The AICPA shared a note on Facebook the other day that was also shared by NASBA and brought up an interesting conversation full of frustration, anger and misunderstanding. The comments by candidates show how important it is to take information at face value and be sure you are not reading too much into what is shared by those who don't have all the answers. Before we get to that, let's get to the note:
Thanks again to everyone who has been asking about the score release timelines. It’s an important topic and we appreciate the feedback. As a reminder, for anyone who hasn’t had the chance to visit our website, over the past year we have posted letters to state boards, scoring timeline FAQs, and provided an in-depth white paper describing how the Exam is scored, all available at the CPA Exam website. And if you’re interested in a refresher about the eligibility requirements, including the 18 month timeline and instructions for scheduling your Exam, the updated Candidate Bulletin from NASBA contains the information you need.
It also appears that there is some confusion about what it means to administer a “high stakes” test. For those of you who don’t know, the Uniform CPA Examination is a high stakes test. That means that there is a direct consequence of passing (or failing) the Exam – in our case, that consequence is meeting one of the requirements to obtain your CPA license. Becoming a licensed CPA carries with it legal authority, and an obligation to protect the public interest. That’s why the Exam must make valid, accurate assessments of examinees. The outcomes are too important. Making those valid, accurate assessments is what this scoring process is really about. In high-stakes testing, any time an exam undergoes a major revision (as with the introduction of CBT-e), best practices dictate that scoring must be revised as well. That means that sufficient data needs to be aggregated for the required additional analyses (of both test questions and candidate performance) that must take place. This data must be taken from actual, operational exam results. To our candidates, like you, this means that we have to acquire a sufficient sample size of actual exam results in order to perform the required analyses and score the exams properly. This process takes time and that’s why we are only able to release scores at the end of each window, for the time being. After three windows, we will have aggregated enough data so that additional analyses won’t be necessary, and scores can be processed on a rolling basis, and hence more frequently. We hope this information provides the clarity that many of you are looking for. Thanks again for engaging in this conversation.
The AICPA was very clear long before the beginning of 2011 that scoring would be changing this year and has let us all in on its plan to accelerate the scoring process for the last window of the year. This information is freely available on the AICPA's website and is digested here on Going Concern for those of you "too busy" to check for yourselves. But for many, this simply isn't enough. Candidates who cut the 18 month window too close feel cheated and some are even expecting some sort of accommodation by the AICPA. What they seem to be missing is that even if they get their scores at the end of this month, they are not getting them any earlier or later than they could have under the Wave 1/Wave 2 scoring rules. While many of us are in the business of helping candidates make sense of the wealth of CPA exam information out there, it is imperative to remember that some of what we do involves making educated guesses. Case in point, earlier this month Jeff Elliott at Another71 predicted scores would be out March 17th. Up until now, he's been pretty dead on about score release dates so while there is no reason to believe he'd be wrong this time, it's important to keep in mind that his score predictions are just that, predictions. He isn't privy to information the rest of us aren't, he has simply been doing this long enough to have a good sense of what to expect. When March 17th came and went, candidates were outraged that they still didn't have their scores. Some even took to NASBA's Facebook page to complain. Said one candidate "A piece of advice for next time, don't come out with this statement and expect us CPA candidates not to be frustrated and angry when you yourselves stated ALL SCORES would be released March 17th when you obviously knew that was never going to happen!" But the AICPA never said that. As of this morning, scores still haven't been released and candidates are likely still pissed off that they were told March 17th but that isn't the AICPA's fault and it isn't Jeff's fault either. Such is the nature of the beast and surely candidates know going into this that anything can and will happen.