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3 Things You Need to Know About the CPA Exam

For an aspiring accountant, CPA (certified public accountant) accreditation is a necessary prerequisite for a wide variety of careers within the accountancy sector. Consequently, in order to become a practicing accountant, you must first pass the CPA exam. Not everyone passes their CPA exam straight away, so it is highly important to do as much research as you can before booking your test.

Looking for some essential facts about the CPA exam to help you on your way to CPA accreditation? Read on for 3 essential things you need to know about the CPA.

The CPA Basics

Qualified accountants represent some of the most educated and experienced individuals in the finance industry. Because of the technical skill and business insight required in the process of recording financial transactions pertaining to business, it follows that to obtain a licence, all aspiring accountants must pass and exam that tests their business and numeracy knowledge. Moreover, before taking the CPA, state specific education, residency, age and citizenship requirements must be met.

The CPA exam is comprised of four different sections. These include Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) and Regulation (REG). Each section is composed of three mini tests that include 24 to 30 multiple choice questions and two simulation exercises. You must pass all four sections within an 18-month period and earn a minimum score of 75 on each part.

Preparation is personal

Preparing for the CPA exam is a huge commitment that candidates tackle in a variety of different ways. Most states require candidates to have 150 semester hours of education prior to obtaining the CPA license, but on top of this time, it is also recommended to factor in revision and practice exam questions. Like any exam, being mentally prepared is essential and aspiring accountants must therefore be willing to sacrifice time with family and friends as well as hobbies during their studies.

Additionally, although there is no one size fits all approach to learning the required material, it is important to find a way of studying that aligns with your individual learning style. Some people find that CPA review courses are an excellent way to guide their learning. There are several courses out there designed to help aspiring accountants achieve licensed CPA status, but Surgent CPA Review courses are some of the most popular options out there. Sourcing the best CPA study materials could be the difference between passing or failing the exam so it is important to do plenty of research before committing to a specific program.

Pass Rates Can Vary

Research into CPA pass rates consistently estimates that around 45-55% of candidates will pass the exam per quarter. Variation does seem to depend on the quarter in which candidates sit the exam, with quarters 2 and 3 averaging slightly higher pass rates between 2006-2018. Lower pass rates in the quarters 1 and 2 are thought to be a consequence of the busy holiday season distracting from CPA exam studies.

Furthermore, the pass rate for women CPA exam candidates also seems to be lower than that for men, suggesting that the gender disparity present in the accounting industry is reflected within academia. Ultimately, although looking at pass rate data can be interesting, it does not offer a comprehensive overview of the reasons why candidates did or did not pass the exam. Similarly, it is important to remember that whileobtaining the CPA license is difficult, it is not impossible, so if you are contemplating taking the exam, you should plan ahead of time to give it your best shot.

Passing the CPA exam can be a foot in the door for a career as an accountant as well as other private or governmental finance positions. Opportunities in teaching and business management are also a possibility, so it can be helpful for candidates to bear their career ambitions in mind during the study process to make the hard work seem worthwhile.  If you are worried that things might get a bit too much, then you should check out this article here about how to say goodbye to career frustrations to make sure that you really enjoy what you do!