Failing the CPA Exam: What I’ve Learned


When I first began my CPA Exam journey, I would have never thought I’d fail AUD, FAR, and BEC all on my first attempt. I remember when I first began studying and reading other CPA Exam candidates’ blog posts about failures, I thought about how that wouldn’t happen to me. All I needed to do was study and pass. It seemed so simple. But fast Forward 9 months later and I’ve taken 5 exams and have only passed one of them. That last one being back in February. Here’s what I’ve learned from my failures:


1. Own your failure and forget the excuses

First and foremost, don’t make excuses for why you failed. I failed because of the decisions I made while studying. Did I put forth a good effort in preparing myself for the Exam? Yes, I put forth a “good” effort, but not great. In order to pass this Exam, being good or average does not cut it. I don’t mean this in an intellectual way; I mean what you put into it is what you get out of it.

This means when you get tired, don’t quit. Push through one more hour. When you’ve had a long day at work and all you want to do is lay down, you have to be able to push yourself to open up the books and get it done. Those extra hours will add up and will most certainly help. I can’t count the amount of times I called it quits because I was tired. This will not happen anymore.


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2. Multiple mini study sessions per day

I will begin to implement around 4-5 mini study sessions on top of the 3-4 hours I will put in each day. What I mean by this is while I’m getting the groceries or in line at CVS or any store for that matter, I will be listening to CPA audio on the mobile app that either I created for myself or Roger. This will help keep material that I previously studied fresh. 


3. Every night I will complete a 30 Question Progress Quiz

While this may seem obvious to many, fitting in an additional 30 MCQ every day obviously takes time away from what you had already planned to accomplish that day. The way I look at it is this: I will sacrifice some of the new to keep the old fresh. This will keep all the old concepts fresh in your mind and you’ll begin to notice which concepts are consistently being tested. This will help narrow your studying down during the final review.

I hope these tips can help some of you. Remember, each failure is progress. You’ve taken the exam and you can always take something away from the exam experience that will give you insight about your study habits and what you can do better to pass. You will become more prepared the next time you walk into the Prometric Testing Center.

All in all, I could say that clouds always have a silver lining. Without failing the Exam sections, I probably would not have come to certain realizations about my study habits and how to implement it better into my lifestyle. In fact, I’m very grateful that I was able to see and experience those 3 exams for the first time so that I have a better idea of what to expect the next time. Remember to not look at failure as a closed door, but an opportunity to capitalize upon. I will pass the remaining 3 sections of this exam and I will sacrifice today to better tomorrow.

Happy Studies,

Chris – Guest Blogger for Roger CPA Review 

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