Here's the thing (and keep in mind that they didn't ask me my opinion) – changing the score from a 75 can only lead to bad things.
Scenario One: AICPA Lowers the Passing Score
Think of how many rabidly-pissed off candidates there will be who failed the exam when the benchmark was a 75, but all of the sudden their previously failing score is now kosher.
Let's say they drop it from a 75 to a … 70. How many MILLIONS of dollars have been spent on re-take fees from people who scored 70-74 over the past few years?
How many people have gone insane staring at an unbelievable 74 on their screen and may have quit the exam because they were just “done” or their spouse said “I can't take this anymore”?
By doing this, you're saying that the CBT-e Exam is harder in 2011 than it was in 2010 – which simply isn't true. What – are passing rates going to drop into the 20's from the mid-40s? Doubtful.
I say “doubtful” because I don't know and neither does the AICPA – and the “panel” doesn't either. In theory, they would have the Q1 window to use as a sample size, but since when did a sample size of ONE count? On top of that, Q1 always has the lowest passing rates of the year. Why? TAX SEASON.
You would essentially need several years of data to legitimately talk of changing the score.
Scenario Two: AICPA Raises the Passing Score
By raising the passing score, you're saying that the CBT-e isn't as difficult as the previous set up and there is no way of knowing that (see above). You're also telling CPAs who pass under the new score that they had to work harder for the certificate than those lazy bums who sluffed by with a 75.
When the CPA Exam went to the computer, there was definitely a Paper and Pencil vs. Computer thing going on out there in accounting land. For some reason the Paper and Pencil crowd thought that these young punks have it easier now days, which simply isn't true. But hey – at LEAST no one jacked with the hallowed 75. Everyone – old and new – had to score a 75 to get admitted into the “club”.
A 75 is a rite of passage. Please don't change something that isn't broken.
If I am off-base on my analysis – you're always welcome to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jeff Elliott, CPA
Read more about it here