US CPA in Dubai: Exam Performance + Pass Rate Trend

Ever since the US CPA exam is available in Middle East, the number of CPA candidates in the region has increased greatly. This article focuses on aspiring CPA in Dubai and UAE, their pass rates, and how they have been performing.

The following analysis is based on 2013 data from NASBA. I will update with 2015 figures as soon as they are available.

UAE CPA Exam Candidate Pass Rates

There were 581 candidates applied directly from UAE. The average age was 31.6 which is a couple of years old than the global average.

First Timers vs Retakers

Similar to the global trend, around 60% of UAE candidates took the exam for the first time. They had an overall 42% pass rate, which is quite a bit higher than the retaker’s at 36%.

Pass Rates by Exam Section

us cpa in dubai pass rate

BEC results were the best at 43% pass rate; AUD the worst at 36%. BEC and AUD were also the best/worst on a global scale but the difference is smaller, as shown in the second chart.

global vs uae cpa pass rate

The UAE pass rates across exam sections were lower than the global average by 8-13 percentage point. The language is likely a big part of it. We will take a closer look at the performance by part at the end of this post.

Pass Rates by Age

UAE CPA exam pass rate

(x-axis: age in terms of number of years; y-axis: number of candidates)

Looking at the pass rates by age, those who were 22 years old or below did particularly well, although not sure if this is statistically significant given the small sample.

There were also quite a lot of candidates in their early to mid thirties taking the exam. Interestingly, those in their 30s had higher pass rates.

It is hard to generalize but possible reasons include having a higher degree in relevant field, or that they have more experience which helps in scenario-type simulations.

CPA in Dubai UAE by number of attempts

(x-axis: number of months since first attempt;
left y-axis: number of candidates; right y-axis: number of attempted sections)

Among those who passed the 4th part (i.e. completing the exam), most candidates took more than 24 months to reach this goal. This means that many have the experience of losing credits after the 18-month window but still hang on.

On average, it takes UAE candidates 6.5 attempts to complete the CPA exam, meaning 4 success passes and 2.5 retakes. This is in line with the global average of 6.6 attempts.

FAR Performance by Content Area

Now, let’s take a look at the results by part. The following charts show the percentage of “comparable” or “stronger” on the candidates’ score report. You can see this as an indication similar to pass rates.


Content Area  Stands for: Weighting
 Frm Std  Framework and standards  17-23%
 Fin Sta  Financial statement accounts  27-33%
 Spc Trn  Specific transactions / events  27-33%
 Govt  Governmental accounting  8-12%
 NFP  Not-for-profit accounting  8-12%

The weaker performance in financial statement and specific transaction may due to the relative unfamiliarity of US GAAP. The rest are more or less in line with global average.

Task-based simulations is definitely the area to work on for FAR. Since sims represents 40% of the exam, make sure you get enough practice.

AUD Performance


Content Area  Stands for: Weighting
 Un Eng  Understanding the engagement 12-16%
 Un Ent  Understanding the entity 16-20%
 Pro Evi  Procedure and evidence 16-20%
 Evi Rpt  Evaluation and reporting 16-20%
 Acct Rev  Accounting and review services 12-16%
 Pro Res  Professional responsibilities 16-20%

Performance of the 6 AUD subjects vary considerably. UAE candidates seem to be better in theoretical areas, such as “understanding engagement” (the first part of the audit procedure), and less so on the more analytical area, such as “procedure and evidence”.

It does not necessarily mean that these candidates are weaker in audit analytical skills. Some of the AUD questions are often tricky with more than one correct answer, and candidates have to pick the best one.

If candidates attend local coaching classes and learn the concepts in a language other than English, then during the actual exam, they may have difficulty understanding these lengthy and tricky questions.

