failed the cpa exam
CPA Prep

You Failed the CPA Exam! Now What?

Determine the reasons you failed and go from there! You can pass!

If you failed the CPA exam after months of hard work, it can indeed be a disheartening experience. It may make you think you were not eligible enough or lacked the right amount of focus and practice. However, passing this notoriously difficult exam is challenging. Even if you have failed this single or several other times, it isn’t the end of the world.

With a passing rate of below 50%, you need to be prepared way more than you think. Nevertheless, now it’s time to leave all your negative thoughts and worries behind you. Start thinking of ways to crack your upcoming CPA exam retake.

Recovery Mode

At the onset, you have to rid the thought that you failed the CPA exam and think about starting fresh. You are not the only one to fail this exam; in fact, more than 70-80% of candidates fail in one section or the other. So, take a deep breath and consider your next course of action to crack the exam.

You might feel heartbroken and frustrated for a couple of days. However you cannot change the fact that you flunked the exam. But you cannot lock yourself in isolation or be cut off from the world. Rather, take a break, invest a few days in something fun and engaging before bracing yourself for your next exam. You may feel like you are ready to quit altogether, but don’t give up, no matter how many times you have to retake the exam.

Find ways to stay motivated, and you will surely succeed!

The Reason You Failed

To prepare for the CPA exam, you may have followed the planner and used the provided material. But what most candidates miss out on is the practices and methodologies to achieve a better score. Before you jump back in and start studying again for your next exam, sit back, go through your score report and try to figure out what went wrong.

There could be many reasons associated with this failure, such as:

Stress and Pressure

Unfortunately, many candidates fall prey to exam stress or anxiety, and in turn, it ruins their scorecard. Sticking to an all-or-nothing attitude and worrying about retaking the test will only amplify the anxiety. Rather, adopting a positive mindset and reminding yourself that failure isn’t the end of the world will give you some much-needed confidence.

The best you can do to overcome your test day nerves is to take practice or mock tests, which provide a real-time, exam-like environment.

Skimming and Cramming

Maybe you work full-time and could not invest much time in studying, leading you to adopt methods like cramming and skimming. Well, it doesn’t work this way!

What you used to do in school won’t work here: you need to put in the hours and study every single day. When preparing for the CPA, avoid relying on your instincts, as most of the questions are designed to mislead the candidate.


Again! To clear the CPA exam, you have to make every single day count. Not scheduling enough time may be one of the reasons why you failed the CPA exam.

Being unable to take the time out of your professional and personal life could be your reason to fail. Therefore, make a strict schedule and follow it diligently to successfully clear the CPA on your second go.

On the other hand, if you feel that you invested plenty of time studying but still couldn’t clear the test, you may need to put in more time for your next exam.

Supplementary Material

Supplementary material is the key to a clear CPA exam! It is essential to use a course review to determine your learning style and what methods work best for you. For instance, visual learners may benefit from watching numerous lectures on YouTube to learn the concepts. Or you could go the old school way and use flashcards to retain more information.

Moreover, you can always seek exam study tips from someone who has cleared the CPA exam as no one will be able to give you as wide a representation of ideas as they can. You can also take the CPA exam study personality quiz to find out the better ways of preparing.

What Next?

After considering all the possible reasons why you failed the CPA exam, it’s time to take the necessary steps to overcome those problems by identifying the solutions. This typically includes the below points:

  • The time you should invest in studying the section you failed.
  • The topics you should review.

Retaking the CPA Sections

Luckily, there is no limit on how many times you can retake the exam for the section you failed in. However, if you have cleared the first section, you should clear the remaining sections within 18 months.

If you are thinking about retaking a different section for your CPA exam, rethink it. The section you failed in may still be fresh in your mind since that was the last section you studied. But, if you feel annoyed, frustrated, or simply need more time, you can consider taking up a section you are comfortable with. Plus, you can always come back to the difficult section and give it a try when you feel confident and well-prepared for it.

New Study Plan

Depending on how much you scored in your last CPA exam, you can plan the number of study hours you need to invest in a particular subject. If your score was above 50, you might not need to put in too much elbow grease. But if it was below 50, you must ideally invest 6-8 weeks studying thoroughly before the next exam.

Invest more time and focus on those areas where you lack practice or understanding. If need be, look for a CPA mentor who can help you brush up your skills. You can also consider investing in new CPA review courses if you feel you have covered everything in your existing study material.

You Failed the CPA Exam – Conclusion

Failing a CPA exam can be heartbreaking, but it’s certainly not the end of all your dreams. You can ace your CPA exam retake the next time by making new strategies, relearning the correct methods of studying, and identifying the areas that need more work.

For more articles like this, check out the designated CPA section of the site.

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