Is Passing The CPA Exam About IQ Or Hard Work?

When I used to interview artists, I would always ask them whether they thought the success of their work was due more to talent or diligence. The answer was always the same: while talent may be what spurs you into being an artist, it’s the hard work, the putting in the time to your craft that makes the great artists stand out from the mediocre ones.

On the same note, you may wonder whether passing the CPA exam is about IQ or hard work. I’ll agree with my artist friends: IQ may play a role, but working hard is ultimately what is going to help you pass the exam.

Hard Work Often Trumps IQ

There may be times when talent will preside over hard work. But that doesn’t mean that talent doesn’t need hard work. Take Michael Phelps for example, arguably the greatest Olympic athlete of all time. The man is extremely talented. But imagine if he didn’t put in the work. What if he was just a talented swimmer, but didn’t put in the effort to be great? It’s likely he wouldn’t have the Olympic hardware he has now.

CPA exam about IQ or hard work

Hard work is often underrated, but if you are going to pass this exam, it’s something you have to become friends with. No matter how smart you are or how well you did in school, you’re going to have to put in some time to pass this thing.

Find What Works For You

I’m not going to lie to you: it’s going to be easier for some people to pass the CPA exam than others. Some people just have accounting-wired brains or are especially good at memorization. But don’t let that thinking deter you. The most important thing you should remember when taking the CPA exam is you’ll pass as long as you put in the effort specific to your needs.

For example, one person might pass the exam with only 400 hours of studying. Another might take 800. Does that make person A better than person B? No, person B just needs some more time. In the end, they’ll both have passed, so why does it matter how much time each put in? You shouldn’t care, because your future employer doesn’t care.

Don’t Give Up

If we analyze pass-fail patterns, we can see that people have a higher chance of passing a section of the CPA exam the second time they take it. So don’t give up if you fail an exam.

The best course of action is to reevaluate how much time and effort you put into studying for a particular section, and which areas of that section you didn’t understand as well as you’d like. If there are gaps in this information (i.e. you didn’t put in enough time or didn’t understand a particular section), that’s where you need to be extra diligent the next time you study.

Unless you’re really, really at the end of your rope, or are considering a major career change, don’t give up on this exam. You can do it; you just have to figure out what works best for you. I know you can crush this thing once you find your study groove.

Good luck my CPA friends!

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