Is CPA hard? A Million Dollar Question Finally Answered!

Is CPA hard? We have heard this question many times and somewhere we know the answer to it as well. The answer to the question is yes! US CPA is indeed hard, but there is a catch to it which we will see further in this informational blog. 
But once you gain the credential of a CPA, a wide door of opportunities is opened up for the person. US CPA is a high-level professional credential that can help your financial & accounting career reach new heights. In simpler terms, CPA is the way for career advancement. 
Let us know all about how hard is CPA. Accounting is used in investing, financing, hiring, etc. To have reliable information, it all depends upon accounting to know the financial status of a company. There are many businesses that rely upon financial information. Based on this information, these organizations make their choices. This is when CPA-certified individuals come into the picture. They have a unique mix of talent and capabilities that help them in performing many functions for the company. 
But before becoming a CPA, one has to go through the CPA exam. How hard is CPA exam? Well, thats a valid question that arises in the minds of the candidates. Passing the CPA exam is very important if one wishes to become a Certified Public Accountant. 
CPA is quite difficult but can readily be cracked with the right guidance and enrolling in the top CPA certification course
There are several reasons for the exam being rigorous and challenging. Let us look at the reasons for the same.    

What makes the CPA exam difficult? 

One question, is CPA hard, determines many things. The CPA exam is difficult because of the following reasons: 
  • It covers a wide range of subjects and topics that tests the candidates at various levels. 
  • It assesses all the candidates in the form of questions that give them real-world experience. This kind of assessment is necessary because CPAs come across such situations! 
  • To clear the CPA exam, candidates only have ten months from the date they have passed the first paper, i.e., Accounting and Attestation. All the other three sections must be completed within those ten months. So, yes! The pressure is quite high on the candidates. 
However, this pressure can be considerably reduced by choosing NorthStar Academy Rather than write a premiere institute that has shaped the lives of young aspirants globally.

Which is the most challenging CPA exam section?

The accounting background plays an important role in knowing, Is CPA hard or not? Based on the accounting experience you have, the difficulty of the papers is assessed. If you ask us, then the Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), Accounting and Attestation (AUD), and Regulation (REG) sections are the toughest. These three sections demand complete knowledge and expertise in the subject.
The scope for the test as a whole also determines how hard is CPA. The CPA exam contains 18 topics divided into four sections. Each section demands critical skills and knowledge that must be possessed by the CPA. 
These topics assess CPA based on the skill level of the candidate. If you are preparing for the exam, you might have got the CPA exam blueprint, including tasks and subjects. AICPA undertakes the evaluation of the exam and tests the following skills. 

Skill IRemembering and Understanding 

This is in the form of MCQs. This section is primarily dependent upon memorizing and understanding of the accounting principles one has learned.      

Skill II Simulations 

In this, the task-based simulations and comprehensive questions are added with MCQs. This section tests the abilities through these simulations. 

Skill IIITask-based Simulations 

This section tests the abilities of the candidates upon the accounting principles and situation-based concepts. 

Skill IVAuditing

In this section, the assessment is made to evaluate the ability of the candidates to use the information to conclude several ideas and concepts. 
Is CPA hard or notthis fundamental question depends upon the skills acquired by the candidates. 
Now, there are many factors that contribute to the questionhow hard is CPA? The exam is very hard. So, let us look at other factors that make CPA a hard exam. 

How does time make the CPA Exam hard? 

One of the main reasons that contribute to the question Is CPA hard is the time constraints on which the exam depends. The first time constraint is that each exam is for four hours. After passing the first time constraint, the candidates have another constraint, i.e., one has to clear the exam within the time frame of 18 months. 
Each and every segment contains MCQs, task-based simulations, and comprehensive questions. The students need to manage their time effectively to crack the exam on the first attempt. 
Due to the time restraint, candidates should focus on answering each and every question to the best of their ability. One thing to note here is that once you have completed the testlet, you cannot return it, which results in time wastage. 
Another deadline is that a candidate has to complete the other three sections in a time frame of ten months. The time begins to tick once a candidate clears the first exam. If one exam is left to qualify, the candidate loses the credits of the first section. This 10-month time period increases the pressure upon the candidate and hence the answer to the question is CPA hard? Yes, it is hard! 
Candidates need all the right study materials to prepare well and clear the exam. 

Is CPA more difficult than CA?

Apart from determining how hard is CPA, you might also be confused if CPA is difficult or CA. Well, to answer that question, we would say that it is not advised to compare both the courses. Each course is unique and opens different career opportunities for everyone. For instance, CPA is a globally accredited credential that can be cleared in 12 months. 
But to complete CA, one has to invest 4-5 years. One has to have a deep knowledge of all the accounting laws, principles, etc. 
So, both the exams are different and one must both compare them. Yes! One thing we can say is that neither of them is easy. They are challenging exams!  

Is CPA harder than the Bar Exam?

