Wake Forest Accountancy graduates rank first in nation on CPA exam

By Maggie Barrett
March 29, 2006

Graduates of Wake Forest University's Calloway School of Business and Accountancy rank first in the nation for their performance on the 2004 Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam, the most recent scores available from the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA).

This spring marks the first time NASBA has announced results since the exam was reformatted in 2004.

All Wake Forest graduates took the exam as first-time candidates who had already received or were pursuing Master of Science degrees in accountancy from the Calloway School. They rank first in the nation on each of the exam's four sections: financial accounting and reporting (86.1 percent passing rate); auditing and attestation (88.6 percent passing rate); business environment and concepts (94.1 percent passing rate); and regulation (79.5 percent passing rate). Wake Forest also ranks first in the nation for the number of candidates who passed one, two, three, or all four sections of the exam.

Since the Calloway School began offering master's degrees in 1997, Wake Forest candidates have consistently performed well on the exam, ranking first in the nation for five years and second in the nation for three years.

"This has become a proud tradition at Wake Forest," said Lee Knight, director of the Calloway School's accountancy program and Hylton Professor of Accountancy. "Each class strives to continue the track record of excellence."

Until April 2004, the exam was offered as a comprehensive paper exam for two consecutive days, twice a year at certified testing centers. The new test is computer-based, and, although it is still offered at certified testing centers, candidates can take any section of the exam during any of four testing periods throughout the year.

Knight says the exam was reformatted to better test the skills required of CPAs in today's workplace. "The new exam places more emphasis on research, communication and critical thinking skills," Knight said. "The computerized format requires technology skills which are also necessary for success in the quickly evolving field of accountancy."

The Calloway School offers bachelor's and master's degrees in accountancy, as well as bachelor's degrees in business, mathematical business and finance. U.S. News ranked the school 30th in the nation among undergraduate business schools. The publication also ranked the Calloway School 14th in accounting, 16th in entrepreneurship and 19th in management.

The CPA exam is written and graded by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and administered by the NASBA. Successful completion of the exam is required for licensure to practice public accountancy in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.