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5 Myths About the CPA Exam

James Palinsad May 3, 2013 0
5 Myths About the CPA Exam

There’s some myth-busting to be done in the CPA review scene it seems.

For many who are preparing for the CPA exam, a high hurdle for many who want to be CPAs, the best way to passing this challenging series of tests is still via the traditional way—the path of highest resistance.  That means for most, studying hard on their own or, more efficiently, enrolling in CPA review courses, such as those offered by CPAcampus.com.

For some, however, CPA exam prep involves a kind of brinkmanship that almost always ends disastrously. The person who engages in this practice is perpetually looking for tips, tricks, and miraculous workarounds. A strategy that not only guarantees constant distraction (and failure, ultimately), but also begets a host of CPA-exam myths.

Myth 1: The CPA exam is curved. In truth, it is NOT. Unfortunately for many CPA exam candidates who have hung their hopes of passing on this possibility, it is just a myth, the No. 1 myth perpetrated today. A “curved” exam has no absolute passing score; its passing rate depends on the general performance of the exam takers. For instance, if you got less than half the answers right in a curved exam, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Your passing the exam will depend on how well (or badly) the other examinees did, too.

According to a 2009 Q&A at another71.com, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) clarified that the CPA exam is a criterion-referenced exam and not a curved exam. In the Q&A, AICPA explained that an exam taker’s performance is rated against a predetermined standard that ensures a proper level of competence. Every score is independent of the other scores.

Myth 2: A score of 74 can be re-graded (re-scored). There is no such thing as “re-grading” or “re-scoring” for a score of 74 (passing grade is 75) or any other score for that matter, said AICPA in the same 2009 article for another71.com. The clarification should quash the oft-repeated question “Should I apply to have my 74 re-scored?” What AICPA has is an automated score verification process, a score review, which checks if the correct answer key was used and if it was used correctly in scoring a candidate’s exam. Successful re-scores are rare.

Myth 3: You can appeal if you barely fail the exam. You cannot. The reason is simple: there is no appeal process in place that will allow AICPA to do that, says Sunil Kumar, a CPA exam educator, in an article for cpapracticeadvisor.com.

Myth 4: Candidates who don’t receive their scores by the second wave of releases are borderline (scores 72-77). Not at all, said AICPA. There are several reasons why results can be delayed. One of which is the CPA exam’s use of psychometric analysis, which needs a time lag to finish. In this case, everyone’s score is held in abeyance until the analysis is done.

A delay can also be caused by the economics part of the exam. The CPA exam has four parts. Each one is scored based on a weighted combination of multiple-choice and research-based sections (in the case of audit, financial reporting, and regulation) or multiple-choice and essay sections (in the case of economics). When a candidate’s score is close to passing, a “second read” of the essay-part of the exam is done. This causes the delay.

Myth 5: You get your grade the same day of the exam. Impossible. Each exam score has to be reviewed by the State Board of Accountancy, a process that certainly takes time. Normally, according to cpapracticeadvisor.com, AICPA releases exam grades during the first month of a testing window.

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