Hurry up and Wait? No – there’s a better solution for 2011 CPA Exam Scores

In addition to the AICPA changing the CPA Exam format in 2011, they are also changing the way CPA Exam scores are released for the first 9 months of the year.

During the initial launch of CBT-e we will require a period of heightened quality control. Therefore, during the first three quarters of 2011, all candidate scores will be released following the close of the testing window. Once this quality control cycle is complete, CPA candidates can look forward to an accelerated scoring timeline.

Let's think about this. People who sit January 2, 2010 will be waiting much longer than someone who took it February 28. You'll see more demand for exam seats in the 2nd month of the window because there's now no motivation to take it and have a chance at a Wave 1 score. I get a ton of e-mail from people asking for advice on when to strategically take their exam so that they get their score back in Wave 1.

Why? People have a lot riding on their scores and now have wait longer to hear if they passed so they can start studying again, get promoted, or use the fact that they passed for an edge in a job interview.

You know how Wisconsin people hate Wisconsin's score release policy where they release all of the scores for a particular Wave at once? Well, at least WI releases them all at once in Wave 1 and then the remainder all at once in Wave 2.

Here is the better solution:

December 2010 is a non-testing month, a “blackout” month. The AICPA should hire 3 sets of 10 CPAs to go into a Prometric Testing Center and take all four parts of the new Uniform CPA Examination under the CBT-e.

CPA set of 10 #1: December 1-8 – FAR, REG, BEC, AUD

CPA set of 10 #2: December 9-15 – FAR, REG, BEC, AUD

CPA set of 10 #3: December 16-22 – FAR, REG, BEC, AUD

Then, on January 2, 2010 the AICPA tests their “quality control” to see if the exams are graded accurately.

Problem solved. If quality control is really the issue, this plan solves it

Does an auditor roll into a publicly traded company and audit every single transaction on the books? No. They do Audit Sampling, which is akin to what I'm proposing.

Every transaction or score does not need to be audited for the population to be good-to-go. Instead, you just need a sample.

If audit sampling is good enough to protect the public's financial interest, it's good enough for the CPA Exam.

If there truly is a problem with quality control, my proposal will expose it.

Jeff Elliott is a Licensed CPA and Member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.