Making a comeback

Sep 29, 2020

When I failed SFMA and Financial Reporting, it felt like an unexpected break-up. I hadn’t anticipated failing. All that time invested in study and now I had to start all over again!

Work smarter, not harder

But that’s just it- you’ve already put in the hard work and laid the foundation. You are not starting from scratch. This time round it’s about working smarter, not harder. Use your time and energy wisely.

Take a few days for yourself if you need to. It is a form of loss and can be a very lonely time. Talk things through with supportive people, indulge in some self-care and do things that make you happy.

I remember the Partner in my Department calling me at the time and encouraging me to “get back up on the horse!”. That’s what I did and know that you can, too.

Ways to get back on track

Capitalise on the time and energy you’ve already invested studying by preparing for the repeat in the following ways:

  1. Boost your confidence. It’s helpful to write down all of your achievements to date, as far back as you can remember. Look at them- aren’t you proud?


  2. Reflect on your study routine and exam technique. Be honest with yourself:

    -What do you need to do more of?

     What do you need to do less of?

    -What should you do differently?

    -What can you start doing?

    -What must you stop doing altogether?

      You know best!


  3. What resources are available to help you?

    You are not on your own with this challenge. Utilise the resources available to you, which include:

    -          Role models- Senior colleagues may surprise you by sharing their stories of failure with you. When I realised that others ahead of me had failed, I felt less alone and also realised that I could still advance in my career even after this set-back. You can learn from others how they achieved success when it seemed impossible.

    -          Additional classes and grinds-Taking additional classes run by Chartered Accountants Ireland was really valuable. A group of us who were repeating also arranged a day of grinds which was very beneficial.

    -          Help from colleagues and peers- Reach out to people who have sat exams recently. I received a great deal of support from colleagues the year ahead of me when I struggled with past paper questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice. Most people will be happy to assist, as they’ve been there too! You might also arrange calls and study sessions with others who are repeating where you can share thoughts.

    -          CA support- CA Support are here to assist you and can be contacted on email at or on 01 637 7342 or 086 024 3294.  There are also other video supports and articles available on our site.


  4. Ease back into study by reading relevant articles that make the subject come to life for you and keep it interesting. Make it an activity that you enjoy and build your confidence back up this way! While the process is still fresh in your mind, going through as many sample questions and past papers as you can may be easier than immediately going back to the text books.


  5. Take time for you every day. Your well-being is more important than anything else, so do something that you love daily. Prioritise yourself and make sure that you eat well, get enough exercise, fresh air and rest. It sounds simple, but it’s easy to have tunnel vision when in study-mode.

And finally…

This experience is a tough one to go through. It might feel very unfair, stressful and worrying. Please know that even if it doesn’t seem like it right now, it will all come together in the end and although it sounds cliché, you will be stronger. You may become a future specialist in an area because of the additional time you’ve had to spend studying it! Opportunities can come from the most surprising places. As you continue your studies, celebrate the results that you have already achieved in your life!

By Charlotte Keating. Charlotte is a Chartered Accountant and the founder of Act On It Coaching,

CA Support is here to support our students, members, and their families. Contact the CA Support team on mobile: (353) 86 024 3294 or email: