Students engrossed in CPA exam prep are always looking for tips that prepare them for a passing score. Unfortunately, this struggle for an edge has resulted in numerous myths about exam administration, grading, and reporting. These create distractions from pursuing a sound study plan.
Passing the CPA exam is challenging, but it happens all the time. The individuals who succeed are not relying upon any tricks. Rather, their success is a consequence of devotion to CPA exam study. This is the only proven avenue to attain passing exam scores.
One commonly cited misperception is that CPA exam scores are curved. This implies that scoring is adjusted according to performance of other candidates taking the same exam section. In fact, your score is independent of other candidates and is measured against established standards.
The historical pass rate of 45 to 50 percent is not maintained by curved grading. It is solely a consequence of many first-time test takers who failed to study properly. Repeaters of the exams attain passing grades after applying diligent study techniques to a CPA review course. Some candidates take this correct approach to succeed on their first attempts.
Another misconception surrounds requests for exam re-scoring. This issue commonly arises when someone scores a 74, just below the passing grade of 75. The service is called score review. It is not a re-grading of your exam, but only an automated scoring verification. Score review only results in changes if an incorrect answer key was used initially, which almost never happens.
CPA candidates are uncertain about what a score of 75 really means. It does not signify that three-fourths of the questions were answered correctly. Instead, exam scoring relies upon psychometics. The technical aspects of this field are fairly complex, which explains how the myth about grading on the curve is often incorrectly substituted as an explanation. A psychometric model is based upon the theory that item responses are predictable based upon measured results in a wide group.
The AICPA selects CPA exam questions that result in the distribution of correct answers among respondents that psychometrics predicts. For instance, if about 45 percent of people with a little accounting knowledge are expected to correctly calculate S corporation shareholder basis, then questions with 45 percent correct responses are average. A question about S corporation shareholder basis that is answered correctly only 35 percent of the time is therefore considered more difficult than average.
The CPA exam considers the question difficulty in assigning your grade. Consequently, correct responses to questions with high difficulty results in a better grade than correctly answering the same number of questions with average difficulty level. When an exam contains newly created task-based simulations, grading is initially complicated by lack of a sufficient number of responses for implementing psychometric scoring analysis. This delays reporting of grades, which disrupts a study pattern and leads to another myth.
The 18 months given to pass all four sections of the CPA exam is not expected to change and no formal system exists for granting individual exceptions. Following your initial exam section testing date with a passing score, you have 18 months to sit for three remaining exam sections and ultimately have passing scores. Delays in obtaining score results should not impact your test-taking timeline. The best testing plan ignores prior score results and proceeds with your next CPA exam review course. Aim to complete all four exam sections within one year or less. This leaves plenty of time to prepare for retaking a couple of sections you failed on the first attempts.
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