He who seeketh, findeth

July 28, 2009

CPA Exam REG preparation (20 days to go)

Filed under: CPA,REG — Steve (Chessiq) @ 10:58 pm

I am a little behind on my studying and my blogging. Both are important to me. The studying is what will make me pass the exam. The blogging is what will keep me motivated as I track my progress.

Where am I? What has happened since the last time I wrote something here?

Well, I kept up the exercising in the morning, until last Saturday, when I worked out at night and I didn’t on Sunday, and yesterday and today! Was exercising the only thing that stopped? No, not really. I kept studying at lunch… the notes from cpacfa(?) and I think I have kept that up. I didn’t do it today because I went to see my Dentist again. I think he did crappy work with a temporary crown… but I will not get into it now.

I am in chapter 6 of the cpacfa notes, so by the end of this week, I will be going over those one more time. I think they are good for overview and review – just to tell you where you are headed and then later to see where you have been.

I finished the 113 question on the testprep CD (Ethics) and then started on … I don’t remember – I think it is CPAs and the law – there are all these things about when you can be sued for negligence, or gross negligence… I think there is a case called Ultramares v Touche – and various defenses to various suits. Pretty interesting. I think I did about 20-30 MCQ and there are probably 140MCQs in this unit. I have started taking notes as I do the MCQs.

What else did I do? I went to the library on Saturday (after running some errands) – and I put in a couple of hours. That’s how the first study unit was finished and the second started.

I did a lot of non-school things – and I can honestly say I don’t regret spending my time that way – well, 90% okay with it. I bought groceries, baby clothes for a friend’s kid, cooked, read lots of blogs and got inspired along the way (here are the two that I really liked: Path to the CFA and Early Retirement Extreme), I went to the Dentist – Friday and today, I visited some friends, I spoke with a few friends, I made a new friend – well, another blogger!, but he is good guy, a lawyer, and I am inspired by his love for his wife, among many other things.  So, I am not beating myself too much.

Changes going forward:

I have cut a few days from the >>> (“XX days to go”) to 20 and we will be counting down from there. My reasoning is that from now on, I want to be doing a study unit a day. Whether it is fully done or not, I will move on to the next one. When all the study units have been attempted or studied or reviewed at least once, I will then spend the last week or so before the exam, patching up whatever is remaining. This also will force me to make sure that I do the best I can each day on a particular study unit.

I have started working til 6pm – and I am shooting to work no later than 7pm. I hope this continues even though month end is here. No excuses, already!

This is 10:55pm. I had a choice between sleeping, studying, and blogging the past couple of minutes (or hour), but I figured, I have been putting off documenting my progress for a couple of days, and if I don’t do it until it is all nice and I am caught with my studying, I may not do it. Bite the bullet, and then do your best going forward.

I will stop here and see what I do before I sleep.

It is a wonderful life.

July 24, 2009

CPA exam prep – REG – day overview#03

Filed under: CPA,REG — Steve (Chessiq) @ 8:54 am

Overview#2 update:

10:20pm-11pm: 20 MCQs Ethics; Gleim Testprep CD; 70%; I also read the original draft of Interpretation 501-1 from the AICPA website. It was nice to see all the edits.

Thoughts that I took to bed: “Soliciting of clients is okay, as long as it is not false, misleading, or deceptive.” “If client owes you fees for attest services performed last year, you are not independent ~~ like a loan.” “Acts discreditable”. “Knowledge of an error.” “There is something wrong with names like “Pay Less Tax Inc”, or “XYZ & Co.” for a sole owner”.

33 days to go - www.math.niu.eduOverview#03 update:

5:08am – woke up. I couldn’t sleep for the past hour or so.

5:15am – 5:35am: Test Mode, Gleim Testprep, Ethics, 20 MCQ, 85%

5:36 – 6:00am: Study Mode, Gleim Testprep, Ethics, same 20 MCQ as above, 85% – didn’t change my choice of answers, I just wanted to see the explanations to the solutions.

6:00am – 6:14am: Test Mode, 24 MCQ, Ethics, 91% – I decided to be doing 24 MCQ in test mode so that I can prepare myself for the 24 questions in the MCQ testlets on the actual exam. Gleim recommends doing 20 in 30 minutes. I like 30 in 30 minutes, so 24 is okay. I think I am doing 24 in 24.

6:20am – 6:38am: Study Mode, Questions 1 – 15. I decided to go through all the 111 or 113 questions. This is what I did for the other 3 sections. So, there is no need for me to change my routine. It worked for FAR and BEC, I hope it worked for AUD, and I think it will work for REG.

6:40am – 7:45am: Worked out, got ready for work, ate breakfast, drove off to work.

