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Jonathan Cochrane, Integrated MAcc Class of 2011

Portrait of Jonathan Cochrane, Integrated MAcc Class of 2011

Preparing for the CPA Exam

Following my 5th year of school at Penn State, and my graduation from the Master of Accounting Program (MAcc) in the Smeal College of Business, my next order of business was passing the CPA exam.  I enrolled in the intensive CPA prep course taught by Penn State professors with high hopes of passing the exam before I began working for Ernst & Young in October, 2011.  Having familiar faces teaching the review classes helped ease the anxiety and pressure associated with the CPA exam; however, it didn’t take away the time commitment I made during the summer towards passing the exam.  Each day following the review classes, I found a table in the Smeal Business Building atrium and studied anywhere from 6-8 hours each afternoon in addition to the 3-4 hours of class in the morning.  After the completion of the prep course, at the end of June, I took all four parts during the testing window in July and August.  I gave myself two additional weeks to review the lectures and practice problems a second time prior to each exam.  It may have seemed overkill at the time; however I wanted to leave nothing to chance.  Thankfully all the preparation and hard work paid off and I passed each part on the first try!

My ability to pass the CPA exam on the first try in a two month window can only be attributed to following three reasons: One, the excellent education I received from Penn State’s Smeal College of Business, and more specifically the MAcc program.  All of the topics covered in the CPA prep courses were a review of everything I learned in my classes at Penn State.  My accounting classes in the MAcc program were taught in greater depth and detail than what was tested on the CPA exam.  Two, the CPA review course that I took, in my opinion, is the best review course available.  The modules, practice problems, practice exams and lectures are all tailored to thoroughly prepare you to take and pass the CPA exam.  Three, good ol’ hard work.  If you put in the appropriate time and effort you can and will pass this exam.  One of my favorite quotes is, “Practice does not make perfect.  Only perfect practice makes perfect – Vince Lombardi.” I believe an education from the Smeal MAcc program, completing the review course and taking the time to meticulously practice and prepare for the exam is the “perfect practice” to successfully pass the CPA exam.


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