The CPA Examination
by JERRY W. KOLB In-Charge Accountant, Chicago Office
Presented before the Northwestern University Chapter of Beta Alpha Psi—June 1961, and the Accounting Society
of Roosevelt University, Chicago—November 1961
SOME of my remarks will not have the weight of statistical validity or as we accountants are prone to say, general acceptance, but are personal observations based on my experience with the examination
and discussions with other successful candidates. I have divided this topic into three major areas: (1) When to take the examination, (2) How to prepare for it, and (3) How to write the examination.
The level of the examination has been set by the Board of Examiners
to test the competence of the candidate for general practice in a medium-sized community. The Board apparently feels that experience
in public accounting is a requisite for attaining this level of competence, and attempts to prepare examinations that cannot easily be passed without this experience. This characteristic is best illustrated
by the auditing section of the examination.
One writer draws the following conclusions from the statistical results of a study conducted by the AICPA:
1) Experience in public accounting up to four years increased the likelihood of the candidate's success. This experience was of the greatest benefit in writing the auditing section, and
2) There is no evidence to support the opinion that candidates do best on examinations immediately following graduation.
Other writers have conceded that experience has contributed to success on the examination, but further state that the examination centers about areas of accounting aptitude and classroom-type problems.
Thus, the candidate who postpones the examination to gain experience in public practice must face the problem of maintaining his classroom knowledge at the same keen level as when he was a college senior.
Of course, the exceptional individual who is able to adopt a rigorous
study program that provides for both the constant review of classroom materials and a broadening of his accounting knowledge at the same time as he engages in public practice on a full-time basis, will be in an excellent position to sit for the examination. Most of us,