Report: UNA records second highest CPA exam pass rate in state

According to a recent report published by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, UNA recorded the second highest pass rate in the state on last year’s Uniform Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam.

UNA’s 57.1 percent pass rate on the exam exceeded the national average of 44 percent and the state average of 42 percent.

Gregory Carnes, accounting professor, attributes this success to two factors: hard work on the part of students and continued excellence in the classroom on the part of faculty.

The CPA exam is a computerized test that assesses students’ knowledge and mastery of professional accounting principles. It consists of four parts: Regulation, Financial Accounting & Reporting, Business Environment & Concepts and Auditing & Attestation. All four parts must be passed within an 18-month window.

To help better prepare students for the exam, UNA has partnered with CPA review company CPAexcel to provide students with an online non-credit prep course for the exam.

Carnes said the CPA exam involves less memorization and more problem solving ability and critical thinking skills.

“You have to be able to apply the principles you’ve learned to different situations,” said Allison Manning, a UNA graduate and CPA license recipient.

Manning characterizes her experience preparing for and taking the CPA exam as “agonizing.” She credits her professors, who she describes as “very dedicated,” and the size of UNA as contributing to her success.

“I think, because (UNA) is a smaller school, professors are able to focus more on each individual student,” she said.

Passing the CPA exam has benefits, Carnes said.

“Being a CPA carries a lot of respect, and it opens a lot of doors for those in the accounting profession,” Carnes said. “CPA licensure offers 360 degrees of opportunity to students; we’ve had students go on to start businesses, become attorneys, become professors.”

The CPA license is one of the most respected credentials in the business world, Carnes said. Furthermore, he sees these most recent results as validation of the accounting program’s strength and rigor.

“The CPA exam is the same in all states, so when you see that our pass rate is 57.1 percent—and you compare it to other institutions across the United States—you can look at that and say that UNA is preparing students very well for a career in the accounting profession; there’s empirical evidence of it,” he said. “We’re hoping these pass rates will attract more smart students to come to UNA and go into accounting.”

Twenty-eight UNA students sat for a total of 63 parts of the exam. Each had completed at least 150 hours of coursework and held an undergraduate or graduate degree in accounting. UNA’s pass rate was only surpassed by that of Auburn University.