Monday, April 16, 2012

CPA EXAM PERFORMANCE Q1 2012 - Behind the numbers

NASBA has provided some interesting cross-tabs on the 2012  Q1 CPA exam scores.  Here is a consolidation of some of the tidbits:
  • Majority of candidates in quarter one were first time exam takers.  Over 40,000 candidates sat for the CPA Exam for their very first time in Q1 of 2012.
  • The average score ranged from 71.9 in BEC to 68.9 in FAR
  • More people sat for AUD in January and February than any other section.
  • Almost half (49.5%) of first time exam takers passed.  This is pretty consistent with long term trends.
  • In spite of most States now requiring 150 for licensure, most candidates had their Bachelor’s Degree as opposed to a Master’s Degree or higher... in fact, only 14.3% had advanced degrees
  • The average age of the CPA Candidate was near 30 years old.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

CPA exam test scores do expire!

Don't let this happen to you!  This passage seen over the weekend on a popular linked-in group for the CPA exam:
"...Valerie, I couldn't pass REG within the 18-month window, so I lost BEC since it was the first exam I passed--totally stinks. I was devastated!!"

That's right, CPA exam scores are similar to fish and bananas... i.e. they dont last forever. So in addition to layering a schedule with Study, Work, Earning 150hrs (if not already achieved), you have to add to that an expeditious schedule which attempts to complete your exam in no more than 1 year.  With a one year target, you will have time if you need to re-take test # 2 or 3... or 4.  each exam score will come with a pass date and a expiration date: (see below)
In effect, each exam has its own 18 month window within which, the other remaining 3 sections must be completed.  This is why the conventional wisdom says that one should try to do the most "difficult" section first.  That way if it is passed, Great!... on to the easy ones.  If it is failed, at least the 18 month clock does not start to tick.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Update on CPA exam score releases for 2012

Q. When can I expect to receive my scores if I test after October 1, 2011?
A. A general score release timeline including score release dates for the first and second quarter of 2012 is provided in the table below. The target release dates indicate when scores for the CPA Exam will be released by NASBA to state boards of accountancy.
Please be advised some State boards of accountancy require at least one day beyond the published dates listed in the table to process and release exam scores.

Day in Testing Window*  Target Release Date Timeline   Target Q1'12 Score Release Target Q2'12 Score Release
Day 1 - 20 11 business days following
day 20 of the testing window
February 6  May 7
Day 21 - 45  6 business days following
day 45 of the testing window 
February 22  May 23
Day 46 - Close of Window 6 business days following
the close of the testing window
March 8  June 8
After Close of Window 6 business days after receiving
all scoring data for the testing

* Records received by the AICPA

Note: ‘Day in Testing Window’ refers to the date AICPA receives the test result, not the test date. Additionally, some candidates who take the BEC section might receive their scores approximately one week following the target release date due to additional analysis that might be required for the written communication tasks. Scores are generally released during regular business hours.
See more at AICPA

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Bisk going digital?

This is interesting....
TAMPA, Fla., April 11, 2012 — Bisk Education is proud to announce a convenient new way to prepare for the CPA exam that fits today’s busy, on-the-go lifestyles. The same exceptional textbook component of the Bisk CPA Review that has helped over 150,000 candidates pass the CPA exam can now be delivered automatically to your Amazon Kindle or any mobile device equipped with the free Kindle Reading App. Backed by leading accounting experts, Bisk CPA Review has long-offered the comprehensive content of a live review course with the flexibility of self-paced online study, and now the textbook portion of the review is available for your Kindle e-reader.... see more here

I wonder how this fits into the rest of the Bisk stable of goods?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Q1 CPA Exam Pass Rates 2012

The pass rates for the first quarter of 2012 are in.  It looks like FAR has regained its rightful place as the most challenging?!






Thursday, March 8, 2012

2012 CPA Exam Score Release Timetable Q1/Q2

2012 CPA Exam Score Release-- March 8 is the target release for the most recent cycle.

In late 2011, the AICPA announced that U.S. CPA Exam scores would begin to be reported earlier and published the U.S. CPA Exam score reporting timeline for Q4’2011. Early score reporting is possible due to the implementation of a major U.S. CPA Exam update known as CBT-e, launched in January 2011.   Here is the CPA Exam score reporting timeline.
In the first half of 2012, scores for the CPA Exam will be released by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy to individual state boards of accountancy based upon the target score release dates listed in the table below.
Day in Testing Window* Target Release Timeline Target Q1'12 Score Release Target Q2'12 Score Release
Day 1 – 20 11 business days following day 20 of the testing window February 6 May 7
Day 21 – 45 6 business days following day 45 of the testing window February 22 May 23
Day 46 – Close of window 6 business days following the close of the testing window March 8 June 8
After Close of Window 6 business days after receiving all scoring data for the testing window TBD TBD
* Records received by AICPA. Note:  ‘Day in Testing Window’ refers to the date AICPA receives the test result, not the test date. Additionally, some candidates who take the BEC section might receive their scores approximately one week following the target release date due to additional analysis that might be required for the written communication tasks. Scores are generally released during regular business hours.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

