How to Bounce Back from a Bad CPA Exam Score


The CPA Exam is the gold standard for those working in the accounting profession, but it is also one of the most difficult high-stakes, professional exams around. Pass rates for the exam hover around 50%, so naturally, there are a number of CPA candidates who won’t pass sections of the exam. 

If you find yourself falling into the category of a CPA candidate who didn’t pass a section of the CPA Exam, try to not get overly discouraged. Instead, take some time to assess where you struggled when preparing for the exam and while taking the exam. There are many ways in which you can change the way in which you approach the CPA Exam which includes reexamining where you can make changes to your life to ensure you’re setting yourself up for success to pass the exam the next time. 

Below are some reasons why you might be struggling to pass the CPA Exam. 

  1. Not knowing how to properly study for the CPA Exam. One common mistake that CPA candidates make when studying for the CPA Exam is not researching which specific concepts will be tested on the exam. If you are a candidate who has been out of school for a while, there will be completely new topics presented on the CPA Exam and older exam topics that you need to spend more time revisiting. When sitting down to study, be sure that you are using your study materials wisely and leveraging the practice questions found in your CPA Review course to determine which concepts you need to focus on the most.

  2. Not following a study schedule. Studying for the CPA exam is truly about discipline and efficiency. So, it’s extremely important to ensure you set goals and create a study schedule before you even start studying. Unfortunately, many CPA candidates make the mistake of either not creating a study schedule, or not sticking to that study schedule. Yes, effective studying requires putting in every ounce of effort to avoid deviating away from that study schedule — no matter how tempting external activities can be. The good news is that CPA candidates who have study plans are more likely to pass the CPA Exam. So, sit down and work on your study schedule before you begin your studies again.

  3. Not partnering with a CPA Review provider. If you are studying for the CPA Exam alone, then studies show you might have a more difficult time passing the CPA Exam. The benefits of studying with a CPA Review course are numerous. You save money overall because you won’t have to keep taking the CPA Exam and paying the fees to retake the exam. You’ll study more efficiently because great CPA review courses provide you with all the materials you need to pass the CPA Exam the first time. You’ll have better time management based on your CPA Review course’s study targets and you’ll go into exam day feeling confident and prepared. There is no doubt about the benefits of studying with a review course and the best way to find out which one is best for you is to take a free trial.

  4. Not taking the time you need for self-care and rest. Whether you’re going to school, working, or doing both, you always need to take a moment to rest and rejuvenate. When you first create your study schedule, be sure to include breaks and time for self-care within the schedule. Also, consider rewarding yourself with days off when you stay on track with your studies.  Self-care is very important for your success on the CPA Exam, so take time for yourself by focusing on what makes you feel revived and refreshed. By taking care of yourself, you will maintain a healthy relationship with yourself and others and produce positive feelings about things going on around you.

Remember that there is an entire community of CPA candidates who are going through what you are going through. They, too, feel the pressure, anxiety, and sometimes frustration when studying for the exam. If you are discouraged by your current exam score, take the time you need to work through your feelings, but quickly pivot to a more proactive mindset. Take time to go through what you missed on the exam, create a realistic study schedule, ensure you are with the CPA Review course that is right for you, and always take time off for self-care when needed. 

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