Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Provisional CPA Exam Candidate From Illinois Is Just Now Realizing What “Provisional” Means

I can’t believe it but finally, a CPA exam question I’ve never answered before. I have a feeling our confused candidate already knows the answer but is reaching out in hopes that we’ll tell him what he wants to hear instead of the cold, hard truth. Sorry in advance, bro.

Hello GC,

I just took the FAR section of my CPA exam, I did this while completing my final 9 hours of the 150 hours needed. Therefore, I am considered a provision candidate. From what I have read Illinois will not inform me of my score (is this some sort of sick joke), since I am a provisional student, until my final transcripts are turned into them. The earliest that I will have my final transcripts will be January 2nd. This presents a problem because I was planning on retaking the test if I failed, before I start full time at a big 4 firm on January 3rd. Is there a way around this? What should I do? Should I just enjoy my month break and worry about taking it again after busy season if I did fail? Should I study up again while the information is still fresh?

Also I did fell very prepared taking the test and I would say I am fairly confident that I passed the exam. But who knows until I see the official score.



I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, Confused, but you’re not only confused, you’re screwed on top of it.

According to the Illinois Board of Examiners, provisional candidates have 120 days from the date they take their exam to submit their final transcript to the board. If you miss the 120-day deadline, your exam scores will be voided and you will be ineligible to sit for any sections of the exam until the final transcript is received and you are determined eligible to test. Until your Provisional Status is cleared, you cannot view or receive any exam scores.

What this means to you is that there is nothing you can do until you have those transcripts. I commend you for trying to get a jump on your CPA exam adventure this early in the game but you may have ended up screwing yourself. If you fail, you may have to start studying for that section again from scratch as you’ll likely have forgotten quite a bit by the time you find out you failed. If you pass, your 18 months has started ticking but you’ve lost time waiting around to wrap up school.

And yes, if you failed, wait until you are able to study to attempt again since you don’t have an 18 month window to worry about. No reason running yourself into the ground if you don’t have to.

What’s the lesson to be learned here? Always make reality part of your plan; unless you knew of a trick around this going into it, it was unrealistic to make a plan that you couldn’t actually implement.

Sorry but them’s the breaks.

Are the Big 4 Starting to Demand Higher GPAs From New Recruits?

Ed. note: Got a question for the career advice brain trust? Email us at [email protected].

Hi GC,

I am a longtime reader of this website and it has never failed me so here I go once more – some Big Four positions just got posted to our school’s résumé submission website here at University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. PwC internship and full time positions have a minimum required GPA of 3.4 while EY is 3.2 and KPMG is 3.0. Deloitte’s have not been posted. I know our school isn’t the greatest in accounting [Ed. note: huh?]and the public accounting profession pales in comparison to investment banking and management consulting but a 3.4 MINIMUM GPA to apply??

Last year’s minimum GPA was 3.0 to apply which was understandable but this new recruiting team from PwC increased the GPA by 0.4. Do they feel like someone is throwing out GPA points like Bernanke is throwing out dollars? Would it be kosher to change my 3.37 GPA to 3.4/4.0 on my resume to qualify for on campus interviews?

Drinking Beer in Champaign

Dear DBinC,

I’m always glad to throw a loyal reader some freebie advice. Thanks for checkin’ in with us.

First of all, forget that last year’s GPA requirement was 0.4 points lower; last year is irrelevant. Put your game face on and rise to the challenge.

Yes, absolutely round your 3.37 up to a 3.4. That’s fair game. In fact, this is a non-issue.

Also, take two minutes of your time to figure out what your major-specific GPA is. Should that be higher than the 3.4 cumulative GPA, add it to your résumé as well. There’s no reason that Intro to Woodcarving should hurt your chances of interning with one of the Big 4.

Why are the GPA requirements rising? To weed out résumés, obviously. Why look through 500 when you can whittle things down to 400 by cutting out the bottom? If you fall into this range, beg, borrow, and NETWORK your way to an interview. Circumstances are individual – if you have a story or reason as to why you’re on the cusp, track down the recruiter (not a audit/tax professional) at the career fair and state your case. Hard work can be rewarded in cases like this.

Illinois Candidate Caught Cheating on the CPA Exam

We have better things to do than comb through the minutes of each accountancy board’s meetings, so thanks to the tipster who obviously doesn’t and sent in the following tip from the January 25, 2011 minutes of the Illinois Board of Accountancy:

b. Mr. [Richard] York led a discussion regarding a recent candidate caught cheating by Prometric. The Committee agreed with the Executive Director’s recommendation to void the candidate’s scores for that examination. It was agreed by the Board to implement a prohibition of testing privilege for 2-5 years as provided by Administrative Rule for future candidates caught cheating.

It’s common knowledge that if you are caught cheating on the CPA exam you should expect for your scores to be thrown out and will likely receive some sort of administrative penalty (such as being barred from taking the exam again for a certain number of years) but this is the first reference I have seen to an actual candidate getting busted.

How does one go about cheating on the CPA exam anyway? With countless questions completely locked down by the AICPA, how could a candidate cheat? Sharpie notes on the palm of his hand? Smuggled in snot rags?

The official line on cheating from the AICPA, NASBA and Prometric goes something like this:

The Boards of Accountancy, NASBA and the AICPA take candidate misconduct, including cheating on the Uniform CPA Examination, very seriously. If a Board of Accountancy determines that a candidate is culpable of misconduct or has cheated, the candidate will be subject to a variety of penalties including, but not limited to, invalidation of grades, disqualification from subsequent examination administrations, and civil and criminal penalties. In cases where candidate misconduct or cheating is discovered after a candidate has obtained a CPA license or certificate, a Board of Accountancy may rescind the license or certificate.

If the test center staff suspects misconduct, a warning will be given to the candidate for any of the following situations:
· Communicating, orally or otherwise, with another candidate or person
· Copying from or looking at another candidate’s materials or workstation
· Allowing another candidate to copy from or look at materials or workstation
· Giving or receiving assistance in answering examination questions or problems
· Reading examination questions or simulations aloud
· Engaging in conduct that interferes with the administration of the examination or unnecessarily
disturbing staff or other candidates

Grounds for confiscation of a prohibited item and warning the candidate include:
· Possession of any prohibited item (whether or not in use) inside, or while entering or exiting the testing room
· Use of any prohibited item during a break in a manner that could result in cheating or the removal of examination questions or simulations

Inquiring minds are dying to know what went down.

The scariest part is that in 2 – 5 years, this candidate can head back into Prometric and give it another shot. Looks like it’s payroll clerking it in the meantime.