How many times can you take the CPA exam?

Complete Guide to Understanding the CPA Exam Attempt Limits

how-many-times-can-i-take-the-cpa-examCPA candidates can take each section of the CPA exam as many times as they need to in order to pass them. However, candidates are not allowed to take the same CPA exam section more than once in the same testing window. Likewise, all four sections much be passed in an 18-month window.

Whether you are just starting to study for the CPA exam or have already taken your first section, you are probably wondering how many times you can attempt to pass the the CPA Exam.

In this article, we will delve into this topic, providing clarity and guidance to help you navigate your CPA journey with confidence.

CPA Exam Structure

Before diving into the number of attempts, let’s briefly review the CPA Exam’s structure. The exam consists of four sections:

  • Auditing and Attestation (AUD)
  • Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)
  • Regulation (REG)

Each section is scored on a scale of 0 to 99, and a score of 75 or higher is required to pass. Candidates can take each section a maximum of one time per testing window. This means if you fail a section, you will need to wait until the next testing window in order to retake it.

The 18-Month Window

Once you pass the first section of the CPA Exam, a clock starts ticking on an 18-month window.

You must pass all four sections of the CPA Exam within this 18-month timeframe. If you do not complete all four sections within this period, the score of the first passed section will expire, and you will need to retake that section.

How Many Times Can I Take a CPA Exam Section?

There is no limit to the number of times you can attempt the CPA Exam as a whole. However, you are limited in the number of times you can take each section within a particular testing window.

The CPA Exam is offered during four testing windows throughout the year, and you may take each section once per testing window. If you do not pass a section, you must wait until the next testing window to retake that section.

How Many Times Can I Fail the CPA exam?

You can fail the CPA exam as many times as you want to take it, but you are not allowed to sit for the same section more than one time during a testing window.

Strategies for Taking the CPA Exam Multiple Times

If you find yourself needing to retake a section of the CPA Exam, it’s crucial to approach your subsequent attempts with a strategic mindset:

Analyze Your Score Report: Understand which areas you performed well in and which areas need improvement. The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) provides a score report that breaks down your performance by content area.

Adjust Your Study Plan: Based on your score report analysis, adjust your study plan to focus more on the areas where you need improvement.

Practice, Practice, Practice: Make use of practice exams and question banks. Familiarizing yourself with the exam format and types of questions can significantly improve your performance.

Stay Positive and Persistent: Retaking an exam can be discouraging, but maintaining a positive attitude and staying persistent is key to overcoming challenges.

The Psychological Aspect

The psychological impact of retaking the CPA Exam should not be underestimated. It’s common to feel stressed, anxious, or disappointed if you do not pass a section. However, it’s important to remember that many successful CPAs have faced similar challenges and overcome them. Stay focused, seek support from peers or mentors, and believe in your ability to succeed.


In conclusion, while there is no limit to the number of times you can attempt the CPA Exam, strategic planning and a positive mindset are crucial to success.

Utilizing the resources available to you, analyzing your performance, and adjusting your study approach are all key strategies to improve your chances of passing. Remember, persistence and resilience are hallmark traits of successful CPAs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the 18-month window restart after I pass each section?

No, the 18-month window starts when you pass your first section, and you must pass all remaining sections within this timeframe.

Can I take the CPA Exam sections in any order?

Yes, you can take the CPA Exam sections in any order that suits your preparation and comfort level.

What happens if my 18-month window expires and I haven’t passed all four sections?

If the 18-month window expires before you pass all four sections, the score of the first passed section will expire, and you will need to retake that section.

How can I prevent feeling overwhelmed if I need to retake a section?

Focus on creating a structured study plan, take breaks when needed, seek support from peers or mentors, and remember that persistence is key. Retaking a section does not define your capability; staying resilient does.

Approach the CPA Exam with determination and the knowledge that while the journey may be challenging, the rewards of achieving CPA certification are well worth the effort.