How hard is the CPA Exam?

two people studying a textbook

When signing up for the CPA Exam, your first initial thought may be: is the CPA Exam hard? It’s true: the CPA Exam is considered one of the most difficult professional credentialing exams. You’ve probably heard quite a bit of intimidating details about how hard it is — it’s long, it requires hundreds of hours of study time, it’s so difficult that the average CPA Exam passing rate for first-time candidates is only 50%. While all of that is accurate, it’s also true that you can put yourself in a position to succeed despite the looming low CPA Exam pass rates. It is still possible to earn a CPA Exam passing score and become a CPA

What is the passing score on the CPA Exam for all 4 parts?

Let's cut to the chase - the most important number to you on your CPA journey is the CPA passing score. Each section of the exam is scored on a scale of 0 to 99. The passing score for the CPA Exam is 75. If you wish to go above and beyond, you can shoot past the CPA Exam pass score and aim to earn the Elijah Watt Sells Award. Watt Sells award recipients obtain a cumulative average score above 95.50 across all 4 sections.

Why is the CPA Exam hard?

The CPA Exam tests a variety of topics through multiple choice questions and task-based simulations designed to mimic the real-world tasks CPAs are expected to perform. The exam is divided into four sections: 

  • Auditing and Attestation (AUD) 
  • Business Environment and Concepts (BEC) 
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)  
  • Regulation (REG) 

Each section has its own content area, and each content area constitutes a different percentage of that section’s exam. Each exam section has a four-hour time limit. As you can imagine, a four-hour exam tests a vast amount of material.

Because the exam covers such an extensive amount of information, it requires a significant commitment in study time. We recommend 500 hours of study before taking the exam. It’s a worthy investment, given that CPA Exam pass rates are notoriously low.

What are the CPA Exam pass rates for all 4 parts?

So, just how difficult is the CPA Exam? Here are the cumulative 2022 CPA passing rates for all four exam sections, according to the AICPA:

AUD: 48.16%

BEC: 59.68%

FAR: 44.93%

REG: 61.10%

These figures can be daunting, but you shouldn’t be discouraged. CPA candidates don’t have to prepare alone, and our data shows that the right preparation can deliver a passing score for the CPA.

How can I pass the CPA board exam?

Given the exam’s level of difficulty, knowing how to study for the CPA Exam is essential. As you prepare your strategy for how to pass the CPA board exam, know that a well-designed CPA Exam review course can be worth the investment. A review course will help familiarize yourself with both the exam’s content and its format and functionality. 

Our CPA Exam Review is completely integrated, so all course components work together to give you a powerful and efficient way to get you started on your journey to becoming a CPA. Along with thousands of questions from previous exams to help you understand the content that will be tested, our Exam Review is designed to help you become familiar with the exam’s functionality. It’s also customized to your needs, with technology that assesses the areas where you need additional assistance to create personalized practice tests. And with two full final exams per part, you’ll be able to practice in exam-like conditions before exam day. 

Our expert instructors will show you how to structure time for each exam part, providing valuable time-saving tips along the way. The tools and materials contained within Becker’s CPA Exam Review course are specially designed to mirror the CPA Exam interface. So on exam day, you can focus on answering the questions, not figuring out the format, features, and functions.

What is the CPA Exam pass rate with Becker?

While there are other services that offer CPA review courses, the numbers behind our success speak for themselves. Of Becker’s “Exam-day ReadySM” 1 students, 94% reported that they passed their CPA Exam sections. In total, Becker students pass more than 36,000 sections of the CPA Exam, which represents more than ⅓ of all CPA Exam sections passed according to data published by AICPA and NASBA!*

For more information on the methodology behind our CPA Exam pass rate, visit our CPA pass rates page

Compare Becker’s CPA Exam pass rate for all four parts to a pair of other CPA review course providers:

Surgent: 88% 

UWorld: 91% 

Don’t let the low average pass rate for the CPA Exam discourage you. Our results make it clear that with the proper guidance, you can develop the skills and strategies that can help improve your chances of obtaining a CPA passing score. They also show that Becker is the best review course to prepare you for the big day.

Ready to start your CPA journey? We’re excited to get you exam-day ready.


1 Pass rate based on those students that met the Exam Day Ready SM threshold and self-reported scores to us in 2020 and are calculated by dividing the total sections passed by total sections attempted across all qualifying students. The “exam-day readiness” threshold means students watched 80% of our lecture videos, answered 80% of our MCQs and TBSs correctly and scored a minimum of 50% on our Simulated Exams. Scores may be reported at any time. We recognize there is an inherent bias to these results as students who do not pass may not share this information with us.

*Claim based on publicly available data from the AICPA and NASBA, but not verified by either organization. For additional information, please visit or 

Now Leaving

You are leaving the website. Once you click “continue,” you will be brought to a third-party website. Please be aware, the privacy policy may differ on the third-party website. Adtalem Global Education is not responsible for the security, contents and accuracy of any information provided on the third-party website. Note that the website may still be a third-party website even the format is similar to the website.