Has anyone taken the CPA exam ? I am just curious to find out which is harder CPA or CFA. I took my CFA Level 1 in Dec and my roommate works for Big4 and is studyin for his CPA. He looked at our FSA and other books and thought was comparatively simpler… i prsonally can think anything being harder than CFA… and when I told him that the pass rate is just 40 %… he was like “dude CPA is ~28%” wtf???

I’ve heard CPA is easier.

Many CPAs and less CFAs in the world.

aren’t they 2 totally different things altogether?

candid Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > Has anyone taken the CPA exam ? I am just curious > to find out which is harder CPA or CFA. I took my > CFA Level 1 in Dec and my roommate works for Big4 > and is studyin for his CPA. He looked at our FSA > and other books and thought was comparatively > simpler… i prsonally can think anything being > harder than CFA… and when I told him that the > pass rate is just 40 %… he was like “dude CPA > is ~28%” wtf??? 28% to pass all four on the first try. Really the thing dificult about the CPA exam is that there is a lot of info and very little time to study due to work hours…probably similar to CFA in that aspect.

28% failure rate to be exact my friend did CPA studied nothing and passed it it’s open book exam btw for CPA and the saying goes " CA for real accountant, CPA for accountant wanna be"

HAHA…where on earth did you here the CPA exam is open book? The dificulty of the test can vary greatly from test to test. No two tests are the same. Two people can take the test at the same time and have totally different tests.

I know that CPA exam is Not an Open Book and i do not think it is Different from a candidate to another, It is Uniform Exam, to the best of my Knowledge. I passed 2 parts of it & there is nothink like the CFA exam. Questions in the CPA is Less difficult. Plus there is a huge advantage with the CPA exam that was recently introduced which is you pick your exam date within 4 window exam every year. unlike the CFA L1 where you only can take it 2 times a year @ predetermined time. never the less, L2 & L3 are only tested once a year. hope that would help you all.

calicfa, there are many different versions of the cpa exam. i’m not sure where 28% is coming from but in the becker review (similar to stalla) they said 10% pass all 4 on the first try

slave, I think 10% is way too low. specially with the new system now where you can take one part at a time & schedule yuour own exam time. IMHO.

there are many other factors affecting the pass rate other than difficulty of the test. for example, when a big 4 firm sponsors a candidate and the candidate receives a notice to schedule for all 4 parts that lasts 6 months, the candidate will be motivated to sit for all 4 parts within that window (rather than shelling out additional exam fees). thus, a candidate will often find they are pressed for time for the 4th exam and will not have put in the required study time.

I can only comment from the Canadian perspective of CA vs CFA judged not on worth but on difficulty to obtain. Firstly, it is stupid to judge a tests difficulty by the pass rate. This may sound like an illogical thing to say but realize this, in Canada in order to even write the UFE, uniform Finam Exam, to become a CA you need to have a 4 year undergrad with the specific required courses and a minimum average of B. On top of that you cannot sit the test unless you are working for an approved firm such as a Big 4 or a local smaller shop. Even then the pass rate is pretty low and if you fail more than 3 times you can never write it again. As anyone with a degree or in their last year of a degree with like $1000 bucks can write the CFA level 1, the pass rates will obviously be different and have no reflection on the calibre of students. I cannot speak for the CPA as U.S gaap is more rule based and entails a lot more memorization and there are many,many,many more CPA’s than CA’s but from my perspective the Canadian CA designation is harder to get than CFA. Having said that, there is no point in comparing them as they are two very different things and the accounting designation covers vastly different subjects. The only cfa like component of the CA designation consists of the required finance and economic courses and in some places fsa.

I presume the person who thought the CPA exam was open book never actually took the exam…I never knew that if you failed the CA three times in Canada you could never sit for the exam again, that is a lot of pressure. As ca-cbv-cfa said, I think the best way to look at the two designations is to say they are simply different. That being said, I think the way the CPA exam is administered favors candidates a lot more than the CFA examination. You can sign up to take the exam 8 months out of the year, you have the flexibility to choose the date (and time) and you are taking the test by yourself on a computer opposed to a large group like the CFA examination. However, I found one of the most difficult things about the CPA exam was just signing up. I had to contact 20 people to figure out all of the paperwork while the CFAI has a painless process in place which is very efficient. And yes, (according to Becker - a CPA study guide), only 10% of candidates pass all four parts on the first try.

Being someone who is aiming for both a CA and CFA designation sometime in the forseeable future, I can assure you all the two are completely different animals. For brute studying effort, the CFA is possibly the harder one, due to the vast amounts of material involved. The CA exams, and UFE are by nature very difficult as well, but required classes (undergraduate and graduate-level depending on the province) prepare you for the process. In Canada, I believe the pass rate for the 2007 UFE was approximately 75%. So it’s a question of preparedness. CA students are forced to go to lectures and take classes prior to their professional examination, while CFA candidates go through a bit more of discipline-inducing process (one that is longer might I add, once you factor the work requirements) than the CA program. just my 2 cents.

slave Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > calicfa, there are many different versions of the > cpa exam. > > i’m not sure where 28% is coming from but in the > becker review (similar to stalla) they said 10% > pass all 4 on the first try That 10% figure is in the ballpark of CFA pass %. Acually maybe even higher than CFA. CFA exams have a pass rate of 40, 40 & 60% for the three levels respectively. so unless my calc is incorrect, for someone to pass all three in the 1st try, his probability would have to be .4*.4*.6 = 9.6%. I have not done anything related to CPA, but from what I have heard it is not a walk in the park.

