October 1, 2022

Now You Know Why There Are So Many Elijah Watt Sells Award Winners

Remember yesterday when we shared with you the 55 winners of the 2013 Elijah Watt Sells award? And remember when I asked out loud why are there so darn many of them?

The AICPA was kind enough to clue me in. Here's what they told me:

If you want to go really far back, (all the way to 1924) the Sells Award was presented to the one top exam performer, then to the top 2 as a ‘Gold and Silver’ twice annually and then expanded to ‘Gold, Silver and Bronze’ also twice annually– with more winners when there were ties.

In the mid-2000’s, with the computerized exam, it was expanded to be the top 10, and often was higher because of ties for the 10th highest score.

In 2011, the Board of Examiners decided that rather than awarding the top 10 scores, it made sense to standardize the score at an extremely high level (95.50) and award all candidates who surpassed that very high bar.

In addition to standardizing the score at an extremely high level, this also allows candidates to understand upfront the threshold for winning the award and rewards them for their performance independent of how their peers perform – under the prior criteria, someone who won in one year might not have won in another and vice versa.

So, there you have it. Score above a 95.5 and you too can be hated on and told you studied too much.

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