4,066 out of the total 8,525 candidates passed the recent CPA Licensure Examinations (October 2011). That’s a whopping 47.7% passing percentage — compared to that during our time ten years ago, which was around 17-18% only.

Okay, so now I’m making a bold statement here. But this is just my opinion, and this is my blog.

I personally believe that passing the CPA board exams is not a matter of whether you pass or fail. It’s not you versus the exams per se. Instead, it’s you versus the other candidates to make it to the top whatever percent the examiners wish to pass.

That’s why I find it rather unfair that they only allowed a really small percentage of examinees — less than 20% — to pass during our time. I’m sure some many of our contemporaries would have otherwise made it if they took the exams today, and thus enjoy the status as such — a licensed CPA. Statistics, by itself, does not necessarily mean the candidates of our time in general are any less intelligent/brilliant than the candidates of today.

6 thoughts on “Timing

  1. For sure the board of accountancy has the control over the passing percentage and they have reasons why they made it higher compared to our time 10 years back. Their control lies in the cut off mark being 75% and most examinees can achieve this if the exams are made easier. This will make us all wonder whether the quality of the profession is being compromised! The reputation of Filipino accountants abroad is really good that’s why most foreign companies outsource their accounting and finance functions to Philippines. We’re way much better than India. This might be the main reason why the board increased the passing percentage. Global demand! I guess the main issue here is quality of the new passers and whether they are well prepared enough to face the continuing challenges of the accounting profession when they go to the corporate world.

    • Yet, this could be a window of opportunity for those who may have not made it in the past. That is, if they still have the appetite for being a full fledged CPA.

  2. I have the same view as Wilson Justo. The driver really is global demand for CPA’s. As I cited in our FB discussion, the financial sector in general demands more CPA’s especially during these times when things can get tricky with all the financial shenanigans.

    And yes Deuts, you’ve hit it squarely as it effectively is a matter of timing. Everything is anyway. During my folks’ time, they were barred from using calculators, and it was not multiple choice. And the passing rate then was at single digit percentage. But did the eventual change to how it was conducted during our time render below par CPA’s? I believe you’re one with me in saying, “I don’t think so.”

    I personally believe that passing the CPA board exams is not a matter of whether you pass or fail. It’s not you versus the exams per se. Instead, it’s you versus the other candidates to make it to the top whatever percent the examiners wish to pass.

    – I may have to disagree with you on that a bit. Topnotchers are to be recognized and honored, yes. But the bare minimum is simply passing the exam straight up (and not depending on how the grades are curved – so it is you against the exam, per se i.e. getting at least 70% of the questions right per subject, etc).

    Exams, are just a measure of what and how well you know concepts at that point in time. (If I were to take the exams today, for sure I will flunk!) What you do later on is really how one’s career will be nurtured. So whether one makes it in a 20% or 47% passing mark, what happens the day after the results come out and so on is an entirely different story altogether.

    But of course, it goes without saying that topping the exams is a tremendous headstart – but it is not the be all and end all of everything.

    Jose Diokno placed 1st in both CPA exams and the bar exams; C.M. Recto flunked his first attempt at the bar despite being a favorite to top it (fortunately he passed the second time around.) Both turned out ok and are held in high regard nonetheless given the contrast in their respective professional licensure exam performances.

    And don’t worry Deuts, I don’t think your piece is reason enough to have your license revoked. =)

    • If a candidate comes to me for some tips on how to face the challenge of the board exam, I’m more likely to tell him/her that doing good is not good enough if you don’t fall within the top whatever percent the examiners wish to pass. That’s how I believe that really is.

      If being a topnotcher means you have to attend review seasons twice or thrice before hitting the exams, then I think you already lose that headstart. You’ll already miss 1 or 2 audit seasons of experience.

      Then again, as I’ve pointed out, the most important thing here is TIMING.

    • While admittedly TIMING is key, personally, it is not TIMING but rather, TRAINING is the MOST important thing.

      Yes, proper timing may allow you higher probability to hurdle a licensure exam given a 48% passing rate than one with a mere 20% rate.

      But proper training will allow you to pass the exam regardless whether the BOA pegs the passing percentage at 48%, 20& or even 10%.

      And needless to say, proper training on how to pray hard is a significant part of the bigger picture.

      Well timed trades may make you earn a bit on the stock market; but trained market players can still make profits – whether bear or bull and everything else in between.

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