CPA Exam Scores

CPA Exam Scores

The CPA exam, which is taken by candidates that wish to apply for CPA licensure, is a four part exam that must be passed with a score of 75.  Each section (which can be taken separately or together) must be taken and passed in a rolling 18 month window, and passed with a score of 75, for each section.

How is the CPA Exam Scored?

The CPA exam scoring is complicated and is not based on a percentage of questions that were answered correctly.  The total score is a scaled value based on your answer and other characteristics and statistics of the question.  Statistical characteristics that are used to describe exam questions are:

  • Difficulty
  • Discrimination
  • Guessing

The difficulty is just whether the question is generally more difficult or easier for CPA candidates.  Discrimination would describe how well the question will differentiate between candidates based on their ability. Guessing is a statistical characteristic that evaluates the odds that a candidate will get the answer correct by guessing the response.

According to the NCCPA Board, the written communications section is graded using a computer grading program which is adjusted using human scorers.  When a score is close to a passing score, human graders are then used to re-grade your exam, in which case, the average of those grades will be used for your score.

The passing score of 75 was determined after volunteer CPAs participated in a passing score study, according to the NCCPA Board.  These volunteers reviewed test questions, and reviewed the performance by CPA candidates taking the CPA exam.  Their intent was to determine what score would ensure the protection of the public interest.  The passing CPA exam score was set at a 75 after being thoroughly reviewed by these CPA volunteers.

Too learn more about CPA exam scores, you may visit for a detailed explanation of the entire CPA exam scoring process.  This document will include frequently asked questions by CPA candidates and is very informative for all CPA candidates that just want some answers about the scoring process and scoring guidelines.

Candidates should note that the CPA exam is scored differently since 2011.