowledge to Philanthropy

In the MAcc program, our semesters are split into two 7-week sessions. This session, I am really enjoying my Tax Planning for Managerial Accounting class. This is the second tax class I have taken, the first being in undergrad, and I am scheduled to take two more tax electives in the Spring.

What I love about this tax class is that I am learning tools that are current, relevant, and applicable to my personal and work life. My professor, Kathy Wantuch, has a very interesting background in tax law, which has provided me with the opportunity to learn about tax from a completely different perspective. Tax laws change frequently, so no matter how recently you studied corporate or income tax, chances are you’re going to learn something new!

In the MAcc program, we all have the opportunity to take our interest in tax and apply it philanthropically. Each year, students in the MAcc program have the opportunity to participate in VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) which is held in a partnership of the MAcc council and Beta Alpha Psi with the United Way of Central Ohio. The program offers free tax preparation to lower income households and is a great way for MAcc students to spend time with peers while giving back to the community. The Ohio State University’s Office of Outreach and Engagement honored the program with the 2017 Distinguished Service-Learning award after tax season last year.

All students are eligible to participate, and the process of joining the program begins around November of each year. I talked with my classmate, Tyler Stacks, about his involvement with VITA this year.

As the VP of Community Service for the MAcc council, I am in charge of recruiting MAcc and Beta Alpha Psi students to volunteer for the VITA program. This has provided the opportunity to work alongside Stephanie Lewis, the head of the program here at OSU. Come tax season, I will be helping prepare tax returns while also being a site manager. This will be my first year working with VITA, and I couldn’t be more excited. I’m drawn to the program for the opportunity to use the skills we have been learning to help those in need. 

A peek into KPMG MADA at Fisher

Our MAcc program here at The Ohio State University partnered with KPMG to develop the Master of Accounting with Data and Analytics (MADA) program. I interviewed a fellow MAcc student and friend, Sarah White, regarding her experience in the KPMG MADA program! 

During my undergraduate experience, I never really hung out with many other accounting majors. It is great to be part of such a close-knit community within Fisher!”

1. Can you briefly explain the process in which you were placed at Ohio State?

I originally heard about the KPMG MADA (Masters of Accounting with Data and Analytics) program at the summer leadership conference with KPMG. Knowing this was something that was extremely new and not so advertised yet, I knew I should jump on the application process. I first had to apply and have multiple rounds of interviews with KPMG before they decided whether or not I would be a part of the program, which would consist of 10 different schools across the nation. Around September or October of last year, KPMG informed me that I had been accepted to their program, specifically for Ohio State. After being accepted with KPMG, I applied directly to Fisher and heard back a few weeks later!

  1. What got you interested in the KPMG MADA program?

There was a brief presentation about the KPMG MADA program at the summer leadership conference I attended with KPMG. This program was described as a cutting-edge and award-winning program. It was enticing in the sense that it is an innovative program, implementing data analytics courses into a Masters of Accounting program. I had already planned to attend my undergraduate university (UNC Wilmington) for a one year MSA program, but I was interested to learn more about data science applied to accounting, and really felt like this program would better prepare me for my future position as an auditor.

I did as much research as I could, and leveraged my data analyst coworkers at my internship at the time (I was working in the finance department of a bank), and learned about the ways they used D&A tools in their day-to-day functions. Since my undergraduate course work was consumed by accounting, I felt being exposed to an extra focus within a Masters program would be vital for my success, especially with the rise of technology innovations sweeping the accounting world. I felt that this degree held a much higher value than an average Masters of Accounting degree, and I wanted to do anything I could to get into the program.

I also spent my entire undergraduate career with a job—working at least 20 hours a week to pay for expenses, so the idea of not having to take out extra student loans was ideal. I have always told myself that if an opportunity for funded education ever comes my way, I would take it, and I have not looked back!

  1. You, like 99% of the other KPMG MADA students, were placed at a new school in which you didn’t know anyone. How has the MAcc here at Ohio State helped you to foster new relationships?

Ever since the first day of orientation, Fisher has connected MAcc students by holding events, luncheons, and MAcc talks to expose students to one another. I really appreciated having nearly a week of orientation activities, because I really felt like it helped me bond with my classmates and meet new people within the program. I believe the intensive amount of group work within the program has also been great, because I have gotten to work with many of my classmates on cases and projects. I think the friendships I have made even go beyond what Fisher has done to create these relationships. The students here really seem to value these relationships, and we have all naturally gravitated towards each other!

  1. What is your favorite part about being in the KPMG MADA here at Ohio State?

I love knowing that at least 25 people in my classes are doing the exact same thing as I am, and we are all able to experience this together. We have already grown close since we see each other every day, and it has gotten me excited to start a career with the firm. With studying for the CPA exam, school can be very stressful, and it is great to be surrounded by supportive individuals who understand each others’ immediate goals. People are always my motivator – and they are the ones that keeps me showing up to work or class with a smile on my face!

A Breath of Fresh, Fall Air

I am writing this on my first day back from a much-appreciated fall break. As you may know, our first seven-week session of classes ended last week. This made the Thursday–Sunday break that much more enjoyable, as I had no responsibilities or classwork to worry about!

