73 is Not Two Points Away From Passing the CPA Exam!
In examining the intricacies of CPA exam scoring, it is crucial to address a common misconception: that a score of 73 is just a couple of points away from the passing threshold of 75. This interpretation oversimplifies the intricate and relative grading scheme in play.
Upon receiving exam results, failed candidates are provided with a score performance sheet, categorizing their performance in various content areas as ‘weaker’, ‘comparable’, or ‘stronger’. This allows a granular perspective into one’s proficiency across the content spectrum.
However, the scoring system itself merits a deeper understanding. A score of 73 does not necessarily mean you are two points shy of passing. Your score represents a comparative performance metric, rather than an absolute count of correctly answered questions.
To illustrate, a candidate might score 73 but be classified as ‘weaker’ in 3 out of 4 content areas, including in multiple choice and simulations. This suggests that the likelihood of crossing the passing mark is highly influenced by the relative performance of your fellow examinees.
In essence, your individual performance, though important, may not always guarantee success. Should others outperform you, it could reflect in a lower score, potentially resulting in a failing grade. On the other hand, one could perform relatively poorly yet still manage a high score or even a passing grade, contingent on the overall cohort performance.
While this score report may serve the AICPA examination division well, it may be less helpful for candidates seeking clarity on areas of improvement. I hold a strong hope that the new CPA exam will provide greater transparency into the scoring process and incorporate a more intuitive scoring and passing system.
Let’s continue to encourage open dialogue about these intricacies of the CPA exam scoring process as we strive towards more straightforward and candidate-friendly approaches.