In the 53rd CPA exam in 2018, Yong-Jae Kim (entering class of 2014, Business) was the top scorer in 2018 on the 53rd CPA exam given in Korea. He has been interested in economics since middle school but only focused on accounting after entering business administration. We talked with him about what it means to get the top score on the notoriously difficult CPA exam and about what drew him to accounting.
Q> How do you feel about scoring highest on the CPA exam?
A> First of all, I am very honored to be interviewed. I could not express my joy in words when I learned I had the top score, and when I was eating lunch at home, my mother even cried. It's a big burden to think that a school or accounting firm will pay attention to the top scorer. But I think I can continue to grow if I can deal with the expectations this score creates.
Q> Why did you decide to take the CPA exam?
A> I wanted to ease the burden on my parents by quickly becoming financially stable. And as I grew up, I naturally became interested in the economy and especially in accounting in college. I grew up with my father in business, and I became interested in how money moves around and how transactions take place. So many people around me recommended I become a CPA, and as I took accounting courses, I have become to have a positive idea about my job as a CPA.
Q> What was the most difficult part of preparing for the exam and how did you deal with it.
A> The most difficult thing for all test takers is anxiety about whether they will pass. When I heard about a saying about anxiety that the ‘slump comes when I think I'm going to fail,’ I was very touched. So, I kept thinking, ‘I can do it. I'm sure I'll stick to it.’ And I often say, ‘If I don't give up and try constantly, there won't be any slump.’
Q> Did you have your own way of studying?
A> The secret in my way of thinking is cumulative review and summary notes by subject. One of the things that test takers often use is cumulative review, which is to review not only what we've learned today, but also what we've learned before. I practiced cumulative review on the subway with my summary notes on the subjects. And I summarized the problem-specific solutions into a note, and I took extra time to make my own book of the accounting and tax laws by typing all of it myself.
Q> What advice do you want to leave with students preparing for the CPA exam?
A> Don't have any doubts. Trust yourself unconditionally. There must be a lot of nervousness in the middle of studying. Because of a lack of experience on the examination, it is possible to ask, 'Is my choice as an accountant good enough?' Of course, the job environment for an accountant can be very different from what it was before. Nevertheless, I think being an accountant is a very good job compared with other professions. I hope that anyone who is thinking about entering accountancy or who is going to read my diary will be motivated and get good results. You will never regret your choice as an accountant.