First off, I’d like to say I’m sorry. It does happen to the best of us and you should not consider it a shame or a disaster. It happens. If you just got your result, I’d like to ask you to do one thing: let it sink in. Do not rush to any decisions regarding retaking the exam. If you are at level #1, the good news is that there is another exam in just a few months. If you just failed level #2 or level #3, then unfortunately you would need to wait almost a full year before trying it out again.
Here are the steps that I think you need to take:
1-Let it sink in: You will probably get asked a billion times if you passed, mostly by those who have never taken a CFA exam. In general, those who have taken it know how hard it is to pass. Obviously, some things you did while studying were good and others were not. Take at least 1-2 weeks before moving to step #2.
Also, do not forget that the majority or close to it also failed the same exam. You are not alone here.
Let this be a positive experience. You have the opportunity to learn a lot from this failure, about yourself, and about those who can help you. It’s also a good opportunity to find a mentor or someone who can counsel you on the exam after possibly failing one on their own.
2-Make a decision: There is no shame in failing an exam and there is certainly no shame in not trying again. That is what happens to most candidates after all. However, if you feel like you need and/or you want to do this, sign up to try it again.
3-Hopefully you took my advice after the exam and took some notes about what went right and what didn’t. If you did, you should use those notes to build a better and improved plan this time around. If you are not 100% convinced about giving your full effort this time around, do not sign up…just wait a little. Failing an exam once is very disturbing. Not putting enough effort in the 2nd time around and failing again would be much more so.
As painful as it might be, take a paper copy of your failure result, and post it somewhere visible, where you will see it often enough for it to be a good reminder for days and weeks where you have less motivation. Seeing that result will be a good way to remain focused.