2017 CPA Exam Pass Rates

In Summary:

  • CPA exam first time pass rate: 10-20%
  • 2017 CPA financial reporting pass rate: 44.42%
  • 2017 CPA business environment and concepts pass rate: 52.99%
  • 2017 CPA regulation reporting pass rate: 47.24%
  • 2017 CPA  audit reporting pass rate: 48.59%

Before many people take the CPA exam they want to know what the CPA exam passing rates are. We’ve put together the table below that shows a comprehensive overview of the pass rate of cpa exam by year. The passing grade for cpa exam is 75.

The passing rate for each quarter of the new 2017 CPA exam is included in the table below. The 2017 CPA test provides the highest pass rates that we’ve seen for the CPA exam in a long time.

2017 CPA Exam Pass Rates

Final 2017 CPA Exam Pass Rates

Section of CPA ExamQ1 2017Q2 2017Q3 2017Q4 2017

The pass rates for the years prior to 2017 are below.

Section of CPA Exam2013201420152016

As you can see the overall CPA passing rate is pretty low. It’s not like college where the grand majority of people have to pass the exam and if they don’t there is a curve. The AICPA will let you fail over and over again until you pass because they are trying to hold CPA’s to high standard. It might not be fair, but it’s just the way it is for now. Failing the cpa exam is not the end of the world. There are many CPAs in the world, and you can be one too. You just have to believe it first. Believe it and then achieve it. 

If too many people start passing the exam, the AICPA usually changes the format so don’t expect these pass rates to change very much.

CPA exam pass rate first time

The chances that you pass all 4 parts of the test on your first try are slim according to studies conducted over the years. According to various studies that I’ve found all over the internet the first try pass rate for the exam is anywhere between 10-20% for a given year. Now that doesn’t mean that you will be failing all parts of the exam. It just means that there is a strong chance that you will fail at least one section.

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Financial Accounting and Reporting Section

This chart for the FAR section pass rate is pretty scary to me. This thing is dropping off a cliff. It doesn’t surprise me though because it is the toughest part of the exam. Hopefully the AICPA works to bring up the score on this one though. Another thing this chart shows you is that you can’t cut corners studying for the FAR exam. You need to go head down into your exam materials and stay there until you pass the exam.

Audit CPA exam

The chart below for the audit section does not look too bad. It appears to be consistent. What you can take out of this is that you can study consistent with how people have studied in the past. It’s still not easy with a pass rate around 47, but at least it’s consistent.


Let’s take a quick look at the reg section of the CPA test. As you can see the pass rate hovers around 48 to 49%. You can also see that it ticked up a bit the past few years and that there will likely be a correction to the mean soon. It doesn’t surprise me since the exam is slated to change in 2017.


Oh the good old BEC section of the exam. As you can see below, the exam is the easiest part of the CPA test. It doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon either, so make sure you don’t burn yourself out on this one.

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Best way to study for CPA

The best way to study for the CPA test is to use one of the CPA exam prep courses. Whether it’s Becker, Roger or Wiley is up to you, but we would recommend one of them.

The reason we recommend those is because they have structured outlines and plenty of multiple choice questions. The people who are the most successful at the CPA exam, in my experience, have structure and do tons of multiple choice questions.