So how did I spend my break? Enjoying the (finally) cold weather

Cheering on the Buckeyes from home!

and some serious R&R while reflecting on all the great memories that the first seven-week session brought. My weekend was filled with bonfires, pumpkin bread, turkey chili, and dozens of games of college football Saturday (Go Bucks!) and NFL Sunday!

I am very excited to be back in Columbus and starting the second half of the first semester. Time has flown! This seven-week session will lead up to winter break.

We had our first day of classes for our last two required courses today. The first class I went to was Accounting Policy and Research taught by our MAcc program director, Dr. Tzachi. He is one of the most engaging professors I have had thus far in graduate school and I am looking forward to the rest of the session with him!

After his class, I had a Financial Reporting class in which we will be able to apply the knowledge we acquired from intermediate accounting to interesting cases about companies like Apple and Google! I am also taking three business electives in the subject areas of tax, assurance, and human resources. I love that we have the ability to take electives outside of accounting. This allows me to learn and network with students outside the MAcc program while getting exposure to other subject areas at the graduate level! 

Adjusting to Grad School Life

Like many of my classmates, I started the MAcc program right out of undergrad. For that reason, I was very curious as to how differently grad school would feel. I wasn’t sure how my normal everyday habits would translate at the graduate school level. If you’re not coming right from undergrad, I’m sure you’re asking yourself a similar question!

After the first few weeks, I can tell you that adjusting to the MAcc and life in Columbus has been a breeze! Here are five of my favorite things about the MAcc program and being in grad school here at Ohio State:

The classroom environment

There is such a high level of respect between the professors and students at the graduate level. Our classrooms are more discussion-based and less homework-heavy. The distinguishing factor for me is that the professors care about us fully understanding the material. After all, we are here to deepen our knowledge of accounting—not just get A’s.

The time commitment  

In our classes, the deliverables consist mostly of group projects. In undergrad, I remember meeting with groups as late as 11 p.m. to work on projects. In the MAcc program, I love that we all have very similar class schedules and meet while still on campus during the day. The culture is this way because many students live off-campus. I appreciate this aspect of the MAcc program because I can leave time for other priorities in the evenings!

The subject exposure

One unique component of the MAcc program is the exposure to over 18 courses in only one year! Each course is seven weeks long (aside from a few electives), and the best part is that only four courses are required. That leaves at least 14 courses that you can tailor to your preference to make your MAcc experience truly personalized!

Are seven-week courses stressful? That was a question I asked myself before beginning the program. They are completely manageable! In fact, I love them because I can easily visualize my schedule over the seven-week period and balance school, work, and life!

Living in a metropolitan city

audrey-farmers-marketColumbus offers so much more than what lies on campus. As a grad-student, I love that there are very accessible places to go off campus. Downtown is a quick drive away and so are the Blue Jackets (hockey) and Columbus Crew (soccer) teams. Even closer to campus is Short North - a neighborhood just a few blocks from my apartment that offers dozens of trendy food, drink, fitness, and shopping options! That leads me to my fifth point…

Fitness

Leading a healthy and balanced lifestyle has always been a priority for me. Finding a new workout routine on a new campus was something I was worried about. Luckily, the Fisher College of Business is close to two campus recreation facilities (the RPAC and North Recreation Center) that offer group fitness classes as well as great amenities to students for free!

Another bonus: This semester, the MAcc program created both sand volleyball and soccer co-ed intramural teams. Intramurals are a great way to stay active and get to know students in the MAcc program! Off campus, there are also various options. Most apartment complexes have workout facilities, and I love the group fitness/yoga studios in Short North as well as the surrounding suburbs!

Make the World your Classroom: Fisher Goes Global!

Do you love to travel? Are you interested in a full cultural and business immersion during your time here at Fisher College of Business? If your answer is yes, then a graduate Global Business Expedition might be for you!

After a ski lesson in the Alps, Austria 2017

My absolute favorite memories from both high school and undergrad are
from the study abroad opportunities I took advantage of. In high school, I took a two-week trip to Spain with my spanish class. Throughout Barcelona, Madrid, Granada, and Cordoba, we had the opportunity to have a hands-on experience with the culture and history! Then in undergrad, I spent the 2017 spring semester studying at WU (Vienna University of Business & Economics) in Vienna, Austria. During my semester abroad, I visited 11 countries and dozens of cities. While in Europe, I learned more about the world and myself through travel than anywhere else!

Flamenco dancing class, Madrid 2012

For this reason, I was so excited to find out that the Fisher College of Business provides opportunities for short study-abroad programs over spring break that count for class credits! The rich and diverse cultures across Europe left me craving future travel opportunities, and I am so excited to look into the different programs that I can apply to with my fellow grad-students here at Fisher. Right now, I have my eyes on the Israel: Innovation & Entrepreneurship trip. Here are the other neat trips taking place this year:

Panama: Global Logistics & Supply Chain

Prague & Vienna: A Global Communication Adventure

Italy: Modern Business Organizations