Passed One-Fourth of the CPA Exam

This is old news. Recall that I took one of the four CPA Exams at the beginning of the winter quarter ( The result was released in late February. Here is a brief summary:
Exam Taken: BEC
Exam Date: Early January
Score Released Date: Late February
Result: Passed ^-^
1. Currently there is no simulation and writing question in BEC, so the scores can come out very soon, even before the exam window closes.
2. The CPA exams may not be as hard as we thought, especially for MAccers. If I prepared for the exam for a week or so and I passed it, everyone else (in MAcc) can pass it. (Okay, just saying this as an encouragement. I am not responsible for anything if anyone reads this and studies for a week but does not pass it.)
3. Although the title says “passed ¼ of the CPA exam”, the BEC is actually 2.5/14 of the CPA exams, in terms of exam hours. But this will soon be changed to 3/14 as the BEC will be 3 hours long after Jan 1, 2011. Other changes will also be effective. Please refer to for more information regarding the CPA exam.

Mad River Mountain Skiing

Last weekend a group of friends and I went skiing in Mad River Mountain, OH. About an hour drive away from Columbus, this skiing site was pretty busy on a Saturday, especially with the discount rate it offered to college students. I was thankful that I went with a perfect group of people who knows the “when, what, how” to make an efficient, well-planed, and happy skiing experience.

We set off at around 8:30am and arrived around 10am (including time to drive around the city to pick people up). For first timers (i.e. me), it is very important to have enough space to practice and overcome the fear of falling. And arriving early made it possible! With the basics taught by my friends and some observation of other skiers, I quickly mastered how to balance and turn when skiing. Soon after that I was able to progress to a higher level line!

The most difficult part for me is to control speed and stop within a short distance. Without a good skill on these two, you are guaranteed to fall as speed continues to increase. I still need to practice more to improve my control so I don’t have the authority to give advice. But a tip would be helpful in terms of falling—wear waterproof pants and gloves. You will be grateful to have them as your falls increase.

Another hint for the beginners is to work your arms out before going to ski. Not because you ski with lots arm movements, but because you need very strong arms to hold the handles that drag you up the hill (higher level slopes have lift chairs, but beginner’s practice field doesn’t). And you need to lift your body up if you fall.

“The Smartest Guys in the Room”

A quick catch-up from last week’s AMIS 861 fraud class. Prof. Turner shown us a documentary movie on Enron’s collapse—“The Smartest Guys in the Room”. As a MAcc student, Enron’s name is one of the most heard words. The Enron scandal was one of the largest accounting frauds in the American History, which lead to bankruptcy of this giant company, directly caused 22 thousand people to lose their jobs, and also dragged down Arthur Andersen, one of the big 5 accounting companies back then. This case was also highly related to the creation of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

No matter how familiar I was with the Enron case, nevertheless, I was shocked, touched, and lost in deep thoughts multiple times when I watched the movie. The over passionate leaders and employees that ultimately cross the line and became extremely unethical, Cliff Baxter’s suicide, ex-employees who calmly provide testimonies but with their face revealing controlled emotion, and the sad scenes of Enron people leaving their offices and farewells to their friends on the morning Enron announced bankruptcy, these are details that I’ve never imagined. A saying is probably right, that “people and passion is the hardest to predict and to manage”.

Recovered from a “Anti-Virus” Virus

Do you have antivirus software installed on your computer? Have you updated it recently? If your answers are “No”, you should do both. But be very careful, not all antivirus programs go ANTI virus. They can bring virus instead, or they are virus themselves.

I was working on my computer during the weekend and a message bubble titled “Windows Security Alert” just popped out, saying my computer is at risk and needs updated antivirus software. A well-designed window appeared and shown that it was “scanning” my computer for infected files. The scanning process was completed, a dozen of “infected files” found. The program asked whether I would like to remove the files. If click “yes”, the program would say “this basic trial only provide quick scanning, you need to purchase the complete version to remove the infected files” and guide you to a website to purchase the program. The website even displayed three different package programs that you can buy—Antivirus Soft Basic, Pro, and Platinum. But, please, never purchase anything from them and don’t give out any credit card information, because this is actually a virus trying to steal your credit card!

If you choose “No” right upon the scanning process, and “stay unprotected”, the program would show its “evil face”. The bottom right corner would keep popping up warnings saying there’s an internet virus trying to attack your computer. And you would not be able to open any applications or programs on your computer as this “Antivirus Soft” would tell you the file is infected and cannot be opened. Restarting the computer won’t help!
Fortunately with some friend’s help, I was able to get rid of the virus following the instructions on the link below:

So if by any chance you encounter this virus, make sure you don’t give any card info. Then follow the tips to get your computer recovered. One additional tip I can add is that, you can restart the computer and change the date and time before the virus message pops up. This might allow you to use the internet and save some time on downloading the REAL antivirus programs to fight against “Antivirus Soft”.

