CPA Exam Facts

Getting your CPA can be a very confusing and stressful process for some, but once you get all your facts aligned, it may be easier to see that end goal of CPA licensure. The Fisher College of Business hosts CPA representatives throughout the school year who provide office hours to answer exam questions. Also, during orientation, several CPA courses give a brief presentation breaking down the information in more detail. I will discuss some common information about the exam.

150-hour requirement

150 credit hours are required by the AICPA. Directly referenced from its website, students can meet the 150-credit hour requirement if they:

  • Combine an undergraduate accounting degree with a master’s degree at the same school or at a different one;
  • Combine an undergraduate degree in some other discipline with a master’s in accounting or an MBA with a concentration in accounting;
  • Enroll in an integrated five-year professional accounting school or program leading to a master’s degree in accounting.

For those of you who do not come from a traditional non-accounting background, do not fear. If you notice the second bullet point, a master’s in accounting satisfies this requirement. Therefore, the Fisher MAcc program is your way to CPA.

It is important to recognize the distinction between the licensure requirements and the exam sitting requirements. Every state requires 150 credit hours for licensure, but some states may allow you to sit for the actual exam before those 150 credit hours are earned.

  • For example, the State of Ohio has a 150-hours education requirement for licensure and 150 hours must be completed prior to sitting for the exam.
  • Other states– for instance, Florida– have 150 hours education requirement for licensure, and 120 hours must be completed to sit for the exam.

You can find all this information broken down by state here.

Sections of the Exam

There are four sections of the exam:

  • Auditing and Attestation (AUD)
  • Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)
  • Regulation (REG)

Passing score

The magic number

A passing score is a 75; however, this score is not simply how many questions you get right. Similar to the GMAT, it is weighted and calculated through various methods. The AICPA has released information that is helpful to understand how your score is calculated.

Study Materials

While there are numerous study materials out there, make sure to pick the right materials for you. Know your study habits. If you love to use flashcards, make sure to pick materials with flashcards.

While going through the recruiting process, make sure to ask your employer if they can help financially with the cost of prep materials. A great thing is that most firms are willing to help.

Firm won’t help? No problem. Check out these AICPA scholarships here.  Additionally, make sure to check with your state board of accountancy as it may offer additional scholarships, too.


Helpful requirements by state

AICPA information


Helpful blog forum

Good luck!

Is it Possible to Study for the CPA Exam while a Student in the MAcc Program?

Everyone will tell you something different, so here is my own take on my experience with juggling the MAcc program, CPA exam prep, and a part-time job. For reference, I am taking 8 credits this quarter (or 15 for the semester), work 10 hours a week, and study about 20-25 hours a week for the CPA. I am here to tell you, you can do it! It may take an extra cup of coffee in the morning but it is completely doable.

Hogwarts or Ohio State library?
Studying isn’t so bad when the Thompson Library reading room is this beautiful

They will tell you the program is not geared towards the CPA exam and it is not. However, you can make it align a little better for yourself. For instance, one of our first required courses is Financial Reporting. I knew this when registering for the exam and chose to study for the FAR section first. While the financial reporting class is not adding much benefit to my FAR CPA study prep, on the flip side, by studying for FAR CPA it has made my financial reporting class much clearer. We just took our first midterm and because I have been studying FASB rules and very detailed transactions for my CPA class, I had the background knowledge already drilled into my brain. This helped me so much on the midterm because if I ever got stuck I could always remember the basics, think back to my CPA class, and really think about why that transaction happened the way it did. So yes, the program is not geared towards the CPA exam, however, the material coincides pretty well.

What about finding the time to study? First of all, you should be aware that Ohio has a 150-credit hour rule to sit. This means that students hoping to sit for the Ohio CPA exam will most likely not be able to start taking the exam until they have completed the MAcc program. I am an out-of-state student, so I am able to sit at 120 hours. Each state is different. This is important to note for study groups! Because I am only able to study with a select amount of people who are also in the same boat as me, a lot of my study has to be self-disciplined. I aim to study 3-4 hours a day and if we have a football game I’ll give up my Friday nights to make up for those extra hours lost spent tailgating on Saturday. I sit for my first section of the exam in November. More to come on my study experiences as the date gets closer. Go, Buckeyes!


CPA Exam – Better Sooner than Later

My thoughts on taking the CPA exam as soon as possible.

