How Hard is the CPA Exam?

“How hard is the CPA Exam?” you ask. Not to scare you away from your aspiration of becoming a CPA, but the CPA Exam is very hard. Some of my favorite quotes to describe the difficulty of the exam and the relief that candidates have when they finish the exam are as follows:

  1. “I passed my last part of the CPA exam. I can’t believe I am finally done after almost two years of hard work. What a relief!”
  2. “This is how every single one of my accounting friends feel right now studying for the CPA.”

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  3. “Got two sections of the CPA  April 3rd for Financial and Feb 16th for BEC… Oh wait that is nine days away. You will find me in the library 8am-8pm. The rest of the time you will find me in various study locations around town…eek
  4. “Do you ever feel like the CPA is like the hunger games, and that the “examiners” are like the gamekeepers?”
  5. “BEC, Audit, Reg, and Financial all passed! Glad that’s over, there’s a reason the tests spell out BARF.”
  6. “3/3 on CPA  One more to go. I will never appreciate freedom more than I will after this process is over.”
  7. “Studying for the CPA is like a Dementor… slowly sucking away your soul and all happy memories.”
  8. “Off to Europe. Freedom from accounting! My CPA chains are broken.”
  9. “Started studying for the CPA exams today! Gotta say it sucks pretty bad! Can’t wait to be done with it forever.
  10. “If applying for the CPA is time consuming and frustrating, I don’t want to know how bad it is actually studying for the exams…”


Very Hard but NOT Impossible

Every one of the quotes above came from people who passed all four parts of the CPA Exam and are now licensed CPAs or in the process of becoming a licensed CPA. In short, preparing for and taking the CPA Exam can be a very daunting process, but with the right tools and the right CPA blog (shameless endorsement here 🙂 ), you can make the Exam much more manageable.

Peer Schools CPA Exam Performance

Depending on which college or university you attend, you may find that you are already geared for success. The University of Florida released interesting information on CPA Exam pass rates by school in the Peer Schools CPA Exam Performance Report. Specifically, the University of Florida provides insight on top university CPA pass rates by test taker status (first time or all test takers), degree status (advanced or not), and section type (AUD, BEC, FAR, and REG). If your school is specifically listed in the report, congrats! Your school most likely has developed excellent channels for your CPA Exam success. If your school is not specifically listed in the report, do not panic. Students like you are included in the report under all test takers and have had and will continue to have a tremendous amount of success on the CPA Exam.

Whether you are gathering some research on the CPA Exam or you are in thick of studying for it as you are reading this, remember to put the CPA Exam in perspective. Chances are you have jumped through similar size hoops in your life. You succeeded then and you will succeed now.

Motivation Playlist

If you have made it this far through the post and have a case of the CPA-jitters, listen to the following playlist to help get you into your CPA zone:

  1. Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey
  2. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
  3. I Feel Good – James Brown
  4. Happy – Pharrell Williams
  5. Hey Ya! – Outkast
  6. Survivor – Destiny’s Child
  7. Break Free – Arianna Grande
  8. Shake It Off – Taylor Swift
  9. Take On Me – A-Ha
  10. Beautiful Day – U2

It’s a beautiful day, so as always, remember to breathe.


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