Is It Ok to Fail CPA Exam Part

By Brandon Vagner, CPA, Ph.D. & Former KPMG Manager

You have to be Sh***** me!  That is the very first thought that ran through my mind when I found out I failed REG.  I had many emotions running through me at the time, and anger was definitely one of them. I was angry at myself for not ‘being good enough’ to pass REG the first time.

Here is the thing though…. passing and failing a CPA part is not about ‘being good enough.’  I proved that to myself by taking a CPA exam strategic study approach for my second attempt at REG; studying relatively lightly but with laser beam focus for about 2 additional weeks; and getting an 86 on my second attempt.  Going from failing to an 86 is something you can do too; you just need to know how.  Be sure to subscribe to my free email list below, and i’ll go more in-depth on exactly how I did it.  How I did it is a little too long for this posting.  So, i’ll leave it up to you to make sure you subscribe.

My experience with REG proved that failing a part in no way shape or form means you are not good enough.  It just simply means it wasn’t your day and you might need a few simple study tweaks.  I know a lot of really smart people that have failed CPA exam parts.  It is absolutely ok to fail a part.

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CPA Firms Do Not Care

Another major thing to remember is that the CPA firms could care less whether or not you fail individual parts to the CPA exam.  All they care about is whether or not you end up getting the CPA exam passed.  A failed part is never even communicated to anybody at your place of work unless you yourself communicate that you failed.  I worked at KPMG until I made manager, and I never heard of anybody getting ‘talked to’ for failing a part.  It certainly didn’t happen to me.  It just doesn’t happen.

Friends Do Not Care

Believe it or not, most of your non-accounting friends have an idea for how hard the CPA exam is.  If you struggle with it, the majority of your friends will understand what you’re going through and will sympathize with you.  They are NOT going to judge you for failing a part.  Don’t sweat it!


Alright, here is one that depends a lot more on your situation.  If you are 25 and still have a helicopter parent, then he/she may or may not give you a hard time for failing.  I would hope not, but knowing how some parents are, i’m sure that some of you will encounter this.

Remember that even if your family gives you a hard time, they are only doing it because they are trying to drive you to keep pushing yourself and get the CPA exam passed.  Deep down, the helicopter parents of the world know it is ok to fail a CPA exam part, but they can’t help themselves from trying to push you.  My advice is to just try to communicate to them that many brilliant people fail one and even multiple parts to the CPA exam.    You can even send them the link to this webpage.  Once you’ve done that, reassure them that you are trying your hardest, but, more importantly, you need to reassure yourself that there is nothing wrong with failing a part.  Even if you fail a part twice.  Don’t sweat it!  Just keep pushing forward.

If you are struggling with passing the CPA exam or just want to make sure you don’t struggle, then you should check out the CPA Exam Success Mastermind Group I run. It’s a great community of people ready to help support you through the process.

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