MAILED: Oct. 15, 2001
EAU CLAIRE — With a first-time
passage rate of only 15.5 percent, the uniform Certified Public Accountant
examination lives up to its reputation as being one of the most difficult
professional credential exams in the nation. But University of Wisconsin-Eau
Claire accounting alumni are beating the odds.
Results released by the National Association of State
Boards of Accountancy list UW-Eau Claire in third place for the pass rate of
first-time candidates on the CPA examination in November 2000, the most recent
exam for which data is available.
On that exam, 39.3 percent of UW-Eau Claire’s
first-time candidates without advanced degrees passed the complete exam, placing
them third among more than 160 colleges and universities represented by the
The results of the May 2000 exam also were impressive
with 30 percent of UW-Eau Claire’s accounting graduates passing. This compares
to a national first-time pass rate of 18.3 percent during the same time period.
Because only 10 first-time candidates from UW-Eau Claire took the exam in May,
the ranking was not on the list, which only includes institutions having 20 or
more first-time candidates taking the exam.
“We are thrilled with the results and very proud of our
faculty and the students coming out of the accounting program,” said Dr.
Michael Wilson, chair of the accounting department. “This type of performance
is a reflection of our students’ determination and hard work and our
faculty’s dedication to providing the best education possible.”
The CPA exam has four categories: accounting and
reporting, auditing, financial accounting and reporting, and business law and
professional responsibilities. The examination, which now requires first-time
takers to have a minimum of 150 degree credits, occurs in May and November of
each year. Students are required to pass all four components of the exam.
Shannon Raether, a May 2000 accounting graduate from
Schofield, is one step closer to officially adding CPA behind her name after
passing the exam in November 2000. “It was difficult, but doable,” Raether
said of the grueling 16-hour exam.
Raether, who typically studied three hours a day during
the four months prior to the exam, said most of the material had been covered
during her five years at UW-Eau Claire. She also attended a CPA review course in
the Twin Cities, which is taught by a number of instructors including UW-Eau
Claire associate professors of accounting and finance Dr. Dennis Knutson and Dr.
She attributes her success on the exam to the
comprehensive instruction she received at UW-Eau Claire, coupled with good
faculty. “The professors challenged us to think, and all of the topics taught
in the classes were relevant and helped prepare me for the exam.”
Raether has been working as an auditor in Minneapolis at
the Big Five public accounting firm of KPMG since September 2000. After two
years of on-the-job accounting experience, she will receive her CPA license.
UW-Eau Claire has consistently ranked above the national
average, Wilson said, but he added, this is the first time UW-Eau Claire has
made the top-ten list since 1983, when UW-Eau Claire students placed second in
In the November 2000 listing, UW-Whitewater and UW-La
Crosse also were ranked in the top ten of all institutions with first-time
candidates without advanced degrees, 4th and 10th respectively. Wilson said the
inclusion of three UW System schools in the top ten reflects well on the UW
System and the region. “UW-Eau Claire has always ranked well above the
national average, and when you look at the list of top performers it suggests a
good ol’ Midwestern work ethic,” Wilson said, noting that six of the top ten
schools on the list are from this region.
Achieving the number three spot speaks to the quality of
the students, the dedication of the faculty toward their teaching, and the
support of the program by the administration, Wilson said. “We are obviously
providing a strong overall program for which our faculty should be
congratulated, but above all our students deserve high praise for their
performance on this exam and their success in the accounting profession.”
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: Oct. 15, 2001