What To Do If You Fail A CPA Exam

You’ve been waiting for weeks, you finally get your score report and your heart drops: you didn’t pass the exam. A million things are running through your head. I want you to take a deep breath and read the following sentence over and over again: you are good enough to pass the CPA exam. Many candidates will fail a CPA exam, and every one of them is capable of passing.

But the only way you can do that is to get back up on the horse and try again. Take the night off to binge watch your favorite shows and eat some delicious food to make you feel better (fro-yo always does it for me), and then get right back to studying the next day with a vengeance.


You Barely Missed The Mark

If you got a 74, or any score in that range, you’re probably not a happy camper. But you should be! That 74 means you know the material well but you know you can improve on a few key points.

If this is your situation, I would consider retaking the exam ASAP. That means apply for a new NTS and schedule a retake as soon as you can. And then study like crazy until then. Clearly you have a good grasp of the concepts and can easily brush up on both material you knew well and material you need help with.

However, depending on when you took your exam, you may be 30 days into studying for the next exam before you know you failed. At that point it probably wouldn’t be prudent to drop everything to study for the exam you failed. Keep on track with your current course. Once you take the exam, immediately start studying for the one you failed. You should still re-apply for an NTS for a failed section as soon as possible.


You Were Way Off

People fail the exam because they didn’t put the time they needed into studying. If you failed with a 65 or below, you probably didn’t put the right amount of time in. Don’t take it too hard, it’s not easy finding the studying sweet spot.

If you failed by a fairly big margin, don’t worry. You’re learning! If you’ve already started studying for the next exam, keep studying. There’s no need to drop everything a study for an exam that you only kind of knew the material for. I would do the same things as mentioned above: you should apply for a new NTS and start studying for the exam you failed after you take the exam you’re studying for now.

And let the failure be a learning experience. Put in more time and effort into the next exam you take and see how your score improves.


We’re Always Learning

Don’t take failure hard. You’re going to fail so many times in your life, and rarely is it going to completely throw everything off the rails. So you failed a CPA exam. No big deal! There are people who fail four times just to pass on the 5th try. The key is, don’t give up and learn from your mistakes.

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