If you’re like some of my clients, when you heard about the score delay for 2018, you probably felt an array of emotions- sadness, frustration, panic, even ANGER!- I’ve seen it all and know how you feel. For the remainder of 2018 (and in the foreseeable future), CPA Exam candidates will be experiencing the effects of delayed CPA Exam scores. We’re laying out strategies to help you tackle the exam during this and upcoming score delay periods.

Reason for the score delay: Candidates can expect score delays anytime there is a significant change made to the CPA exam. We experienced similar delays in 2017 with the launch of the 4 hour BEC and REG exams. The AICPA shared this comment regarding the need for score delays:

“The delay in score release is necessary to provide sufficient time to statistically validate candidate performance on the new exam.”

So, while they’re necessary to ensure fair scoring of the exam, it doesn’t make the delays any less frustrating for the candidates left waiting not-so-patiently for the scores. As a candidate, you’re likely impacted in one of two ways. One- frustrated by the delay, discouraged by having to wait for scores, and possibly missing the opportunity to retake an exam quickly after failing, which does pose its own challenges. Or, second, you find yourself in the group of candidates whose credit for an exam will expire during the delay.

Since we can’t get rid of the delays all together, we’re left with coming up with a strategy to survive the long delays, and keep them from derailing your CPA progress. We’ve come up with a few strategies for you, no matter which bucket you fall into.

If you have credit expiring during the window:

The good news is that you won’t be penalized for the score delay, but we recommend that you contact your state board as they will ultimately be deciding how and when to extend credit. As long as you have taken the exam prior to the expiration date of the previous exam, your credit should be extended.

Of course, some situations are more complicated- talk to your state board regarding your specific situation to understand how it will be handled.

Try to use this time to your advantage. For example, if your exam doesn’t expire until June 1, don’t rush to take an exam early in the window. Take your time, stay focused and give yourself the best chance possible to pass.

If you still have exams to take:

We know it can be frustrating to not receive your scores back in a timely manner. Not only is it frustrating, but it can pose some challenges. Here are a few of the most common complaints I hear and how to address them.

“I lose my motivation during the delay. When I get my scores back sooner, I either know I’ve passed and am motivated to conquer the next one, or I know what I have to do to pass it next time.”

This is an unfortunate side effect of the score delays, but not impossible to overcome. It’s really nice to get the quick feedback about the exams, and it definitely can help keep up the motivation. There will be times, however, with the exam and in your career, where instant gratification and feedback isn’t available. This is a great opportunity to find what motivates you (from the inside vs. an outside source) and tap into that power. Why do you want to be a CPA? What’s in it for you? And, maybe most importantly, what skills can you develop through this process that will serve you in the future? Answer these questions, find that inner motivation, and keep moving!

“I don’t want to move onto the next one until I know I’ve passed”

Unfortunately, with the 18-month clock still ticking along, you likely don’t have the luxury of waiting to complete one exam at a time. Even if you did, you lose a lot of efficiency by falling out of the studying groove for extended periods of time. We recommend a two-pronged approach to tackle this challenge. First, when you know that these score delays are coming, take advantage of the time. There’s no rush to sit for the exams (unless you have one expiring), so use the extra time to prepare as thoroughly as possible. If you’re planning to sit for 2 exams during the window, consider sitting closer to the end of the window (i.e. May 1 and June 10) which still gives you plenty of time to prepare, but also minimizes your wait time. Give yourself the best chance you can to pass.

The second part of this approach is being able to move forward powerfully from your first exam, without knowing your results. We need to focus our attention on the factors that we can control, and minimize the time and energy spent on other factors. Be confident that you did what you could, know that the results are out of your control and move on to what you can control- your level of preparation for the next exam.

“If I find out I didn’t pass, so much time has gone by since I studied- I practically have to start over”

Yep- another big bummer about score delays is that you lose the efficiency that can sometimes be gained by building on your previous studying. We definitely recommend keeping moving with other exams, even without knowing your results (see above.). If this is your last exam, that’s another story. One approach our clients have taken is to continue doing a light review between sitting for the exam and the score release. Another approach is to use that time to really tackle those areas that have proven difficult for you in the past. This way, if you find out that you didn’t pass, the information is still fresh, and you may even have a stronger working knowledge of the topics that have eluded you in previous attempts. If you passed, it’s not wasted time. Extra credit for you!

Please share your experience and your challenges- What has worked for you? Where do you still need some support? Email us or drop us a comment below.

We’re here to help!