If you are studing for BEC, you have to know this

One factor of the BEC exam is knowing Corporate Governance as it relates to Sarbanes Oxley, Enterprise Risk Management, internal control, etc. 
As far as what you can expect to be tested on proportionally, here is the current breakout as per the AICPAs Content Specification Outline.
  • Corporate Governance (16% - 20%)
  • Strategic Planning (10% – 14%) 
  • Financial Management (19% - 23%) 
  • Information Systems and Communications (15% - 19%) 
  • Economic Concepts and Analysis (16% - 20%)
  • Operations Management (12% - 16%)
As it relates specifically to the 1st section, it is nice to see some of the practical application of risk as defined by the Committee On Sponsoring Organizations (COSO), in this case, faulty business decisions.

COSO explores common judgement traps, lays out five-step decision-making process  
By Ken Tysiac
March 03 2012

Many faulty business decisions can be traced to “confirmation bias” that leads people to unwittingly seek information that bolsters what they want to believe, says Brigham Young University accounting professor Doug Prawitt.

“We don’t realise it when we do that, but it’s a very, very powerful human bias,” he said Thursday during a telephone interview.

Prawitt is co-author of “Enhancing Board Oversight: Avoiding Judgment Traps and Biases”, a white paper on business judgement released Wednesday by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO).... (read the whole thing)

Monday, February 27, 2012

When do you suppose the CPA exam will start testing the minutiae of IFRS?

.... Well, not for a while, if you read between the lines of this Reuters report:

The top U.S. securities regulator said on Friday that the United States won't be rushed into a possible move toward a global accounting standard and will only adopt such a regime if it is good for U.S. markets.

"I don't feel any pressure at all to go along with anybody,"  (emphasis mine)  said Mary Schapiro, the chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, on the sidelines of the Practising Law Institute's annual SEC Speaks conference.

"I feel pressure to do the right thing for U.S. markets and U.S. investors."

More than 100 countries, including Europe, use accounting rules from the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) and are waiting to see if the United States, the world's biggest capital market, adopts them too.

Other heavyweights like Japan would likely follow suit if the United States joined.... (more)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

2011 CPA exam scores,

And for 2012 going forward, they may not be better but at least you will find out sooner.

Where can you get up-to-date score release information as it happens?

There are three categories of states when it comes to releasing CPA Exam Scores: NASBA States, Indie States, and Snail Mail States.

Most state boards of accountancy outsource their score reporting function to NASBA. NASBA is quick, consistent, and reliable when it comes to releasing scores. Once the AICPA releases scores to NASBA, the Indie States, and the Snail Mail States, NASBA is very quick to upload candidates scores – oftentimes the same day.

Who are the NASBA States?

Here is the list and where you can find your scores at Note: Some NASBA States release scores with 24 hours of the AICPA CPA Exam Score Release. Those states are denoted with a “24″.

Alaska (24)

Alabama (24)


Colorado (24)

Connecticut (24)

Delaware (24)

Florida (24)

Georgia (24)

Hawaii (24)


Iowa (24)

Kansas (24)

Louisiana (24)

Maine (24)

Massachusetts (24)

Michigan (24)



Montana (24)


New Hampshire (24)

New Jersey (24)

New Mexico (24)

New York (24)

North Carolina (24)


Pennsylvania (24)

Puerto Rico

Rhode Island (24)

South Carolina (24)

Tennessee (24)

Utah (24)

Vermont (24)


West Virginia


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

PCAOB and new TESTABLE standards starting July 2011

As you all know.... LOL....On August 5, 2010, the PCAOB adopted eight auditing standards related to the auditor’s assessment of and response to risk in an audit. These standards were approved by the SEC on December 23, 2010. Auditing Standards No.8 – No. 15 are effective for audits of fiscal periods beginning on or after December 15, 2010 and are testable on the CPA exam starting on July 1, 2011.From the PCAOB website: 
"...The suite of risk assessment standards, Auditing Standards No. 8 through No. 15, sets forth requirements that enhance the effectiveness of the auditor's assessment of, and response to, the risks of material misstatement in the financial statements.
The risk assessment standards address audit procedures performed throughout the audit, from the initial planning stages through the evaluation of the audit results..."

