CPA Exam Help: Recovering from Failure

17 Oct 2010

Guest Posts

Jennifer was a long-time member of Club 75 and is here to help and encourage candidates PASS the CPA Exam.

I failed the CPA Exam….now what?

The screen refreshes to show a failing score and you begin to think, “I studied hard, what does this mean? What do I do next?”

I had 12 failing scores pop onto my screen from along with my 6 passing scores (had to pass BEC and REG twice as they expired due to AUD).

According to AICPA’s newsletter in 2008, only 28% of people pass the entire exam the first time. Around 46-50% passes a section each window, meaning that about 1 out of 2 of us will pass when we take the exam. Which person are you: the one that gave up Friday night drinks with co-workers to pin down leases or did you decide to take that float trip with friends over Fourth of July weekend?

I feel that successfully moving on from a failing score requires this analysis:

    • Think about where you are in studying for the next section. Have you just started or are you in deep in the material? If you haven’t started studying for your next section yet or are only a week into studying, consider switching back to the section you which just got your score. The material may come back easier if you start re-studying that section rather than studying another one and coming back to this one later.


    • Pick your study materials-do you need to change review courses? Everyone learns differently and I believe there isn’t a specific study material that works for every single person. This is so many choices out in the market. I personally am a Yaeger convert as I passed BEC, AUD and REG the last times with their program. I was successful with BEC and REG with Becker and FAR with Bisk.


    • Set a target date for the exam. Look at your calendars, both at work and home, and assess how many hours you can study a week. Then pick a date and depending on your testing site, schedule your exam. Sometimes I didn’t schedule mine right away as our testing site doesn’t fill up too quickly if it’s in the middle of a window and if I wasn’t picky about the exact date/time.


    • Print out a calendar which you can write out tasks to do every day. Start from your target exam date and work backwards in planning tasks. I’d recommend at least a week of when all you do is review. Schedule a few days off and flexible/catch up days. I picked one evening a week that I spent with my husband and didn’t think about studying. Build those days in to your schedule or you will get frustrated if you get behind schedule.


    • Study a few chapters and then take a mini test then repeat until through all the material. Practice tests were not helpful to me as I’d get a score of less than 75 and panic. It would take me a day or two before I was fully calmed down and refocused. So I started taking mini tests over just a few chapters. Study every topic for the section you are studying, not just your weak areas based on the score report. You are taking a whole new exam, not just correcting the last exam.


    • About a week or so before the exam, assess your weaknesses and make a final week plan of attack. The CPA exam is a battle of wills, so you need a plan of attack. Skip your “free” day this week and buckle down. I tried to eat, sleep, work (if you can’t get a few days off) and study. Your friends will be there to hang out once you pass the exam, this last week is critical.


    • Study your notes, take 10 minute study breaks for every 60 minutes of studying and get quality sleep all week. Your brain needs sleep to reset itself and retain the information you are learning.


    • Go into the exam confident that you can pass! You have put the time and effort into studying. You can do it!


“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely.” – Henry Ford

Are you committed to begin again and succeed?


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