Why Is The CPA Exam Difficult?

July 17, 2020

A Closer Look At What Candidates Can Do To Improve Their Odds

In its brief article on CPA exam pass rates, the AICPA makes a few statements of major importance:

Candidates are scored against a standard such that test scores are “comparable across test forms and over time.”    

What This Means: The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

Although test format and content have changed, the standard has been consistent. The standard, as stated in the Uniform CPA Examination Brochure, is “that those who pass possess the minimum level of technical knowledge and skills necessary for initial licensure.”

Changes in average test scores do not reflect an easier or more difficult exam. Rather, these changes reflect the candidates’ preparation for the exam.    

What This Means: CPA Exam Prep Matters – A Lot

To address the question of the impact that preparedness has on exam scores, The CPA Journal compared average test scores of CPA exam candidates who held only a bachelor’s degree with those who held a graduate degree. Their findings strongly supported the concept that greater preparedness translates to higher test scores.

Waiting For CPA Exam Deadline

The overall average pass rate for the CPA exam in the first quarter of 2020 was approximately 50%. 

What This Means: Don’t Rush To The Finish Line 

  1. This rate is rather consistent with the 2019 pass rates, according to Going Concern.
  2. Adrienne Gonzales of Going Concern notes trends that impact test score averages, including the increase in testers both at the end of the year and right before an announced change to the testing format. These scores are typically lower, which appears to be because of candidates rushing to meet a deadline.

Only The Best Of The Best Shall Pass 

America Counts On CPAs

The CPA exam is difficult by design, as explained by the AICPA, because it “protects the public interest by helping to ensure that only qualified individuals become licensed as U.S. Certified Public Accountants (CPAs).” This means that there is no desire to make the exam easy enough to significantly increase the pass rate. But there are things that candidates can do to increase their likelihood of passing. The AICPA’s to-do list for CPA exam preparation focuses on personal preparedness, good time management, and having a great support group.

What This Means: We’re Here To Help You Pass the CPA Exam

MDS CPA Review is ready to be part of your support group, to provide you with comprehensive materials and study guides, to personally answer your questions and to help you succeed! Check out what makes MDS CPA Review different from other review courses and sign up for a free trial today!