CPA Exam Pass Rates for 2009 Q3 Released; Strongest Quarter of the Year

05 Nov 2009

CPA Exam Pass Rates

By Jeff

The CPA Exam pass rates for the third quarter of 2009 have been released and as usual, Q3 is the strongest quarter of the year.

This site was one of the first to start tracking CPA Exam pass rate rate statistics and as I wrote in March 2008, 41-45% of candidates were passing each section.

Now, 45-52% of candidates are passing each section of the exam.

Here is the breakdown for 2009:

Auditing and Attestation:
Q1: 47.61%
Q2: 51.79%
Q3: 51.52%

Business Environment and Concepts:
Q1: 46.23%
Q2: 48.62%
Q3: 52.27%

Financial Accounting and Reporting:
Q1: 45.54%
Q2: 50.58%
Q3: 51.18%

Q1: 47.96%
Q2: 52.25%
Q3: 52.41%

If the fourth quarter of 2009 follows the trend from Q4 2008, scores will dip approx. 9% on average.

Get the report from here.

Photo Attribution:

Leave a Reply


Chris 15 years ago

Jeff - Love the blog. In any case, I'm not sure if this post takes the position that the exam is getting easier, but if that is the case I would just like to point out a few things. First, I don't think scores are that dramatically higher than they were last year. In Q3 2008, for example, the FAR passing rate was almost 54%. This year in Q3 it was just over 51%. Pass rates are definitely up from a few years ago, but back then anyone with an accounting degree and a pulse could get a job, and there wasn't the same urgency to pass the exam. Now there are far more people out of work who for obvious reasons have more time to devote to studying, and those still employed may have experienced a new urgency to finally get the exam under their belts for fear of losing their jobs. Just a thought.

Jeff - 15 years ago

Good comment, Chris. I don't think the exam is getting easier, I agree with you that there is more urgency to pass the exam because of competition for job openings. The only notable thing was that the Q3 was stronger than the previous quarters in 2009, just like 2008. -Jeff

deedillard 15 years ago

I agree with the competition comments, yet am wondering what is the rationale/ logic of Q3 being higher than the other quarters? Its possible that in Q1 most (not all) accounting professionals are swamped, and Q4 the holidays are approaching etc (hectic time in general). Yet not sure why Q2 and Q3 are not nearly the same... thoughts?

Chris 15 years ago

Thanks for the clarification, Jeff. Sorry if I was reading something into this post that wasn't there. By the way, your score predictions were a lifesaver for me and many others. Keep up the good work. I think Q3 scores are higher than Q2 scores because Q3 gives you half of April and then May and June to really get ready for the exam in July and August.

PSU 2009 15 years ago

I think the increased pass rates in Q3 have to do with newly graduated accounting majors studying for and taking the exam right out of school. In my experience, the exam is much easier when you aren't working/closer to school.

cpa n2009 15 years ago

Jeff, Do you know what the percentage for those who pass al 4 sections of the CPA on their first try?