How Jayda Watkins persevered to pass the CPA Exam

5 min read
celebrating cpa exam

I started on this CPA exam journey in June 2021. About a month after I started studying, I received a call that my PawPaw had unexpectedly passed away. I was completely shattered. I couldn’t find the strength or motivation to open my exam books because the last time I had done so was when I received that devastating call. 

It took about two months for me to get back into the swing of things, and even then, I was hesitant because I kept replaying that night in my head. However, I knew I had to see things through considering the last thing I remember my PawPaw telling me is how proud he was of me.

Fast forward to July 2022. I took FAR as my first exam, which is considered the most difficult exam. I passed it on my second try on the one-year anniversary of my PawPaw’s passing! 

How I passed the CPA Exam


Getting over the hump of that first exam was far from easy. Going into the process of studying and preparing for these exams, I tried to take a college studying approach. I didn’t have the best study habits, but I used the methods that helped me through undergraduate and graduate school. After I received my score from my first attempt at FAR, I quickly realized I was going to have to find a different approach. 

Using all the resources available 

In addition to Becker, I purchased a supplemental study program to that would better cater to my learning style. 

I used any and all resources I found to help me improve my score. Whether that was watching YouTube videos, reading through Facebook groups, or participating in the NABA CPA Bound program, I used it all. I knew that once I figured out the best way to retain information and pass the first exam, I would be set up for success with the ones to follow. Once I took the time to fine tune my study habits, I passed the exam on the second try and continued using those habits for the remaining exams. 

Creating a study plan that works 

My greatest piece of advice to those of you studying for the exam is to make a study plan and stick to it. Discipline is one of the most important factors in the process. 

Although failing isn’t ideal, it can help you learn what you need to do differently. 

Taking time through the process 

Be patient with the process. This journey shouldn’t be rushed. Taking your time to learn and understand the material will be instrumental in passing the exam.

Finding motivation 

You must focus on your “why” for taking the CPA Exam and use that as motivation. Stress, anxiety, and self-doubt can quickly take over and lead you down a path of defeat before even stepping into the testing room. Recognizing these things when they show up and finding a healthy way to manage them will allow you to have a clear and calm mind while studying and testing. Lean into your village, use positive affirmations, pray, and trust in your preparation to lead you to success. 

Completing my journey for myself and the next generation 

My CPA Exam journey consisted of nine attempts across the four exams. I endured long (and sometimes sleepless) nights, tears, anxiety attacks, stress, migraine headaches, working a full-time job in public accounting, hours of studying, and passing three exams in a year. I dealt with it all, and I refused to give up. Completing these exams and earning my CPA license wasn’t only for me, it was also for the next generation of black men and women to see that despite the struggles, it can be done. And now I am proud to say I’m part of the two percent of Certified Black Accountants! 

My PawPaw was proud before, but I can only imagine the smile on his face if he were here to witness this. 

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.” (Marianne Williamson) 

I want to send a thank you to my village for encouraging, praying, and showing empathy for me throughout this challenging process. I truly mean it when I say I wouldn’t have been able to see it through without you all.


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