CPA Exam Score Release: 2020 Days & Testing Windows [Breaking News]

CPA Score Release Dates for 2020

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Along with the day you sit for the exam, the other most important day in your CPA journey is CPA Exam score release day. On the NASBA score release day, you learn the results of all your hard work. You also get a sense for how much longer the journey will last. But when is score release day?

I’ll tell you the CPA Exam score release dates and also provide more details about this significant exam event. Even if you haven’t taken a CPA Exam section yet, you should check these dates as you make your CPA Exam study plan. Then, you know when you’ll receive your scores once you do sit.

CPA Exam Testing Windows

Historically, the CPA Exam was available during 4 annual testing windows:

  • Q1: January 1 – March 10
  • Q2: April 1 – June 10
  • Q3: July 1 – September 10
  • Q4: October 1 – December 10

However, NASBA announced that starting on July 1, 2020, the CPA Exam would be available to take year-round. Consequently, the traditional CPA Exam windows are basically no longer.

CPA Continuous Testing 2020

As part of continuous testing, there is something even more exciting than being able to take the CPA Exam (essentially) any time you like.

So, here’s the revolutionary part: you are no longer subject to long waiting periods before you can re-take a failed CPA Exam section. Now, you only need to wait until NASBA or your CPA state board releases your score. Once you have the score and know you must re-take the section, you’ll be able to re-schedule the CPA Exam without delay.

Under the previous window structure, you could only sit for one section per window. For example, if you really struggled with income tax and couldn’t pass REG, you could only take it 4x per year (the thought of taking REG 4x — ugh. I digress).

Consequently, under continuous testing, you could take each CPA Exam section 15 times per year or more, depending on the score release dates (seriously, study — do not attempt to make this example your reality).

So, continuous testing in 2020 is a material evolution, that for some, could be a game-changer.

NASBA Score Release Dates for 2020

When are CPA Exam scores released? According to the AICPA, 2020 CPA Exam scores will be released on the following CPA Exam score release dates:

Testing Window: January 1 – March 10 (Q1 2020)

If you take your exam on/before: …and the AICPA receives your exam data files from Prometric by 11:59 p.m. (EST) on: Your target CPA score release date is:
January 20 January 20 February 5
February 14 February 14 February 26
February 28 February 28 March 8
March 10 After March 11 March 19

Testing Window: April 1 – June 10 (Q2 2020)

If you take your exam on/before: …and the AICPA receives your exam data files from Prometric by 11:59 p.m. (EST) on: Your target CPA score release date is:
April 20 April 20 May 5
May 15 May 15 May 27
May 31 May 31 June 9
June 10 June 11 June 19
June 30 July 1 July 9

Testing Window: July 1-September 10 (Q3 2020)

If you take your exam on/before: …and the AICPA receives your exam data files from Prometric by 11:59 p.m. (EST) on: Your target CPA score release date is:
July 23 July 23 August 7
August 16 August 16 August 25
September 8 September 8 September 16
September 30 September 30 October 9

Testing Window: October 1-December 10 (Q4 2020)

If you take your exam on/before: …and the AICPA receives your exam data files from Prometric by 11:59 p.m. (EST) on: Your target CPA score release date is:
October 23 October 23 November 10
November 16 November 16 November 24
December 8 December 8 December 16
December 31 December 31 January 12

These tables show the target score release dates for each testing window. On these dates, NASBA will release the exam scores to the state boards of accountancy. Some state boards may require at least one day after the target score release day to process and release the scores they receive.

Important CPA Exam Score Release Information

The AICPA wants you to know the following about your CPA Exam score release date:

  • All dates and times are based on the Eastern Standard Time (EST) zone. Furthermore, both domestic and international candidates receive their scores according to the same score release timeline. However, international candidates may experience a one-day delay due to extra processing and validation.
  • For most candidates, Prometric sends exam data files to the AICPA within 24 hours after you complete your exam section.
  • The scores from any exam data files the AICPA receives from Prometric after the AICPA cutoff dates will be released in subsequent scheduled target score release dates.
  • When you sit for BEC, you might receive your score approximately 1 week following the target release date. This delay is the result of the additional analysis written communication tasks sometimes require.

