Take the CPA exam?

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bostonlawchick
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Take the CPA exam?

Postby bostonlawchick » Sat May 15, 2010 1:36 pm

Just looking for some opinions from the wise readers of TLS. I'm an accounting major and I just finished up my junior year. I'm taking the LSAT in June and hoping to start LS in September of 2011. In my state we can take the CPA exam after we get our UG degree and can become a certified CPA after 150 credits, which usually means an MSA degree. I think to be a fully functioning CPA though you need like a year of auditing work, which I wouldn't be able to get. Because I have a minor, I'll be graduating with 150 credits. I'm just wondering if it would be helpful in the long run to take and pass the CPA the summer between UG and LS, even though I wouldn't have any accounting work experience. I doubt I'll have anything more pressing to do next summer.

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Dr. Strangelove
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Re: Take the CPA exam?

Postby Dr. Strangelove » Sat May 15, 2010 2:47 pm

When's the deadline for registering for the CPA exam?
What do you plan to do with the CPA throughout law school?
If you just want it for the sake of saying, "I'm a certified CPA."- then it's not a good idea.
However, if you want to be a tax lawyer- being a CPA would be useful.

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vexion
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Re: Take the CPA exam?

Postby vexion » Sat May 15, 2010 2:57 pm

1) Would you even be able to take (let alone pass) all four parts in that timeframe? iirc they're administered months apart

2) I disagree about a passing grade on the exam helping in any way in a legal career. As was mentioned, requirements to actually BE a CPA vary state-by-state, but common requirements include a passing grade on all four parts of the exam, 150 hours in college (in my state, the 150 is required to SIT for the exam) and a year of work experience. Given you wouldn't have the WE, you can't really put "CPA" on your résumé. And the only part firms would care about is the WE. Given you would have taken the exam 3+ years ago, they'll assume you've forgotten it all.

I think you would get a boost in the legal world if you had practiced as a CPA. But just an accounting major and a good grade on the exam do not an accountant make. Besides, with so many changes in accounting rules constantly in the regulatory pipeline, your academic knowledge will be next to worthless by the time you graduate LS. IFRS, anyone?

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bostonlawchick
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Re: Take the CPA exam?

Postby bostonlawchick » Sat May 15, 2010 4:30 pm

The exam, as far as I can tell, is just something you pick a time for and they give you a testing window. You can take the four parts months apart, two at a time, or closer together. Not easy, but not impossible to do in a summer. In my state, you get your certificate when you complete 150 credits and pass all the parts of the exam, but you can't sign off stuff until you've had like a thousand hours of work experience or something like that. Judging from all the emails I've been getting from exam prep, IFRS changes are going to be included on the CPA starting next year anyway, and they're pounding them into our brains in class right now. I'm not sure if I want to do tax law, I want to keep my options open.

Anyway... I just figured it was more of a "why not, I've got nothing else to do" sort of thing.

lawyerhopefull
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Re: Take the CPA exam?

Postby lawyerhopefull » Sat May 15, 2010 4:40 pm

If you think you can pass it, take it.

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NewLobo
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Re: Take the CPA exam?

Postby NewLobo » Sat May 15, 2010 4:40 pm

Just a warning: The CPA exam is not easy, and I doubt a summer is enough prep.

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bostonlawchick
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Re: Take the CPA exam?

Postby bostonlawchick » Sat May 15, 2010 5:22 pm

Have you taken it? If you have... do you think it's helpful to take masters level classes before taking it or can you pass on your undergrad knowledge alone? I'm pretty good at testing and I feel like if I put some time into it I should be okay fresh out of my senior year. Unless you really need that specialized knowledge from the more advanced classes. Thanks :D

lawgunner75
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Re: Take the CPA exam?

Postby lawgunner75 » Sat May 15, 2010 5:38 pm

I am a CPA starting law school this fall. If you decide to take the exam, I would recommend a prep course. I took Convisor Duffy my last year of UG; I think it has since merged with another prep company. But the prep course will really steer you towards how and what to study to pass.

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straxen
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Re: Take the CPA exam?

