The CPA Exam Can Be Really Hard... on Your Friends and Family

by Juan Arana, Wilkin & Guttenplan, P.C. – March 27, 2018
The CPA Exam Can Be Really Hard... on Your Friends and Family

Whether you decide to run a marathon, hike the Appalachian Trail or sit for the CPA Exam, one thing is certain: you need to be committed to your success. CPA candidates have to be dedicated to their studies, which is a huge time commitment to not only them but also to their family and friends. But in the end, passing the CPA Exam is one of the most rewarding feelings and makes the journey well worth it.

When I was contemplating the decision to sit for the exam, I recall the conversation I had with my wife about the benefits of becoming a CPA and the amount of time I would have to dedicate to studying. I had to let her know that I would be committing to one to two hours per weeknight after work, along with six to eight hours on the weekends for approximately 18 months. Although she was very supportive and understanding, we were both unaware of just how difficult the next year was going to be.

While some candidates have a general understanding of the time involved, most don’t fully understand how the CPA Exam can truly impact their daily life. For example, waking up in the middle of the night to check your scores will become your new norm. I found myself glued to the computer screen at 12 a.m. eagerly awaiting the scores to show up only to realize that the NASBA website had become unresponsive due to the traffic overload from too many candidates doing the same thing. 

Once the webpage loaded, I remember how relieved my wife and I were that I passed my first section. As she headed back to bed, she quickly congratulated me and added how tough the prior three months had been for her. It was then that I realized that it does not take long before your family and friends start to express how the CPA Exam takes a toll on them.

In the beginning, I didn’t fully understand how my dedication to studying for the Exam was taking a toll on my wife. After all, I was the one who was putting in the late hours of studying. What I didn’t take into account was that my wife was juggling her career and most of the household chores alone. Let’s be honest, how would you feel if your significant other stopped spending time with you or you now had to wash the dishes every night without any help? Shared tasks like walking the dog, cooking dinner, cleaning the house, laundry and groceries were being done mostly by my wife while I was listening to my CPA instructor on the computer.

Looking back, passing the first section was the most difficult for two reasons. First and most importantly, I realized it was taking a toll on my wife, and secondly I was still searching for the best and most efficient study method to pass the remaining sections.

There are a few things you can do to help balance your personal and professional life. The key is to find the most efficient study method that works best for you. This will allow you the flexibility to manage personal relationships while focusing on your studies. Going on a date, helping with chores around the house or grabbing a drink with your best friends is a great way to recharge your mind. Not only will this help you manage your personal relationships, it will also give you the motivation to move forward with your studies.

The CPA Exam is considered to be one of the most difficult of all professional licensing exams. I can say with confidence that I could not have passed all four sections without the help and support of my wife, family and friends. There are many tools available to help aspiring CPAs with the exam and licensing process. The online resources from njcpa.org and aicpa.org are a great place to start.


Juan Arana

Juan Arana is an accountant with Wilkin & Guttenplan, P.C. and is pursuing his CPA license. He is a CPA Candidate member of the NJCPA.

This article appeared in the March/April 2018 issue of New Jersey CPA magazine. Read the full issue.