"Success in Two" for the CPA Exam

BY BETH SPENCER

At LarsonAllen LLP, our goal is to get employees started on the exam within one year of their full-time hire date, and then to pass the exam by their second anniversary with the firm – hence the name of the program “Success in Two.”

Here's how we do it:
  • If employees register for the Becker CPA Review by their one-year anniversary, LarsonAllen pays most of the cost, while the employee invests a small amount of the price.
  • If the employee passes the exam by his or her second anniversary, we reimburse the employee’s investment in Becker and one-half of the application and testing fees for one round of the exam.

The plan encourages employees to set a timeline for completing the exam, and the financial benefit encourages employees to prepare and sit for the exam only once.

We currently have 204 eligible CPA candidates in our firm. Of those, 152 are actively sitting for the CPA exam (74%). Of the 52 who are not sitting, 63% began employment with us within the last year (they’re still short of their one-year anniversary date deadline to start the Success in Two program).

Over time, we’ve been able to reduce the number of experienced employees (those who have been with us one year or longer) who have not started the exam from 14% of our testing population to 6%.

Mentoring
In the summer of 2006, we placed CPA exam coordinators in each office (or for very large offices like our Minneapolis location, a coordinator for an industry or service group). We asked office principals-in-charge (PICs) to assign someone as exam coordinator who:

  • Is a CPA,
  • Has the ability to help employees work out scheduling conflicts, and
  • Can encourage and motivate employees to get the exam done.

Exhibit 3 shows the results we’ve seen in our overall pass rates since we instituted exam coordinators–the average pass rate has improved from 41% to 60% in a little more than a year.

Success in Two Exam Plan Packet
In addition to exam coordinators, we provide a job aid who coaches employees on:

  • Planning their exam schedule,
  • Who they should talk to in order to make sure their plan is reasonable,
  • How much time they should schedule for exam study,
  • Which review method would be best for them, and
  • Timing issues that can trip them up when taking the exam (NTS expirations, 18-month window, “dark” months for testing, etc.).

(EXHIBIT 3 MISSING)

Beth Spencer is the manager of licensure & CPE, A&A Quality Group, at LarsonAllen LLP. She can be reached at espencer@larsonallen.com.

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