Expectations for CPA Release Dates

You should know that these dates are not usually set in stone. While the AICPA announces the score release dates as early as possible, they may occasionally adjust these dates throughout the year.

Also, these are the target score release dates. You can’t be 100% sure as to when you will receive your score. However, you can increase your chance of getting your exam score by one of these dates. You just have to avoid taking the exam on a cutoff date (i.e. Day 20, Day 45).

For best results, give yourself 2 days of leeway. For example, take the exam on Day 18 or before or on Day 43 or before.

CPA Exam Score Release Schedule

As you can see from the tables, in the past, the score release dates for a testing window have occurred at multiple times during that quarter. Typically, the AICPA plans the first score release date for a testing window in the first week of the second month in that quarter. Then, the subsequent score release dates happen every 2 weeks after the initial release. Usually, this schedule produces 5 score release dates per testing window.

However, when the exam experiences significant changes, such as those affecting the 2017 and 2018 CPA Exam versions, the AICPA may reduce the number of score release days. The AICPA uses this extra time to statistically validate candidate performance and conduct standard setting.

Wait Time for the CPA Exam Score Release

I know how stressful it can be to watch @NASBA’s Twitter feed waiting (and waiting some more) for the official score release announcement. However, you can plan for the releases and better manage your stress.

Since the AICPA releases the CPA Exam results in batches, 2 factors affect how long you must wait for your score. These factors are the number of score release dates scheduled for that quarter and the time at which you take the exam in the testing window.

When the AICPA schedules fewer score release days, you have to wait longer to get your score if you sit for the exam within the first two months of the quarter.

In general, you’ll receive your results sooner if you sit closer to the end of the window. Let’s look at Q1 2020 to see how long it will take CPA Exam candidates to receive their scores.

If you take your exam on You’ll receive your score within Or if you’d like to consider how many weeks, that’s
January 20 16 days 2 weeks and 2 days
February 14 12 days 1 week and 5 days
February 28 9 days 1 week and 2 days
March 10 8 days 1 week and 1 day

CPA Exam Score Release Process

As we learned from the tables, the AICPA receives the exam data files from Prometric, the testing centers that administer the CPA Exam. The AICPA then sends the scores to NASBA. Finally, NASBA delivers the scores to the state boards of accountancy. NASBA makes the score data deliveries on dates that fall within the testing windows.

Factors for the Score Release

As you probably know, all 4 sections of the CPA Exam are computerized. So, why do you have to wait so long for your exam results?

You have to wait a few weeks at least for your CPA Exam score because the AICPA puts your responses to the exam questions through multiple quality assurance reviews to ensure scoring accuracy. The AICPA ascribes a high level of importance, due diligence, and attention to accuracy to the CPA Exam scoring process.

The AICPA also has systems in place to verify the correctness of a score in special cases. When it comes to BEC written communications (WCs), a computer grading program grades your responses. But in some cases, a network of all CPA human graders will score the responses as well.

If your BEC score is close to a passing score, the human graders will automatically regrade your WC responses. If more than one grader needs to grade your response, the final grade consists of the average of the scores assigned by the human graders.

Also, the exam grading system is not a straightforward calculation. Humans must monitor the conversion to the scaled grade of 0-99. Therefore, it is understandable that this process would take some time to complete.

How to Check CPA Exam Scores

Of course, on CPA Exam score release day, the most important question is, “How can I check my CPA score?” Well, your CPA Exam results may come from 1 of 2 sources.

First, your state board of accountancy may utilize NASBA’s online score retrieval service. If so, you can visit NASBA’s website on CPA Exam score release day to get your score (aka the NASBA Candidate Portal).

Not all state boards use this service, so you must check with your state board to determine if they do. You should also consult your state board for answers to any of your other score release questions.

