Though this week is a little different, you are still welcome to email me directly with CPA exam questions so they don’t get lost in the editorial mix. Especially good questions like this one:


Never thought I’d get to this point, but I’m a heavy senior who has yet to pass the CPA exam. Granted, I also haven’t TAKEN all the parts of the exam, but that’s not why I’m writing.

I took BEC in the 3rd testing window of 2011, and failed by 2 points. Two lousy points. To make it even worse, I didn’t receive my score notice until October 5, so it was difficult to just take it again quickly before I forget all those things I so diligently learned.

But it said that my writing section was strong. Is there any hope in having a positive result if I contest the exam? Is it possible to get two more points out of a strong writing section? It’s $150 to contest, or just $225 to retake…. but retaking of course involves re-studying which makes me want to crawl in a hole and die. Dramatic? Yes. Accurate? Insanely so.

Anyways, any help you and/or the readers of Going Concern can provide me would be greatly appreciated!

First, “Heavy Senior,” no judgments. While it’s generally in your best interest to knock this puppy out as early as you can, we realize life happens. The important part is you’re doing it now.

Second, forget a rescore. I mean completely forget such a thing even exists because even though you can technically request one, it is NEVER going to turn out in your favor. In the four years I worked in CPA review, I never once heard of a successful rescore, and as far as I know, it’s been even longer since one actually turned out in the candidate’s favor. Think about it… if the AICPA had to admit its precious highly-guarded psychometric scoring system was (gasp!) flawed, how many candidates would cry foul?! Isn’t going to happen.

My third point, however, is the one that should keep you out of that hole you want to crawl into and die. Here’s the good news: you got a 73 on BEC! Do you realize how many candidates need at least 4 attempts on BEC to get anywhere near that? Just a little bit more studying and you’ll nail it. I realize this is not much to get excited over but it’s something, and let’s be real about it, you don’t have much to go on here.

My last little item here is that you don’t get bonus points for writing a really, REALLY good essay. God, it pains me to say that – feeling like the champion of the English language for lost little accountants everywhere – but doing really good on the writing portion is not going to get you a higher score than someone who performed satisfactorily on the essays. I’m beyond proud of you for smashing through stereotypes that say accountants don’t rite good but unfortunately for the purposes of the CPA exam, it isn’t going to help you to perform extraordinarily well in this area. So don’t. By all means, continue to write well-versed, correctly-formatted emails as you are an asset to the profession but for the exam? Forget it. Bare minimum, my friend.

You haven’t forgotten everything you learned, it’s in there somewhere. A quick refresh and a thorough once-over of your review materials plus lots of practice questions will get you there. When it comes to BEC (as I’m sure you know), there is no such thing as studying too much. Try not to do the same questions over and over but instead focus on covering as much material as possible. Having taken BEC already, I don’t need to remind you why this is important.

Good luck!