Every year, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) names recipients of the Elijah Watt Sells Award. This award recognizes CPA candidates who obtained a cumulative average score above 95.50 across all four sections of the CPA Exam in addition to passing on their first try.


Who was Elijah Watt Sells? 

In 1893 when the United States was in an economic decline, two accountants were appointed by the government to transform how the U.S. conducted business. Those two accountants were Charles Haskins and Elijah Watt Sells. Both found ways to simplify work and increase efficiency, saving the government $600,000 a year while improving work quality.


What was his contribution to the accounting industry? 

On March 4, 1895, the two formed Haskin & Sells, the first major accounting firm formed by American accountants. They opened offices in New York, Chicago, and London, helping lead a young profession to maturity. Elijah Watt Sells became one of the first New York CPAs in 1896 and then moved on to becoming the firm’s senior partner after Charles Haskin passed away. We know the evolution of this firm today as Deloitte. 


How and why he is honored.  

In 1923, the AICPA created the Elijah Watt Sells award program to pay homage to one of the first CPAs in the United States who pioneered the accounting profession. Candidates are eligible for the award the calendar year following the year in which they completed testing and meet the above criteria. 

We'd like to congratulate all the 2016 winners of the Elijah Watt Sells Award.  It's very exciting to see some of our own students included on the list. This was no easy task.  In fact, out of the 102,323 people who took the CPA Exam in 2016, only 58 met all the qualifications to be recognized for this prestigious award.


Learn more about how we're preparing candidates for success on the CPA Exam here