8:10am – 10:40pm: at work. So much about not spending more than 9 hours at work! I had to help out with some account reconciliations towards the end of the day. I studied here and there as follows:

1:15pm – 2:15pm: studied cpacfa REG notes 2 as planned. Individual Taxation – deductions. Very nice formulas! I could not stop thinking, as I used to when I took a Federal Taxation class for my M.S.A., “who, and why, did they think up these formulas and conditions and exceptions?” – that is one reason why I like going to the original drafts to see the background to things. Anyway, Taxation is so voluminous and complex that I just don’t have time to research it all. Oh, and I think I spent about an hour or so, checking out my favorite blogs before I started studying, you know, destressing from and getting ready to do some school.

8:53pm – 10:32pm: Study Mode MCQs, Q16 – Q70, ethics; a little over 40 more questions to go.

I had dinner (soup) during that time. Spoke to some consultants who were preparing for a proposal to be submitted Friday, 7/24/09. I was very tired most of the day. Partly because I did not sleep well last night, and I had been up since 3:30am or there about. I finally had decided that trying to sleep wasn’t working that’s why I started studying at around 5:15am. Pretty long day.

Even though I was tired while studying, I took some decent notes. About two pages worth of notes. I have a few things I need to check out later: ISB3; Conduct Rule 102; SSTS No.1; Interpretation 101-12; Conduct Rule 503; FTC Order dated August 3, 1990; and a few definitions.

Made it home safely. Threw myself on the bed, took off the shoes, and slept in full gear! I work up at 5:50am this morning, and worked out a little. I guess that’s for the 4th update which I will complete tonight. I have a dentist appointment this morning, so I will go to work in the afternoon. Half day. I guess I better head out.

It is a wonderful life!

July 22, 2009

CPA exam prep – REG – day overview#02

Filed under: AUD,CPA,REG — Steve (Chessiq) @ 10:01 pm

34 days to go - www.math.niu.edu6:30am – 8:20am Woke up. Stretching, sit-ups, etc 30 reps. Shower. Iron/press work clothes. Breakfast. 1 load of laundry. Prayed. Read mission statement, goals, dreams, etc. Packed lunch. Drove to work. Started work at 8:20am.

1:15pm – 2pm – studied while having lunch. Finished REG study notes 1 at cpacfa. I just wanted something light, without too much detail and different from the AICPA ethics that I was studying yesterday. Individual Taxation was not bad. I think I will spend my lunches reading the notes at cpacfa. If I keep at it, then I may be able to go over those notes 5 times before the exam. I can then do my “normal” studying – book, audio CDs, DVD, and MCQs when I am not thinking about getting back to work. 

6:pm – 10pm – Off work. Talked to co-workers for a bit (20 minutes or so – about pets!). Cooked dinner. Facebook. Read a bunch of blogs. Commented on one or two blogs. Cleaned up items used to cook dinner. Now I am updating this. I thought it was important to update my “REG prep journal” even though I didn’t accomplish much. It will give me motivation to do better next time. I will try to finish before 10pm so that I can put in an hour of studying before going to bed.

10pm – ???pm REG MCQs (I will update in tomorrow’s post).

I was thinking about AUD the other time and I found out that I could have answered part of the question I pretty much left unanswered if I had done a “horizontal window split” instead of vertical! I tried the vertical and things didn’t fit well, so I was flipping between two tabs… one with the data, the other with the question… UUURRRGGH! Anyway, now I know!

Good night!

It is a wonderful life!

July 21, 2009

CPA exam prep – REG – day overview#01

Filed under: CPA,REG — Steve (Chessiq) @ 10:46 pm

8:30am ~ 6:40pm work. Went out to lunch, so didn’t study.

Drove home.

7:15pm – 8:08pm Gleim Book up to p.26. AICPA Ethics.

Break; did dishes; snacked; ate dinner between 8:40pm and 8:50pm. Probably read a page or half page while eating. Cleaned/washed my dinner stuff. Prepared to cook rice – part of the rest of the week’s lunches and dinners. I think Basmati rice is the best 😉 Spoke with my friend “Sting”.

9pm ~ 10:15pm Gleim Book up to p.34. AICPA Ethics. It is not the most interesting stuff to read. On the one hand, it is common sense, on the other hand, it is detailed and specific, and it appears you just need to know the exceptional situations. I didn’t take any notes. I usually take my notes when I do the MCQs.

I have 10 pages to go – to finish this study unit. I am happy with what I have done today, considering it is a day right after the horrible AUD exam. I put in my 2 hours; it is less than the 4 planned, but it is okay for today.