Good idea to brush up on those and check your Review Course provider for updates.  If you are a Becker student, start with the Knowledge base:

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Don't sweat International Auditing Standards (IAS) in BEC...yet

I finally got caught up on my personal email last night and I found I had received another “alert" from a well know website (rhymes with "mother" plus the age of my grandma).  Don't get me wrong.  I love this aforementioned website for all the gouge one can glean, but this caught my eye having just finished BEC.

It headlines with “BEC goes International”  and adds the statement that IAS will be included with BEC starting in July.  I went on the AICPA website and I found it stated that IAS will be added as a reference  to the CSOs. (follow link at end of paragraph) Furthermore it states; “Please note that the technical content and weight allocations outlined in the CSOs will remain unchanged.”
It appears this is more-or-less a footnote change. (please correct me if you see otherwise).   This is interesting, as I just had this discussion about International Auditing Standards (IAS) and their inclusion in the exam, and when will it get harder....with a friend last night.   She was stressing about IAS… maybe this "alert" was the reason?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

"My MCQs were really hard" maybe this is why?

I really thought the BEC exam MCQs were difficult, so by the time i was done with the BEC portion of the CPA exam I was pretty sure the outcome was not going to be pretty.  Glad I was wrong.  I was speaking with a few "experts" and their take was thus:  since the all the exams now do a form of adaptive testing (BEC didn't prior to 2011) it is plausible that doing really well on the first testlet will result in a noticeable increase in difficulty in testlet 2.... then, doing well in testlet 2 will result in an equally difficult testlet 3.  The good news in this scenario is that one does not need to get as many actually questions correct to still get a passing score (psycho-metrically speaking).  The down-side is you leave the test center feeling a little beat up.... which ain't going to help your confidence while you wait 2 months for your scores---- all the while studying for the next section -- wash, rinse, repeat ;-)
If you are using Becker, you really need the Flashcards for the formulas etc... unless you made your own flashcards of course.
Keep on, keepin-on!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Passed BEC!

Well I received  my score via email and you could have knocked me over with a feather.  I passed with a 77.  As I told my wife, "this is the lowest score I have been most proud of".  There was more sweetness to the score when I saw last week that the Q1 CPA exam pass rates for 2011 were the lowest quarterly pass rates of the last 3 years and the lowest Q1 rates in quite some time

1Q 2011
1Q 2010
1Q 2009
1Q 2008
1Q 2007

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Thoughts on BEC section of the CPA exam Q1-2011
Mechanics of the CPA exam:
·         While doing calculations in the CPA exam, using the computer “windows” calculator was a bigger pain than I had anticipated.  Partially because my studying was done on a laptop, hence I had no practice using the keyboard interface.  Also the mouse at the Prometric test site was a wired version so it didn’t slide around smoothly for the small movements necessary for easy and quick calculator input.
·         Time management for the CPA exam cannot be stressed enough.  Very important to write down the budgeted time in a way which is easy to compare with the countdown clock on the test.  (there are no watches allowed in the testing room).  For example:
Testlet                  Start time            finish time
1                              3:00                        _______
2                              2:20                        _______
3                              1:40                        _______
4                              1:00                        _______

·         I found that I needed every bit of 1-hr to complete the written communications in the BEC portion of the CPA exam, including time to go back to each and carefully proof for spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and grammar errors. 

·         When the exam time expires on the CPA exam, a window pop-up disables the test (you can see the exam behind the pop-up but it is not functional).  One is required to click the button on the window to close the exam. 

·         It seemed to me that the sections of the exam were not tested evenly within each section.  For example, if a section showed 15% weighting in the CSOs for the BEC section of the CPA exam -- a majority of those ~12 questions were one particular sub-section and not evenly spread across the 5 sub-sections.  The take-away… pay attention to what is stressed by the national instructor (if you are using Becker CPA review).

·         The Written communications required 3 memos.  Only 1 of them, strictly speaking, was from subject matter that I studied in the BEC material.   (This confirms what Tim Geraty. discussed in the Written Communications tutorial in the Becker material).

·         While there is a “globalization” topic on the CSOs, and there was IFRS overview in the study material, there were no specific IFRS questions on my BEC section of the CPA exam.

·         I found that using the Becker flashcards integrated with the course work and Passmaster both were a great help with remembering and referencing formulas.

Test center errata:
  1. Only one ID was required.
  2. Needed to turn pockets inside out each time into the testing area.  Nothing was allowed in the testing room that was not on your body (except the locker key and your ID, and those were required to stay on your desk)
  3. Kleenex were not allowed in the testing room.  With a cold, one would be well advised to wear a long sleeve shirt :-)
  4. Video surveillance on each seat.
  5. There were only 8 seats in testing area of my Prometric test center.  All of them were full while I was there.
  6. Foam earplugs were a plus (take a set).  They did have muffs available at the Prometric test center,  but I would have found those distracting... (and yucky)