The worst score: A 74

For those of you who don’t know, you need a 75 to pass REG or any other portion of the CPA. I took REG after 2 months of studying and you can guess what I got….a 74.

If I’m being honest, I was crushed. I spent 2 whole months of my life studying for this exam. I gave up endless days and nights with friends and family and got to know my local library WAY too well. Within a split second on September 10th, it all felt as though it was for nothing.

People never talk about the ugly part of studying for the CPA: the stress, anxiety, financial strain, and extreme dedication it takes to study and pass just one section. Then, once that’s all over you need to do it all over again…. 3 more times.

Frankly, it’s a shame that people don’t talk about this side of the CPA exam. Until I spoke with people in my graduating class, I felt so alone when I did experience the “ugly side” of the exam process. I thought maybe my stress, anxiety, lack of free time, etc. was just me. Maybe I hadn’t planned for this well enough or maybe I was just overthinking.

However, at my 0-3 year reunion this Friday one of my classmates told me she failed FAR and another told me he got a 74 on BEC. Suddenly, I didn’t feel so alone in my “failure”. The harsh reality is that only around 15-30% of people pass all 4 sections of the CPA on their first try.

No one, not even professors or CPAs, usually mention the hardest parts of the exam, which truly have nothing to do with content. Going into these exams as a recent college graduate, you don’t realize how much you’ll be giving up. When it comes to stories about the CPA, they’re usually about how someone passed. Going into these exams, it makes you feel like you need to pass all 4 on the first try because “everyone else is”… or so it seems.

How failing changed my mindset for the better

After failing and realizing so many of my classmates have too, I’ve began to change my mindset when it comes to these exams.

Before I failed REG, I had this huge weight on my shoulders that I HAD to pass or my life would be miserable. The night before my test, I was freaking out thinking about the what if’s of not passing. But after failing, I’m still here, I still have my job, I still have over a year to pass the rest, and I’m okay.

Honestly, failing REG has made me so much less anxious about future CPA exams because I’ve realized that if I fail, I can just take it again. Yes, I’ll have to spend another $325 and study for another month, but it’s not the end of the world.

I think one of the most important parts about failure on the CPA exam is realizing that it truly is okay and it happens to around 70% of people. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about, especially because 99% of the people you tell could NEVER take and pass that exam you just took (unless they studied as hard as you did).

All that matters in the end is that you don’t let one test make you give up. You worked so hard for so many months, and that shouldn’t go to waste. I’ve accepted that my life while studying is not going to be very fun, but it will be worthwhile when I do pass. Being a CPA has life long benefits, so don’t give that up just because of one (or more) failures. Sure, it’s not ideal, but in the end succeeding after previous failure is the sweetest success of them all.

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