As you compare master’s of accounting degree programs, you might wonder how much a school’s CPA exam pass rate says about the program’s quality.
Understanding the CPA Exam Pass Rate
It’s difficult to fully appreciate what a school’s CPA exam pass rate says about the program without having some background information. First of all, you need to understand what a CPA exam pass rate means. The Certified Public Accountant (CPA) credential is one of the most valuable distinctions you can earn as an accountant. To become a CPA, you need to meet education and experience requirements and, of course, pass the CPA examination.
This four-part exam is known for being tough to pass, particularly on the first try. It happens to be “one of the most difficult professional credential examinations,” and its average passing rate “is one of the lowest in any professional qualification test,” according to Accounting Today. In recent years, the average passing rates for the four components of this test have hovered around 40 to 50 percent, the American Institute of CPAs reported. That may sound low, but it’s actually an improvement from the early 2000s, when the passing rate was closer to 30 percent, Accounting Today reported.
Knowing just how hard the test is – and how low the overall passing rates are – can provide students with some context to help them understand what a school’s CPA exam pass rate says about the program.
Why Your School’s CPA Exam Pass Rate Matters
When the average CPA exam pass rate is just 40 or 50 percent, you can see why a school would be proud that its graduates passed the test at a rate of 60 or 70 percent. That’s a considerable improvement over the average, and it shows that the school is doing something right. In fact, reliable sources don’t only consider CPA exam pass rate to be one of the most important factors in ranking master’s of accounting programs – they often see this feature as the single most important consideration.
If you have plans to pursue the CPA credential yourself, then choosing a school that boasts a high CPA exam pass rate can help you set yourself up for success. Other students who have graduated from the program have found themselves well-prepared for the exam after completing the school’s master’s of accounting curriculum, and there’s a good chance that you will, too. Even if you don’t plan to seek the CPA credential in the near future, a school’s CPA exam pass rate still says a lot about the program. If you ever do choose to sit for the exam, you want to know that the education you received in graduate school has prepared you well.
CPA exam pass rate is, like other ranking factors, just one aspect to consider in making your college selection. However, you should certainly be aware of this figure and of what the school’s CPA exam pass rate says about its program’s quality.