Your Ask Joey ™ Answer

CPA Exam Pass Rates [UPDATED for 2023]

CPA Exam Pass Rates [UPDATED for 2023]

Learn about the recent trends in CPA exam pass rates and what you need to know!

CPA Exam Pass Rates

The AICPA releases the pass rates for each section of the CPA exam on a quarterly basis. The pass rates are typically released two or three weeks after each quarter end. Universal CPA Review quickly processes and shares the latest CPA pass rate information with a breakdown of the trends. 

Should a CPA candidate care about the latest trends in the pass rate? To an extent, yes. The trends by section can be compared to the latest CPA exam changes to understand the impact on exam performance. Universal CPA Review uses this information, along with student feedback, to ensure that the material in the course is best aligned with what a CPA candidate will be tested on.

Start a Free 7-day Trial Today!

Becker is thorough, but very text-heavy.

Is The 2024 CPA Exam Harder?

The CPA Exam is still the CPA Exam, and it is never going to be “easy”.  Just because there are now technically six CPA Exams that you can take as you still only need to pass four CPA Exam sections to obtain your CPA license. In fact, our experts predict that the CPA Exam pass rates will go up! 

Check out why we think the CPA Exam is now easier!

CPA Exam Pass Rates

The AICPA releases the pass rates for each section of the CPA exam on a quarterly basis. The pass rates are typically released two or three weeks after each quarter end. Universal CPA Review quickly processes and shares the latest CPA pass rate information with a breakdown of the trends. 

Should a CPA candidate care about the latest trends in the pass rate? To an extent, yes. The trends by section can be compared to the latest CPA exam changes to understand the impact on exam performance. Universal CPA Review uses this information, along with student feedback, to ensure that the material in the course is best aligned with what a CPA candidate will be tested on.

AICPA 2023 CPA Exam Pass Rate

Observations by Universal CPA Review [Q3'2023]

Exam Section First Quarter Second Quarter Third Quarter Fourth Quarter Cumulative
AUD
47.01%
48.24%
45.64%
46.41%
46.75%
BEC
56.98%
59.16%
54.90%
38.17%
47.44%
FAR
41.82%
42.78%
44.08%
39.36%
42.12%
REG
58.63%
59.71%
59.13%
54.68%
57.82%

AUD: AUD decreased ~2.5% from Q2’23 to Q3’23, which puts the YTD’23 average of 46.92% which is lower than the the 2022 average of 48.16%. AUD will continue to be a tricky exam do to the conceptual nature and difficult wording of MCQs and simulations. As you work through AUD, think about how you would explain the purpose of certain audit procedures to your audit client or audit partner. This will force you to think about the key risks in an engagement and how your audit procedures contribute to the overall audit. Overall, the AUD CPA exam section is the section that will have the least amount of changes, with the exception of some additional content related to data analytics.

BEC: BEC decreased from 59.68% to 56.2%, which continues the trend of a cumulative score of less than 60% In 2024 the BEC CPA exam section is gone! The vast majority of the BEC section has been shifted over to the new BAR discipline section. Check out our 2024 CPA Evolution page to learn more about what to expect on the BAR section!

FAR: FAR experienced another drop in scores in 2023, bringing the cumulative average down from 44.93% to just 42.94%. CPA candidates should be excited to learn that the 2024 CPA evolution format makes the FAR CPA exam significantly easier. 

REG: To round it out, the REG CPA exam scores also slightly dropped from 61.10% to 59.19%. Similar to FAR the REG section will also be much more digestible in 2024. The majority of the most challenging REG concepts have now been moved over to the TCP exam. 

2022 Cumulative Pass Rate Comparison

When comparing the cumulative CPA exam pass rate data by section for 2022 to 2020, we see a decline across each section. BEC experienced the largest decline, with AUD also declining significantly. However, the AICPA commented that 2020 was an unusual year due to COVID and a smaller sample size of candidate data.

When we compare 2022 to 2021, the changes are minimal. We see a slight decrease for AUD and BEC, and a slight increase for FAR and REG (albeit minimal).

With actual pass rate data through Q3’22, we expect the 2022 average to relatively unchanged once the Q4’22 data is released in January 2023.

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 Review a try. Universal CPA Review is 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!

Get started with our detailed CPA exam study guides by section. You will learn about the format and structure of each section, test taking strategies, and specific topics to focus on. The study guide for each CPA exam section is frequently updated to reflect the most recent trends.

BAR CPA Exam

Icon that reflects the BAR CPA Exam discipline section

ISC CPA Exam

Icon illustrating the ISC section of the CPA Exam.

TCP CPA Exam

TCP cpa exam study materials

CPA Exam Pass Rates By Age

CPA candidates have historically scored higher than those who are older. While every CPA exam candidate is different, there are a few reasons that this could be the case. For one, younger candidates have more recently graduated from their universities and the academic side of accounting is fresher. Thus, it might be more challenging for older candidates to get back in the mindset of studying when they haven’t sat down and opened a textbook in decades.

Now, if you are an older CPA candidate and you’re wondering if pursuing this designation is really worth it, remember that there is a path to success. Universal CPA Review’s visual learning approach has been known to simplify the most challenging topics covered within the AICPA blueprint. Having a visual-heavy CPA review course will definitely allow you to better grasp the materials and understand the intuition behind the topics that you haven’t seen in years!

Comparing 2022 CPA Exam Pass Rates with Recent Years

The 2021 CPA exam pass rates are very similar to the 2022 rates. It does however seem as though CPA exam pass rates are going up from a year ago.

The Covid-19 pandemic was in full swing in 2020, making it very tough for the AICPA and NASBA to accurately reflect CPA exam candidate data. The reported scores in 2020 were some of the highest in exam history. With that being said, the sample set of total candidates was much lower.

