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Does failing an exam make you work harder – or make motivating yourself more difficult?

+22 Votes
Does failing an exam make you work harder – or make motivating yourself more difficult?

Had some bad news with an exam result? Don’t panic – it happens to most of us at some point. For some it’s an immediate motivator to start working harder than ever, and for others it’s a **** to self-confidence that makes it easier to hide from the issue than face it head on.

Either way, the best first move is to take a step back from the specifics of the exam and look at why you weren’t successful. It usually comes down to an issue with time, revision technique, exam technique and/or commitment. Finding which of these areas are in need of attention is the first step to having an easier and more successful time with your retake.

Once you’ve analysed the issues, take action. Depending on where you think you need improvement, the following are generally helpful:

Start earlier, and plan more comprehensively. Draw up a revision plan that covers the whole period from today until the exam – filling in the days you’ll revise and the areas you’ll focus on. If you have trouble sticking to it, don’t give up, but look to see where you can make adjustments to it.

Be realistic! Don’t let fear of failure overwhelm you, and don’t make an unrealistic plan. Spacing your studying out with plenty of rest in between has been shown to be more effective than cramming, and remember – you’re not looking for perfection, but to achieve a good level of knowledge and exam technique in the time available.

Structure the information you are learning. You might have spent lots of time revising, but still failed. This means there’s likely an issue with how you’re presenting the information to yourself. Try structuring it differently – across flash cards, mind maps, or another method, to find the one that’s genuinely effective for you.

Have you had a bad result recently? How are you staying motivated?

February 27th 2015 AN ACCA USER 8,860 Points 1 Flag

24 Replies

+14 Votes

I have failed P3 about 3 times consecutively. This is my fourth attempt. The 1st time, I really can't recall my study method or how committed I was to studying.

The second time I was doing self study and I went to a 3 day revision class. However when I was doing self study I was only reading the text and making notes. In the revision class questions and answers were done over the 3 day period. However it was not the same as doing the questions on my own.

The third attempt I was a bit disheartened at having to see P3 again. The approach I took was taking 2 weeks vacation before the exam date and trying to cram then. I figured it would be a breeze because I had all my notes from before so it would just be a case of revision. However since I had not been really keeping up to date with developments I had only discovered the new areas to the syllabus within those last 2 weeks. I was using an older text so I did not have access to the new information. I went into panic mode and spent most of my time trying to collect information on the new areas because I was certain one of them would be examined. I did not have enough time for my revision. I certainly had no time for questions. I tried a couple but felt even worse because I felt incapable of doing them due to lack of knowledge and practice. All that could come to mind is being in the exam room and being faced with these questions I could not answer. So I preferred to not do questions altogether and avoid this unpleasant feeling. Needless to say I did worse than on my second attempt.

So after that horrific last experience I told myself there was no way I was doing that again. Cramming is not for me and it doesn't allow enough time to deal with any surprises. I became motivated to give my all and sacrifice the time I didn't want to before. For the first time in my history of studying I actually devised a study timetable and I am sticking to it. As soon as January started I began studying. My game plan is questions, questions, questions. At times I do become fearful and overwhelmed at the thought of putting in all this work and it not being enough but I do my best to put those thoughts out of my mind and keep my goal in mind. I need to do whatever it takes to pass. There cannot be another failure.

Honestly though if by some chance of ill luck there is another failure I may rethink ACCA. I don't think I could deal with doing this paper another time. If and when I do pass that will be by motivation to see the course through till the end.

To anyone struggling I hope you can learn from my mistakes. Also I would say don't give up (even though I'm sounding like I may). I just believe my passion may be elsewhere and I will take my result as a sign of what I need to do. I have been doing ACCA since 2000 (I did take some years off) and people have said to me, I'm almost there and to finish it. But I've been almost there a while now. I'm doubting that most people would be doing this as long as I have. So if this is your passion, hang in there and see it through. I am still giving my all for June 2015 exams and I do pray that by ***'s good grace I will pass.

February 28th 2015 AN ACCA USER 1,370 Points
+7 Votes

Wrote 4 papers in December 3 out of 4. Failed P1 by a few marks on the 1st attempt, now it's back to square 1 to face it in june.
The steps i am taking to resit P1 are:
1) set a timeline by which i expect to complete revision of my classnotes
2) practice past papers from 2008 to 2014...under exam conditions
3) remind myself as to why i am studying acca

Good luck to all.

