Learn more about CPA Exam scoring and pass rates
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Learn more about CPA Exam scoring and pass rates

10 months ago · 2 min read

Calculating your CPA Exam score

To pass a CPA Exam section, you must score a minimum of 75. Have you ever wondered how the AICPA calculates your CPA Exam section scores? Scores are reported on a scale that ranges from 0 to 99. It’s important to know that your total reported score does not represent a percentage correct, nor can you interpret it as such. Scores are not curved. When you fail an Exam section, you’ll also receive a Candidate Performance Report that assesses your performance on that specific section.

CPA Exam scoring is treated with a high level of importance, due diligence, and attention to accuracy. Your responses to questions go through multiple quality assurance reviews to ensure scoring accuracy.

Your total score in the AUD, FAR, and REG sections is a weighted combination of scaled scores from multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and task-based simulations (TBSs).

For the BEC section, your total score is a weighted combination of the scaled scores from the MCQs, TBSs, and written communication tasks.

Percent

Scaled scores on the MCQ and TBS portions of the CPA Exam are calculated using formulas that take into account factors such as whether the question was answered correctly and the relative difficulty of each question. For MCQs only, the Exam uses a multistage adaptive test delivery model (see testlet selection graphic). Your first testlet will be given at a level of moderate difficulty. The next testlet will be the same level or slightly more difficult based on your performance. More information on the use of multistage adaptive questions may be found in the scoring FAQs.

Testlet selection

Testlet

Steps in computing your score AUD, FAR and REG sections

Reported Score Aud

BEC Section

Report Score Card BEC

How did candidates perform overall?

Although testing is conducted throughout the year, we publish candidate pass rates for each section on a quarterly basis. When reviewing these pass rates, you should remember that candidates are evaluated against an established standard of competence, and that the CPA Exam is scored and scaled so that scores are comparable across test forms and over time. The Exam is not harder or easier to pass at different times. An increase in pass rates simply means that candidates are better prepared. Below are the pass rates for calendar year 2021.

SectionQ1Q2Cumulative
AUD48.56%50.49%49.70%
BEC62.16%63.31%62.84%
FAR46.64%42.63%44.70%
REG59.29%58.81%59.03%

Elijah Watts Sells Award

Elijah watt sells award
Since 1923, the AICPA has bestowed the Elijah Watt Sells Award upon high-performing candidates for outstanding performance on the CPA Exam. The award is named in honor of one of the country’s first CPAs who was active in the establishment of the AICPA. As an advocate for the profession, Sells played a key role in advancing professional education in the profession

To earn the award, a CPA candidate must have:

  • Obtained a cumulative average score above 95.50 across all four sections of the CPA Exam

  • Passed all four sections of the Exam on the first attempt

You do not need to apply for this award. If you are eligible, you will be contacted in the spring of the following year in which you completed testing.

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