Dealing with Failure during the CPA Exam

Arthur is a NINJA CPA Blogger.


If you are reading this post right now, there is a good chance you have failed or will fail a part of the CPA Exam. I am not trying to scare or discourage any candidates but it is the hard truth.

Although I do not know the exact percentage of candidates that pass all four parts of the exam on the first try, my research has allowed me to estimate a range between 10-20% that successfully complete the exam on the first try.

Failure is part of the process and most of us will have to deal with it at some point. It is how you handle the adversity that will dictate whether or not you will succeed.

Michael Jordan, arguably one of the greatest basketball players in NBA history, can relate to our failure. He once said, “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

A candidate’s approach to the CPA exam should be no different than Jordan’s approach to the game of basketball. Admitting your failure is the first step to accepting the reality of the process of becoming a CPA.

I failed my first CPA exam that I took in July last year. I desperately wanted to isolate myself from the world and not talk to anybody. This is a completely normal feeling among CPA candidates but it is important to have supportive people in your life that will encourage you when you are down.

Do not hold this feeling inside but try to confide in someone you trust that will boost your morale. I still remember this feeling vividly and it continues to fuel my motivation to never want to experience it again.

Once you become a licensed CPA, a potential client will not ask you how many attempts it took for you to finally pass each part of the CPA exam. The three letters symbolize all of the hard work, sacrifice, and dedication it took to accomplish this feat.

The opportunity cost of putting in the long hours now to benefit your future will ultimately pay great dividends in every aspect of your life. Do your best to stay positive throughout the process and realize that failure is just a minor roadblock on your path to becoming a CPA. Keep up the hard work NINJAs!


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