So You Failed the CPA Exam, Now What?

Failed CPA exam

With the end of the year fast approaching and only two months left to knock this puppy out before January, getting a failing score this late in the game probably has you writing overly dramatic tweets about throwing yourself off a bridge (not funny) or giving up and becoming a dairy farmer. STOP. It’s really not that critical.

If you are like many of your fellow candidates, you probably blew off part of the year and now find yourself trying to cram in as many sections as you can before the beginning of next year. Good luck scheduling, it’s always slim pickins this time of year.

Let’s take a look at a few scenarios here and figure out the best course of action. If you don’t fit into one of these neat little boxes and need additional guidance, give us a holla.

You already started studying for the next section and failed with a 65 or lower

If you’re 10 points or more off the mark, you clearly have a long way to go to 75. If you’re already halfway through the next section and are scheduled to take it at the beginning of the next window, stay on that track and plan to pick up your failed section as soon as you take the section you are currently studying for. If you’re on a time crunch, you can try to schedule a retake at the end of the next window but as previously mentioned, scheduling is tight at the end of the year. It will be even tighter this year as the window will not be extended to allow for the Thanksgiving holiday. That means Wednesday, November 26 Sunday November 30th is your last day to take any part of the exam in 2014, which means that many more procrastinating candidates trying to get in one last part.

Continue on your path and plan to retake your failed section early next year if you need the time.

You already started studying for the next section and failed with a 74 (or thereabouts)

Put down that book, apply for a new NTS, schedule a retake and plan to sit for your failed exam again NOW. Again, you’re going to have a hell of a time scheduling so the first thing you need to do is get that new NTS. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Right now. The sooner you get your new NTS, the sooner you can schedule your retake, which you are going to want to do as early as possible.

A 74 shows you have an excellent command of the information and need just a tiny bit more of a push to get over the hump. You’re going to want to get right back on the horse and study your failed section from front to back all over again while the information is still fresh in your mind. So even if you’re 7 chapters into FAR and just found out you failed AUD, put away FAR for now.

You have two months to schedule your retake but should plan to take it in October. Why? Again, the information is there in your head, and you don’t want it to slip away while you’re sitting around with your thumb up your butt feeling sorry for yourself.

You aren’t studying for any sections and failed with a 65 or lower

Are you sure this is what you want to be when you grow up? Because it really doesn’t look like it. Stop fucking around and do SOMETHING. Move on to a different section if you want, it really doesn’t matter. And start asking the girls at the nail salon just how hard that nail tech exam is anyway.

You aren’t studying for any sections and failed with a 74 or lower

If you’re right on the borderline (70 – 74), you probably want to crawl into a hole and die right now. Understandable. Don’t do that. You don’t want to be the 50 year old guy taking CPA review classes because he gave up on the exam 20 years ago and still wants to be a CPA before he dies.

As with our friend above who moved on to the next section and then found out (s)he failed with a 74, if you failed by inches versus a few yards, you should go back to studying your failed section and plan to retake it as soon as possible. You will have some time from when you apply for a new NTS to the time you can schedule a retake to think about your life and that hole you want to crawl into.

You aren’t studying for any sections because this was your last one and now that you failed, you just lost 2 passing scores

Well, my friend, you are the only one on this list who is justified in actually crawling into a hole and dying because holy shit, it sucks to be you. You would also be justified in taking this window off and starting with a fresh slate in 2015. OR you can do the bad ass thing and not let this stop you. You might want to reevaluate your choices and start studying for the part that will be most difficult for you, which might be this one you just failed. It doesn’t matter whether you failed with a 60 or a 74, if you passed other sections but can’t get this one right, THIS is the one you want out of the way as soon as possible.

Bottom line: remember you can fail as many times as you need to

Whether this is your first failure or your 15th, just keep in mind that there’s no limit on how many times you are allowed to fail before you succeed. We’ve all seen signatures on certain websites that show 4 or 5 retakes in each section before, by some miracle, those people PASS. If they can do it, you can do it. However spectacularly you failed, it’s really not the end of the world. When the actual end of the world comes, the CPA exam will be the last thing on your mind.

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