It's the worst-case scenario—after months of studying and preparing, you failed the CPA exam. Right now you may be feeling that all of your hard work was for nothing. You're right back to square one. If this sounds like your thoughts of late, it's time to banish that negativity from your mind. All of those months or weeks of preparation weren't for nothing. It may feel like you've taken a hundred steps back to where you started, but you're not exactly back at square one.
You see, this second time around you'll begin studying and preparing for the exam armed with knowledge most aspiring CPAs don't have. You now know what to expect on the exam and you know what parts of the test gave you the most trouble. You know what sections you need to work harder on and possibly seek help from other CPA students who have a better understanding of the problems. Hopefully during this time of preparation and review, you also found employment as an accountant, taking care of the required working hours needed to become officially licensed.
So where do you begin again?
First, it starts with taking ownership for your failure. Whether you are ready to admit it or not, there is a reason that you didn't pass the exam. Maybe you rushed studying through your CPA review, thinking you had a good understanding of everything that would be on the exam. Studying for the exam is not something that can be “rushed". It is possible to prepare for the CPA Exam in a few weeks' time if you dedicate all of your free time preparing with your review. Still, the candidates who find the most success take their time, spending a few months instead of weeks studying before beginning the exam. Whatever the reason is for failing to pass the exam, be honest with yourself about possible shortcomings so you don't make the same mistakes the second time around.
After you've officially owned your failure, it's time to pinpoint what made you fail and start from there. If you didn't dedicate enough time to studying, sit down and make a study schedule that truly fits your life—don't focus so much on how soon you can complete your review. If you took the exam knowing you didn't have a complete understanding of certain areas, start studying those parts first and don't stop studying them until you know what you're doing.
Finally, if the true reason you failed the exam was because you didn't put enough heart into it, you might want to ask yourself if pursuing this goal is really what you want. If becoming a CPA is still your ultimate goal, you've got to take preparing for it more seriously this time.
Try not to look at failing the exam as a true failure, but more like a temporary setback. Remember, failure doesn't have to be the end of the road—it can simply become a learning experience that made you better. It may take a lot of this to get where you want to go, but that is fine. There is a myth that failure cannot be part of someone's life or career. We think failure means we are not meant for something without considering the possibility that failure simply weeds out those not willing to perservere. It is not those who never fail who succeed, but those who succeed despite failing mutliple times.
"I failed my way to success" - Thomas Edison