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2017 CPA Exam Pass Rates

September 7, 2017

2017 cpa exam pass rates

With the launch of a new CPA Exam version and a delayed score release, 2017 is a momentous period in CPA Exam history, and the recent release of the Q3 2017 CPA Exam pass rates adds yet another significant event to this year’s timeline. This new batch of pass rates provides additional information about the latest version of the exam, so we’ve analyzed them and compared them to the previous 2017 pass rates and 2016 CPA Exam pass rates.

2017 CPA Exam Pass Rates

Uniform CPA Examination Pass Rates 2017

Section

First Quarter

Second Quarter

Third Quarter

Fourth Quarter

Cumulative

AUD

43.47%

52.00%*

52.15%*

48.89%

BEC

50.39%

55.09%*

55.35%*

52.44%

FAR

43.14%

43.76%*

47.58%*

45.15%

REG

46.10%

48.32%*

49.31%*

47.66%

*Please note: The 2017 Q2 and Q3 pass rates reflect those of an Exam with a new passing standard. Comparisons to past years and quarters are of limited value due to the changes made to the Exam in April 2017. These pass rates may not be representative of candidate performance in future test windows. The AICPA Board of Examiners regularly monitors pass rates.

2017 CPA Exam Pass Rate Observations

Notable observations about the 2017 CPA Exam pass rates include the following:

Q1 2017:

  • All of the Q1 2017 pass rates were lower than those of Q1 2016. The biggest pass rate difference of the year came from the Q1 2016 BEC pass rate of 55.40% falling to 50.39% in Q1 2017. This decrease is more than 3 times greater than that of any other section, as AUD, FAR, and REG averaged a decrease of 1.48% between their Q1 2016 and Q1 2017 pass rates.
  • AUD, FAR, and REG all presented lower pass rates in Q1 of 2017 than they did in Q1 of 2016. The Q1 2017 CPA Exam pass rates for both AUD and FAR were lower than any AUD and FAR pass rates in 2016. The Q1 2017 CPA Exam pass rate for REG was higher than the lowest 2016 REG pass rate but not as high as the highest 2016 REG pass rate.

Q2 2017:

  • The pass rates for all four sections increased since Q1. While Q2 is typically the time of the year to see pass rates rise, the April 1 release of the new exam version could have left pass rates the same or lower as candidates acclimated. Therefore, it is encouraging to see these pass rates adhere to the Q2 tendencies of the past.
  • Another trend the 2017 CPA Exam pass rates followed was that of the BEC CPA Exam section boasting the highest pass rate. This consistency was reassuring for CPA Exam candidates because the recent exam changes added Task-Based Simulations to BEC for the first time. In Q1 2017, the BEC pass rates dipped lower than the BEC pass rate for any quarter in 2016, and BEC barely recovered in Q2 2017. The BEC pass rate for that quarter crept within .31% of the Q1 2016 BEC pass rate and was still a fraction below the Q2 2016 BEC pass rate of 56.33%.
  • The AUD CPA Exam section came in second place for the quarter as a result of AUD experiencing an unprecedented pass rate boost. The difference of 8.53% that the Q2 2017 AUD pass rate accounted for was not only the greatest increase from Q1 to Q2 that AUD has seen in the last 11 years, but it was also the greatest increase for AUD from any quarter. Only the jump of 8.43% in Q2 of 2008 rivals such an impressive pass rate spike for AUD. In fact, no other CPA Exam section pass rate has shot up so much from one quarter to the next in the last 11 years. Surprisingly, the Q1 2017 pass rate for AUD was the second lowest Q1 pass rate AUD has reached in the past 11 years.
  • The FAR CPA Exam section and REG CPA Exam section demonstrated less of a pass rate increase in Q2 2017 than in Q2 2016. The Q2 2017 FAR pass rate was only .52% higher than the lowest FAR pass rate for 2016. The Q2 2017 REG pass rate landed right in the middle of the four REG pass rates of 2016.

Q3 2017:

  • The pass rates for all four sections increased since Q2. For BEC, FAR, and REG, this occurrence follows the typical pass rate patterns of the past, but for AUD, this is another unique and interesting development.
  • The Q3 2017 AUD pass rate was the second highest an AUD pass rate has ever been in the last 11 years. Only in Q2 of 2008 did AUD reach a higher pass rate of 53.09%. Not once in the past 11 years has AUD attained this high of a pass rate in Q3.
  • Furthermore, in the last 11 years, the AUD Q3 pass rates have only increased 4 times. During these years (2017, 2012, 2007, 2006), the Q3 AUD pass rate was the highest for the year. The Q2 AUD pass rates for these years had also increased.
  • While the BEC pass rate for Q3 did rise above that of Q2, the Q3 2017 BEC pass rate was still not quite as high as the lowest BEC pass rate of 2016 (55.40%). Due to pass rates typically declining again in Q4, it is unlikely that BEC pass rate levels will climb as high in 2017 as they did in 2016.
  • Not since 2011 has the Q3 BEC pass rate been as low as the Q3 2017 BEC pass rate. However, the Q3 2011 BEC pass rate was the second highest pass rate BEC claimed in the previous 5 years (2006-2011). The 2015 Q3 BEC pass rate (59.22%) was the highest BEC pass rate in the past 11 years.
  • Compared to AUD, the BEC Q3 pass rates have decreased half as often in the past 11 years. In the two years in which they decreased (2014, 2007), neither reached the lowest point for BEC pass rates for that year. The Q4 BEC pass rates were lower than the Q3 pass rates for 2014 and 2007.
  • Unlike AUD and BEC, the FAR and REG Q3 pass rates have never decreased in the past 11 years. These sections have always reached their highest pass rates for the year in Q3.
  • The Q3 2017 FAR pass rate was the second lowest Q3 pass rate FAR has seen in the last 11 years. Only in 2006 did the Q3 FAR pass rate stoop lower to 47.31%. With 42.19%, 2006 also presented the lowest Q1 FAR pass rate of the last 11 years.
  • The last time REG saw a Q3 pass rate lower than that of 2017 was in 2011 when the Q3 pass rate was 45.37%. The 2011 Q3 REG pass rate was actually the second lowest REG Q3 pass rate in the last 11 years, as it came in slightly above the 2006 Q3 REG pass rate of 45.19%. Consequently, the 2017 Q3 REG pass rate was the third lowest Q3 REG pass rate in the last 11 years.

Overall, other than the dark horse AUD Q2 and Q3 2017 pass rates, the 2017 pass rates are lower than those of 2016. Therefore, as expected, the new version of the exam does seem to be more challenging than the previous version. Going just off the Q2 and Q3 2017 CPA Exam pass rates, the FAR CPA Exam section remains the most challenging, and BEC is still the least challenging, but as AUD demonstrated with its Q2 and Q3 shockers, there’s still more to learn about the most recent version of the CPA Exam.

2017 CPA Exam Review

While assessing the 2017 CPA Exam pass rates is a useful practice, there is only so much these numbers can tell candidates about the CPA Exam and how to prepare for it. In order to be completely comfortable with the CPA Exam before you sit for it, you need more than pass rates: you need an exam-emulating CPA review. With the largest available bank of practice questions that look almost exactly like the questions on the actual exam, Gleim CPA Review replicates the format and functionality of the CPA Exam better than any other course on the market. Our powerful SmartAdaptTM technology directs you to complete practice questions as much as necessary to strengthen your weak areas, so when test day arrives, you’ll be perfectly at home with the CPA Exam. Explore the layout of the exam today by accessing our free CPA Exam questions!

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