IU Southeast students score high in CPA exams

3rd February 2021

By Steven Krolak

(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)–Want to rock the CPA exam?

Come to IU Southeast.

That’s the takeaway from the 2020 first-time pass rates among colleges and universities.

With a pass rate of 80 percent, IU Southeast is even with IU Bloomington at the top of all IU campuses.

“The first-time pass rate nationwide is about 50 percent,” said Dr. Doug Barney, professor of accounting. “We are proud of our 80 percent.”

And rightly so. The Certified Public Accountant examination, administered nationwide on a rolling basis by state boards of accountancy, is composed of four sections: auditing and attestation (AUD), financial accounting and reporting (FAR), regulation (REG), and business environment and concepts (BEC).

Nine IU Southeast alumni took a combined total of 15 sections. They passed 80 percent of those sections, with an average overall score of 80.5 percent.

There is no secret recipe for success. But it may help that instructors at IU Southeast, with industry experience, take a big-picture approach to student success rather than limiting learning to isolated aspects of the subject, in the eyes of Lisa Book, lecturer in accounting.

Book teaches costing accounting. It’s considered an intermediate managerial accounting course for accounting majors. She aligns her course material with the CPA Blueprints and CMA Exam Content Specification Outlines, draws questions from past CPA, CMA and CIA (certified internal auditor) exams, and requires students to use the review course assessment quiz tool from Gleim, a respected review provider. All this with the aim of putting students in a more professional mindset.

“Our intention isn’t to just ‘teach to the exam,’ but to recognize that professional bodies like the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) are already on the pulse of the subject matter that accounting and finance professionals need to be able to demonstrate, and they test those competencies on their certification exams,” Book said. “Certifications like the CPA exam are well-respected by employers and for many accounting roles, a necessity to move beyond more entry-level positions.”

Book and her colleagues view pass rates as useful data in tweaking coursework to meet the needs of a rapidly evolving field. For example, taking note of the growing necessity of competency in data analytics, as reflected in the addition of this skill to sections of the CPA and CMA exams, they added their own accounting data analytics course to the program. The goal is not to merely to enable students to pass tests, but to succeed in the profession.

“My course is certainly rigorous, but my long-term priority is to prepare students for the next step in their professional career,” Book said.

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