CPA Exam Score Process Is Difficult to Decipher


Trying to predict your CPA Exam score while taking the test probably ranks as one of the most futile efforts you’d ever attempt. A variety of factors go into calculating the score, and the process can be confusing to understand. While scoring is not something you’d want to try to decipher during the test, knowing beforehand how the score is weighted may relieve some of your test stress.

Some factors that go into your CPA Exam Score include exam structure and weight allocation. The use of pretested questions and multi-stage testing play an important part. So do pretested questions and the varying difficulty and scoring of questions. Some questions are assigned higher values because some questions are more difficult than others. Answering correctly 10 lower-value easier questions earns less than answering correctly 10 higher-value harder questions.

The bottom line is this: Getting 75 percent of the questions correct doesn’t mean you’ll see a passing score of 75. Here’s a sample of why:

Harder Questions Yield Higher Scores

On the AUD, FAR and REG sections of the exam, scores are a weighted combination of the Multiple Choice Questions and Task-Based Simulations. MCQs are given 50 percent of the weight, and TBSs are given 50 percent.

The weighted combination score for the BEC section factors in the Written Communication. The BEC gives a 50 percent weight to scores from MCQs, 35 percent to TBSs, and 15 percent to Written Communication.

On each of the four exams, 12 of the MCQs are pretested and one of the TBSs is pretested. On the BEC section, one of the 3 WCs is pretested. These questions will have no effect on your score because they will not be graded. They are questions that AICPA is evaluating for future use on the exams.

The first MCQ testlet will always be of medium difficulty. Good performance on the first testlet means you will receive a more difficult second testlet. Receiving a second testlet again of medium difficulty means you did not perform so well on the first testlet. The difficulty of that second testlet is one of the few hints you’ll get of how well you are doing while taking the CPA Exam.


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