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My CPA exam journey

IN the recently concluded certified public accountant licensure examination (CPALE), an impressive surge in passing rates injected fresh hope to aspiring candidates, drawing a remarkable 8,734 determined individuals for this year's examination held in October. My heartfelt congratulations go out to all the candidates who took part. Merely showing up for the exam is an act of bravery that deserves acknowledgment. The resilience displayed by my fellow candidates and the collective dedication to this challenging path serve as a testament to the unwavering spirit that defines those in pursuit of excellence.

As one of those candidates, I was also deeply inspired by the remarkable success rate observed in the May 2023 exam. This motivation propelled me to embark on my own CPALE journey this October 2023.

This examination, spanning six comprehensive subjects intricately linked to five years of undergraduate education, is undoubtedly rigorous. The challenge lies in condensing years of knowledge into a mere five months of intense preparation, requiring a foundational grasp of every concept within these subjects — an essential qualification for a certified public accountant.

I am pleased to share that I successfully navigated these challenges, emerging triumphant from the examination.

I can attribute my success to many factors, one of which includes my family and friends who continue to believe in me. Additionally, what I can say that made me survive the arduous CPALE journey can be distilled into the following: community, prayer, anchoring knowledge, lecturers and experience.

Engage actively within the review community. In the review center where I was enrolled, there was a group chat and group page where reviewees can interact with one another, fostering a sense of camaraderie among fellow reviewees. During the review, I sometimes volunteered to assist with inquiries to the best of my ability, finding fulfillment in aiding my peers and simultaneously deepening my understanding of the subjects they queried. This mutual support not only carried me through the arduous review process but also strengthened our knowledge base while creating a bond that eased the challenges of the review period.

Find peace in prayer. In the midst of the CPALE, it's not just your intellect but also your inner strength that undergoes scrutiny. Throughout the review process, I experienced moments of self-doubt, mental exhaustion and despair. For me, prayer became a lifeline. The conviction that a God is the one in control provided solace. My faith offered a profound sense of peace, reassuring me that whatever transpired was part of his divine plan, ultimately serving a greater purpose.

Anchor your foundational knowledge during undergrad. Establishing a robust knowledge base during my undergraduate years proved essential. I'm deeply appreciative of my professors, whose teachings provided a lasting foundation. Surprisingly, concepts I hadn't realized I had mastered resurfaced during the review, significantly easing the burden of the extensive topics I needed to study.

Trust and listen to your reviewers or lecturers. I was fortunate to be guided by exceptional, committed and motivating reviewers during our review journey. Their wealth of experience expertly filled the gaps in our comprehension. What set them apart was not just their ability to explain concepts, but their capacity to inspire us. They taught us to move beyond mere multiple-choice answers. Their approach resonates with William Arthur Ward's wisdom: "The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires." In their inspirational guidance, we found the motivation to reach for real excellence and transcend the confines of traditional learning.

If possible, get practical experience before taking the exam. Following graduation, I opted for hands-on experience before tackling the CPA licensure examination. This choice allowed me to delve deeply into the practical aspects of my field, providing valuable insights into the intricacies of the profession. Those two-plus years of immersion in the realms of audit and special engagements were transformative. They not only made certain exam topics second nature but also broadened my understanding of my role in society as an accountant. This firsthand experience proved invaluable, offering a profound perspective that I am confident will contribute significantly to my CPALE journey.

Also, I strongly urge you not to lend an ear to any rumors or speculations about the content of the board exams. Attempting to predict the exam questions is futile and merely a waste of precious time. My earnest recommendation is to channel your energy into broadening the scope of knowledge acquired during the review period. Your dream of conquering the CPALE will materialize when you are truly prepared for it. Trust the process, my friend, and believe that the universe will align in your favor when the time is right.

There's a heartfelt optimism that courses through me, a hope that the passing rate of the CPA licensure examination will soar even higher in the coming years. This hope is not merely wishful thinking; it's a profound belief in the rising competence of accountants in the Philippines. Witnessing the emergence of innovative review centers and diverse learning methods, I can't help but envision a future where success isn't merely defined by the amount of multiple-choice questions you've answered during review and shading the right boxes of those questions.

In this vision, the essence lies in the examinee's ability to grasp and apply concepts to entirely unfamiliar problems, a testament to their genuine understanding. This transformative shift isn't just a distant dream; it's a reality I experienced during my own intense review period. The prospect of a future where the CPALE journey is marked by a deep emotional and intellectual connection, rather than mere rote learning, fills me with an overwhelming sense of hope and gratitude.


Manuel Guilius A. Pamorca is an audit supervisor at Paguio, Dumayas and Associates, CPAs (PDAC)-PrimeGlobal Philippines, an institutional member of Acpapp. The views and opinions in this article are his and do not represent those of PDAC and the Acpapp.

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