US CPA: According to the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), the US CPA exam is scored on a curve scale of 0 to 99. The candidate needs to score 75 or more to pass the CPA exam and become a Certified Public Accountant. But, you might ask how to score that? No one understands CPA exam scores and grades. Does 75 mean percentage, marks, or points? Is the US CPA exam graded on a curve? 

Watch the below video to get complete insights on the CPA exam:

CPA Exam Structure:

Before going to the CPA exam scores, let’s first know detailed insights about the CPA exam structure. The US CPA exam consists of 4 sections, namely Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Regulation (REG), and Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR). Further, each of these sections contains many blocks of questions known as testlets. There are three types of testlets: MCQs (Multiple-Choice Questions), TBS (Task-Based Simulations), and Written Communication tasks.

Section MCQs TBS Written Communication
BEC 62 4 3
AUD 72 8 0
REG 76 8 0
FAR 66 8 0

Let’s take a look at how the AICPA scores on the CPA exam.

MCQs (Multiple-Choice Questions) Scoring:

The testlets of Multiple-Choice Questions use the multi-stage approach, which means CPA candidates can progress through each and every CPA exam section and in difficulty in the MCQ changes. Each CPA exam starts with a few difficult questions and starts progressing from there. As the candidate performs well, he/she will be given more difficult questions. Similarly, if that candidate performs poorly, then you will be given less difficult questions. Moreover, if the candidate does well on the second set, the third set will also be very difficult.

CPA Examination Testlet Selection

Let’s assume a candidate did well on the first set and performed poorly on the second. What about the third set? – Medium difficulty questions again. So, we can say that as the candidate is not performing well, the difficulty gets ratcheted back. The candidate should keep one thing in mind and make use of this opportunity to pass the CPA exam. The easy MCQs are less weighted than the difficult MCQs. Thus, one difficult question is more important than many easy questions. 


Note: Task-Based Simulations (TBS) and Written Communication tasks do not use the approach of multi-stage testing.

TBS (Task-Based Simulations) Scoring:

The task-based simulations are problems or exercises that require candidates to respond to situations and concepts. They are like the fill-in-the-blanks style of questions or matching questions.

Written Communication Scoring:

The testlets of written communication appear only on the CPA BEC exam and contain blank word documents that the candidate is required to type an answer. This testlet is used to test the candidate’s ability to perform communication tasks: exploring and demonstrating ideas in writing.

Pretest vs Operational Questions

Each testlet contains both pretest and operational exam questions. Pretest questions test what to include in the further exams, whereas the operational questions are real-life questions tested. Pretest types of questions are distinguishable from operational questions, which are not included in your score.

CPA Exam Score Scale:

Each CPA exam section is scored on a scale of 0-99. People who are willing to become a Certified Public Accountant, he/she must score 75 or more to pass each CPA exam section. It’s essential to understand a C+ grade or 75 percent is no more equivalent to a CPA exam passing score. It is mandatory that the candidate must attain at least 75 points to pass the exam.

It’s an essential concept as it will be beneficial as well. Few testlets are weighted more than the others. Thus, the candidate will perform well in the exam on the highly weighted ones and on the less weighted testlets, still, he/she can pass the US CPA exam with a good score.

CPA Exam Score Weights

Section MCQs TBS Written Communication
BEC 50% 35% 15%
AUD 50% 50% 0
REG 50% 50% 0
FAR 50% 50% 0

From the above table, you can see there’s an equal emphasis on multiple-choice questions and task-based simulations. It’s not always been the same case, previously MCQs were weighted more when compared to TBS, but from 2017 onwards, the AICPA increased its focus on weighting simulations equally with MCQs.


There’s no way to know which are medium or difficult sets of MCQs, so please don’t try to figure it out. You should focus on your questions and give your best. From the above article, hope you know that difficult questions are weighted more than easy questions, so try to answer the difficult questions to pass the US CPA exam. Still, if you have any queries about US CPA exam scores, feel free to comment below.


Simandhar is the official partner of Becker and AICPA – The largest Training provider for US CPA, US CMA, IFRS, and EA courses in India.

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