How to Re-Study for a Section You Didn’t Pass


As CPA Exam candidates, we know that time is a precious thing. That’s why figuring out what to do in the time after you take a section of your CPA Exam and waiting for that score to come back can be tricky.

On the one hand, it’s human nature to finish what you started.

You want to know whether or not you passed that section so that you can keep studying for it since your mind is already wrapped around those concepts. On the other hand, if you find out that you did pass, it would have been a waste of a few weeks or so that you could have spent studying for the next section of the CPA Exam. While it’s also tempting to want to take a break from studying altogether just to wait for score release and see where you stand, we also know that that isn’t an option when we’re on the clock to pass all 4 sections within an 18 month window. Time is money! 

So I’ll share with you my study strategy when I was in this so-called limbo state. In my case, I found out that I did not pass the section I just took, and I had already began studying for the next one. Hopefully my experience will help you shape up your own plan if you find yourself in that same situation. 

When I got the news, I debated whether or not to continue studying the new section.

I was already a few weeks in and figured that I could finish studying for this one and then go back to the section I didn’t pass once I was done. However, after careful consideration, I decided to hit the pause button on the new section for one main reason: my failing grade was 73, which was  so close! I was only 2 points away from passing, and what that meant is that with a little bit more effort and reviewing, I would most likely get the 75 the next time I sit for that section.

So here is what I did:

  1. I applied for the NTS right away.
  2. I scheduled the exam for the first available time that works with my schedule.
  3. I used the “Performance Report” that comes with the score notice to figure out which areas I needed to focus on.
  4. I reviewed all the materials with special attention to areas that were my weak points, for which I watched the lectures again.
  5. I re-did all the MCQs that I did incorrectly before.
  6. I did 2 practice tests.

I have found this strategy to be extremely helpful for re-studying a section I didn’t pass. It helped me to leverage my strengths and weaknesses, zoning in on concepts that I could use more time on and giving final review to concepts I already knew very well. 

Remember that not passing a section can sometimes be a blessing in disguise.

It gives you a chance to actually do things over and learn from your past experience–so take advantage of it! I scheduled the exam this time for the afternoon, which gave me a chance to go over most of my notes in the morning and still have time to go the testing center without being rushed. I found that I was much more relaxed this time around. After all, I already failed this section once, so what is the worst that could happen? In addition, I knew that I could pass this time around since I was only 2 points away. 

I didn’t tell anyone at work or any of my friends about my scheduled exam date. That will save me from the embarrassment just in case I don’t pass again. I felt that doing this relieved some of the pressure and put me at ease during the preparation and test time.

Try some or all of these tips if you find yourself going through this unfortunate experience. This strategy sure worked for me, as I passed the exam on my 2nd try! Good Luck!

–Margo Pacific, Guest Blogger for Roger CPA Review

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