By Jessica Salerno-Shumaker, OSCPA senior content manager
The recent OSCPA-driven 120/150-hour rule change came at the perfect time for Jill Kowalski, an Ohio Northern University grad.“That was huge for me,” said Kowalski, who graduated from ONU with her Masters of Accountancy degree. “And it was perfect timing for when I needed it.”
The Accountancy Board of Ohio on Oct. 5, 2021, finalized rule changes advocated by The Ohio Society of CPAs that clarified when future CPA Exam candidates may begin the exam process.
The rule change is in line with the regulatory reforms adopted in 2020 by the Ohio General Assembly through House Bill 442 that – as recommended by OSCPA’s young CPAs, student members and employers of CPAs – permitted candidates to start the exam process when they reach at least 120 of the needed 150 semester hours of education.
Kowalski began taking the sections while enrolled in the Master's program and took the Audit section in October and the Financial Accounting Regulation section in February. Although she didn’t pass either she said she’s learned helpful lessons through the process.
“While I didn’t end up passing the exams while I was getting my master’s, I would have been a year behind of where I am now with studying if they did not make that rule change,” she said.
Kowalski said she’s learned to adjust her study habits and has realized she learns best from taking her own notes and using those to help with memorization as opposed to relying on resources online for notes.
Taking the master’s program meant Kowalski revisited certain material she said she hadn’t looked at since she was a sophomore accounting major, which has been beneficial in jogging her memory while she studies .
Kowalski’s plan for the summer is to live at home and focus on studying for the CPA exam. In September, she will start work at EY’s Cleveland office, and her goal is to finish three out of the four exams by the time she starts working.
“For others taking the exam, my biggest advice is not to get discouraged,” she said. “Sometimes you might think, ‘Oh, is this even worth it?’ But it’s going to be so rewarding once you finally pass all the exams. It’s a very distinguished certification and it's not meant to be easy, or everyone would have their CPA.”
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