CERTIFIED: Knowing what you don’t know

Written on Mar 08, 2018

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA content manager

Certified follows a group of aspiring CPAs while they prepare for and take the various sections of the CPA exam. We started following our candidates in May 2016, and this is part two of Janeen Smith-Hughes’ story. Read part one here.

Once Janeen Smith-Hughes graduated from the Masters of Accounting program at Ohio State, it’s not unrealistic to think she would be accustomed to studying. But she said preparing for the CPA exam is much different from grad school.

janeen-smith-hughes“For me, it’s not an easy transition because the schooling is very different,” she said, “Because there are programs, especially online programs, where you will take the coursework or you will learn the things specifically that are on the exam. Whereas the MAcc program at Ohio State is very much a theory-based, research-based program.”

She did anticipate this difference, so the shift in learning is no surprise. But that doesn’t make the process any easier. She described herself as a “learner” when it comes to her study style.

“I know what I know and I know what I don’t know, so I can spend a lot of time on the things that I don’t know,” she said. “I learn fairly well through writing, so writing out a whole problem works well for me. But the stuff I don’t know that I’ve never been exposed to… that’s taking a while.”

Smith-Hughes has scheduled Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) for July 12, three days after she gets back from a cruise vacation with her family. She’s not worried about being gone so close to the exam because she’s almost done studying for this section. When she returns from vacation she plans to spend time reviewing the task-based simulations and multiple-choice questions.

She also has scheduled multiple job interviews at various mid-sized firms around Columbus. She most enjoys client interaction, so she said doesn’t aspire to sit in a cubicle for 10 hours a day only working on spreadsheets.

As for taking her first section, this moment has been a long time coming and she is eager to see what the experience is like.

“I’m excited,” she said. “This is the section I feel most confident about, which is why I’m taking it first.”

Next time: What happened during FAR?

Sponsored by MDS CPA Review and Yaeger CPA Review.

Leave a comment