Passing the CPA Exam requires mastery of both the exam material and your own time management. All four sections must be passed within an 18-month rolling window, so CPA Exam candidates need to manage their study time well in order to succeed. Because of that, it can feel like you’re locked into your chosen exam date. While you’d ideally want keep to your schedule, there are situations where it’s better to defer your scheduled CPA Exam section.
It doesn’t really matter why you aren’t prepared; it only matters that you recognize you aren’t prepared before you’re no longer able to reschedule your exam. We recommend CPA candidates take a full-length practice exam 1-2 weeks before their exam date for exactly this reason.
Thanks to Continuous Testing, CPA candidates can now defer their CPA Exam to any date allowed by their NTS. If your scheduled exam date is approaching and you know you won’t be prepared to pass in time, you can relax knowing you can sit for your exam a few weeks later instead. You should keep in mind the potential fees to reschedule your exam. There is no additional fee to reschedule your exam if you reschedule more than 30 days in advance of your testing appointment. A $35 fee is applied if you cancel or reschedule your appointment within 6 to 29 days of your testing appointment, and that amount increases to $83.76 if you cancel or reschedule within 1 to 5 days. You are not able to reschedule your exam within 24 hours of your appointment.
That said, just because you can reschedule your exam doesn’t mean you should. The CPA Exam is hard, and most candidates won’t feel “completely prepared” for it. It is, in fact, one of the most difficult professional certification exams out there, so there are always areas in which you could be stronger. Don’t defer your CPA Exam to chase a perfect score.
Candidates who complete our course have a 91% pass rate on the actual CPA Exam, among the highest in the CPA prep industry. So complete your first Exam Rehearsal at least a week before your actual exam to give yourself time to work on any weak areas you might still have. Remember, you’re aiming for a 75; anything above that is extra.
Studying for the CPA Exam is a huge time commitment, and sitting for it requires your undivided attention. Unfortunately, life events don’t always happen on your schedule. Situations may arise that will drag your attention away from your exam preparation, and in these cases, it’s sometimes best to defer your exam date.
While you shouldn’t delay your exam for every inconvenience, cut yourself a break for major setbacks. The length of your deferment will depend on the particulars of your situation. In any case, give yourself enough time to deal with the diversion as best you can so that when you are ready to sit for the exam, you can do so with confidence.
If you do decide to defer, make an effort to keep up with your studies so you don’t lose any hard-earned progress. Even a light review will help make sure you are well prepared for your exam. Completing digital flashcards or listening to audio lectures can keep the information you’ve learned during your studies fresh without requiring you to devote a ton of brain power to studying.
Prometric Test CentersOpens in new window will close for hazardous weather conditions. When this happens, Prometric often works directly with candidates to reschedule their exams, usually even if they are past the normal rescheduling period.
But Prometric’s risk tolerance may be different from yours, or you could be traveling from or through an area with different weather conditions from what your test center is experiencing. If you feel it would be unsafe to travel, even if you are given the option to test, try to reschedule. It’s better to wait than to risk your safety for an exam. If the weather is fine, but the roads are still dangerous, either defer or take extra precautions to make sure you arrive at the test center safely.
Bear in mind that when inclement weather strikes, many other candidates will also need to reschedule their exams, and there are limited appointments available. If you are near the end of your NTS, you may need to work with your state board for an extension or other consideration to make sure you don’t need to pay the examination fees again!
There are many theories on the “best” way to sit for the CPA Exam. Some people think it’s best to start with the most difficult section so they can spend as much time as they need to prepare before the 18-month timer starts counting down. Others believe that starting with your strongest section first will help you build confidence and make it easier to develop a study routine that works for you.
However, there will sometimes be external forces that influence the order in which you will sit. For example, if CPA Exam changes are coming to a particular section soon, you should examine the changes and make any necessary adjustments to your study plan. If the changes are substantial, it could be a good decision to pass that section before they go live.
Alternatively, if you are getting started just a few months before your organization’s busy season, you might want to take a section that demands less of your time on average, allowing you to finish before you have to stop studying for a little while.
To avoid jumping around, try to plan all four exams in advance. Don’t apply for your NTS or schedule your exams right away; just have a big picture idea of when you’ll be sitting for each exam. Keep any work or social obligations in mind, and give yourself a few weeks of leeway in case of emergencies. It’s easier to stay on track if you know your goals.
First, don’t panic. Thanks to Continuous Testing, you’re able to sit for consecutive exams much faster than in the past, and we’ve covered what to do when you fail before. While it’s tempting to get some distance from your failed section and move on to the next one, you don’t necessarily want to give up all the progress you made studying. When deciding on a new study plan, ask yourself these questions:
1. How close was I to passing?
If you were very close to passing (say 70 or higher), you clearly knew the material well. Perhaps moving too quickly through Multiple-Choice Questions or an incredibly hard Simulation put you behind. In this case, delaying starting your next section, taking a few weeks to review the material and shore up any weak areas, and then trying again can save you a lot of time. You don’t want to forget what you’ve studied and then have to relearn it.
If your score was further than that from 75, it may actually benefit you to keep on with the other section you’ve started studying for. While you may need to “restart” your preparation for the failed section later, you won’t be starting over from scratch, and passing another section could give you the confidence boost you need to keep making progress.
2. Is the section changing soon?
If the exam you failed is going to change soon, you’re better off retaking that section if you have enough time to sit before the changes go into effect. Before you start changing your plans, check to see how long it will take to get your NTS and whether your local Prometric locations have open appointments.
If you won’t be able to test before the exam changes come into effect, you’ll likely want to wait before you sit for the failed section again. This gives you time to learn about the changes, hear feedback from other candidates who sit for the updated section, and prepare yourself to tackle any new information.
3. Will I be able to focus?
Finding out you were unsuccessful on an exam is disheartening, and every candidate is going to react differently. While it might not be the most logical factor, you shouldn’t ignore how you’re going to feel studying for the failed section verses studying for a new one.
If you know you won’t be able to focus on a new subject until you pass the previous one, don’t waste precious study time trying to force yourself to do so. The reverse is also true. If you know studying for the failed exam will only frustrate you, give yourself a break by studying a new section.
If you’re unsure about whether to defer, it helps to reach out to experts who handle these situations on a daily basis. Our Personal Counselors are happy to discuss scheduling options and new study strategies to help CPA Exam candidates succeed!
The CPA Exam can be nerve-wracking, and many candidates invent reasons to postpone their exams. The most common reason is thinking they haven’t prepared well enough. Putting off your exam because of nerves will likely result in you never sitting for your exam.
Taking realistic practice exams can help you build confidence in your knowledge and test taking strategy. Our adaptive learning platform, SmartAdaptTM, was designed to tell candidates when they are ready to sit for their exams. With 10,000+ Multiple-Choice Questions, 1,300+ Task-based Simulations, and two full-length Exam Rehearsals, the Gleim Premium Review System is guaranteed to prepare you to pass.
See what makes Gleim the leader in CPA Exam prep with our free demo!