150-Hour Rule Affects Examination Results
Although the number of first-time candidates taking the Uniform CPA Examination fell 15% in 1998, the percentage of those who passed increased after an all-time low in 1997.
In contrast to last year’s disappointing results, in which the percentage of passing first-time test takers for the November 1997 combined exam sank to 12.5%, more candidates received good news in 1998. According to the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA), 16.1% passed the May 1998 exam and 16.2% passed the November exam.
Park E. Leathers, CPA, PhD, who analyzed the exam results for NASBA surmised that candidates’ haste to take the 1997 exam before all the jurisdictions implemented the 150-hour educational requirement caused the poor performance.
“The number of candidates rose sharply as candidates rushed to get started on the examination process under the more lenient educational requirement,” Leathers wrote. “After the requirement’s implementation, the number of candidates fell precipitately.”
In terms of numbers, first-time candidates taking all parts of the examination shrank from 45,674 in 1997 to 38,573 in 1998.
Leathers, who is Ernst & Young Professor Emeritus at Bowling Green State University, theorized that passing rates would rebound once the flurry of test taking was over and the 150-hour educational requirement was implemented nationwide. Moreover, the more rigorous academic preparation (the 150 hours) would translate into better examination performance in the future.