March 1st 2015 AN ACCA USER 2,720 Points
+3 Votes

It have acted as both a motivator and a creator of fear of failure. I self studied and have passed many of the papers with 3 to 4 weeks and less of study and 1 to 2 weeks of practice. But for p3 and p7 I could not do that.
I got stuck in that approach and failed both papers a few times. P7 required a study buddy from opentuition for 2 months of question discussions and 1 month of study.
I am using lsbf for p3. Following the videos in the library and attempting the questions suggested. The live sessions acts as revision for now as I am a few sessions ahead.
I am more motivated but the fear of failure is still strong.

March 1st 2015 AN ACCA USER 280 Points
+3 Votes

I struggled earlier on in my accountancy studies as I always worked really hard on learning the material, but I didn't prioritise question practice and time management, so I wasn't finishing exam papers. That for me was really demotivating. But I got over out it when I passed an exam on the second attempt.

It helps when you know people who have done accountancy exams so really get it into your head that the only way to pass is to do question practice and not focus too much on trying to memorise the whole syllabus and every type of question you could get asked. Once I realised that, I started getting 60%+ in exams. You learn a lot from failing an exam, but it's a tough experience. But you're normally not failing for lack of effort.

As for motivation. I passed P2 for example in December (first time), but failed P7 (also first time). Up to now for ACCA I've failed F4 once and P7 once. I worked hard for those papers. It's very hard to motivate yourself to work as hard for the second attempt. But you hope to be smarter in how you tackle the second attempt. For P7 in December, I spent too long on Q1 and Q2, so it doesn't matter how well you prepare yourself if you don't manage your time.

I think when you are always more stressed and motivated for the first attempt, but you don't stress as much for the second. Perhaps this also helps. But if you don't put in the work, you won't pass. You just have to persevere and be realistic with whatever work, social or family commitments you have. As we now have 4 sessions a year, this will help a lot in terms of work-study balance.

Good luck to anyone doing exams in June. Trying to motivate myself right now!

May 14th 2015 AN ACCA USER 200 Points
Edited May 14th 2015 AN ACCA USER
+2 Votes

Absolutely, It feels like "I will work even hard to Avoid This"

May 3rd 2015 AN ACCA USER 3,220 Points
+2 Votes

Makes me work harder but it does leave an impact temporarily on my mind which becomes demotivating until and unless im not backed up by my family and friends .

May 7th 2015 AN ACCA USER 9,230 Points
+2 Votes

I have failed F8 three times now even though I thought I'd nailed it in December. It's very hard to get motivated again, but I guess it depends how much you want it. For me it's not just the studying bu the financial strain as the exams aren't cheap and the studying costs mount up if you have to pay for them yourself. I thought self study would work but this time around I am attending a QBD in the hope that I can work out why I keep failing. The knowledge is there as when I come out of my exams I read up and am happy with the answers I have given but then I get the results a few weeks later and it's horrible.

I'll keep going for now...hoping June is the one that gets me through

May 15th 2015 AN ACCA USER 180 Points
+1 Vote

I have Flunked number of exams for a couple of times and everytime it motivates me more to get better score.
I have never been demotivated because of the fact that i couldnt clear my exam in the first attempt itself i just worry about what all changes i should make to improve my scores.

July 23rd 2015 AN ACCA USER 14,370 Points
0 Votes
Its my first day here of joining and the reason for that was to distract myself from the fear of failure. In the last attempt of Dec  2014 i studied alot, did lots of practice, even the tutors were so confident on me that i will pass with shining stars, coz i had a very great interaction with my teachers, i have got a very deep knowledge of accouting, and also im in touch with the recent practical development around the accounting globe,  but unfortunately i failed in  7,8,9 on my 2nd attempt, and this really demotivated me with the thought to quit from Acca, and start another accounting degree.

This time i am trying to start from the scrap and find the deficincies and also to change my study resources, at first i was studying bpp texts and everything this time im going to switch to kaplan resources..... so let see what is going to happen....