AICPA 2021 CPA Exam Pass Rate Data​

Exam Section First Quarter Second Quarter Third Quarter Fourth Quarter Cumulative
AUD
48.56%
50.49%
47.21%
45.04%
47.98%
BEC
62.16%
63.31%
61.73%
60.27%
61.94%
FAR
46.64%
42.63%
47.83%
40.70%
44.54%
REG
59.29%
58.81%
63.12%
57.78%
59.88%

AICPA 2020 CPA Exam Pass Rate Data

Exam Section First Quarter Second Quarter Third Quarter Fourth Quarter Cumulative
AUD
47.97%
65.29%
56.89%
47.50%
52.84%
BEC
61.76%
76.92%
69.89%
60.77%
65.56%
FAR
46.37%
62.86%
55.67%
43.53%
49.98%
REG
55.42%
74.97%
66.12%
58.00%
62.29%

Start a Free 7-day Trial Today!

You'll receive access to video lectures,
study guides, and practice questions!

CPA Exam Historical Pass Rates [2016 to 2019]

We have provided the CPA exam pass rate information for historical periods of 2015 to 2019 below. While this information is helpful to review, we do not believe it is indicative of current trends in pass rates. There are frequent changes to the CPA exam and any CPA exam pass rate data that has aged more than 3 years becomes less predictive of future trends. 

AICPA 2019 CPA Exam Pass Rate Data​

Exam Section First Quarter Second Quarter Third Quarter Fourth Quarter Cumulative
AUD
48.56%
55.11%
51.94%
47.88%
51.01%
BEC
58.00%
59.74%
63.04%
58.61%
59.98%
FAR
44.43%
49.37%
50.29%
40.57%
46.31%
REG
50.23%
58.66%
58.41%
55.89%
56.34%

AICPA 2018 CPA Exam Pass Rate Data​

Exam Section First Quarter Second Quarter Third Quarter Fourth Quarter Cumulative
AUD
49.27%
54.70%
51.07%
48.54%
50.97%
BEC
56.43%
60.31%
60.17%
60.13%
59.35%
FAR
41.59%
49.17%
48.85%
44.57%
46.22%
REG
49.99%
55.75%
56.55%
50.22%
53.16%

AICPA 2017 CPA Exam Pass Rate Data​

Exam Section First Quarter Second Quarter Third Quarter Fourth Quarter Cumulative
AUD
43.47%
52.00%
52.15%
47.69%
48.59%
BEC
50.39%
55.09%
55.35%
55.33%
52.99%
FAR
43.14%
43.76%
47.58%
42.50%
44.42%
REG
46.10%
48.32%
49.31%
45.89%
47.24%

AICPA 2016 CPA Exam Pass Rate Data

Exam Section First Quarter Second Quarter Third Quarter Fourth Quarter Cumulative
AUD
44.87%
48.70%
45.30%
44.41%
45.86%
BEC
55.40%
56.33%
57.55%
52.87%
55.41%
FAR
44.74%
45.61%
48.07%
43.24%
45.55%
REG
47.55%
49.98%
50.19%
45.93%
48.45%

Frequently Asked Questions on CPA Exam Pass Rates

Based on recent CPA exam pass rates, there has been a decline in the pass rate over the last 5 years. However, that is due to the fact that the CPA exam is changing but the way the material is taught by most CPA review course providers has not changed. Universal CPA Review utilizes modern day teaching methods to help you better understand the information. Start  a free trial today and you will see why!

The pass rate for each section tends to be the highest in Q2 and Q3 of each year. We attribute this to the fact that recent college graduates are studying for the exam full-time and won’t be starting their full-time job until Q3. The pass rates for Q1 and Q4 tend to be the lowest as most CPA candidates are working full-time.

Therefore, you should sit in Q1 or Q4 so you don’t have to go up against all of the CPA candidates who are studying full-time!

The cumulative CPA exam pass rates by section for 2021 were as follows:

AUD = 47.98%

BEC = 61.94%

FAR = 44.54%

REG = 59.88%

While we can’t predict the future, we don’t have any reason to expect any significant changes to the CPA exam pass rate in 2023. The Universal CPA Review team will continue to monitor the trends and provide the most up-to-date CPA review materials for you!

Over the last three years, BEC has the highest pass rate at 60%+!

Over the last three years, the FAR CPA exam has the lowest pass rate with an average of 47%. 

FAR has a pass rate that fluctuates between 44% and 47%. We don’t anticipate any major changes to the FAR pass rate in future periods. 

 

 has a pass rate that averages ~50% over recent periods. We don’t expect any major changes to the AUD pass rate in future periods.

BEC has a pass rate that averages ~60% over recent periods. We don’t expect any major changes to the BEC pass rate in future periods.

 

 has a pass rate that averages ~60% over recent periods. We don’t expect any major changes to the REG pass rate in future periods.

While 2024 CPA Exam scores are still being processed, it is still too early to know the highest pass rates for the new CPA discipline sections.


Back To All Questions

You might also be interested in...

  • Three Reasons to Become an Accountant

    If you’re someone who is intrigued by numbers, enjoys problem-solving and wants to help others, then accounting might be the perfect career for you. While some people may be put off by its unalluring reputation, accounting is an excellent career choice that has many benefits. In this article, we look at three of the reasons...

  • Qualified Retirement Planning: Tax Advantages & Disadvantages

    Home Advantages and Disadvantages of Tax-Free and Deferred-Tax Retirement Plans What are “qualified retirement plans” and how can they be effective for tax planning? Well, there are plenty of tax savings advantages to individuals contributing to tax-free retirement accounts, as well as tax-deferred retirement accounts. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that there are no disadvantages...

  • CPA Evolution Survival Guide

    Download Your eBook by selecting the download icon in the top right-hand corner