Newly-employed graduates in public accounting careers report that passing the CPA exam is essential to their overall career success (Fischer & Daugherty 2007), but in spite of this heightened importance, most CPA exam candidates fail to successfully complete all four exam sections in a single year. For 2012, the AICPA reported cumulative pass rates of approximately 47% for the Auditing section of the exam, 53% for the Business & Economic section, 48% for the Financial Accounting & Reporting (FAR) section, and 48% for the Regulation section (which includes tax and business law).

Understanding the characteristics and experiences that may influence an individual’s likelihood of timely, successful completion of the CPA exam may be helpful to students in beginning accounting classes who have yet to declare a major, and to accounting majors as they determine their areas of concentration (tax or audit) and the direction of their careers.

This article is from the Accounting Instructors’ Report, an electronic journal that provides teaching tips and insights to those who teach accounting and other business courses.


Read Will I Pass the CPA Exam? The Relationship Between Individuals’ Characteristics and Experiences, and Passing the CPA Exam


Hughlene A. Burton, Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Brian Daugherty, Ph.D., CPA, University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee
Denise Dickins, Ph.D., CPA, CIA*, East Carolina University
Dan Schisler, Ph.D., CPA, East Carolina Universit