For one thing, scores are not based on percentages. Receiving 75 points doesn’t mean that you correctly answered 75% of the questions. Instead, your final score is a weighted combination of the scores you received on all four sections of the CPA exam.
These scores are determined by several factors, including:
- The Exam Sections, Structure and Weighting
- Number of Questions Answered and Scoring of Those Questions
- Multi-Stage Testing
Section scores are recorded on a scale of 0 to 99. To pass each section, you must score 75 on that individual test, but one of the tests has three sections weighted differently, while the other three only have two sections equally weighted. As a result, the combination of the scaled scores from the individual sections cannot be viewed as a percentage. The scores on the multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and Task-Based Simulations (TBSs) of the exam are also taken into account and weighted based on whether the question was answered correctly and the difficulty of a specific question (or testlet). As you can see, it’s a complicated scoring system.
Variations in difficulty and scoring of questions:
Knowing how to score on your CPA Exam might be the most challenging part of the process as scores can vary according to the questions/testlets included in the test. There are different scores for questions because they are not all equally challenging. Based on the analysis of candidate feedback, the difficulty level of each question is determined along with its value in terms of scoring. The harder the question, the greater its value. For that reason, a candidate that appropriately answers 10 challenging (higher worth) questions would end up with a higher score than a test taker who correctly responds to 10 simple (reduced worth) questions.
On the basis of the difficulty of the questions within the multiple-choice portion of the test, testlets are classified as either medium or tough. Initially, you will receive a simpler testlet with simpler questions. You will obtain a more difficult second testlet if you do well on the first one, while those who don’t do well on the very first testlet will receive a similarly graded second testlet.
However, there is no Multi-Stage testing in the task-based simulation or written communication sections of the exam. Additionally, your performance with the multiple-choice questions will not affect the task-based simulations or writing component’s difficulty.
No matter which CPA Exam section you choose, you will be responding to numerous questions that are not be rated at some point during the test. However, these questions will not affect your score. In a sense, this is the AICPA doing its homework by testing the difficulty level of questions it may add to the exam in the future. As a result, there is no differentiation between pretest questions and the questions that are assessed normally; pretest and functional questions are practically impossible to distinguish from one another. Therefore, each question of the test must be approached as if it will be graded.
- On each of the 4 Tests, 12 of the Multiple-Choice Questions are pretest. This holds true regardless of the general number of questions, which differs by section.
- On each of the four Exams, 1 of the task-based simulations is pretest. This holds true no matter the overall number of TBSs, which is 8 for AUD, FAR, and REG, and 4 for BEC.
- In the BEC area, 1 of the 3 writing sections is pretest.