Let It Snow

Long before I got to know anything else about Ohio, this state is famous for its annual amount of snow, in my perspective. I have been pretty convinced of this belief judging on the snows I experienced since I moved into Columbus. Snow accumulated during the past two weeks is more than a foot deep, almost reaching knee height. And, school is closed today.

But, what I am going to say is, I like the snow in Columbus, not because of the class cancellation, but the way it snows. Born in Guangzhou in southern China, a city that hasn’t snowed for more than a century, I was not used to snow and cold weathers. The couple years spent in New York have made me hate snowing enough. Most of the snow in NYC came in the form of snow and shower. Whether you have an umbrella or not, the rain, the snow, and the droughts would guarantee a messy day. Muddy slush, traffic sprays, and water hollows with illusive “solid” looks are everybody’s nightmare. There was hardly a snow that I could truly enjoy because everything becomes wet and ugly, and making snow angels was most unlikely.

Compare to that in NYC, the snow in Columbus is way fancier! Most importantly, it is rarely snow and shower. The air is fresh and crisp when it snows here. As a result, the snow usually falls down as fine granules, instead of large clusters. Sometimes it even floats down in light single complete snowflakes. The large amount of snow is not totally due to heavy snows. Once entered into winter, snow falls down almost every day, loosely and slowly. Walking out-door everyday with snowflakes quietly landing on your shoulders, your hands, is as common as seeing birds flying above in the sky and watching squirrels running across. These little scenes are not annoying, but more likely to add a blend of refreshing taste in your day.

Well well well, I know people are going to complain about all these thoughts because I am a person without a car and live close to campus. But no matter where you are, if you have a car to shovel, you have a car to shovel. My point is, if there has to be some snow, I would rather have it here than in somewhere else. So, let it snow, let it snow. =)

My Two Other “Firsts” during the Weekend

Along with the accounting research seminar mentioned in my previous entry, I had my super-duper triple “firsts” at Ohio State during this pass weekend – my first Seminar, Swimming, and Skating!

The school’s swimming pools are located at the bottom level of RPAC (Recreation & Physical Activity Center), with a professional name “The OSU Aquatic Center”. I was grateful that I checked the center out before it’s too late (Thanks Nadia!). The Aquatic Center is one of the places that you cannot miss at Ohio State. It includes standard pools (for swimming and diving), recreational lap pools, a leisure pool, a hot tub, and two sauna rooms. The facility, especially the locker rooms, is designed considerately for users’ need. Everything is so cool (except for the temperature, because it’s warm) and makes the visit convenient and wonderful. I would have regretted it if I did not make best use of the facility during my stay at Ohio State.

The OSU Rink is great too. It is very close to Fisher and is adjacent to the parking lot on Lane Avenue. $3 for student admission and $2 for skate rental, great prices! Tips: the skates at the rink are a little too hard, so if you are a frequent skater, it might worth purchasing your own skates. My feet hurt a lot when I was skating which they never did before (though I have not been skating for many years). I am not sure whether that was totally the skates’ problem or I was not tying them tight enough. I will probably go skate again this week and figure it out.

My First Accounting Research Seminar

Last Friday I attended my first accounting research seminar. The weekly accounting research seminar is hosted every Friday noon at Fisher, where business researchers across the country (mostly professionals from different schools) are invited to present their recent findings.

Since content discussed in the seminar was not yet published, and I am an outsider to accounting research, I won’t and I cannot comment on much detail. However, I can give some superficial opinion as an outsider; while interesting enough, I have attended some science research seminars before, also as an outsider, so here is some comparison and contrast. (Nothing is meant to be offensive and please forgive any impertinence.)

1. Seminar setting. The seminar settings were very similar for both accounting and science. A comfortable classroom or conference room, with 10-30 in the audience. Anyone could attend. Students and faculty members casually walked in and sat down before the presentation started. There was no dress code, though many audiences were in business casual as they came from work.

2. Structure. Same. Introduction, previous findings, new findings, methodologies, then conclusion. This structure is good for “beginners”, like me, because it provides clear outline of the project presented, explaining well why the research is conducted, how the research and analysis is done, and why the result is important.

3. Content. I definitely lean toward accounting research content. “Accounts”, “balances”, “incomes”, “statements”…these terms sound more pleasant to me compared to “T Cells”, “B Cells”, “interferon”, and “Glomerulonephritis”. =)

4. Research tools and methodology. This aspect is totally different between the two. Scientific research usually applies various experiments with specific equipment. The samples are usually concrete and tangible. To the contrary, accounting research relies on computer programming, simulation, and statistic tests.

5. Jokes. Business professionals are thought to be talkative and tell more jokes, but scientists tell jokes, too. It really depends on presenters’ style and personality. Nevertheless, my general feeling is that business jokes tend to be more funny and release tension, while I prove myself smart and/or knowledgeable by getting science jokes (yay).