Goals going forward:

  • Read faster – (more like scanning to get the general idea)
  • Work no more than 9 hours unless it is month end
  • Get to work early, between 8am and 8:30am and leave by 6pm so that I can rest, study, and sleep by 10pm
  • Spend 15 minutes cleaning/decluttering/whatever, each day. If there is nothing to clean, meditate, or pray. Some positive act during my study break.
  • Read my mission statement first thing in the morning, last thing at night.
  • Stretch, do sit-ups, shower before going to bed (not sure if I should do the exercise before I shower in the morning. Probably that’s a good idea, as that will wake me up and get me going. I will see.)
  • No more discussing AUD or thinking about it (too much)
  • Decided that I will not check my AUD results until after I take REG (so help me God!)

“Effect of actual or threatened litigation (Interpretation 101-6)”

Word of the day: “Cross-claims”

It is a wonderful life.

CPA Exam REG preparation (35 days to go)

Filed under: CPA,REG — Steve (Chessiq) @ 7:12 am

35 days to go - www.math.niu.eduToday, I woke up at 5:30am; not my normal wake up time, but I will try to keep that going. I wrote up my thoughts on how to prepare for Auditing and Attestation, just in case my fears come to pass, and I have to retake it. For some reason, as I was going over my observations and trying to remember the questions I got and how I thought about them during the exam and what I thought were my weak areas, I felt a little bit of hope! Anyway, I made my notes, and then I proceeded to download the GLEIM testprep software for Regulation (which I purchased last night, but the computer/internet was acting up). I think at some point I looked up a few things that I was not sure about – just to know. I didn’t quite go through it. I told myself it was just a waste of time. We will know in due time. I read a few things on the internet – not school related. I did a few questions in study mode. I don’t think I will be using my personal computer for this, so I will install the software on my work computer because it is always with me and I can also have everything in one place, instead of having study units, or parts thereof, spread between the two computers… so it was a half-hearted effort. I decided to read the book or some other notes before doing the Testprep MCQs. The tentative plan will be: to study book from 5:30am to 6:30am, and at lunch from 12pm to 1pm, and then work on the MCQs at night for about 2 hours or so.

It is now 7:12am, I have to get ready for work. I will try to post my progress, thoughts and reflections every day.

It is a wonderful life.

July 20, 2009

CPA exams – AUD (Auditing and Attestation) – rough!

Filed under: AUD,CPA,REG — Steve (Chessiq) @ 10:08 pm

I took the Auditing and Attestation exam today, and it was rough. I do not remember the last time I sat for an exam and almost every question was hard. Part of it was because the exam itself was really tough, another reason is that I didn’t prepare as well as I should have. I didn’t open the Wiley book except for less than 10 pages. I relied on the going over the DVDs and lots of multiple choice questions (MCQs). This past Saturday, 7/18/09, I finished going over the last batch of the multiple choice questions. I looked to see how many MCQs were on the Wiley CD, I was disappointed to see that there were only about 900 questions. I looked at the 2007 Gleim testprep database to see how many questions there were, over 1600! So, the 2007 Gleim CD had more AUD MCQs than the 2009 Wiley CD? I told myself not to worry. I decided to take a bunch of 30 MCQ tests on the 2007 Gleim Testprep to see how I would do. I was averaging 70%. I almost said, “not bad” as I used to, but this was different. I used to get about 70% on the Gleim on my first pass through… this time around, I was getting that on my 2nd pass through. Not good. Auditing and Attestation is totally different from FAR or BEC. Obviously, you expect the content to be different, but the approaches, and thinking demands and question methodology is totally different. It is hard to explain. I told myself that people have passed with Wiley testprep software before, so I should not despair… but I had my doubts. Anyway, I went to work yesterday afternoon and I was there til 1 a.m. I reviewed all my hand-written notes, printed out a bunch of things to review today, etc. I studied a little bit, about 2 hours in the car, before going into the exam.

The first testlet was pretty tough, but not much different from the other “tough” testlets in BEC or FAR. The questions were very tricky. It seemed like each time, I had to choose from two options – I guess that’s the essence of MCQs! But if you know your stuff, you are able to quickly choose between the two. I spent 48 minutes on the first testlet. Submitted it. The second one was worse than the first. I have read that if you do really well on the first, you get a really bad/tough second testlet. Well, I got a really bad one even though I didn’t think I did great on the first one. This one slaughtered me. Seriously. I spent about 52 minutes on it, I think. I checked at one point, and I had may be 8 questions marked for review. I think it was during this testlet that I resorted to my old way of testing, which is to skip whatever appears long and tough and get back to it after I have gone through all the questions in the testlet answered the “easier” questions first. Well, I didn’t quite stick to that plan because there were some questions that were kind long or tough, but I thought I could figure out if I spent a few more seconds on them. Anyway, I turned those in, and then came a third testlet, which was more tricky than tough. If the theories that say that if you do well or flop then you get a tougher or easier (respectively) testlet are true, then that was sort of proof that I really messed up on the second one. I had almost 3 hours to answer the next 3 testlets. Anyway, I went through the third testlet sort of quickly. By the way, I spent about 5 minutes reviewing each testlet before turning it in. I wondered why I was doing it because I don’t change my answers; well, until today! I changed two answers on the third testlet, and lucky enough, I found out that those were the correct calls when I was doing the simulations and I happened to see sections that addressed the same in the research tab. No wonder they don’t let you have access to all the questions at the same time! Well, I guess people would waste time researching and not finish;-)

Anyway, simulation time… I was bombed and tired by this time. I had 2 hours and I figured that was plenty of time for the 2 simuls.

