Can You Appeal Your CPA Exam Score?

cpa exam score appeal

Maybe it’s happened to you: You failed a section of the CPA Exam, but your score was SO close. When you receive an exam score that’s just a point or two shy of 75, what are your options? Can you appeal your CPA Exam score? Yes, it is possible in most states. Alternatively, a score review is possible in all states. We’ll explore how you can request a CPA Exam score appeal or score review and demonstrate why neither is a good choice for exam success.


What is a CPA Exam Score Appeal?

A CPA passing score is 75. If you receive a score lower than 75 on your CPA Exam score release, you may have the opportunity to appeal your score. According to the AICPA, the score appeal option lets you schedule a monitored, on-site session to view the CPA Exam multiple-choice questions (MCQs) or task-based simulations (TBSs) that you answered incorrectly on one exam section and your responses. To preserve the confidentiality of the exam, score appeal sessions only take place under highly secure conditions at authorized locations, and a representative from your state board or its liaison must be present. You will not be able to bring any reference materials with you, and you must adhere to the same security measures as a Prometric testing center. Furthermore, the score appeal does not give you access to all of your examinations, nor will you be able to see the correct answers to questions you appeal.

During your viewing session, you can choose to submit comments online to challenge the validity of one or more exam questions or simulations. The score appeal process does not apply to BEC written communications (WCs), and you can only appeal one exam section at a time. If you find a question or simulation you would like to challenge, be prepared to defend your response with a thorough, compelling, and well thought-out statement. You can’t submit different responses to the question(s) or simulation(s) being appealed. You must present a defense of the response you submitted during your exam.

What is a CPA Exam Score Review?

If you receive a failing exam score, you also have the option to request a CPA Exam score review. This service offered by the AICPA gives candidates the chance to receive additional assurance that their CPA Exam score is accurate by verifying that the operational quality controls in the scoring process were completed. The AICPA makes it very clear that a score review is not a regrading of the exam, nor is it a way to find additional points, review exam content, or put forth alternative responses for consideration. Instead, a score review is an independent human verification of your exam score.

For the verification of MCQs and TBSs, the AICPA confirms the approved answer key was applied correctly. For the verification of WCs, the AICPA makes sure that each of your submitted responses was scored. The score review process does not allow you to see any of your examinations or the correct answers to questions under review or the responses you initially submitted.

How Do You Request a Score Appeal or Score Review and Receive Your Results?

Score Appeal

Each jurisdiction determines whether it allows score appeals, so you must contact your CPA state board of accountancy or an agent like NASBA to learn how to initiate the process if available to you. NASBA has a web page from which you can begin either the score review or the score appeal process if you’ve applied to a state board that uses NASBA’s CPA Examination Services (CPAES). The following state boards do not permit score appeals:

  • California
  • District of Columbia
  • Colorado
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Montana
  • Ohio
  • Texas
  • Virginia

If your state board decides that you qualify for a score appeal, the board will submit your request to the AICPA via NASBA and schedule your viewing session for you. Any online comments you make during your viewing session will be transmitted to the AICPA through NASBA.

Once your session has concluded, the AICPA will

  • Review your responses on the section you are appealing,
  • Consider the online comments you submitted,
  • Verify your score, and
  • Forward the results to NASBA.

So as not to jeopardize the confidentiality of the examination content, you won’t receive detailed information about the questions you challenge. NASBA will send you the results of your appeal after reporting them to your board or its intermediary.

Score Review

To request a score review, contact either your state board or its designated agent. The score review service is available to candidates in all jurisdictions.

NASBA will receive your score review request and send it to the AICPA. The AICPA will then review your score and communicate the result to your state board or its go-between via NASBA. Then, one of these agencies will share the results with you.

Should You Undergo a CPA Exam Score Appeal or Score Review?

If you get a 74 or lower on the CPA Exam, there are steps you can take. But are these steps worth it? Should you go through the trouble of requesting a CPA Exam score appeal or review?

We never recommend doing either for these reasons:

  1. A successful score change is extremely rare.

    Your chances of changing your score with a score appeal or review are extremely minuscule. Therefore, you should commit to learning from your mistakes and retake the failed exam section. The AICPA has confirmed in meetings with review providers like Gleim that score changes are remarkably uncommon. NASBA reports that a score has never been changed as the result of a score appeal, and a score review seldom results in a score change. Historically, there is less than a 1% chance that a score review will result in a score change. The AICPA assures candidates that all reported scores are subject to routine quality controls and are actually scored twice before being reported to the state boards. In fact, if you score somewhere in the 73-77 range or could pass by having one or two questions changed, the AICPA automatically reviews your scores. They recheck the essays and have humans regrade your exam rather than artificial intelligence.

  2. These processes cost money.

    You will incur additional CPA Exam fees if you request a score review or appeal. These fees are non-refundable, and considering that paying them will almost certainly not change your failing exam score, it is more frugal to save the money for your retake. The jurisdictions determine these fees, so you must contact your state board or its liaison for an exact amount. A score review is typically the less expensive option, costing about $150-$200, depending on the exam section being challenged. Score appeals cost more because they involve multiple fees: an appeal fee for submitting the request to your state board, and a separate fee for each exam item (MCQ or TBS) being challenged. Again, you must contact your state board or its liaison for exact figures, but CPA Exam score appeals can cost as much as $400-$500 per section, and each individual item can add $100.

  3. These processes follow a strict timeline.

    No matter how long the score review or appeal process takes, because a score change is extremely rare, your time is better spent studying so you can pass your failed section ASAP. Spending months waiting on a review or appeal and having to retake the section anyway means you’ll have to relearn the material you’ve forgotten in that time. You have a limited amount of time to request a score review or appeal, and if you apply after the deadline date, your request will not be processed. You can only apply for a score review in the appropriate score review cycle, which starts at the beginning of the following testing window, and each score review cycle is only for scores reported in the most recent testing window. For example, the score review cycle for Q1 testing window scores begins at the start of the Q2 testing window, and only Q1 scores can be reviewed during that time. Additionally, the score review process can last for at least eight weeks. To find out how long you have to make a score appeal and how long that process will take, you must contact your state board.

How Can You Avoid a Failing CPA Exam Score?

If you never fail an exam section, you’ll never have to worry about the temptation to request a CPA Exam score appeal or review. The best way to pass every section the first time is to be as prepared and confident as possible. When you study with the best adaptive CPA review on the market, you’ll get everything you need to pass faster and with more confidence. The SmartAdaptTM technology that powers Gleim CPA Review will reveal your weak areas, keep previously mastered topics fresh, and ensure that you’re ready to pass with a Final Review. See how superior our adaptive course is to any other by accessing our free CPA demo today!