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2021 Pass Rates for CPA Exam

The AICPA releases the number of candidates and the pass rates for each section of the CPA exam on a quarterly basis. The results for Q1 2021, Q2 2021, Q3 2021, and Q4 2021 are shown in the table below:

Observations by Universal CPA

AUD: AUD continued its downward trajectory from ~50% in Q2 to ~47% in Q3, to ~45% in Q4. Feedback from candidates who sat in Q4 suggests that the exam is becoming more analytical with a heavy focus on being able to evaluate the results of an audit. Candidates must be able to evaluate whether a misstatement is material and propose an adjusting journal entry if necessary. You should continue to focus heavily on evaluating misstatements and proposing adjusting journal entries.

BEC: It is interesting to see that the pass rates for BEC remained above 60% with the new exam changes and the additions to IT. The sentiment by recent BEC test takers was that the exam was extremely challenging and they were being tested on a lot of IT topics and terms that had not been covered in their review course. Perhaps these IT topics were pre-test question, but expect an increase in IT related questions that will actually count towards your score. The Universal team continues to incorporate IT topics into the course that have been catching candidates by surprise.

FAR: FAR tanked from ~48% in Q3 to ~41% in Q4. We saw an increase in Q3 after IFRS was eliminated, but it looks like FAR is back to being the most difficult exam in Q4 by a longshot. The pass rate was ~20% lower than BEC in Q4!

REG: After increasing by 5% from Q2 to Q3, REG pass rates are now back in line with the first half of 2021. Basis continues to be a heavily tested topic and one that candidates need to know very well.

Candidate Data Count

Below is the candidate data count by quarter in 2021 (results are cumulative).

How does this impact candidates?

As a candidate, take note of the pass rate information, but use it to fuel your internal motivation to be one of the candidates that passes the exam. If you put in the time and effort, you will get this done! If you are looking for a different way to study for the CPA exam, give Universal CPA a try. We’re the only full review course that combines visual learning + video explanations for every question. This approach helps you learn a step-by-step approach that you can use on exam day when you are feeling the pressure!

You can sign up for 7-day free trial here. Additionally, if you already have a review course and it isn’t working for you, ask about the steep discounts we offer through the Spilt Milk program. Learn more about the Universal CPA packages and pricing here.

Universal CPA was created for the modern day CPA candidate. We are only successful if you find success, so let’s get this done together!


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