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Test Results: The CPA Exam in 2012

Statistical highlights from last year's exam sittings

The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy has begun releasing data from all the 2012 sittings of the CPA Exam across the country and around the world, and the results offer some pretty interesting insights into the future direction of the profession.

NASBA sells in-depth analyses of the data in its Candidate Performance Book, School Performance Book, and, soon, in reports customized to individual schools. The first two will be available on NASBAReport.com. in the next week, and the customized reports, available upon request, will be rolled out in the first quarter.

In 2012, 92,839 candidates sat for the CPA Exam, up from the previous year's 90,632. The all-time-high spike of over 100,000 in 2010 was a result of candidates rushing to take the test before it switched to the current CBT format.

There are four sections to the exam, each of which can be sat for separately; 245,193 were taken in 2012. The number of sections taken over the past few years has more or less tracked the number of candidates.

While the average age of CPA Exam candidates has stayed fairly constant over the past seven years at 29, and the average score has stayed constant too, varying between 69.9 and 71.7, the percent of candidates passing has varied more widely.

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Seven years ago, more women were sitting for the exam than men, but that trend has reversed slightly. (It should also be noted that the gender of anywhere from a fifth to a sixth of candidates in any given year is unreported.)

China recently overtook Canada as the third-largest provider of CPA Exam candidates, and is expected to overtake South Korea soon.

Growth in candidate numbers is strongest in the Middle East, but it should be noted that they start from relatively small bases.

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