General Scoring Information
The passing score is determined by the AICPA Board of Examiners (BOE), which considers many factors, including standard-setting study results, historical trends and Exam content changes. The BOE also receives input from the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, consultant psychometricians, the academic community and licensed CPAs. The passing score is the basis of the pass or fail decision recommended to boards of accountancy on the advisory score report.
The passing score is 75 on a 0-99 scale. The scale of 0-99 does not represent "percent correct" and it is not a curved score. A score of 75 indicates Exam performance reflecting a level of knowledge and skills that is sufficient for the protection of the public. For more information, you may read How is the Uniform CPA Examination Scored?
Scoring is fully automated for all Exam components except the written communication tasks. Some written communication responses are scored by a network of readers (CPAs), while others are scored using an automated process.
Most written communication responses are scored by a computer grading program, which is calibrated using human scorers. In some cases, responses are scored by a network of human graders (all CPAs). If your score is close to the passing score, your written communication tasks will be automatically re-graded by human graders. When there is more than one grader for a response, the average of the scores is used as the final grade.
All scoring routines, whether automated or not, are verified at various stages of the scoring process.
The AICPA maintains a score release timeline that gives you a target for score releases during a testing window. The target release dates indicate when NASBA will release Exam scores to the Boards of Accountancy. Some Boards of Accountancy may require at least one day beyond the published dates to process and release your scores.
No. Exam scores are not curved. Your score is independent of other candidates’ Exam results. The Exam is a criterion-referenced test, which means that it rests upon pre-determined standards. Every candidate is judged against the same standards, and every score is an independent result. For more information, you may read How is the Uniform CPA Examination Scored?
The AICPA uses Item Response Theory (IRT)* for the objective portion of the Exam. IRT is a well-established psychometric approach to scoring used by licensing and certification examinations that administer many different test forms. For more information, you may read How is the Uniform CPA Examination Scored?
*For information about IRT, please refer to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Item_response_theory
There may be minor differences among different administrations but these differences are accounted for during scoring. The AICPA enhances test security by creating multiple forms of the Exam with different questions for different administrations. Each form is comparable but not identical.
Great care is taken to match the forms in terms of content and item difficulty. Remember, you may be given questions of varying difficulty depending on your performance (see CPA Exam structure). Question difficulty is accounted for during scoring. Therefore, it does not mean that it is easier to get a higher score simply because you receive easier questions.
IRT scoring takes into account differences in the difficulty of test questions in addition to other statistical properties. IRT scoring uses statistical properties of items, and the pattern of correct and incorrect responses, to calculate scores representing candidates' knowledge and skill levels. These scores are comparable because they have been calculated taking difficulty levels, as well as other item statistics, into consideration.
You will take two multiple-choice testlets. The first testlet is always a medium testlet. If you perform well on the first testlet, you will get a more difficult second testlet. If you do not perform well on the first testlet you will receive a second medium difficulty testlet. This testing process is called multistage testing (MST).
Please note that the task-based simulations are not chosen based on candidate performance on the multiple-choice testlets. They are pre-assigned. The percent of score by item type diagram shows how it works. You can review additional FAQ on this page for a further explanation of multi-stage testing.
In Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), and Regulation (REG), multiple-choice questions account for 50% and task-based simulations for 50% of the score. In Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), multiple-choice questions account for 50%, task-based simulations for 35% and written communication tasks account for 15% of the score.
For AUD, FAR, and REG, separate scores are produced for multiple-choice questions and task-based simulations. The two scores are then weighted according to the percentage value of each component, and added together to arrive at a total score. For BEC, separate scores are produced for multiple-choice questions, task-based simulations and written communication tasks, and then added together according to the percentage value of each component for the final score. For more information, you may read How is the Uniform CPA Examination Scored?
No. The total reported score is a scaled value that takes into account both the response to and the statistical characteristics of each question administered. Please review additional FAQs on this page for further information about the statistical characteristics and how scores are produced.
No. Your responses to pretest questions are never taken into account in calculating your score. Pretest questions are included in every Exam (they may be multiple-choice questions, task-based simulations, or written communication tasks) only for the purpose of collecting data. The data are needed to assess the quality of the questions, and to collect scoring information for later use when the questions become operational items.
No. Your results are scored using the same process and method to ensure uniformity and the validity of the pass or fail decision. In the rare instances when serious technical problems occur during testing, NASBA may offer you a free retest.
No. The portion contribution from task-based simulations and written communication tasks in BEC is too large. You would need to get some of the TBS questions correct in order to pass.
Score Hold (specific to the 2018 Q2, Q3, and Q4 testing windows)
Due to the launch of new Exam software in April 2018, the AICPA must evaluate test question performance for the Q2, Q3 and Q4 testing windows. Scores will be released once after the close of each testing window. Score release dates are posted on the Score Release Timeline.
Scores for the 2018 Q2, Q3 and Q4 testing windows will be released by NASBA on the following dates:
Q2: AUD, FAR, REG – June 27 and BEC – June 29
Q3: AUD, BEC, FAR, REG – September 19
Q4: AUD, BEC, FAR, REG – December 19
NASBA will determine which candidates may be impacted by 2018 score holds and share this information with all Boards of Accountancy. You will be contacted if any a decisions are made with regard to affected candidates.