2006 - A little more than a year ago, Steve Langowski, NYSSCPA
president for 2005/2006, created the CPA Exam Task Force
in response to complaints he had been hearing about the
new computer-based CPA exam. At that time, the computer-based
test (CBT) was no longer quite so new; students had been
taking it for about 18 months, and many were saying that
certain aspects of its administration—including scoring,
cost, and registration—clearly needed some work.
clear, however, was the task force’s ability to affect
change. Task force members knew the exam’s administration
needed improvement, and that test-takers and professors
were getting frustrated. But they had no idea if their efforts
would—or could—produce real, tangible reforms.
Still, task force members took a leap of faith, came together,
and decided to act … to do something …
or at least to try.
task force developed an online survey that was completed
by more than 600 test-takers. The results showed that candidates
were most frustrated with the way the exam is scored. As
I discussed in my May 2006 column, the exam is currently
scored on a pass/fail basis, and almost everyone agrees
that this system is cryptic, unhelpful, and unfair to candidates.
A numerical scoring system, on the other hand, would enable
candidates to know exactly how they did on a failed section,
so they would be better able to prepare to retake the test
in the future.
with this information, the task force drafted a report detailing
its findings and recommendations. Not surprisingly, the
report’s main recommendation was that the New York
State Board for Public Accountancy change the exam’s
scoring system from pass/fail to numerical as soon as possible.
This report was then sent to the Society’s Board of
Directors—where it was unanimously approved and accepted
as an official NYSSCPA position paper—and, finally,
sent on to the state board. At the very least, task force
members hoped the state board would read and discuss the
report. But above and beyond that, they hoped their report
would inspire the state board to take action.
Action Leads to Results
Allen once famously quipped that 80% of success is just
showing up. He probably didn’t have the CPA exam in
mind when he said that, but the sentiment fits perfectly
here. About one month after the Society sent the report,
the New York State Board for Public Accountancy voted unanimously
to recommend that New York begin reporting CPA exam scores
numerically, not on a pass/fail basis. The recommendation
will now be brought before the New York State Board of Regents
for discussion in December 2006 and action in early 2007.
If the Regents approve the recommendation, exam scores will
likely begin to be reported numerically about a month or
force members deserve tremendous credit for their efforts.
These volunteers made a Herculean effort without knowing
if it would bear fruit. But let’s also not forget
the state board. By remaining open and willing to accept
constructive criticism, the board demonstrated that its
members are out for nothing more than the best interests
of the accounting profession. And by voting to approve the
move to numerical scoring, the board has done a great service
for CPA exam candidates in New York.
all goes to show that, sometimes, affecting change just
takes a leap of faith. Any other members up for a challenge?
If you see a problem in the accounting profession, try to
fix it! Work with the Society’s leadership to act.
You never know—you just might get what you’re
Publisher, The CPA Journal
Executive Director, NYSSCPA