Why it’s important to pass your first attempt on the CPA Exam.

The cumulative passing rate for a section on the CPA Exam in 2016 was 48.82%, and as so far in 2017, it’s slightly worse at 45.15%.

Another way to put it is to say that approx. half the people who attempt a section at any time will fail it. This is clearly a grim stat.


I think that it is critical that you’re not one of the unfortunate 50% when you’re just starting out and attempting your first section.

Here’s what failing your first section does to you:

  1. It knocks your confidence.
  2. It screws up whatever ambitious timeline you had created.
  3. This now leads you to contemplate whether you should retake that same section or try a different section.
  4. If you’re like me, re-studying for the failed part becomes harder because the information is now redundant, and therefore excruciatingly boring.
  5. This might then lead you to pick and choose which topics to focus more on. Consequently, you might ignore other topics you wrongly thought you were sufficient in. Leading you to possibly failing for the second time like I did.

You don’t need any of the above in your life. Your first CPA section should be your best attempt. Don’t cut corners. Do it all; lectures, practice questions and even flash cards if you have them. The only time I used my flashcards was during my first section, BEC.

Passing the first section does two things:

  1. You get rewarded for your hard work with a pass. This leaves a sweet feeling.
  2. The 18month countdown starts. If you’re like me and work better under pressure, passing your first section means that you now have less than 18months to complete the remaining 3. If that doesn’t spur you on, I don’t know what will.

So, put all that “First-time Test Taker” enthusiasm to some good use and ace your first section.

Read about which one to take first to give you the best chance of passing here.

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