What should I do if I failed an accountancy exam?
In my previous blog, I finished with a recommendation to watch The Last Dance on Netflix. This mini-series looks at the success of the Chicago Bulls basketball team in the 1990s. Still worth watching if you have not checked it out. The biggest star of this team was Michael Jordan and I’m starting this blog with another quote from him
“26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Most of my students email me after their exams. I love it when they tell me they have passed. My job is great for sharing successes, but the harder email to read (and I would image for most students to send) is where they tell me about a failure. That mutual sense of disappointment, have we in some way both let each other down? For the vast majority of students, the answer to this question is no! Exam fails happen, this is part of life and only makes the prize of passing and ultimately qualifying more valuable.
I would like to share with you my views and responses to exam failure.
My Top Tips
Look at your score. Exam pass rates are meant to be a challenge. If you were only a few marks short you clearly had a chance of passing. The odd missed question, silly mistake or misread requirement could have been the difference. Many students have openly acknowledged to me they had no new technical knowledge second time around, but the exam just went better for them.
Plan a quick resit. Different professional bodies have rules on resits, but I would usually encourage a student to sit as soon as possible. I have recently helped a couple of CIMA students who resat exams within 10 days and passed the second time around. This really boosted their confidence and meant they continued with their original study plans to start a new unit and get closer to qualification.
Was it time? If you left the exam leaving questions unanswered, these parts definitely scored you zero marks. Students must work on time management, doing mocks under exam timed conditions and developing techniques to get through questions accurately but quickly.
Feel more positive. Turning a fail into a source of motivation is a skill. I have form on this as I failed an exam early in my accountancy career. It hurt and was not a nice feeling, but I used this to push me on. I passed the resit and felt it improved my preparation techniques for future exams.
Resilience is not listed in the syllabus of any of the accountancy bodies, but I see this being as important in your route to qualification as knowledge of Debits and Credits. Don’t fear failure, acknowledge it and use it to drive you on. Success is all the better when truly earned, whether you are a star of the NBA or an accounting trainee.
Further advice if you’ve failed an exam
If you want help with preparing for an exam please get in touch. Benbullman@fi.co.uk
There are some great resources available here on our website to help you prepare for an exam, take a look at some of the articles shown at the bottom of this page.
You can also take a look at the advice offered by your awarding body