LP, Bayes’, Stat, Tax, and Fraud –Hints for Incoming MAccers

Two days into the fourth week, course subjects have already been dramatic. My feelings have also been changing dramatically, following the waves of the topic flows.

Monday morning, the topic in the Fundamentals of Accounting class was Linear Programming (LP). Great thanks to the great job of my undergraduate professors, I felt very comfortable with LP. Prof. Arya’s lecture also added some useful new stuff. By the end of the class, half a day had flown easily and there I enjoyed the feeling of certainty so much that I understood everything taught in class.

But as time approaching 1:30pm, the feeling gradually switched from comfy to nervous. The Assurance class has been applying a lot of probability and statistics which is a weak field of mine. Walking in the classroom, I tried to keep my nerve by convincing myself that I have familiarized myself with Bayes’ Theorem, an important theorem in probability, and some other stat terms over the weekend so it should be okay. Nevertheless, walking out of the door after class, I was all “wet” by splashes of stat theories and totally sunk in the sea of statistics. That felt exactly the same way that you ran toward a sea with a life ring thinking it would be safe but you still got drowned.

With the weird feeling of “stat seasick”, quickly took a review quiz in the Tax class. In contrast to statistics, tax gave a much lighter taste and fortunately turned my feeling back to an upward trend.

Tuesday, guest speakers in the Fraud class. I sat in and enjoyed the speech as usual. Great speakers, interesting topic, and a dose of humor was just right. What’s special is that one of the speakers did commit fraud before and spent a year and a day in jail for conspiracy. As he talked about his experience, my once bounced mood dropped. I became very emotional listening to his guilty feeling about harms to family and I felt scared how easily this could happen to us, accountants, even if we have no intention to commit fraud.

Then the other speaker wrapped up the lecture, while I was still in the complexity of feelings, with a question, which also wrapped up these two days, “who still wants to be an accountant? Raise your hand.” A couple hands up? Welcome aboard.

Winter Confusion

It might be another side effect of the CPA exam, or a common symptom of entering a new quarter, or even a result under the influence of humid days following the snow. I am confused.

Surprisingly, the beginning of the winter quarter flowed through easily, despite my ten-minute mess with the locker lock trying to retrieve the password from my memory, and the last minute calls to friends or running into computer lab to get room numbers of the first classes. Looking at my course schedule, the vacant Tuesdays, Thursdays, and the weekends almost make heaven in grad school. This past week was even gracefully tempting with a Monday off. However, and why there is a “however”, not many items on my checklist were crossed out after the long weekend and more seem to be added!

I totally don’t understand how my time was wasted and am still struggling with a RISSAR chart that is due tomorrow (RISSAR stands for Risk Identification, Sourcing, Sizing, Assessment, and Response. It is an application to assess risks and analyze ways to prevent them from source, reduce them, and monitor them. You will learn it if you take Prof. Spires’ AMIS 822. FYI). And blink, I need this! I need one RISSAR chart for myself to assess and control risks of time waste. Winter is a shorter quarter compared to the Autumn quarter and can’t waste time. I have to climb along the chart grid to get out of this confusion as soon as possible. All right! Got to have this confusion clear and my Winter quarter would effectively start again. Efficiency from now on!

Something about CPA

I have been silent in the past few weeks partially because of this—the CPA exam. I might be the first to start taking the exam in this year’s class, and I would like to share my experience and opinions about it. Hopefully you will find these helpful.

First, it is not necessary to start early during the MAcc program like I did. I applied for the exam before the program started because my undergrad study allowed me to sit for the exam. I later found applying at that time was a mistake. Because an exam has to be taken within six months once I applied for it, the latest exam date available would be in early January. No exam schedule is available in September and December. I did not want to take the exam in October since I would be busying handling all the new stuff in the MAcc program and the new environment. November was the peak of exams and projects, no extra exam desired either. So the only time left was early January which was comparably reasonable as I might be able to study for the exam during the winter break in December.

Once you decide to start taking the CPA, it is best to have your study plan as early as possible. Do some research ahead of time so that to make your plan practical and suitable for you. Analyze time available to study, your study style, and any possible interruptions. Don’t let an optimal plan cheat you nor let any “noise” frustrate you once you commit to your plan. Real story: I don’t think I prepared well for my exam because (1) I did not plan well and (2) I did not commit to it. Make sure you learn from the loser’s story =(.

While preparation for the CPA is a little stressful, in my opinion, there are some pros. Studying for the exam helped me review various topics covered in past courses I took. Some material also complemented and summarized these topics which gave me a clearer picture of the related knowledge as in a system. This benefit has appeared since the winter quarter began. Many familiar concepts and theories have popped up in several of my classes, which allowed me to grasp the new knowledge taught.

Therefore, there is not a “best” time or best way to prepare for the CPA exam. If you plan to take it right after graduation from MAcc, start looking at the related information, such as requirements and exam format, in winter break or spring break. By the way, have your budget go in line with your plan, too. Although the CPA exam is not the most expensive exam in the world, it is not cheap.