My cousin is in the “300 Club” for the CPA. Anyone else hear that term? It means that he got 75% on every test; bare minimum needed to pass. Wish the CFA had a clever similiar club.

I have passed three parts of the CPA and yes I as of now I do belong to the “300 Club” got 75 , 76 ad 78… Few basic information might help people who want to be on the fast track “CFA & CPA”. CPA has four parts : 1. BEC - equivalent to CFA Economics 2. FAR - equivalent to CFA FSA 3. REG - N/A (hardcore taxation) 4. AUD - N/A (Auditing) I appeared for L1 in December… One thing i can assure is that I had better understanding of FSA . None of the designations are easy!! CPA is too technical and lot of straight up memorization. CPA includes few topics but wants the candiddates to know it “inside out” - great depth. CFA though few aspects were technical but touches on way more topics (universe compared to CPA) but does not go in depth - atleast the L1. CPA Passing rate- Before 2004 - CPA was just like CFA. You had to give all four parts within two days. The exam was conducted twice a year. The passing rate then was ~10 % - literally. Then AICPA was concerned about the decreasing number of CPA’s and hence brought a radical change in the way the exam is administered. Now - 1. 8/12 months you can schedule exams. 2. You do not have to give all parts together. 3. BUT- Unlike CFA where you have lifetime to complete all three levels, CPA you just have 18 months from the time you pass your first part. If you donot pass all 4 parts within 18 months you lose credits for the other parts passed. HAVE TO GIVE THEM AGAIN!! OUUCH ! 4. The passing for CPA is 75 5. The passing rate is ~34 % for any level. Period. “No probablilty multiplication rule or addition rule.” I think so this is similar to CFA if you take into account “No Shows” Infact ~80% of the people who pass more than 3 parts in their first try end up belonging to the “300 club”. Its basically AICPA way of saying… “lucky”. Said that, ~90% of the candidates who fail are in the “70 -74” range. Its basically AICPA way of saying “Nice try and almost there”. Career Opportunities. People can correct me if I am wrong here. But “CPA with CFA” is the thing on Wall Street, especially Hedge Funds due to their crazy accounting standards. Hedge funds are on constant look out for CPAs with Big 4 experience. If you just have CPA, you are going to end up getting Back -office work. But CPA with CFA and you are set and as rightly called on a “fast track”. Also if anyone on this forum is CPA and CFA, please let me know about the career prospects.

I passed the CPA exam some years ago, and found it easier than the Level 1 exam earlier this month. The CPA exam only tests one subject - accounting, and doesn’t require you to know and retain so many others topics. Also the CPA exam is quite straight forward - the questions are not as subtle, multi-layered and downright devious as the CFA. At the time I took the exam, many of the people taking the CPA test were junior auditors just starting out and they do not have much time, hence the low pass rate. Can’t really comment on the industry prospects of having both credentials as I’ve been primarily in taxes. But I must say I have not met any people who have both, but have met a few CPA’s who are involved in private equity, distressed debt etc. So I think if you have a CPA you may not feel the need for a CFA if you switch to the investment side. Good luck everyone.

So my closest friends with CFA charters all have Ph.D.'s from prestigious research universities (oh, and candid that’s two quantum leaps harder than CFA except you get to do it full time for twice as long). There is almost no road any of us could take to the CPA exam (I would have to go to Pace and get an MBA in accounting or som weird thing). In fact, once I was 17 years old and decided to go to some expensive liberal arts school the road to CPA was nearly gone (expensive liberal arts schools don’t give accounting degrees). Comparing the CPA passing rate to the CFA passing rate is just stupid; the pool is different. In fact, my Ph.D. qualifiers had a passing rate of 50%. Maybe that means they were easier than the CFA exams. Except I sweated bullets for one of them and wasn’t very concerned about the other.

Examination format Each segment examination is of three-hours duration plus 15 minutes reading time. All examinations are ‘open-book’ and are based on the whole segment, that is the study guide, supplementary materials, prescribed texts and readings. Candidates will be examined on all segment materials unless otherwise stated. The elective segment examinations consist of objective questions, using multiple-choice test items. The first two compulsory segment examinations – ‘Reporting and Professional Practice’ and ‘Corporate Governance and Accountability’ – consist of up to 70 per cent objective questions whilst the remaining questions require constructed response answers. The third compulsory segment (an elective for candidates who commenced the CPA Program prior to 2004) – ‘Business Strategy and Leadership’ is examined through no less than 80 per cent constructed response testing and no more than 20 per cent multiple choice test items… well in australia is open book at least i dunno the rest of the world