Of course, as always, I scanned all the tabs to see what was asked. I started with either the research tab or the written section. Those were okay. The other questions were just a mess, but I completed them all within my alloted time, 1 hour. Then came the 5th simulation… Oh, my God! Talk about my second testlet being horrible… this was the worst possible simulation one could get. 6 question tabs, about 10 questions on each of the first 4 tabs… The questions were not clear (to me). Anyway, thanks AICPA! I was only able to complete 5 of the tabs with a bunch of guesses. I think the tab that I did not complete had the most points, just by remembering how long it took me to figure out what needed to be done on that question, and how to answer even one question. Anyway, I ran out of time, and I was sure I had failed AUD. I don’t even have an idea how bad I did. All I can say, I did really bad. We will know in the next 2 1/2 months.

Lessons learnt and resolutions:

I will not use Wiley 14.0 MCQs again. Even if I pass, I will maintain that I could have faired much better if I had stuck with the Gleim CDs. So, I saved about $55 by not paying for the Gleim testprep for AUD, and it may cost me about $300 to retake, $$$$ of heartache, $$$$ of lost raises at work! Not the greatest decision! I surely could have done better with my studying. I should have read the book. I should have finished my review weeks ago. I should have practiced more MCQs, and I should have bought the Gleim software.

I am going to start preparing for REG (Regulation) tomorrow. I going to buy the Gleim testprep for that section. I will use that in tandem with the book and the DVDs.  For the first time in a long time, I will study something everyday.

AICPA, CPA Exam REG, here I come!

It is a wonderful life.

July 4, 2009

AUD – Internal Controls, done

Filed under: AUD,CPA,Goals — Steve (Chessiq) @ 6:42 pm

Happy July 4th! I just finished going over the Wiley multiple choice questions on Internal Controls; 178 of them! I had started some time back, and as of last night, I was at question 50 or somewhere there. I went to a chess tournament last night; I joined in the second round at around 8pm. I think we finished a little after midnight. I came home and I started working on the MCQs and I crashed along the way. The next time I woke up, the computer was on, the lights were on, I was in full gear… so I just changed and turned off the lights and the computer. Woke up this morning, read a couple of financial blogs, and ate breakfast around 11am. I have been “studying” from 11:30am til 6pm – with a few breaks to get a snack, join CPAnet’s Facebook club, register at SCRIBD so that I could download some AUD notes, and read news about soldiers who have been killed, etc.

I got 126 question correct out of the 178, so that’s 70.79%, which, as I used to say for BEC, it was “not bad for a first pass through”! I think my score for the Engagement Planning was about the same if not a point higher, so if BEC experience is anything to go by, I am doing okay. The only slight problem is that I intend to get 95 (95%) on the actual CPA exam. So, my plan is to finish the first pass through in good time so that I can go over the stuff one more time. I think that once I am done with the Wiley CD 14.0 MCQs, I will read the book, read my notes, read the notes I downloaded from the CPAnet forum, and then take a bunch of MCQ tests with the Gleim TestPrep CD which I will buy in the next two weeks, the weekend of the exam. In short, I would like to overprepare, if there is such a thing, and see if I can get a 95 or better on the actual exam.

Why 95? It is just a score that I wrote down a few days before the BEC exam. It was a little late for FAR because I had already taken the exam and I was scared I could even fail, but I had written down 85 for FAR, and I got 84. I had written down 90 for BEC and I got 87. Those two do not count as far as I am concerned because I wrote down my goals after the exam or a little before the exam. So, AUD and REG, here I come! Help me God!

I am going to start working on Evidence tonight. I am not sure if I will do much tomorrow because I have to do some work that is due Monday. We just finished a normal Audit last week, and here comes the Bank Audit! I feel that just going through a recent audit has helped me relate some of the things that I am studying to the things that the Auditors were asking for, as I was pretty involved in the process. I look forward to the day when I will send things to my accountant to pull, research, or reconcile!

Anyway, another 3 months at most, and hopefully, I will be done! You have to tell yourself that you can do it. You cannot lose hope. You cannot allow yourself to be negative. Look who is talking! I have to read my mission statement, eat, exercise, shower, watch fireworks, pray, study, and then sleep. By the way, Evidence has 241 questions! Yes!!!

It is a wonderful life.

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