Welcome to another info-packed article on the Certified Public Accountant exam pass rate.

In this article, you will learn about the CPA exam pass rate, how to prepare and pass the exam, and more.

In this article, we shall cover the following:

What Is The CPA Exam Pass Rate: The Statistics
How Many People Are Taking The CPA Exam?
What’s The Frequency Of Failing?
What If I Don’t Pass On My First Try?
What Are My Next Steps To Passing?
Is The CPA Exam Really That Hard?

Let’s move right into it!

What Is The CPA Exam Pass Rate: The Statistics

If you want to get your CPA certification, you may have a few questions about the basic requirements and what sort of test you will have to take.

But, of course, the biggest question would be, will you pass on your first try?

Of course, everyone wants to know the statistics on how many people pass it.

That being said, if you want to know what your chances are of passing a test like this, let’s take a look at some statistics related to it.

2021 CPA Exam Pass Rates
SectionFirst QuarterSecond QuarterThird QuarterFourth QuarterCumulative
2020 CPA Exam Pass Rates
SectionFirst QuarterSecond QuarterThird QuarterFourth QuarterCumulative

Throughout 2020, we observed good performances in all four areas, and the CPA Exam average pass rate increased compared to 2019. (57.67 percent vs. 53.41 percent ).

However, in Q2 and Q3 of 2020, pass rates reached an all-time high.

Q2 saw the highest pass rates on the CPA Exam in ten years and the lowest number of candidates testing.

Compared to Q1, about half of the applicants taking the test took AUD, and AUD’s pass rate increased by approximately 18%.

Even BEC, which is the most specific component, had a 15% increase in pass rate to 76.92 percent, the highest it has ever been.

Candidates for Q2 2020 were generally more adequately prepared than typical.

As a result, there were higher pass rates, and individuals scored higher.

In addition, Q2 2020 applicants outperformed Q1 2020 candidates on all four CPA Exam parts (MCQs, TBSs, and WCs).

How Many People Are Taking The CPA Exam?

Less than 100,000 people take the CPA exam each year.

The Uniform CPA Examination was taken by 95,654 candidates in 2017, according to the 2017 NASBA (National Association of State Boards of Accountancy) Report, Jurisdiction Edition.

According to performance indicators, 85,855 students took the Examination in 2018 (63,088 were new candidates), with 24,034 passing the final exam.

Baruch College CUNY (622), University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign (559), and Pennsylvania State University – University Park (423) were among the universities with the most candidates sitting for the First-Time section in 2018.

According to the data, 83,017 candidates took the exam in 2019 (63,034 were first-time candidates), with 23,407 passing the final exam.

Baruch College CUNY (626), the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (527), and Pennsylvania State University – University Park (481) were among the universities with the most candidates sitting for the First-Time section in 2019.

What’s The Frequency Of Failing?

The national pass rate for the CPA Exam is roughly 50%.

That means that most candidates fail the CPA Exam on their first attempt and must retake at least one section.

Contrary to popular belief, failing the CPA exam is the most common outcome.

In reality, according to estimates, you are part of the 70-80 percent of CPA candidates who have failed at least one section.

It’d be strange if you didn’t flop any sections.

After months of preparation, it can be a demoralizing experience to fail the CPA exam.

It may lead you to believe you were ineligible or lacked the necessary concentration and practice.

Passing this notoriously tricky exam, on the other hand, is difficult.

It isn’t too bad if you have failed this or several other times.

With a passing percentage of less than 50%, you’ll need to be more prepared than you think.

Fortunately, you can retake the exam as many times as you like for the portion you failed.

If you’ve completed the first segment, you should be able to complete the remaining sections in 18 months.

The table below shows the CPA fail rates between 2017 and 2020.

CPA Exam Fail Rates

The Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) component of the CPA exam has consistently shown to be the most difficult.

Because it is the most comprehensive component of the CPA Exam, students frequently remark that Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) is the most challenging section to pass.

What If I Don’t Pass On My First Try?

If you fail, don’t panic.

Your inability to pass on the first try may be due to several factors.

A reasonable number of all test takers fail on their first try, so you’re in good company.

But don’t let yourself get discouraged: Commit to retaking it as soon as possible and make sure you study smart — you might take some different or more intense courses or review books to better prepare for it.

