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5 Top Reasons Students Don’t Pass the CPA

As of May of 2019, there are over half a million actively licensed CPAs in the United States. They enjoy the perks of a career that offers job security, career development, job satisfaction, and great financial compensation. However, as many benefits that come along with this particular career, there are many students who find it hard to break into this industry. And in many cases, it’s because they struggle to pass their CPA exam. There are several reasons that students don’t pass the CPA. Let’s discuss a few of the most common.

1. They Have No Study Schedule

Some students don’t pass the CPA simply because they don’t set a consistent study schedule. Instead, they study on occasion or erratically and this inevitably leads to cram sessions. If you want to pass the CPA, then you need to create a routine. This allows you to mentally prepare for the wealth of new information that you will be presenting to your brain. And you’ll be able to retain more it. It’s a good idea to write down your schedule and devote so many hours to each week. You may take breaks on the weekends or schedule less time.

2. They Are Too Distracted

One of the biggest problems that CPA students face is distractions. Sure, your daily life will still take place as you’re studying for the CPA, but some students tend to allow several things to compete for their attention. These distractions may include work, romantic relationships, children, and hobbies.

While all of these things are important, it’s a good idea to set boundaries. Let your family and friends know that you will be unavailable during certain hours. If possible, don’t take on extra projects at work. Make sure your children have things that can occupy their time during certain hours of the day or arrange for childcare. Resist the urge to surf the internet or watch Youtube. Not only should you set time for studying, but you should also be willing to devote 100% of your time to this task.

3. They Lack a Designated Study Space

In some instances, students lack a space that is designated specifically for their study time. Believe it or not, where you study can be just as important as the amount of time you study. There are certain environments that are more conducive to learning than others. In fact, studies show that even the lighting can have a huge impact on how much information you’re able to retain.

4. They Don’t Take Breaks

Some students are unable to pass the CPA because they don’t take study breaks. In fact, many often study day and night, both on weekdays and weekends. They assume that the more they study, the higher their chances of passing the exam. Unfortunately, studying too much will only lead to a loss of focus and fatigue.

Sure, it’s a good idea to immerse yourself in the material, but you must do so in increments of time. Not only should you break up your study session, but you should also give yourself breaks within the study sessions. This ensures that your mind is always fresh.

5. They Lose Motivation

In some cases, student’s don’t pass the CPA simply because they have lost motivation. They start to wonder why they are putting so much effort into studying. So when exam day comes, the test is not as big of a priority as it once was.

In these instances, it’s a good idea to remind yourself why initially wanted to become a CPA. Perhaps this certification will result in a bonus at work. Perhaps it will lead to higher pay and a better quality of life for your family. Whatever your reasoning, try to keep this in the back of your mind while studying.


Studying to become a CPA can be quite challenging. And the approach that you take when studying can be the difference between failure and success. Take an objective look at your daily habits and make the necessary adjustments. If becoming a CPA is truly your goal, then it will all be worth it in the long run.

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