The CPA Examination candidates should always have a thorough knowledge of the scoring processes and report information. The CPA exam has four sections, namely Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), Regulation (REG) and Business Environment and Concepts (BEC). All the sections have multiple choice questions. AUD, FAR, and REG sections have another portion for task-based simulations (TBS) and BEC has a section of written communication questions, but no TBS questions.
CPA exam scoring is done on an independent basis for every candidate. The CPA exam scoring rests upon a pre-determined set of standards, making the CPA Examination criterion-referenced. The score of each candidate is evaluated against established standards. With this kind of scoring pattern, the candidate is adjudged on the grounds of knowledge levels, skills and analytic approach. The judgement standards are uniform for all the CPA aspirants.
The objective portion of the examination is evaluated by using the IRT (Item Response Theory). The AICPA relies on this approach for a well-defined scoring structure. IRT is a renowned psychometric technique used by various test forms for certification and licensing examinations. The CPA exam scoring using the IRT approach ensures that the scores and the results from the different examinations are comparable.
The AICPA uses an automated process for scoring of all the examination components, except for the writing communication tasks. Some of the responses to the written communication tasks are scored by a group of readers (CPA), while the rest of the scoring is done through automated process. All CPA exam scoring procedures including automated scoring as well as manual scoring is verified at certain stages in the scoring process.
The difficulty level as well as the other parameters of the examination is determined by the volumes of data that is stored during the pretesting stage. The statistical analysis of this data is taken into account for the purpose of scoring. The multi-stage testing ensures that no advantage or disadvantage is given to the candidates. The CPA exam scoring is based on the characteristics of the questions faced by the candidates. The proficiency levels are met using the multi-stage testing procedures.
The characteristics of the test questions determine the final reported score of the candidate. Based on this criteria, the candidates answering the same number of questions can get a different score.
The AICPA defines the categories of performance as stronger, comparable and weaker for the candidates for the interpretation of the scores. The precision of the interpreted scores cannot be guaranteed because the sub scores of the content area performance are taken into account.
The exam sections are scored on a scale ranging from 0 to 99. The passing score for each exam section is 75. The interpretation of the passing score is not a percentage score. The objective questions (multiple choice questions) in Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), and Regulation (REG) have a weightage of 60% and the task based simulations account for 40% of the score. In Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), 85% weightage is given to multiple-choice questions and 15% to written communication tasks.
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