We've been hearing from students about the mental turmoil they are experiencing while waiting to get their CPA Exam results. The stress of waiting for those results, in some cases since the first week in April, is superseding the stress of actually studying for the CPA itself.
In truth, today’s CPA candidates have been are merely used to fast results. We have instant feedback through email, texts, and machines which count votes and grade papers in real time. Back when the exam was paper and pencil, everyone took their exams the first Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday in May or November. The turn around on getting those results was eleven weeks. Eleven weeks!? That's just short of three whole months! Those days, in a world where you did a lot more waiting in general, was still a long time. The stress students felt back then while anticipating results is actually very similar to what students are feeling today.
We remember what students experienced going through well, and see the parallel to the wait current students are going through. We at Yaeger CPA Review used to have what we called our Exam Jam. We held it near the different exam testing sites in the Washington, DC area. Candidates came directly from their exam site to our party, with lots of food, drink, prizes, and laughs.
This party was a time to de-stress but was also when we were able to talk with the candidates, in a more social way, rather than the traditional classroom setting. We learned how they felt about their experience. We noticed, for the most part, right after completing the exam they felt confident and positive about their scores. But as the days and weeks dragged on, things started to change. They would tell us that they were sure they had failed and they wanted to start studying again.
"Remember, no one has changed your answers."
This happened so much that I developed a standard response for all of them. I reminded students how they had felt very upbeat immediately after their exams and that since that time, gremlins had not gone to the AICPA Headquarters in NYC to change any of their answers. I promised them this was true. It was (and, still is, for that matter). This seemed to calm them down. Time gives you more opportunity to catastrophize a situation, think of the worst outcome, and panic. As we expected, the pass rates for our students were way above the state and national averages.
The promise is still true. No one has changed your answers since you submitted your exam, even if it was back in April or May. It’s just that the examiners are taking longer to get you your results. Everyone needs to take a breath and realize your part is over. You did everything you could, and you've passed the baton on. As difficult as it may sound, you just need to stay calm and wait it out.
And remember, there are still no gremlins at AICPA Headquarters! We promise!