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Candidates are intrigued by how the CPA Exam grading is done. Here is my understanding of the CPA exam scoring mechanism:
Here is the text version for those who prefer to read:
First of all, you should know that the score you get is not equal to the percentage of correct answers in the exam. For example, if you get a 75, it does NOT mean that you get 75% correct.
Your score is calculated based on a percentile, and the examiners utilize a fancy system to calculate all these. Here is a summary of how it works in layman terms:
Believe it or not, essays are now graded by computer instead of human. The software looks for elements a human would score on, such as organization, development, and usage of language.
If the gold standard is what a trained human scorer would score, you gather a relatively large sample—around 1,000 to 1,200 responses scored by people—then you use a program to build a mathematical model that will take elements of those papers and predict human scores and validate that model using data from real candidates and show the software is scoring the way the humans would score it,”
— John Mattar, the AICPA Examinations Team’s director–Psychometrics & Research
If your BEC score is very close to the passing mark (e.g. 74, 75 and 76), then a human grader will take a look at your essay.
Please refer to this detailed explanation written by the AICPA team and published in Journal of Accountancy.
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I am the author of How to Pass The CPA Exam (published by Wiley), and I also passed all 4 sections of the CPA Exam on my first try. Additionally, I have led webinars, such as for the Institute of Management Accountants, authored featured articles on websites like Going Concern and AccountingWeb, and I'm also the CFO for the charity New Sight. Finally, I have created other accounting certification websites to help mentor non-CPA candidates. I have already mentored thousands of CPA, CMA, CIA, EA, and CFA candidates, and I can help you too!