How To Study After Failing a Section of the CPA Exam

October 19, 2021
Frustrated Test Taker

Finding The Resources That Can Help & The Time To Do It All

After all the hard work, money and time you spent away from family and friends to pass the CPA exam, it’s painful to fail, really painful to fail twice (especially if your score gets worse instead of better), and super painful to lose credit for a section you’ve previously passed.

Many candidates wonder, “What can I do differently this time so that I can pass?”

You can use your candidate performance report (plus scores from homework and practice tests) to identify weak areas and then find solutions that address those specifically. For example:

Woman studying for the CPA Exam

Learn From Those That Have Been Through It Already

Do you need encouragement from others on the CPA path or from those who’ve already passed the exam? Check out their stories and test-prep tips, such as:

  • Have a study partner or accountability partner. 
  • Consider taking time off to focus on the exam.
  • Think of failures as practice exams that locate your strengths and weaknesses, letting you know where to focus the most attention.
  • Understand the “why” behind topics. You do not need to know everything but understanding instead of memorizing will help with simulations.
  • After focused study time on weak areas, review all other topics shortly before the exam.
    • There is a tendency to study only the problematic topics, but it is important to be prepared for the entire exam.

What You Can Do To Understand the “Why” Behind Questions

Teaching someone else, or preparing notes as if you were going to teach, is one of the best ways to improve your understanding. For example, in the MCQ below (bonds from FAR), I would challenge myself to do 3 things:

  1. Answer the question,
  2. Write as many related questions as I can think of, and
  3. Try to answer those questions, finding ways to verify my answers.

XYZ Corp. issued 400 of their $1,000 9% bonds at 97 on April 1, 20X5. The bonds have accrued interest, an original date of January 1, 20X5, a maturity date of January 1, 20Y0, and semiannual payments due on December 1 and June 1 each year. What is the issue price for the bonds? 

  • How much interest will XYZ Corp. pay at each semiannual payment? 
  • How much interest has accumulated as of the date of sale?
  • How much money did XYZ Corp. receive upon issuance? 
  • What amount should XYZ Corp. record as Bonds Payable upon issuance? 
  • What amount should XYZ Corp. record as Bonds Payable net of Discount upon issuance? 
  • How much is the discount, and over how many periods will it be amortized? 
  • Build an amortization table using the straight-line method.
  • Record the journal entry for the issuance of these bonds from XYZ Corp’s. perspective.

Not included in this MCQ, but also good to study:

CPA Exam Review Course
  • Build an amortization table for bonds when the effective interest rate is given.
  • Study how to report interest for a zero-coupon bond.

Do you need help interpreting your candidate performance report?

Contact us at Would you benefit from a review course with great materials and tutoring assistance? Reach out to MDS CPA Review and sign up for a free trial today! We’d be glad to help you succeed!