Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and do a little jig to get rid of those anxious jitters because today is the first day of the year that CPA scores are released! Whew.

Who knew that this moment could be as nerve wracking as sitting for the exam? We did. And just in case you've forgotten how its scored in the midst of all the excitement, we've provided a general overview for you to weigh your results against.

Basic Information about CPA Exam Scoring 

Many CPA candidates know that to pass the CPA Exam, they need a score of 75 or higher--but many candidates aren't exactly aware of what that 75 means. Section scores are reported on a scale ranging from 0-99. In order to pass, you need to have a total reported score of 75 for each section.

Here are the important areas to keep in mind and a nice breakdown of the exam for reference.


1. Your score is not interpreted as a percentage. If you answer 60 out of the 75 questions correctly, this does not translate into a score of 80%. For the AUD, FAR, and REG sections, the total is a weighted combination of scaled scores from both the multiple-choice and task-based simulation questions. Similarly, the BEC section total comes from a weighted combination of scaled scores from the multiple-choice and written communication tasks.

2. Take into account the difficulty of questions.  As you probably already know, MCQs take their form in two levels: medium and difficult. Every candidate receives a medium testlet first, and depending on his/her performance, he/she will receive medium or difficult subsequent testlets. Scoring takes into account the difficulty level of each question and assigns it a numeric value; medium MCQs are worth less than difficult ones, so a candidate who answers 5 medium MCQs correctly doesn't score as much as a candidate who answers 5 difficult MCQs correctly. Heres a nifty chart that shows you what this Multi-Stage Testing can look like: 



3. Consider the types of questions on each test. Your score is also weighted due to the types of questions on each test. For example, FAR, AUD, and REG have the same weightings in which 60% of the score is based on MCQs and the remaining 40% is based on task-based simulations. The BEC is a bit different. 85% of the score is based on MCQs while only 15% is based on the written communication tasks. 



4. Remember the pretest questions. In every section of the CPA, the AICPA inserts pre-test questions: questions that enable the AICPA to measure and develop data on possible new questions to include on the exam and are not graded. However, these pre-test questions are indistinguishable from the regular questions on the exam, which means that every candidate needs to try their best to answer all the questions correctly. A breakdown of how many pre-test questions there are for each section can be seen in the chart of the exam content above.

We hope that gave you a better understanding of how the CPA Exam is graded and scored. And we wish you the best of luck during today's score release

All graphs were taken from AICPA's "How Is the CPA Exam Scored."