Editor's note: Welcome to latest edition of >75, our weekly post on questions that you have related to the CPA Exam. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll do our best to answer as many of them as possible. You can see all of the JDA's posts for GC here and all our posts related to the CPA Exam here.
It might be the worst feeling in the world. Trust me, I know people who have gotten 17s and 24s on the exam – these are not my CPA Review students, of course, these are people who tried to go the CPA exam alone – and a 74 beats their misery any day of the week.
Nearly 99% of the candidates I talk to (I'm making that percentage up off the top of my head, mind you) who get a 74 on any part of the exam did everything they were supposed to do. They did hours of multiple choice and tons of practice simulations and even did the tutorial at cpa-exam.org before test day.
These are people who asked me very early on how they could plan their time, requested updates weeks before they were available and had me emailing 3 years' worth of previous CPA exam questions for them to practice on. From all appearances, they did everything they were supposed to and yet got a 74, the worst possible score you can get (17 on FAR aside but we won't talk about that mmmmmkay?).
So what do you do if you're that person?
• Don't bother requesting a "rescore" from the AICPA Board of Examiners: For all of 2008, not a single rescore request resulted in a candidate going from FAIL to PASS. It's a waste of time and money and the AICPA isn't going to admit their CBT is at all faulty (those of you who have actually taken it probably know better but we won't talk about that either) so accept your score and move on.
• Don't move on to a new section While you have to deal with the fact that you're going to have to pay re-application fees to the Board and another exam fee, the best thing you can do in the case of a 70 – 74 is to go right back to that section and schedule a new exam as soon as possible. A 74 especially shows that you have an excellent command of the information, just a little more studying and you're over that hump.
• Look at your score report: Your score report is going to give you quite a bit of insight on where you went wrong the first time. When you fail an exam part, they go so far as to tell you where you failed the worst, USE THAT! When you go back over your review materials, there's no need to watch every single lecture video again fourteen times – just look at the report, figure out where you need more work, and do extra practice questions in those areas.
Finally, don't beat yourself up. If this exam were easy, everyone would be a CPA.