CPA Exam Pass Rates: 2016

2016 CPA pass rates

With the new version of the CPA Exam arriving in about a month, the role of the previous version officially comes to a close. Before we say good-bye, let’s explore the newly released pass rates for 2016.

2016 CPA Exam Pass Rates

cpa exam pass rates

2016 CPA Exam Pass Rates: Observations

  • The Q4 pass rates were the lowest for 2016.
  • The Q4 2016 pass rates were generally lower than those of Q4 2015. Only the pass rate for FAR showed an increase from Q4 2015 to Q4 2016.
  • cpa exam pass rates
  • The Q4 2016 pass rates presented the smallest average decrease between Q3 and Q4 in the last 5 years.
  • The cumulative pass rates for 2016 were lower than those for 2015, 2014, and 2013.
  • When compared to the 2012 pass rates, only BEC and REG had higher pass rates in exam pass rates
  • The 2016 cumulative pass rates continued the trend of a 55% BEC pass rate that began in 2014.
  • The 2016 cumulative pass rate for FAR also continued the trend of a steady decrease, dropping to its lowest point in the past 5 years.
  • The cumulative pass rate for AUD in 2015 was the highest of the last 5 years, while the cumulative pass rate for AUD in 2016 was the lowest over that same time frame.
  • The declining REG cumulative pass rate from 2016 was the second lowest of the past 5 years, coming in only slightly higher than the 2012 REG cumulative pass rate.

2016 CPA Exam Pass Rates: Interpretations

According to NASBA, a total of 102,323 candidates sat for 268,933 sections of the CPA Exam in 2016. The total number of candidates for 2016 is significantly higher than for 2015, which saw 93,693 candidates sit for the exam. Not only did almost 9,000 more candidates sit in 2016, but the group of unique candidates who started the CPA Exam process in 2016 was larger than the group that began in 2015. Clearly, the impending April 2017 launch of the new CPA Exam version compelled more candidates to take on the exam in 2016.

cpa exam pass rates

More candidates means more section attempts, which thereby contributes to lower pass rates. For example, 2016 CPA Exam candidates attempted AUD more than any other section, with 70,449 overall attempts. AUD consequently had the second lowest Q4 pass rate and the second lowest cumulative pass rate. As it is often the last section attempted, BEC had the second lowest number of attempts and consistently put up the highest pass rates of the year.

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Of the 268,933 exam sections attempted, 157,655 were first attempts, which demonstrated a higher pass rate than repeat attempts for the same section. Candidates passed first attempts with a 54.4% pass rate, while they only passed repeat attempts with a pass rate of 40.7%. Furthermore, the candidates who sat for and passed an exam section the first time they attempted it were younger than those who sat for the same section again. The average age of first attempt candidates was 27.8, while the average age of repeat attempt candidates was 30.4. This result demonstrates that candidates can prepare adequately enough to pass an exam section the first time and that they are more likely to do so when they take the exam closer to graduation.

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