If your initial failure was due to nerves or just being out of practice, most experts agree that retaking is one of the best things you can do for your career prospects.

You’ll be more confident when you have another crack at it (since now, who knows? You may ace it), and even if you don’t pass again right away, you have higher pass rates than if you hadn’t taken it once before.

In other words: Most people who fail once still pass in subsequent attempts.

It would be best if you evaluated why you failed.

Also, create a study plan that addresses your weak areas with guidance from an experienced tutor or test prep provider.

Sometimes, you might even be able to apply immediately after failing and retake your exam in as little as six months.

When Can I Apply After Failing?

In most states, it is possible to apply again soon after failing to retest within six months of when you took it initially.

However, every state has its own rules, so contact your board of accountancy directly if you have any questions about applying right away after failing.

How Should I Study?

Whether studying independently or working with a tutor, here are a few tips to consider: Be realistic: Set time aside to sit down and study!

Make sure that other activities don’t get in the way, especially those involving food and television.

As important as these things are, they need to wait until after studying time has been allocated; otherwise, learning won’t happen.

So go ahead and power through any studying hurdles you face and hit those books hard.

Learn from successful peers, participate in research and development activities, attend conferences and seminars, develop expertise with accounting software packages, the list goes on.

You can prepare yourself to succeed after failing initially.

It just takes motivation and commitment.

What Are My Next Steps To Passing?

So you want to pass?

If your goal is to say you’ve passed, then I’d recommend registering now and scheduling your exam as soon as possible.

If you want a passing score, that will require some hard work.

At a minimum, you should be aiming to pass above the previous exam pass rate.

Passing the exam takes time and dedication, but you can do it.

The first step is pretty obvious: sign up for an exam.

Schedule them strategically based on when you’ll be ready to take them or pick whichever date works best for your schedule (you can change it later).

Next comes studying, depending on what study methods are most effective for you.

It is essential to know that passing requires plenty of study hours — try not to go below 40 hours/week even if you have other priorities (spouse/kids/etc.).

Start with breaking down the educational material into manageable chunks and block out several hours every day devoted solely to study.

Next, do what works best for you: Read books, and watch training videos online.

Finally, stay consistent with your daily study regimen!

A few days here and there won’t make much difference over 6-9 months of studying.

But if you miss more than one week in a row, failing may be inevitable.

If you missed one week, no matter what reason, get back on track immediately.

Remember why you’re doing all of this prep work in the first place.

While sitting for any exam can be stressful enough, remember that being diligent about studying and practicing test-taking strategies will help increase your odds of success.

 It might sound boring, but repetition does work.

Ask yourself where you need improvement and try different techniques for improving in those areas; only use what helps – nothing else.

Practice makes perfect!

Once you’ve finished studying and feel confident about everything covered on each practice test, focus heavily on timing yourself (it’s different from timed practice exams) during a full-length simulated exam — preferably using actual materials.

Stay calm during your breaks so that when it comes time to take your actual exam, emotions don’t overpower common sense.

Using practice exams as learning opportunities to figure out how much time per question will help push you toward passing scores.

It’s all about knowing yourself, paying attention to patterns, and being realistic with expectations.

Is The CPA Exam Really That Hard?

The CPA exam remains one of the most challenging exams in Accounting and Finance.

If you’re taking your first crack at passing, it’s essential to know that being a public accountant is a demanding career, and passing an exam like the CPA isn’t easy.

It’s also essential to note that you don’t need a 100% pass rate to be considered an excellent professional.

Knowing what pass rates look like year after year can help put things into perspective so you can give yourself some realistic benchmarks to work towards and feel successful if you pass right away.

Candidates should have adequate study time before sitting for their exam; working through practice questions or other exams will help them find what types of problems they need more practice solving.

Candidates should also use quality study materials like online courses or professional-quality prep guides – the investment will pay off once they get out of multiple-choice fatigue and start seeing passing scores again.


In general, finance exams and professional certifications are difficult to pass.

The CPA exam is no exception.

To figure out how you can successfully pass your next CPA exam, take some time to think about your study plan and see if there’s room for improvement.

If you’re able to make a couple of tweaks here and there (or in one significant way), you may end up with a more favorable outcome in your financial future.

And when those exam days come around again—don’t let yourself get overwhelmed.

Instead, stay calm and remember that success will come as long as you put forth consistent effort over time.



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