Mays graduates sitting for the challenging CPA exam made taking the test look just a little easier in 2005: They were ranked 6th in the nation with a 68.2 percent passing rate for first-time candidates without advanced degrees.

The rankings are tallied by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy as part of its 2006 edition of Candidate Performance of the Uniform CPA Examination. The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, the University of Iowa, UNC-Chapel Hill and the University of Wisconsin at both Whitewater and Madison round out the top 5 ahead of Texas A&M’s Mays Business School graduates.

The Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination assures that entrants to the accounting profession have demonstrated the entry-level knowledge and skills necessary to protect the public interest in a rapidly changing business and financial environment. The computer-based exam measures an accountant’s working knowledge of auditing, financial accounting and reporting, business environments and regulation.

Students typically celebrate if they pass all parts the first time they take the notoriously difficult exam, which certifies accountants to provide public attestation and auditing opinions on financial states of publicly traded companies. In addition to public practice, CPAs work as everything from Fortune 500 chief financial officers to advisors and consultants for businesses and organizations.

In a separate measure of Mays accountants’ success on the CPA exam, Mays graduates continued to best the state’s average performance on all parts of the CPA exam in this year’s third quarter, from July to September 2006. Aggie business graduates passed the auditing portion at a rate of 65 percent (compared to the Texas statewide average of 51 percent); 81 percent in business environment and concepts (compared to 50 percent); 64 percent in financial accounting and reporting (compared to 52 percent); and 72 percent in regulation (in relation to the statewide average of 49 percent).

Mays BBA and master’s accounting graduate Christopher Simpson ’05, now in lead tax services at Deloitte’s Dallas tax office, also earned a 2006 special award for outstanding achievement on the CPA exam from the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy. The award means Simpson earned one of the top 10 highest cumulative scores in Texas in the past year on his first try on the CPA exam.

“Success on the national exam is particularly important for our program since approximately 90 percent of our graduates begin their careers with major public accounting firms,” says Andersen Professor James Benjamin, head of Mays’ accounting department. “I believe that our consistent performance on the CPA exam results from the combination of bright, highly motivated students, a dedicated faculty, and a rigorous, contemporary academic program.”