CPA Exam Pass Rates

CPA Exam Pass Rates

Each quarter of every year, the AICPA releases the average CPA Exam Pass Rates, broken down by section. The cumulative pass rate percentages vary slightly per section and per quarter, but tend to hover around 45-55%. See the pass rates for each section of the CPA Exam.

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It’s important to note that the ebb and flow of pass rates is not due to any change in exam difficulty, but instead an indicator of student preparedness – what review course they studied with, what materials they used, and how much support they received. It’s no secret that the CPA Exam is one of the most difficult professional exams – passing success requires determination, dedication and purposeful CPA study materials.

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CPA Exam Pass Rates:

2019 CPA Exam Pass Rates
Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Cumulative
AUD 48.56% 55.11% 51.94% 52.06%
BEC 58.00% 59.74% 63.04% 60.45%
FAR 44.43% 49.37% 50.29% 48.30%
REG 50.23% 58.66% 58.41% 56.51%

AUD Historical Pass Rates:

While the material within the Auditing Exam contains very fundamental concepts, students allege that the questions on the Exam are confusing, mainly because there could be more than one correct answer to each problem. While the AUD Exam is more theory-based in its questions, FAR, REG, and BEC require more memorization from students.

AUD Exam Pass Rates 2015-2018
2015 47%
2016 46%
2017 49%
2018 51%

BEC Historical Pass Rates:

Business Environments and Concepts – continues to have the highest cumulative CPA Exam passing rate. One explanation for the higher BEC pass rates could be that candidates generally choose to sit for this section of the Exam last, narrowing the pool of candidates to those that have successfully passed three parts prior.

BEC Exam Pass Rates 2015-2018
2015 56%
2016 55%
2017 53%
2018 59%   

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FAR Historical Pass Rates:

Candidates we’ve surveyed tend to say that Financial Accounting and Reporting is the most difficult section of the CPA Exam to prepare for, and it does seem to be the most difficult with the lowest passing rate of the four sections. This is likely due to the large volume of information in the FAR section, along with the need to fully understand the concepts involved, instead of simply using memorization.

FAR Exam Pass Rates 2015-2018
2015 47%
2016 46%
2017 44%
2018 46%

REG Historical Pass Rates:

Students find the Regulation portion of the CPA Exam to be difficult to study due to the sheer amount of non-accounting information covered in the Exam, as it incorporates tax law and business law.

REG Exam Pass Rates 2015-2018
2015 49%
2016 48%
2017 47%
2018 53%