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Demystifying the Demystified CPA Exam Myths

Remember Sunil Kumar? He wrote a piece for Accounting Today that threw out some theories on why CPA exam pass rates are up and mostly got it right, even if I felt compelled to correct him and suggest there was really only one reason.

Well he must be on a roll as he also wrote Common CPA Exam Myths Demystified for CPA Practice Advisor. Ignoring the fact that the "myths" were more a Q&A than actual demystification, one in particular stood out to me as terribly misleading. So let's call him out, shall we?

Q: Is there an appeal process if you barely fail the exam?

A: No.

Um yeah OK so here's the thing, if the entire point of providing information is providing correct information, then this article fails at its goal. The question was not "is it worth appealing your score if you barely fail the exam," in which case a "no" would have been the appropriate response but in this case, this is incorrect.

There is a score review available through the AICPA and you can read all about it on their website. Some jurisdictions also allow an appeal, which differs from the score review in that it allows candidates to view the MCQ/sims they answered incorrectly along with responses. Now, don't get all excited, if you got a 74 it's probably for a reason and appealing is not going to change it. But that doesn't mean it isn't available.

Note: as far as I know, not a single score review or appeal has resulted in changing a failing score a passing one in years. The AICPA says less than 1% of score reviews requested since the advent of the computerized exam have resulted in such a change. So again, don't get your hopes up.

Neither of these options are worth the time and trouble (not to mention the money you'd pay) but they exist and that's the whole point.

On Sunil's website, he writes "The CPA ethics exam course is included when you order the exam from the AICPA," which makes absolutely no sense to me since some states have their own ethics course – California candidates order theirs from CalCPA – and for those who get their ethics exam from the AICPA, you order the ethics exam separately so of course it is "included." Should I read this to mean this guy thinks you "order" the CPA exam from the AICPA? I wouldn't be surprised given the fact that he also refers to the exam on his site multiple times as the "Prometric CPA exam" when he means "computerized CPA exam." Sure, it's nit-picking but with fly-by-night CPA exam "experts" popping up out of every dark hole in the Internet, it's worth questioning some of these things.

Never mind that he apparently took the last paper and pencil exam offered, he claims that he is "invited to take the simulated version every year and provide my feedback to the exam writers." I have never heard of this, has anyone else? I would think it is a security risk and if anyone would be invited to provide feedback like that, I doubt it would be someone who runs a blog on how to pass the CPA exam (sorry, Another71, you're out too). Major review course providers who have been in business for decades don't get that opportunity, why would this guy? I reached out to the AICPA to ask if this is something they do and as of now have not heard back, I'll let you guys know when I do because I know how much you care. Maybe I'm wrong (wouldn't be the first time) but something about that claim doesn't sit right with me.

Anyway, we have no reason to doubt his other claims but seriously, Sunil, if you're going to keep writing these articles, please make sure you get your facts straight.