Second, your state board may handle the score release process themselves. In that case, you will receive your exam score from them. Your state board may post the scores on their website and then email you when you have the opportunity to find your score there. Or, your state board may mail your scores to you in a physical letter.

Some larger state boards, such as the California Board of Accountancy (CBA) or the Maryland Board of Accountancy, post scores in the accounts their candidates have for their online CPA Exam systems. Additionally, the IL Board of Accountancy also does not utilize the NASBA Candidate Portal for score releases.

Again, check with your state board of accountancy soon so you know exactly where to find your CPA Exam results on CPA Exam score release day.

CPA Performance Report & Score Notice

If you passed the CPA Exam, you’ll receive a score notice that states your score, your credit status, and the date on which your credit earned for any passed section will expire. In contrast, if you failed the CPA Exam, you’ll receive a performance report. In this report, you’ll see your performance on each content area, as well as by Item Type. You’ll find your score notice and performance report in the NASBA Candidate Portal within 72 hours of receiving your score.

If you earned less than a 75 on the exam and a CPA Performance Report is generated, you’ll be compared to candidates who have just passed the exam. The AICPA defines just passed as a candidate who earns a score between 75 and 80. What’s more, you’ll receive separate high-level information about your performance on MCQs, written communications (BEC only), and TBSs.

CPA Passing Score

A passing score for any and all CPA Exam sections is 75. This number is a scaled score. Therefore, it does not represent the percentage of questions you got right. Your CPA Exam score can range from 0 to 99. Also, the AICPA does not curve exam scores.

The AICPA Board of Examiners (BOE) establishes the CPA Exam passing score. To do so, they consider many factors such as standard-setting study results, historical trends, and exam content changes. They also receive input from NASBA, consultant psychometricians, the academic community, and licensed CPAs.

Then, the AICPA measures your CPA Exam performance against these pre-established standards. Additionally, they hold every candidate to these same standards.

For AUD, FAR, and REG, your score is the weighted combination of scaled scores from the multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and task-based simulations (TBSs). For BEC, your total score also includes the scaled score of the written communications (WCs).

Here’s how much each CPA Exam question affects your score:

CPA Exam Question Scoring Weight

Question Type AUD BEC FAR REG
Multiple-choice questions (MCQs) 50% 50% 50% 50%
Task-based simulations (TBSs) 50% 35% 50% 50%
Written communications (WCs) n/a 15% n/a n/a

CPA Exam Score Expiration

When does your CPA Exam score expire?

The credit you receive for passing a CPA Exam section lasts for 18 months. Once you pass your first exam section, you have 18 months to pass the other 3 sections. If you don’t pass the remaining 3 sections in this time period, you will lose credit for the section you passed first.

The start of your 18 months will then roll back to the date you passed your second section. If you don’t pass the remaining sections (including the section you lost credit for) in this new 18-month window, you will also lose credit for the second section passed.

This cycle will continue until you have passed all 4 sections within 18 months.

Waiting and Moving On

You can’t just sit around while you wait for your CPA Exam score. Instead, you’ve got to keep studying until you run out of sections. You should know which section to review for next before you receive the score for the previous section. Therefore, you should start studying for that section shortly after your testing appointment.

Even if you receive a failing score and need to retake an exam section, studying for the next section is still a good idea. It allows you to stay in study mode so you don’t lose any ground mentally. It also lets you make progress in an upcoming section, even if you must temporarily interrupt that progress.

CPA Exam Score Release Success

To give yourself the best chance at seeing a passing score on the day of your CPA Exam score release, you must study with the best CPA review course for you. Thankfully, I can help you determine which course is right for you. I can also help you save big on your exam prep with CPA review discounts!

If you see a number less than 75 on CPA Exam score release day, you probably won’t feel like the day has been a success. But if you take the proper steps in response to a CPA Exam fail, it can be! I’ve got the information you need to effectively recover from a negative score release experience, so get my score-improving advice today!

If you do earn a 75 or higher, congratulations! You’re so close to the CPA. So now, you should discover what you’ll need to do after the CPA Exam.

About the Author Stephanie Ng

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!

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