Accountants' Exam Goes Secret

Teacher & Employment Testing

Beginning in 1996, Certified Public Accountant (CPA) candidates will no longer be allowed to receive copies of their question booklets and "wanted" answers after they complete their licensing exams, according to an announcement from the American Institute of Certified Public Accounting (AICPA). The new policy is a step backward, reversing the profession's 80-year policy of voluntary test publication. (Truth-in-Testing applies only to college admissions exams. See related article.)


CPA test-takers may be permitted to review questions and their own individual answers under secure conditions, as is now the case for some state bar exams, but further disclosure will be banned. Students studying for the test, academic researchers, and public policy-makers who want to "examine the examiners" will no longer have access to the data.


AICPA's move appears to be connected to plans to transform its written test into one administered by computer. Like college admissions test manufacturers, AICPA may be hoping to use the new technology as an excuse to keep details about their product secret despite its impact on the lives of many Americans. The CPA test is now taken by about 130,000 candidates each year.