For my first blog of the year, I’d like to discuss a topic that has been a huge part of my life lately – the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) Exam, but let me start with a brief self-introduction. I am coming to “The” Ohio State University all the way from Denver, Colorado. I did my undergrad at Colorado State University, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting and a minor in Spanish. The summer before graduation I did an Audit internship within the Denver office of KPMG and have accepted a full time position for next fall. The number one question I have received since moving here to Ohio has been, “why would you come to Ohio from Colorado?” (and they usually have that “you’re crazy” look in their eyes…) While Ohio may – at first glance – seem slightly less appealing than my home state, I definitely had some huge reasons for electing to join this prestigious program. Primarily, the MAcc program here at Fisher was the best of both worlds regarding my main concerns and considerations while evaluating various programs. On the one hand, OSU has a huge national appeal and the MAcc program in particular has an extremely high national ranking, while on the other hand, OSU does a great job of making the program financially accessible to students from all walks of life.

Now to the point of this post – the CPA exam. I’m going to be honest with you: as far as commonplace tests go, this one is a beast. You can read all the grimy details of the exact specifications of the test online on a number of websites, but here’s the basic idea: you must pass all 4 sections (that each range between 2 to 4 hours of actually test lengths) within 18 months. When I put it that way, it sounds deceptively “not that bad.” However, keep in mind that between those 4 sections, there is an absolute TON of information that you need to cram into your head, and not all of it is strictly “accounting” knowledge. Every person who studies for the CPA exam has a different experience, but there is that common denominator – you need to STUDY! Now the time that you actually should commit to studying depends on whether or not you have a photographic memory, but just to give you an idea, here is a graphical depiction of how I have spent ALL of my free time over the past few months while taking the CPA exam:

Goodbye Social Life

Sadly enough, I don’t think that’s a dramatization. I took Audit (AUD) while working full-time over the summer, followed by Financial Accounting & Reporting (FAR) while I wasn’t working, and currently I am studying for Business Environment & Concepts (BEC), which I will take at the beginning of October. Mainly because I had a full-time job over the summer and now I am starting the MAcc program, I have had to fit in all my studying during my free time. As we all know, when you’re working and going to school, that free time is scarce, hence the chart above.

Please note that I am not trying to scare you; I just want to share my advice after my personal experience with the CPA exam, and if I had to sum it up in one sentence: take the CPA exam as soon as possible and get it out of the way! If at all possible, I recommend taking it at a time in your life when you don’t have any other large commitments (primarily school or work) because this is one of those things that has exponential returns for the amount of time you put into it. I know because of different educational requirements of varying states, not everyone can start sitting for the exam before school, but if you’re like the typical accounting student, you’ll most likely finish school in summer and will not start working full-time with an accounting firm (especially the Big 4) until the fall. That “last” summer break is a great chance to squeeze it in! During my internship with KPMG, I talked with a few full-time employees who were studying for the CPA exam while working (even during busy season), and trust me, they were not happy. If they had the chance to do it over again, every single one of them said they’d prefer giving up one summer and getting it out of the way.

Sorry for the HUGE first post, but I know this test is on the minds of a lot of the MAcc students, both current and incoming, and so I wanted to provide my take on the exam. If you do think you’re ready to look into it, I’d suggest the NASBA website: here. Also, make sure you talk to the recruiters/representatives of the firms that you are interested in working with, because most accounting firms have some huge perks regarding the exam such as paying for the entire test or even providing a monetary bonus as an incentive to pass the exam. Once you are ready, best of luck, and the studying may seem downright dreadful at the time, but I can assure you that there is a light at the end of the tunnel!

Thanks for reading!


More CPA Studying

While walking around campus today, I saw someone wearing a shirt that said, “Hard work pays off later, laziness pays off now.”  While I had to laugh at the comical shirt, I have not adopted the strategy of reaping immediate rewards this quarter in the hopes that my hard work pays off exponentially in the future.  Last week, I skipped taking a trip on the last “Spring Break” of my life to study for the BEC & REG exams the entire week.

I am roughly 6 weeks into my studying for BEC & REG and feel very confident about the material (which I can only hope will translate well to the exam).  I finished up my last MDS REG class on March 20th and have been working on the seemingly never-ending homework problems since then.  While I have not officially signed up to take the exams yet, I plan on taking BEC at the beginning of next week and then REG at some point in the 3rd week of April because my Financial and Auditing classes begin the 4th week of April.  From there, I hope to take one of them in mid-May, and the last at the tail-end of May.

While this is a very ambitious schedule, I think it is very doable and offers many advantages.  To name a few–first, I will be given a second opportunity to pass any exam I may not pass the first time in the summer before I start working in the fall.  I don’t think I will be able to successfully study for the exam once I start working in the fall, so I want to give myself this second chance this summer.  Secondly, if I am able to pass all four sections on the first try (something accomplished by roughly 10% of all test takers), I will be able to enjoy my summer without the CPA exam hanging over my head.