CPA Pass Rates Hold Steady

I noticed that the CFA pass rates plummeted in July 2021. I was astonished to see that the CPA pass rate is down to 22%. This is about half the normal range of 45%. Perhaps more concerning is that this is the lowest pass rate since 1963.

“The degree of difficulty of the May Level I exam was consistent with previous Level I exam administrations, and this is the case whether we look back to paper-based testing or computer-based testing, which we introduced in February this year,” CFA Institute spokesman Matthew Hickerson said.

This led me to question whether CPA pass rates have followed suit. I certainly have not heard from any more failing students than I normally do in any given year. Sure enough, CPA pass rates are thus far holding close to the median over the last three years.

My only explanation for the lower CFA pass rate is that a lower quality candidate emerged during the pandemic. However, the CFA institute attributed the low pass rate to the stop start nature of the study schedule over the last year.

“While some impacted candidates were able to pass, we believe the stop-start nature of the deferred candidates’ studies is reflected in the overall passing rate,” the organization said.

However, the same can be said for CPA exam students. I generally have found that pass rates are highly correlated between the two exams. The quality of the candidate is roughly the same.