We all want to know what the stats are of passing the CPA exam on the first attempt. Because, as much as we love being holed up in our parent’s basement studying, we’d like to go back to our normal social life as soon as possible. Just give us that magical 75! 4 times in a row please.
But how realistic is this goal? Let’s take a look at CPA first time pass rates and related stats below.
Passing All 4 Parts The First Time
There aren’t very many stats out there on CPA first time pass rates. What I did find was, in 2010, 131,158 unique candidates sat for the CPA exam and 12,892 of those candidates passed their 4th section with only 4 total attempts. If my math serves me correctly, that’s a first time pass rate of 10.17%.
If this number doesn’t sound appealing to you (it sounds scary to me), keep this in mind: According to a CPA pass/fail study, you have a 75% chance of passing at least one section on the first try and a 90% chance of passing at least one section on the second try.
Pass Rates By Section
If you want to know which exams are seemingly the hardest, check out these individual section pass rates. Obviously, you have to know your own strengths and weaknesses and work with them to pass the exam, but knowing how others are doing is a great place to start. So, behold, the pass rates for each section of the CPA exam for Q1 of 2016:
FAR – 44.7%
AUD – 44.9%
REG – 47.6%
BEC – 55.4%
According to these pass rates, both FAR and AUD are running a close game for hardest exam, and BEC is far and away the easiest exam. So plan accordingly.
Chances of Passing All 4 Parts
This is not the same as passing all 4 parts on the first try. This is simply passing all 4 parts, in whatever order, at whatever time.
I sifted through same pass/fail study mentioned above and found the following:
28% of all candidates who took all 4 parts of the CPA exam passed.
Again, this particular study is from 2007 (it’s the only reliable source I could find with the information), but since pass rates have remained relatively stable on individual exams since then, it’s probably a good figure to consider into today’s pass rates.
Now, maybe you’re looking at this number and thinking it’s pretty grim. But keep in mind that you have an 18-month window to pass all four parts. Put in the time, do what you need to do, and you will definitely pass.
How To Increase Your Chances Of Passing
I’ve read it on so many different forums that it’s hard to forget. The best way to increase your chances of passing? Put in the time and put in the effort. You have to make sacrifices for this exam. Maybe you won’t enjoy not having a social life for a few months, but you will enjoy that feeling of knowing you passed your last exam and you never have to open CPA study materials again (bonfire, anyone?).