The Uniform CPA Examination pass rate percentages are released by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and historically average around 45%-55%, varying by quarter and section. You can find the most recent CPA Exam pass rates on this page and historical pass rates for each section.
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1.) How is the CPA Exam graded?
A passing CPA Exam score on each section is a 75 on a scale of 0 to 99; however, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to answer 75% of the questions correctly to pass.
Questions on the CPA Exam are not equally rated and are scaled by the AICPA based on their difficulty. Scores on AUD, REG and FAR are based on a weighted combination of scaled scores between the multiple-choice questions and task-based simulations.
Scores on BEC are based on a weighted combination of scaled scores between the multiple-choice questions, task-based simulations and written communication tasks.
AUD, REG and FAR have a 50/50 weighting between multiple-choice questions and task-based simulations. On BEC, 50% of the score consists of multiple-choice questions, 35% of task-based simulations and 15% of written communication tasks.
The last aspect of CPA Exam scoring is the positive grading system, which means you gain points for questions you answer correctly and do not lose points for questions you either answer wrong or don’t answer. This type of scoring is likely opposite to college exam grading, where you lose points for incorrect responses. Not so on the CPA Exam! You should try to answer every single question on the exam. If you get it wrong, you won’t be penalized. But if you get it right, you get points.
NASBA (the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy) releases CPA Exam scores to candidates and state boards. The score releases occur during different times of the year depending on candidates’ testing window.
2.) Auditing and Attestation (AUD)
Auditing and Attestation (AUD) contains more subjective material than any other section of the CPA Exam and is often considered one of the more difficult exams.
Compared to the more memorization-based concepts on the other three exams, the ability to apply concepts to specific situations is the key to passing. Often, there is a “best answer” on AUD multiple-choice questions (MCQs) instead of a clear-cut correct answer.
After a dip in 2021, AUD scores continue to lag slightly from previous years, indicating the need for better preparation among exam-takers.
AUD Historical Pass Rates
3.) Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)
Business Environment and Concepts (BEC) addresses more broad-based business topics and less finance-focused material. Historically, it’s considered to be the “easiest” test to pass, with pass rates often approaching 60% or greater.
Figures from 2022 continue to reflect this trend; however, they are not approaching the high of 2020.
BEC Historical Pass Rates
4.) Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)
Often considered the most difficult exam, Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) has had the lowest passing scores of the four exams. The amount of material CPA Exam candidates have to learn for the exam, coupled with the combination of memorization and application, makes this exam more difficult.
Though FAR is considered the most difficult section to pass, applicants can take heart in the slight upward trend observed recently.
FAR Historical Pass Rates
5.) Regulation (REG)
While tax applications make up a large portion of the Regulation (REG) exam, tax law and business law are also incorporated. This section requires a fair amount of memorization coupled with the intricacies of dynamic tax law.
Regulation section pass rates increased dramatically from 2019 to 2020 but have since leveled off.
REG Historical Pass Rates
6.) CPA Exam pass rates with Surgent
With historical pass rates that hover around 50%, passing the CPA Exam isn’t easy, but with Surgent CPA Review, it’s much easier. Surgent CPA Review students average a 92%* pass rate.
Surgent students also go into the exam confidently, as their predictive ReadySCORE™ has been proven to be within 1% of students’ actual exam scores.
*Pass rates are calculated using exam scores from Surgent CPA Review students via a third-party platform.
92% of Surgent students pass the CPA Exam, compared to 50% of all exam-takers. Here’s their secret.