Before concluding whether CPA is hard or not than the bar exam, it is essential to know what the exam is about. The bar examination is administered by the jurisdiction, wherein the lawyer has to pass prior to admission into the bar of the jurisdiction. 
The bar exam is super easy to crack. On the other hand, CPA is very difficult to crack. Proper study material and the assistance of mentors are required to pass the exam in the first attempt. So, yes! CPA is much harder as compared to the bar examination. 

What is the CPA exam pass rate?

This is also a valid question that contributes to the questionIs CPA hard? See, if you are doing self-study, then the chances are 50-50, i.e., you might or might not excel in the examination. That is why it is advised that one must take up a certification course to pass the exam. 
If we look at the past records, then the pass rate is 51% for CPA. How hard is CPA exam? Of course, its very hard. But this pass percentage can be increased if more and more candidates switch to CPA certification courses before taking up the exam. These courses are highly beneficial and help the candidates in preparing for the CPA exam efficiently.      

Average Attempts to Pass the CPA Exam

One of the major benefits of giving the CPA exam is that there is no restriction on the number of attempts. You can appear multiple times on the same paper. But one thing to note here is that you have to clear all four papers in 18 months. This is a necessary requirement that one has to fulfill. There are no fixed attempts to appear for the exam. 

US CPA Exam requirements 

Is CPA hard? Indeed, it is! But before applying for the exam, the candidate has to fulfill certain exam requirements. The requirements are as follows:
  • A candidate must have a bachelors degree or equivalent certification to give the exam. 
  • The candidate must complete 150 credit hours to gain the US CPA license.
  • 1-2 years of work experience under a senior CPA is mandatory. 
Upon fulfilling these criteria, one can sit for the CPA USA exam. 

What is the CPA Exam pass rate the first time? 

Be it for the first time or multiple times, the pass rate for the CPA exam is 50%. In the year 2021, the pass rate increased from 50% to 63%. This rate can still be increased if candidates prepare well for the exam by taking help from the top CPA institutes like NorthStar Academy. NSA helps the candidates in preparing for the exam efficiently by creating a roadmap for their success in professional courses like CPA, CMA USA, CA, and ACCA.  


1.Is CPA very difficult?

Yes, CPA is a rigorous and challenging exam that requires constant effort and hard work. To qualify for the exam, it is best to start preparing for the exam a year before it takes place. Also, make sure you have the updated syllabus and study material for the exam, which can easily be accessed with top NSAs CPA course.

2.Is CPA tougher than CA?

Both exams are challenging. They are different from one another and must not be compared. The CPA exam time frame is 12 months, while the CA is for 3-5 years. One cannot compare these exams because both are equally difficult.

3.Why is CPA so hard?

The study material is vast for the CPA exam. It is very difficult to cover such a vast syllabus. Apart from that, the sections and subjects are constantly updated, which makes it somewhat hard for the candidates to pass the exam on the first attempt, without the proper guidance beforehand.

4.Is it easy to pass the CPA exam?

It can be pretty much easy to pass the CPA, a difficult exam to crack, by joining the relevant CPA training or course program. Candidates must take CPA certification courses to prepare well for the exam.

5.Is becoming a CPA worth it?

CPA is a globally accredited credential that helps in the rapid career advancement of individuals. CPA is a very good career path with lots of job opportunities and high pay grades. Candidates can apply for the course upon fulfilling the requirements.

6.Is CPA a good career?

Yes, CPA is a very good career option. A good CPA can pull off high-salary jobs by working in top companies.

7.Is CPA a stressful job?

CPAs are increasing in demand among the top companies.. As the pay grade increases, the responsibilities also increase, which can be stressful and exhausting for some who do not enjoy the accounting field.

8.What are the disadvantages of CPA?

The CPA exam is very difficult and there is a long journey that a candidate has to make to gain the credential. It is not easy to clear the exam.


Is CPA hard? Yes, it is! But its fairly easy to excel in the exam. With proper time management, the right guidance, and a study plan, every candidate will be able to become a certified CPA. 
Now, as far as exam preparation is concerned, NorthStar Academy (NSA) is the best exam prep provider with a highly comprehensive CPA course. Associated with Gleim and AICPA, the academy provides the candidates with exclusive study material and top-notch preparation techniques. By applying to the NorthStar Academy, the candidate will also get bundle discounts, which will prove to be a budget-friendly option. 
Indias best mentors and tutors, such as M Irfat Sir, at NSA help in clarifying doubts, thereby making it easier to understand complex concepts. The pre-recorded classes, in alignment with the updated syllabus and exam details, will also help in better preparation for the exam. 
If you still ask how hard is CPA? Not that hard anymore! With the highly qualified tutors of NorthStar Academy, one can easily clear the exam in the first attempt.
If you still have a doubt about our courses at NSA, feel free to contact the experts and clear your queries before getting enrolled!
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