How the CPA Exam Is Graded - dummies

How the CPA Exam Is Graded

By Kenneth W. Boyd

To pass the CPA exam, you need a reported score of 75 or higher on each of the four tests that make up the exam. Your reported score isn’t simply a percentage of answers that are correct; 60 out of 75 questions, for example, doesn’t give you a score of 80 (percent).

Instead, the reported score takes into account the difficulty of the questions. If a testlet contains many questions that are rated as difficult, for example, your test score will be adjusted based on the difficulty level of that testlet. A testlet with more questions judged as difficult will provide an bigger adjustment (add more points) to your score than a testlet with fewer difficult questions.

Your test score is also weighted based on the types of questions on each test:

  • Financial accounting and reporting (FAR), auditing and attestation (AUD), and regulation (REG) tests: These tests have the same weightings: 60 percent of your score comes from the multiple-choice questions, and 40 percent comes from task-based simulations.

  • Business environment and concepts (BEC) test: For the BEC, 85 percent of your score comes from the multiple-choice questions, and 15 percent comes from written communications questions.

For each test, consider the types of questions and the skills tested. Say, for example, that you’ve just taken the AUD test and you’re starting to prepare for BEC. BEC is the only test that includes written communication questions, so when you start BEC, work on those writing skills.

For more information on scoring, look for the document “How Is the CPA Exam Scored?” on the AICPA website.