I recently just found out that I got a 71 on my Audit exam when I was so sure that I did well on it. I’m one of those people that check my exam score in the middle of night as soon as it is posted (as I’m sure many CPA Exam candidates do), and that is exactly what I did this time around. I didn’t know how to feel when I saw the score.

I suppose it was because I felt so many emotions all at once, they all just kind of ran together. I have failed exams before, so I am all too familiar with the feelings associated with it. It was time for me to begin my usual grieving process.


First, I was confused.

This was partially because I put in the necessary work and expected to reap a positive outcome. How could all of my effort not have paid off for me? How could I have convinced myself that I did well enough to pass when I obviously did not? Next, I go into denial. I double-check to see if I correctly entered the information required to check my exam score online; perhaps I transposed my numbers is my first thought. Even after I verify this information, I will normally re-enter it just in case. Initially, it is tough for me to wrap my head around a failing score. I sit and stare at it. There is no way I am able to go back to sleep at this point.

Then, the disappointment begins to set in. I always question whether I am really meant to follow the path toward becoming a CPA. I question my abilities. Why do so many people pass and I fail? What is wrong with me? Am I not competent enough? It is so unfair as if I have wasted my time. 


But then I realize that studying for the exam and resilience go hand in hand.

Several days have passed since I received my score and I still have some residual feelings. I am truly disappointed due to the fact that this means so much to me personally and professionally. I have known that I wanted to become a CPA since high school. Even my family and closest friends know that this is my dream. The process is exhausting. Nevertheless, I have learned from experience that you cannot stay in negative mental spaces for too long. Allow yourself some time to briefly work through those feelings and quickly get back on track.


The next step is to figure out the next move and re-strategize.

For me, I had already begun to study for REG. So, now I need to decide if I should continue doing so or put it on hold and begin studying for AUD again. By reviewing my AUD Exam Score Notice, I can determine where my strengths and weaknesses lie and how I plan to pass the retake. I scored weaker in Procedures and Evidence, Professional Responsibilities, and Simulations, which are indicators of gaps in my understanding. These areas will get additional attention during my study time moving forward, by completing additional rounds of multiple choice questions and taking notes to ensure that I successfully retain key concepts.


I am challenging myself to abandon the feelings of hopelessness and remind myself that I can do this.

The things we tell ourselves in our minds are often the biggest hurdles to face. I thought I would be halfway to my CPA by now, but I am not. I have to let go of thoughts that could potentially hinder my progress and continue to push forward. I will pass this exam and become a CPA. This is simply a bump in the road. This is an opportunity for me to learn from my mistakes, work a little harder than I did the first time around, and trust that I am going to pass. Failure is an event, not a person. Although I fell a little short this time, I am determined to stay in the fight and keep going. I am learning to remain as positive as I can be during circumstances that test my will to persist. What I have learned is that I must come to the realization that I am stronger and smarter than I have ever been at this point in my life. A good attitude can go a long way, especially while studying for the CPA exam. 


So I recommend for everyone out there who has failed a section to continue to persist and take it as a positive act of fate.

Everything happens for a reason, so use these situations as a way to improve yourself. As you re-study and reinforce concepts to pass the second or third time around, you’ll find that it may just help you become a better CPA overall! Good luck everyone and remember to persist through to your dreams!