Climbing the CPA Exam Mountain

… and how I qualified for the Elijah Watt Sells award in 3 months!

Climbing Elijah Watt Sells Mountain
Ryan Quade

Ryan Quade

Hey! My name is Ryan, and I recently passed the CPA exam. This is my story about how I tackled the CPA exam in 3 months and qualified for the Elijah Watt Sells award.


Some people affectionately refer to the FAR CPA exam section as “the beast.” I affectionately refer to the CPA exam process as “the mountain.” Nothing is easy about the Uniform CPA Examination. It has plenty of sheer cliffs and ridiculously steep trails. But, let me tell you, the CPA exam is a mountain worth climbing. Here’s the story of how I passed the CPA exam – and qualified for the Elijah Watt Sells award in 3 months.

Starting Up the CPA Exam Study Trail

If someone had explained to me, before I started this journey, that the CPA exam was basically a gigantic final exam that tested almost everything I had ever been taught in business school, I may have had second thoughts about my intended approach.

But since I was clueless, I submitted my application for the CPA exam with (ignorant) confidence that I could pass the entire CPA exam in 3 months. After getting back from a two-week vacation, I booted up my laptop and started studying for the REG CPA Exam section at 7 am on Monday, May 2nd, 2022.

By the end of the day, I felt like I had jumped from a plane. Without a parachute.

Finding the Right CPA Exam Study Guide

My reasons for taking the CPA Exam were basically the same as everyone else: job security, access to the AICPA professional network, etc. but, given the unique Juris Doctor (JD)/Masters in Accountancy (MAcc) program that I’m in, I had only three months of summer to take all four CPA exam, sections. I also didn’t have an accounting firm reimbursing the costs of a CPA review course.

As my initial shock and panic subsided, I spent the next few days checking out