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Should You Retake a CPA Exam Section or Move On to Another If You Failed?

Failed CPA exam

Well lookie here, we have a mailbag question! Boy it’s been a long time since I’ve had the joy of answering one of these. Let’s jump right into it.


I failed audit with a 63. I have Bec and far passed which doesn’t expire until 3/31/2020. I cannot take audit until April-June testing window. Should I study regulation? Or should I continue studying audit. I am hurt right now and lost all my prior confidence.

Failure sucks for everyone, but there’s a bright side here: you failed hard. Bear with me, this is potentially a good thing. Imagine how much worse you’d feel if you failed with a 74? That’s like an interception at the 2-yard line. At least with a 63 you know victory wasn’t so close that you could taste it. I hope that’s some mild consolation, although I understand if it isn’t and I only made you feel worse (sorry, bruh).

Now, to your question. Although a 63 may feel pretty bad, there’s another bright side here: It’s honestly not that bad.

Where you go from here is entirely up to you, and there are pros/cons to each path. Let’s address those choices now.

Forget AUD and move on to REG

When you’re hurting over a failure, sometimes a fresh start is just what’s needed. Before embarking on this path, ask yourself if REG is your strong suit. I can tell you from my days in CPA review that REG was my least favorite subject, and I would often find myself drifting off in class as my boss covered Schedule A, B, C, D, GFY. So if it were me, the prospect of that shit after a failure would be like covering myself in honey and poking a fire ant nest while listening to Barry Manilow and eating cantaloupe (I fucking HATE cantaloupe). But hey, maybe you like tax, in which case moving on might be a good idea. You can fully move on from your failure and potentially get a confidence boost by destroying that section.

Stick with AUD and get it over with while it’s in your mind

This is the path I’d recommend as the information is still fresh in your mind. A 63 shows that you get the concepts, you just need to refine your understanding. Maybe supplementing your review materials with something different like flashcards or audio would help. Of course, you will definitely have to start your studying from scratch, but the benefit here is that for some of the concepts, you’ll only be solidifying what you already know. Put in enough time and effort and you can definitely get it over with on the next try. April/June seems really far away, but that gives you two solid months to study.

Whichever path you choose, it’s important to remind yourself that the CPA exam is hard. If it were easy, everyone would do it. Almost half of the AUD exams taken last year ended in failure. HALF! So you’re in good company and shouldn’t let this roadblock make you feel like a total loser. Just in case you need a little extra inspiration, check out this story of a candidate who failed FAR not once, not twice, not three times, but FOUR times and finally passed.

The reality here is that you can choose either path and get the same result as the end as long as you stay motivated and keep your goal in mind. On that note, you have another option: take a short break, put the study materials away, reboot, and pick it back up in a month or two when you’re in a new headspace. You’re halfway there with a year to spare, so if you need a little time to yourself, that’s entirely OK. Just, you know, be sure a few weeks doesn’t turn into a few years or, in the case of a former student of mine, 30. You got this.

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