Best of Luck to all....
March 10th 2015 AN ACCA USER 260 Points
0 Votes
Jinelle Mapp you are not alone I also started long ago been crying this ACCA thing, I have 3 papers do finish P2 p7 AND P5 I ALWAYS GET 40 percent my juniors have all pased infact now doing their PHDs but we are not giving up lets finish will be encouraging  june 2015 here we come
March 27th 2015 AN ACCA USER 380 Points
0 Votes
which were the other 3? all the bbest
March 27th 2015 AN ACCA USER 380 Points
0 Votes
F4, F8 and F9.
March 28th 2015 AN ACCA USER 2,720 Points
0 Votes
@ Sultan I can understanding how frustrating it would be especially having studied so much along with being quite knowledgeable in the field. Did you analyze why you did not pass in Dec 2014, was it that you did not know the material or could it have been exam technique, did you finish on time? I believe once you pinpoint the reason for failing you can definitely succeed the next time. All the best.
March 31st 2015 AN ACCA USER 1,370 Points 1 Flag
0 Votes
Thanks Beverlyne for your support. We will definitely give it our best for June 2015. All the best to you as well.
March 31st 2015 AN ACCA USER 1,370 Points
0 Votes
@jinelle I have came to a point where all my confusion about Acca is cleared....!!! After a thorough consultation with my tuition providers they advised me to do lots of practice and focus on exam techniques and keep urself updated with examiners review ....!!!
The weakness which I had I was spending time a lot in gaining knowledge of everything and practising without focusing on exam techniques and time management....!!!!
This time i m going to exams as a professional student not an academic student....!!!!
March 31st 2015 AN ACCA USER 260 Points
0 Votes
That's great. Glad to hear you figured out what you need to do and are determined.
March 31st 2015 AN ACCA USER 1,370 Points 1 Flag
0 Votes
I've wrote F8 about 3 times already. Haven't been able to figure out what else i can do to secure a passing grade :( I thought I did it all in the June 2014 exam sitting. It's so frustrating, but I am hoping to try it again in June 2015 with F9 & P1.
April 8th 2015 AN ACCA USER 290 Points
0 Votes

I personally have had 3 failed attempts at F7 and 2 failed attempts at F6, despite these being my strong subjects and despite the fact I am working in a relevent role as an Audit Associate. But I did not look for fault in my ability or in the ACCA qualification, because none was in either. I just changed my preparation strategy. To be honest, it is my preparation that was the culprit in all my failed attempts.
Passed or failed does not matter , it is attitude that makes a different . The greatest reward does not come from what you passed, it is actually comes from those that you have overcome it . Don’t stop trying , remember everybody”s learning curve is different , be patient to yourself and learning the subject more of interest instead of monetary reward it will be less stressful . Things are always difficult before they become easy ! So don’t give up !
Now you need to find the inspiration in your failure to keep your focus. Believe that success is just an exam session away and this could be the difference between an abandoned qualification and achieving ACCA Membership.

August 7th 2015 AN ACCA USER 14,370 Points
0 Votes
JINELLE MAPP- your advise really help me to pass F6 , Thanks a lot
August 17th 2015 AN ACCA USER 150 Points
0 Votes
Mujeeb Mohamed I'm glad to hear that. Congrats :)
August 17th 2015 AN ACCA USER 1,370 Points
0 Votes
I hope you passed I have also been their since 2000
August 17th 2015 AN ACCA USER 380 Points
0 Votes
Thanks :). No I didn't pass. I didn't finish the paper yet again lol. It was my fault for not practicing enough of the 90 mark questions under timed conditions. I got 42 and I had one more question to do but time ran out. I know if I had gotten chance to do that question I would have passed. I just needed 8 out of 25. How was it for you Beverlyne?
August 18th 2015 AN ACCA USER 1,370 Points
0 Votes

I failed my P1 exam in the June sitting, now finding it really difficult to get back into studying for my retake in December. So far this week I've still not managed to get any done so this weekend I am going to have a serious rethink on how much I want this, attempt a more structured study plan (even if I review it week by week). Tell some close friends and family so they can keep me in check as well.33

If not I may postpone until March, I just don't want to go into December unprepared and have another fail as I'm unsure of where I go after that.

September 21st 2016 AN ACCA USER 1,010 Points
0 Votes


As the saying is "If you lose, don't lose the lesson", so should be the attitude.

The momentum must go on.

You need to work on your weakness(es) that you must have discovered during the exam and work on them. (Examples of weaknesses could be, lack of relaxation, lack of enough practice of certain type of questions, lack of comprehension skills etc.)

Keep up with the practice of questions and you will be through.

Best of luck to all.

January 3rd 2017 AN ACCA USER 670 Points