University ranks second in CPA success

Though the Horned Frogs could not defeat the Texas Longhorns on the gridiron, they did corral them in the books.TCU’s Master of Accounting program ranked second among Texas schools in the latest Uniform Certified Public Accountant Exam reports for the summer 2007 testing period with a 71.8 percent pass rate, ranking ahead of both the University of Texas and Baylor University.

Texas A&M University ranked first in the state with a 73.21 percent pass rate, and the average for Texas schools was 54.8 percent, according to the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy.

According to the CPA exam Web site, the test consists of four sections: auditing and attestation, business environment and concepts, financial accounting and reporting and regulation. Pass rates are measured by a parts passed to parts taken rate – total sections of the exam each student passed divided by total sections of the exam taken.

Barry Bryan, director of the MAc program, said TCU’s pass rate was the highest success rate to date, while having the most students sit for the exam in the history of the program.

“(The exam scores) are reflective of the quality of instruction in the program and the emphasis on lifelong learning skills,” Bryan said. “If you can develop those lifelong learning and professionalism skills, you’re going to see success on the CPA exam.”

The program’s success is largely driven by student effort but it helps that national accounting firms offer incentives such as $5,000 bonuses for students who pass the exam on their first try, Bryan said.

“We are seeing quality applicants – people who are really dedicated to wanting to be CPAs,” Bryan said. “And all we do is encourage them.”

Jennifer Palmer, a recent MAc graduate, said she passed all parts of the exam when she took it in the summer and now works at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Palmer said TCU’s ranking reflects the way teachers prepare students for the exam and working life in general.

“I definitely feel that I was prepared as much in the same way students from other schools were prepared, if not much more prepared,” Palmer said in an e-mail. “The advice (Bryan) shared while I was in class has been most helpful when facing the challenges of public accounting and working life.”

Mark Becker, who will graduate in May 2008 and work at KPMG LLG in Fort Worth, said he saw a lot of overlap between his classes and his internship at KPMG.

“We’re always encouraged to study together and take group exams,” Becker said. “It’s more about working the problems out and knowing how to do it rather than just straight accounting … I’m very prepared and I think the teaching staff has done an incredible job.