Postby straxen » Sat May 15, 2010 5:41 pm

In the process of CPA licensure, so let me give my reflections on the exam.

The content of the exam is not particularly difficult but emphasizes extreme breadth of knowledge rather than depth or intelligence (though those are certainly helpful).

I basically took the opposite approach to the CPA exam as to the LSAT. My intent was to study as little as possible with the understanding I could retake. This was partially due to time constraints with work and partially due to my lack of interest in the tedious minutiae of the content of some of the sections.

I didn't study at all for BEC and passed (barely and it's pretty general knowledge). I studied for REG for about a week and passed by a fair margin, though I work in tax...if you don't this is probably the section requiring the most study. I studied FAR enough to have a vague familiarity with non-profit and governmental accounting and rested on my college understanding of financial accounting and passed by a safe margin. I failed AUD miserably the first time after studying only for a weekend, studied for a full week, and barely passed on the second time. (Note that in some States, like mine, the ethics exam required for CPA licensure is considered harder/more time consuming than the CPA exam).
[BEC: 76, REG: 86, FAR: 89, AUD: 66,76]

The moral of the story being that if you aren't too proud to fail, it doesn't require that much studying if you're a good test-taker and can make educated guesses. You can miss a lot and still pass. But if you want to do well on the exam or MUST pass all parts within a single testing window, it will be extraordinarily difficult.

I don't think master's training is worth the time or energy if it even helps at all. Good study materials are a must but a course isn't worth the money unless you get reimbursed.

Unless you're willing to get the year of experience and get the license, it's probably not that helpful to take the exam. I'm very glad I got the experience and license, and would recommend it if you have the opportunity and are willing to delay law school.

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bostonlawchick
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Re: Take the CPA exam?

Postby bostonlawchick » Sat May 15, 2010 6:36 pm

straxen wrote:In the process of CPA licensure, so let me give my reflections on the exam.

The content of the exam is not particularly difficult but emphasizes extreme breadth of knowledge rather than depth or intelligence (though those are certainly helpful).

I basically took the opposite approach to the CPA exam as to the LSAT. My intent was to study as little as possible with the understanding I could retake. This was partially due to time constraints with work and partially due to my lack of interest in the tedious minutiae of the content of some of the sections.

I didn't study at all for BEC and passed (barely and it's pretty general knowledge). I studied for REG for about a week and passed by a fair margin, though I work in tax...if you don't this is probably the section requiring the most study. I studied FAR enough to have a vague familiarity with non-profit and governmental accounting and rested on my college understanding of financial accounting and passed by a safe margin. I failed AUD miserably the first time after studying only for a weekend, studied for a full week, and barely passed on the second time. (Note that in some States, like mine, the ethics exam required for CPA licensure is considered harder/more time consuming than the CPA exam).
[BEC: 76, REG: 86, FAR: 89, AUD: 66,76]

The moral of the story being that if you aren't too proud to fail, it doesn't require that much studying if you're a good test-taker and can make educated guesses. You can miss a lot and still pass. But if you want to do well on the exam or MUST pass all parts within a single testing window, it will be extraordinarily difficult.

I don't think master's training is worth the time or energy if it even helps at all. Good study materials are a must but a course isn't worth the money unless you get reimbursed.

Unless you're willing to get the year of experience and get the license, it's probably not that helpful to take the exam. I'm very glad I got the experience and license, and would recommend it if you have the opportunity and are willing to delay law school.


Thanks for the info! That's what I gathered from friends that had taken it too. My UG business program is pretty pushy about getting all its accounting students to stay on for their 5th year and take their exam during their year in the masters program. Many of my classes this semester have used old CPA exam questions and I didn't think they were super hard, it's just a lot of stuff to remember. Then again, I haven't taken auditing yet.

After switching majors so many times, I'm going to be 25 when I graduate college. I really don't want to put off law school any longer (and I'm terrified of having my UG loans go into repayment :shock: ).

Any opinions on if a dual program with an LLM in Tax would be better? I was perusing some school sites and saw a couple programs like this.




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