You failed the exam.

The time, sacrifice, and heartache – all for naught.

You’re crushed.  So, what now?

Get Ahold of Yourself

First, take a breath.  This isn’t the end of the world.  It’s not even the end of your career.  Let’s put this in perspective.  According to the National Association of the State Boards of Accountancy, only about 1 in 5 people who take the Uniform CPA Examination pass all four parts on the first try.  Pass rates for different sections of the exam only range from 47 – 57%.

Secondly, this doesn’t mean that you aren’t smart enough.  It’s not about that.  As Roger always says, the CPA Exam isn’t a test of IQ; it’s a test of discipline.  So, the issue is really with your preparation and this is something you have control over.

If You Don’t Know What’s Wrong You Can’t Fix It

Look back at what you did to prepare, your study system, etc., and BE HONEST.  Did you really put in the time needed?  If you did put in the time, was it well spent or was it interrupted by multiple breaks for Facebook or Call of Duty?  If you didn’t put in the time or were easily distracted, did you overestimate your knowledge or did you lack motivation?  Be realistic about what the problem was or you’re not going to be able to address it correctly.  But first things first, sign up to take the exam again while you still remember some of what you learned.

After that, think about the review course you used.  Did it really suit your style of learning?  Was it more listening/watching lectures and taking notes or more flashcards and MCQs?  There are plenty of stories of people changing their review course and it turns them right around and they succeed.  Take a look at our CPA course reviews page.  You can get more in-depth information on each of the top courses.

Quality Time

Next, think about your study time.  Was it time well spent or just…spent.  Two hours of serious focused study beats four hours of any other way.  Don’t kid yourself about how much of a time-suck social media can be and remove it from your study environment.

Ultimately, relax and realize that there is no magic formula for passing the exam.  It’s about discipline and determination.  You learned something about what things didn’t work for you which means it’ll be easier to find what does the next time.  You’re not flying blind any more.  There really is no substitute for experience.  

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