REG Performance


Content Area  Stands for:
Eth Leg  Ethics and legal responsibilities 15-19%
Bus Law  Business law 17-21%
Fed Tx  Federal tax process 11-15%
Tx Pro  Taxation on property transactions  12-16%
Tx Ind  Taxation on individuals 13-19%
Tx Ent  Taxation on entities 18-24%

Considering US taxation is completely foreign to UAE candidates, they did well overall. I am especially impressed by business law results: at 65%, it is higher than the global average of 61%.

Again, the one area that candidates should work on for REG is task-based simulations. REG sims is believed to be the hardest, so don’t feel frustrated if you need a lot of time to work through them.

BEC Performance


Content Area  Stands for: Weighting
Crp Gov  Corporate governance 16-20%
Eco Con  Economics concepts and analysis 16-20%
Fin Mgt  Financial management  19-23%
Info Sys  Information systems  15-19%
Str Plan  Strategic planning 10-14%
Op Mgt  Operations management 12-16%

BEC also scores quite well in terms of the actual results and relative to the global average. The areas that are slightly below average are Corporate Governance and Information Systems. Strategic Planning, which is mainly cost accounting, was above average.

Written communications represent only 15% but the UAE vs global discrepancies is big: UAE at 48% vs global at 70%. The chance of passing would be a lot higher if they are able to close the gap.

What Does It Mean to You

5 takeaways:

  1. Work on Simulations
  2. Work on your English business writing
  3. People on average need 6.5 attempts to pass. Don’t give up!

More Resources for Aspiring CPA in Dubai and UAE

Data Source

About the Author Stephanie Ng

I am the author of How to Pass The CPA Exam (published by Wiley) and the publisher of this and several accounting professional exam prep sites

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  • Heena Chawla says:

    Dear Stephanie,

    I am a CPA student from India. I am thinking to give my CPA exams from Dubai in February 2018. Does Dubai has a low passing percentage as compared to other centers in the USA. Also, is there any other disadvantage I am missing – such as license requirement, etc.?

    • Ashraf AbdAllah says:

      Consider the following aspects and critical succes factors:

      1. Your self commitment and being ready for constant, continuous, solid and effective exam preparation is the factor ranked number one in your passing journey of the certificate or liscence requirements.

      2. Start with FAR and let the counter down of 18 months to be for the other 3 parts.

      3. Do not use study materials older than 6 months to 12 months unless your source of education updates immediately their exam preparation materials.

      4. What you had studied and understood it, keep it in hand written notes by you for easier and efficient future refrence if it is needed, example studying non passed part.

      5. Ensure your educational requirements are accepted by your chosen board of accountancy before you pay for the part/section application fees.

      6. CPAexcel Preparation course is highly recommended ( I am talking about their web based lecturing application and their up to date softcopy books). Remember through search feature you can identify every location of the key word for achieving 360 degree awareness and scope of learning.

      7. Try to explore registering in board of accountancy (jursdiction) which allow 2 tier enrolment of giving you certificate as separate than granting you tne liscence as seperate. They are few accounting jursdictions of the 2 tier such as Guam and Alaska.other accounting jursdictions do not give CPA certificate uless you also satisfy liscence requirements which called 1 tier accounting jursdiction. They are the majority.

      8. Use the foreign credential evaluation servive provided by NASBA for International Credential Evaluation for CPA Examination OR Licensure for (Undecided Jurisdiction) – costs you $350 in addition to fees of creditional evaluater in addition to fees of approved translater

      Visit URLs

      9. Endorsed copy of bachelor degree is different than the transcript is different than description of the college syllabus. These are three different sets of required documents

      10. If you have the limitation of less than minimum 150 hours you can earn more academic credit hours online with almost USD 500 per each 3 hours with true or false typical exam.

      11. If you fail passing particular section, it is not the end of the world. Be positive and just retake this part till all 4 parts are passed.

      12. Visit following useful URL

      13. This website is very rich with useful videos. Thanks to
      Mrs. Stephanie.

  • Dileep Anto says:


    Iam a citizen of india currently working in dubai could please tell me the procedure to register for CPA exams in dubai.

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