How to Get a Higher Score on the CPA Exam

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Passing the CPA exam is not something you should take for granted. Thousands of people fail the exam every single year – you don’t want to be one of them. So how can you get a higher score? Well, we’ve got a few secrets for you.

CPA Exam Pass Rates

The CPA exam is one of the most difficult professional exams on the planet – and there’s plenty of data to prove it. Each year, thousands of people take the exam, and thousands of people fail. 

By all accounts, 2020 was a fairly impressive year for students of the CPA exam – likely because people had more time to spend at home studying. But even with this extra time, cumulative pass rates for each of the four sections of the exam were as follows:

  • AUD Section: 53 percent pass rate
  • BEC Section: 66 percent pass rate
  • FAR Section: 50 percent pass rate
  • REG Section: 62 percent pass rate

For perspective, pass rates for the AUD, FAR, and REG sections of the exam are typically below 50 percent in a normal year, while the BEC Section – the “easiest” one – usually lands around 55 percent.

In other words, the majority of people do not pass the first time around. And if a student passes one section of the exam, it’s very likely that they’ll fail at least one of the other three. We don’t say this to intimidate you, but rather to make you aware of just how important thorough preparation is.

4 Tips for Higher CPA Exam Scores

Passing the CPA exam is difficult but not impossible. It requires a calculated, disciplined study process. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort, big things can happen. Here are a few tips:

  1. Create a Detailed Study Schedule

As the old fable teaches us, it’s the tortoise that wins the race – not the hare. In other words, you pass the CPA exam by adopting a slow and steady pace. It’s about consistency, time, and discipline. 

We recommend creating a study schedule and sticking to it. To create this schedule, start with an exam date in mind and work backward. Outline specific study goals for each week and set aside time to study each day. You will find everything you need to improve your grades on study resources sites like Studocu where the best documents shared by your fellow students.

  • Study at the Right Time of Day

While you might need to adjust to accommodate your work schedule and family life, research shows that studying in the morning is the best option. People are typically at peak productivity levels in the morning, while focus and willpower gradually wane throughout the day. 

If you can get 60 to 90 minutes of study time in early in the morning before the rest of your day, you’ll find it easier to stick to your study schedule.

  • Take an Advanced CPA Exam Prep Course

You might be an independent self-starter type, but you don’t want to prepare for the CPA exam on your own. We recommend taking an advanced CPA exam prep course that’s tailored to help you get better scores and ultimately pass the exam.

The Wiley CPA Review Course is widely considered one of the top exam prep courses on the market. In addition to having some of the best instructors, they also have proprietary FocusMe technology, which intelligently adapts to each student’s aptitude level and optimizes questions to address your biggest areas of need. Consider taking a course like this.

  • Avoid Cramming

Cramming feels like the right thing to do. Whether it’s the night before an exam or the morning of, we all have that urge to suddenly review as much information as we possibly can. But research shows that cramming for an exam actually produces diminishing results. 

The good news is that you shouldn’t need to cram (assuming you’ve followed the four tips above). So rather than spending the hours before an exam overloading your brain with a deluge of information, you can use it to relax, rest, and mentally prepare for the test.

Adding it All Up

There are no guarantees with the CPA exam. Any time you’re taking an exam of this magnitude and difficulty, you can’t afford to take anything for granted. Consistency and discipline are absolutely essential throughout the study process. By preparing in advance, you can dramatically increase your chances of passing each section of the exam the first time around. It’s time to get to work!


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